What caught our attention this week?
- Simplify your menu, it’s stressing Michael out.
- Start getting your financial processes organized (financial statements, bookkeeping). Also, consider opening a business account with a bank that has provided good service to others.
- Acuity Scheduling
- The Jojoba Company
Sponsor message This episode is sponsored by Yomassage. Become an expert in all things restorative stretch, mindfulness meditation, and therapeutic touch in a comprehensive, three-week, virtual Yomassage therapist certification. In this training, you will learn practices you can offer your clients virtually, and an innovative modality that enables you to serve clients in a group or one-on-one setting. You will build community with the other therapists going through this training. You'll have assignments due each week, weekly discussion posts, live Q&As, weekly quizzes, and lots of one-to-one feedback from your instructor. Payment plans are available for the May and June 2020 virtual trainings. And this training offers 10.5 NCBTMB CE hours. And because that's not enough, our listeners can get $50 off courses May through July. Use the code BLUEPRINT -- one word, all caps -- BLUEPRINT. To learn more and register for Yomassage virtual training, visit massagebusinessblueprint.com/yomassage.
Michael Reynolds Hey, everyone. Welcome to the Massage Business Blueprint podcast, where we put on our best daytime pajamas just for you. I'm Michael Reynolds.
Allissa Haines I’m Allissa Haines, and I'm fully dressed.
MR [Laughing] And we're your hosts. We may or may not be fully dressed. We're your hosts. So thanks for joining us today in this crazy world we live in.
So Allissa, what's going on?
AH Oh, my gosh. So we're in full, what, week six, now of pandemic lockdown with kids at home and us trying to work. And at some point today after everyone in my family had melted down about something -- it was only like 10:30 in the morning -- everybody had lost their marbles about one thing or another, we all gave up on everything for the day and started playing. And I made pita bread. Did you know that pita bread is a thing you can make at home?
MR I kind of assumed, but I’ve never done it because I don't know how to make things like bread.
AH Yeah. So it's fancy, and it's puffy, and it's delightful and light and almost flaky. I made it at home and it was delicious, along with fresh hummus. That's what we had for lunch. And that's it. This is your pandemic baking show.
MR Sounds lovely.
AH How's you? What's up? What are you reading? What's going on?
MR What am I reading? Well, I'm probably reading the same thing that everyone else is reading right about now, or as of yesterday, because this is releasing on Friday. So as of Thursday, April 16th, we're probably all getting the news that the PPP and EIDL loans are spent, they are used up, they've reached their limit -- the $349 billion limit -- and they're now out of money. And so those applications are now closed or they're being closed. They're probably all closed by now. So those who have not applied yet or haven't gotten their applications in on time are not able, as of now, to apply for those things. Obviously, not ideal, but that's what I'm reading about.
A couple of things I’ve learned from this is -- and just general thoughts -- by the way, my quick tip at the end of this episode is going to apply to this, so I'm going kind of expand on that a little more at the end of the episode. But some things I’ve observed -- and you've observed this too, Allissa -- but it seems like smaller banks are doing a little better with this. I’ve heard a lot of reports that the bigger banks like Bank of America, etc., are not providing speedy service, and the people are getting lost in queues and just lost in the shuffle and not able to get any kind of communication when applying for PPP loans, whereas I'm hearing a lot of smaller banks and credit unions are -- not all, but some -- are responding better, and the more personalized service is leading to speedier approvals, and the application process has been smoother. So that's one thing I’ve learned from this. And again, I'll kind of expand on that at the end of the episode.
Another thing I’ve learned is that it matters when you get your applications in. So I think a lot of people probably thought, oh, this is some program. It expires June 30th or whatever, and I’ve got time, or June 1st, or whenever it was. I’ve got some time to work on it, and okay, I'm going to think about it. There's no time anymore. It's gone. So when things like this happen -- when legislation is passed to provide this kind of aid -- it's important to act on it in a timely manner. And again, I'll talk more about that at the end, but that's what I'm reading about. It's a few hours old as of the recording of this episode, so there's more to come, I'm sure. But that's what's on my radar.
AH Well, that's exciting stuff.
MR [Laughing] So exciting, isn't it? We're here to ruin everyone's day.
AH [Laughing] I just -- yeah, I don't have a lot to say.
MR Yeah. Well, let's hit a sponsor to cheer us up a little bit, and then let's move on. [Laughing] What do you say?
AH Oh, and they are indeed so cheerful.
