Podcast

Episode 365

Jul 20, 2021

Pocketsuite CEO Chinwe Onyeagoro joins the podcast to talk about Automation tips to take the pressure off solopreneurs.

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EPISODE 365

Pocketsuite CEO Chinwe Onyeagoro joins the podcast to talk about Automation tips to take the pressure off solopreneurs.

PocketSuite is an all-in-one app that makes it easier to run your massage business. You can schedule and get booked online by clients and manage all your forms, notes and contracts, payments, reminders… ALL THE THINGS and it’s all HIPAA compliant. Whether you are just starting out or a seasoned business owner, PocketSuite helps businesses save time and make a great living. A massage therapist can be up and running on PocketSuite in 15 minutes.

Massage Business Blueprint listeners get 25% off your annual Premium subscription for your first year with PocketSuite. Visit massagebusinessblueprint.com/pocketsuite to check it out.


Transcript: 

Sponsor message: 

This episode is sponsored by PocketSuite. PocketSuite is an all-in-one app that makes it easier to run your massage business. You can schedule and get booked online by clients and manage all your forms and notes and contracts and payments and reminders, all of the things. All within the PocketSuite app, and it is all HIPAA compliant my friends. Whether you are just starting out or a seasoned business owner, PocketSuite helps you save time and make a good living.

Allissa Haines:

A massage therapist can be up and running on PocketSuite in 15 minutes, our podcast listeners can get 25% off your annual premium subscription for your first year of PocketSuite, and for more information, you can visit massagebusinessblueprint.com/pocketsuite.

Michael Reynolds:

Hey everyone, welcome to the Massage Business Blueprint Podcast, where we help you attract more clients, make more money and improve your quality of life. I'm Michael Reynolds.

Allissa Haines:

I'm Allissa Haines.

Michael Reynolds:

And we are your host today. We have a special interview episode for you today, we are welcoming PocketSuite's CEO Chinwe Onyeagoro to the podcast with us today. Chinwe, welcome.

Chinwe Onyeagoro:

So grateful to be here with you today.

Michael Reynolds:

And we're glad you're here. We're thrilled with our semi new partnership with PocketSuite, we'll talk about that a little bit later. You're the CEO of the company, which is a software company that makes an amazing tool for massage therapists, an all in one solution, which again, we'll talk about that in a short while, I don't want to steal too much thunder.

Michael Reynolds:

But we're thrilled to have you on today to talk business, and specifically business is going to be about automation tips to take the pressure off solopreneurs, which is everyone that listens to this podcast, pretty much. We have some exceptions, but I'd say the bulk of our community is independent practicing massage therapists, and I am thrilled to talk about this today.

Michael Reynolds:

So, Chinwe, let's get started with some background on you. Tell us about you, your background, your story, what you do at PocketSuite, anything you want to share.

Chinwe Onyeagoro:

Yeah. Absolutely. So, let me just start by saying, oftentimes when you look at the news, when you look out in the world, you hear so much about really large companies, big corporations, 500 employees or more, all the headlines are really focused on that segment.

Chinwe Onyeagoro:

And yet, what most people don't know, 84% of all businesses in the U.S are one man operators, solo operators, businesses of one. And those businesses don't get a lot of billing, they don't get a lot of investment in terms of technology, in terms of financing, all of these things. So for me, that's just been a long standing frustration point, as far back as I can remember.

Allissa Haines:

That is why we created Blueprint. It aggravates you and I similarly, because every small business bit of advice I got when I was starting up and when I was looking for resources was like, "For businesses that make gross $500,000 in retail sales their first year."

Chinwe Onyeagoro:

Exactly.

Allissa Haines:

I'm like, "My first year I maybe broke like 12 grand."

Michael Reynolds:

It's such a forgotten group, isn't it?

Allissa Haines:

Your advice does not apply to me.

Chinwe Onyeagoro:

Absolutely.

Allissa Haines:

So, yay. I really like that we have similar mission here.

Chinwe Onyeagoro:

Yeah. Silent majority, if you will, right? So, this has been a frustration point and I've taken to the streets around it. I created a company with a co-founder that's called PocketSuite, and the single focus of PocketSuite is to make it possible for anyone to run their own business and make a great living.

Chinwe Onyeagoro:

It sounds like a really simple concept, but if you ask nine out of 10 people if they want to work for themselves, they'll say, "Heck yes." And then that will be followed by, "But how do I sustain my lifestyle? How do I pay my bills?" And that second part of the response is what keeps many people from pursuing their dreams.

Chinwe Onyeagoro:

And in talking to you Allissa, and talking to so many of the independent professionals that are using PocketSuite, time and time again, there's just a real fear about, how do I go out there and do this? And so PocketSuite set up to really answer the second part of that question is, how do you sustain your lifestyle?

Chinwe Onyeagoro:

So we're an all-in-one business app that's focused on making it easier for you to run your business. So, helping you with scheduling, helping you with payments, contracts, and anything in between that involves managing your client interactions. We found that so many people are juggling three to five different tools, they've got their phone, they've got paper and pen, they've got potentially PayPal or Square or some payment processing tool.

Chinwe Onyeagoro:

And it's just so overwhelming to do all of that and do what