Sponsor message Thank you so much to HobaCare Jojoba for being our sponsor. And you know I love them in my massage practice because it never goes rancid, so it's going to be just as fresh as the day I left my office when I return and start using jojoba in my massages again. But meanwhile, I brought a couple of bottles home because I'm using it all over my hands and everything every time we shower and wash our hands, and we're washing our hands like a million times a day. Our skin cannot keep up with that repeated washing, so a couple of drops on your hands is going to keep your skin soft and healthy throughout the pandemic and beyond. Jojoba Company understands the hard times our industry is going through, so if you need some jojoba for your house, or you want to get some ready for your office for when you're ready to go back, you can use our link, massagebusinessblueprint.com/jojoba, and get 20% off. Yay! That's more than before. Yeah, hook yourself up with some jojoba if you need it.
MR Thanks, guys. We love you, Jojoba.
AH We do.
MR All right. So let's talk. So obviously, we have a big change in our schedules. A lot of us not working, we're not able to do a whole lot, and obviously, there is time to focus on some things in our business practices. By the way, I want to also reiterate that you have permission to watch Netflix and eat Doritos all day if that's good for you right now. So don't feel like you have to revamp your whole practice today or anything. But I do want to talk about something that I’ve been meaning to talk about for a while, and this is, I think, a pretty good time to bring it up because maybe a lot of us are probably thinking about let's work on the business, let's work on our websites, let's work on our marketing so when we reopen, some things are in order.
So today I'm going to talk about your massage services menu. This has come up because I’ve been working through this beta program that we've set up through our premium membership where we're doing websites for members. So if you're a premium member, you've probably seen this. We took three or four applications to do a beta test of our website programs. I’ve been working on some professional websites for our members for their massage business. In doing that -- it's not just these members. In general, I’ve seen this trend for a while now, but it kind of reiterated the fact that a lot of us, in our massage practice websites and marketing, we have a lot of complexity in our service offerings. We have lots of choices. There are lots of different packages and offerings and massage sessions. There's therapeutic, and there's this and that, and there's special names for certain things, and the menu is really long and complex if you look at your website.
This is a problem. This is a problem because too many choices cause people to freeze up and not make a decision. A lot of times, when you are offering this many choices and this much complexity in options on your marketing and your website for clients, it is actually doing the opposite of what you want. You may think it is giving people all the choice they want or lots of things they can purchase, but it often leads to people not purchasing anything or getting so overwhelmed they just kind of move on.
In the show notes, I’ve got a few articles that we're going to link to that you can link out and read more in depth. I really recommend you read these articles because they explain a lot of the context as well behind this. But I'm going to kind of unpack some of it today as well.
So I'm going to play a little discussion or pop quiz or game with Allissa here. Allissa, have you heard of the sandwich shop called Which Wich?
AH Yeah. We don't have them out here, but the last time I visited my grandparents in Illinois, I went to a Which Wich with my friend.
MR Okay. Okay. So this may backfire if you love Which Wich, but let me ask you this: When you go to Which Wich, can you think of anything on their menu, and/or do you find yourself getting overwhelmed trying to figure out how to build a sandwich?
AH I was 100% overwhelmed, and my friend had to order for me.
MR Exactly. Okay. So that's my experience as well. When I go to Which Wich, I'm like, holy crap, I have no idea what to order. I'm stressed out before I even walk up to the counter. So let's contrast that with two of my favorite and our favorite, I think, places, Chipotle and Five Guys.
Allissa, when you go to Chipotle, what do you order? Do you go to Chipotle?
AH Not anymore, and when I did -- I'm trying to think about what I used to order -- but I know, no matter what, my favorite thing was just even to get the tortilla chips and guacamole. And I'd be fine with just that.
MR Yeah, Chipotle. It's so easy. Chipotle has like a handful of things you can get. You can get tacos. You can get burritos. You can get a burrito bowl. And the ingredients, you can get chicken, you can get steak, you can get the veggie thing, whatever that is. You can get really basic stuff. It's all really simple. And they have cheese, guac, sour cream, salsa. That's pretty much it. It's really simple. Ordering at Chipotle is so stress-free because the ingredients are so few. Now let's talk about Five Guys.
What do you order at Five Guys?
AH Junior Bacon Cheeseburger Deluxe, or whatever the one is. I forget what it's called, but it has the lettuce and tomato on it. And I get it with ketchup and mustard and mayo. And then I get the French fries. And then I get a fountain soda, and if they have Dr. Pepper or some kind of version of like root beer or Dr. Pepper, that's what I get.
MR And that's all you can get at Five Guys. You get burgers and fries. And you can get a hotdog if you really want to, but no one really does.
AH Okay. I was just going to say you can get a hotdog with chili on it, and it's delicious, but I don't get that because I'm not a glutton for punishment.
MR [Laughing] But Five Guys is known for burgers and fries. That's it. Plus a hotdog, sure. Fine. But burgers and fries. It is so simple. And when you go into these places, they're always packed. They always have a long line. They always have plenty of business. It's really easy. So I want you to think about that. Just a really silly example of food, Which Wich versus Five Guys, for example. There's a that there's a difference in stress level when you order.
AH Can I tell you a thing?
MR Yeah. Yeah.
AH I actually get really stressed out at sushi places because there's always so many different custom sushi rolls. So most of the time if I go to a new sushi place, the first thing I look at is their combos, and I always order whatever's called the Sushi Regular.
MR There you go.
AH Every sushi place has a combo called Sushi Regular or Sushi Deluxe, or Sashimi Regular and Sashimi Deluxe. And that's what I order because I get super decision fatigue at sushi places too.
MR That's some really good foreshadowing. You touched on something we're going to talk about. So there's a lot of studies proving all this stuff, but there's one study that I pulled out that I want to -- I'm going to kind of read through it verbatim here because it's got some details in it.
So there's a study by someone named Sheena Iyengar from Columbia University that set up a table with jams outside of an upscale grocery store in California. "Over a period of two consecutive Saturdays, research assistants dressed up as store employees and offered samples of either 6 or 24 flavors of this jam. Prior to the study, the common marketing theory was that more choices are better for customers. People like more options, so providing for flavors should lead to more sales." I like the next line. "The results from this study proved otherwise." It's like a single line, like ominously. [Laughing]
"So during this time period when 24 flavors were offered, 60% of people stopped to sample the jams, compared to 40% when only six flavors were offered. So the numbers initially seemed in favor of more choices. But the important question is which group purchased more. Of the customers who sampled 24 flavors, only 3% purchased. But of the customers who sampled 6, 30% purchased."
So if you run those numbers based on 100 people, 60 would stop when 24 flavors were offered, but less than 2 purchased. When 6 flavors were sampled, 40 stopped at the table, but 12 purchased. So obviously, which table would you want your products to be on? Obviously, the one with fewer choices. People purchased more when there were fewer options. Again, there's a lot of data out there proving this, but this one study is kind of one of the famous ones.
So the thing is, if there are too many options, your clients might fear making the wrong choice. That's one thing that happens. If they look at all these choices, they might say, well, I don’t know. What's the right choice for me? I don't know. And they kind of fear making the wrong choice. Also, the decision just becomes too complicated. If there's too many options, it's just too overwhelming to just make the decision. And then also something else happens. If there are too many options, it triggers the urge to find additional options. So if they look at your massage menu and they say, oh, well, there's so many different massage options. Well, what else is out there? Do I need to look at a different therapist that offers totally different things? It just triggers this urge to get into research mode and find a bunch more options because you're already kind of down that path.
These are some of the warning, red flags that can happen when you offer too many options to people. So here's my recommendation. As you take this downtime to work on your business, if you choose to do so, I think a really nice thing to do might be to revamp your services menu and to take a look at it and see if it is as simple as you want it to be. Look at it with the eye of a consumer who is booking a massage, someone who doesn't know anything about massage, maybe. Maybe a first-time client. Put yourself in their shoes. Would they be overwhelmed by all the options if they didn't know any better? Take this time to really analyze what you're offering. Here's some stuff to go through as well.
First, try to eliminate unnecessary choices. Try to get rid of stuff that is just not necessary. If you don't really do these services very often or it's not very popular or not booked very often or you just don't like doing it, just take it off your menu. Just eliminate unnecessary options on your massage services.
Also create clearer categories. If you really have to have multiple options, subcategorize them so that you have logical categories and groupings to make it easier. Within any given category, don't present more than five options at any given time. Here's what Allissa alluded to. Provide a default or a suggested option. So let's say you have five different types of massage services. And let's say you know your clients book this particular one the most often, or you just know it's kind of the best one for most people if they don't know any better. Go ahead and highlight that one and say this is kind of the most popular, or the suggested, or put it at the very top of the menu and make it in a little bit bigger type. And just kind of make it the default, kind of like Allissa's sushi, the default sushi, she's going to pick. Pick that.
Use this to simplify your website. Overall, make your website simpler. You know, I'm going to challenge you to get your services down to three options. There are also lots of proven studies and research out there showing that when the brain is given three options, that is kind of the ideal scenario for making a decision. And out of those three options, one of them should be suggested as the default. If you think of software companies, this happens a lot with software companies. I don't know if Acuity does it or not. But a lot of software companies, they say, hey, here's the different packages. You can pick like Basic, Standard, or Enterprise or whatever -- or Advanced. And the middle one is bigger. Maybe it's in a different color, it's kind of standing out a little more, and it says, "Most Popular." There's a reason they do that because they know that three choices makes people feel like they're doing their due diligence without getting overwhelmed. But they also kind of nudge them into the choice that is most logical and kind of the middlest; not too cheap, but it's not too expensive, either.
So we can learn a lot from that. And if you're able to get your packages or categories or massage session names down to three, that can really go a long way toward reducing that decision fatigue and helping people make a choice. So that's my challenge. If you choose to work on your business during this downtime, I would challenge you to work on your massage services and try to simplify them. Try to get them to three to five -- ideally three -- and reduce that decision fatigue. That's my soapbox for today.
What do you think?
AH I think it is a worthy soapbox. And it is a pet peeve of mine as well just to have too many decisions, and I get -- and it's tough too because you'll get to someone's services page, and maybe they'll only have a couple different ones there. But then you click on their book page, and their booking page doesn't match up with their services page. And then, all of a sudden, you have all these other choices and addons. It stresses me out.
MR Yeah. This also applies to niching. We talk about niching until we're blue in the face, but this also really helps. If you're truly niching, if you're focusing on a specialty or a target market, you shouldn't have a gazillion options. You should have a handful of options that are focused on that niche. So this kind of plays nicely into niching as well. All right. Well, thanks for allowing me to soapbox, and I will hand the reins back to you so you can talk about our next sponsor, who I already alluded to.
MR Appreciate Acuity. [Laughing]
AH Acuity, sorry. I'm trying to bring up the right window that has my Acuity talking points here.
MR Spoiler alert! It's our friends at Acuity. [Laughing]
AH Spoiler alert! Michael has carried the weight of work today because I was not capable or competent, and bless him for doing so.
Sponsor message But let's take a moment to appreciate Acuity, our software of choice. They are your online assistant, when we're working, to fill our schedule. And what's really nice about Acuity that I will point out, as I have been pointing out for a couple of weeks, is they have a free level of service. So you can actually use our 45-day free offer that you can get at massagebusinessblueprint.com/acuity. And then, if for some reason we're not working by the time that runs out, you can actually move down to their free level of service, and all your settings and data will stay in place. And then, when we start working again, you can bump back up to a paid level. Or you can just always use their free level if you don't need certain kinds of customizations. They've got a lot of great options. And if you've been putting off putting your online scheduling together or switching from somebody you don't love as much, then now is a really good time because you can export and import and learn the system before clients start scheduling like crazy. It's just nice. It's just really, really nice. So I love Acuity. You should too. You can go to massagebusinessblueprint.com/acuity, check it all out, get your free 45-day offer. That's what I got.
MR And I'm looking at their pricing page because I can't help myself. I got to go back and check this out. [Laughing] So I went to Acuity's pricing page, and they do have their Freebie option, which is free. And I'm kind of not counting that because when you've got a free option, it's sort of separate from the three options. And they have three options. They have Emerging, Growing, and Powerhouse. And on top of the Growing column, they have "Most Popular." So everyone knows that's their most popular. They're also doing something else I like, which is the price difference between Emerging and Growing is $10 a month, and the price difference between Growing and Powerhouse is $25 a month. They're doing what's called price anchoring, which means that the Powerhouse looks really expensive compared to the other two. So it makes you feel better about choosing the most popular middle option. So that's a technique you can think about as well.
AH Yeah. And I actually have the Emerging Entrepreneur plan. It is the only thing I have needed. I have a pretty simple setup, and it works really, really well for me. Yeah, so I am paying -- I got in at a legacy pricing a long time ago, so I think the Emerging Entrepreneur is like $15 a month now.
Is that right?
MR Yeah. Yeah.
AH Yeah. So I'm in at the old pricing rate of $10 a month, and it does the job for me, so for $15 a month -- or if you pay annually it's a little less than that. But again, they've got that free version you could get going on now, and you could keep it free until we're back to work. So you can do all of this without money out of your pocket right now, which is enticing for many of us.
MR Yeah. Nice. All right. So let's talk about quick tips.
Do you have a quick tip today?
AH My quick tip is just a reminder that it's okay for us, every day, to lower our expectations of ourselves and the people around us.
MR Fair enough.
AH You know what? Lower the expectation. I learned this week that there was no way an 11-year-old with attention deficit issues is going to learn how to make metric system conversions from a nine-minute video from a teacher's aide. So we decided to not do that. And at first, I was really stressed out. And then, I was like, this kid is going to get through life just fine without being able to make metric system conversions in his head. I have. I am a very successful human being. I have my own podcast. And I don't know how to do that in my head all the time without a little thing in front of me that tells me how many decimeters are in a whatever. So make adjustments. And once we let go of that on midday Monday, the rest of our week went much smoother. And then today when it all fell to heck, we stopped trying with things that were just too much for us to bear and are now having a lovely remainder of the day. So hey, everyone, adjust your expectations for you and the people you love.
MR I like it. All right. So here's my quick tip. I promised it would kind of tag onto the beginning of the episode. As we know, the PPP and the EIDL loans are exhausted right now. They're closed. Here's the thing. I can't prove this. I can't guarantee it. You should not count on it. But my theory is that these programs will be reopened with additional funding. The original discussion was a $6 trillion package, and it ended up being passed as a $2 trillion package. So there was at least talk of additional money. And there are lots of theories, I think, in my head and other people's heads about the timing of this and why it was done the way it was done. I'm not going to get into that. But anyway, my theory is that there is a chance that these programs will be reopened once additional funding is passed through legislation. Now again, don't count on it, but I think there is a chance.
That being said, my advice is start getting your financial processes organized right now so that you're ready when it reopens. I’ve talked to a lot of people that have been scrambling to figure out their documentation during this window of time, and now it's closed. They're like, oh, I don't use QuickBooks or Wave or FreshBooks or anything. I have no financial statements. I have nothing showing any documentation. They have nothing. My advice -- this is good practice anyway, but now is a really good time to get your documentation in order. If you are not using software, sign up for something. QuickBooks, Wave, FreshBooks, something that allows you do build financial statements. Work with our bookkeepers Kim and Julie. We've talked about them a lot. Talk to somebody who can get your books in order. It might even be worth paying a couple hundred bucks to get someone to kind of clean up your financial statements for you if you can afford that. Download the last 12 months of your 2019 banking statements so that's all in a nice package ready to go. Get as much documentation as you can, cleaned up, organized, and in order, so that if these programs do reopen, you can apply on day one without scrambling to get all your stuff together. That's one piece of advice.
The other suggestion I have is most banks, apparently, during this window of time, were only accepting applications from existing customers. There's some exceptions out there. I think PayPal was doing a loan, Kabbage, Square. There were some that were doing more publicly open application processes. But as far as your general banks, most of them were only accepting applications from existing customers. So my suggestion would be if you know of a bank that did a good job with someone you know in the process of fulfilling the PPP loan, go ahead and open an account with that bank. Go ahead and open an account. It doesn't have to be a big account. Just open a simple business checking account and put a few bucks in it, and just have it there so that you become officially a customer. And then if that bank provides the PPP loan again when it reopens -- you already have a relationship; you're already a customer -- then you will have that pathway to applying. So that's my suggestion to kind of get ready if these programs reopen. That's what I got.
AH Rock on. Thank you.
MR And if you would --
AH It's a good suggestion. And I was slow to unmute because I was opening the website for the online bank that we use for Massage Business Blueprint that has been nothing but easy and wonderful. And I was like, yeah, I got to do that and just open an account with them because my credit unions have not been worth crap. And that was part of my meltdown this morning, so you know what? Yeah, I'm doing it. I'm just doing it.
MR Yeah. The funny thing is it seems to be just pure luck, which is really frustrating. Even among the small banks, people are just -- if your bank was on top of things and got their act together, then you got lucky and maybe got your application in. If your bank did not have their act together, then you got screwed. It's just kind of like this roll of the dice for a lot of people, which is really unfortunate.
AH Yeah, it's really. And it's just -- it's all just so upsetting. When you're terrified and you haven't had income in a month and a half, it's pretty terrifying. So you know, we're all in it too, people. Know that. Big hugs.
MR Yeah. Yeah. And if you want a suggestion for banks that have done a good job, just send us a note. I'll go ahead and just say it if you don't mind. The bank that we use is smallbusinessbank.com. They're kind of an internet bank for a small business, so if you want to check them out and open an account, it might be a good thing to do. Or if you've got a friend who has a bank that worked well for them, go and open an account locally. And maybe get to know a banker there or something and just kind of start a relationship. All right.
Anything else you would add, Allissa?
AH That's it, man. That's everything.
MR You good?
AH You have been thorough. Thank you.
MR All right. Well, on that note, we will go ahead and close out, then. Thanks for listening today. As always, we'll do our best to keep you informed week by week and via our other channels on what's going on. Thanks for listening today. See you next time.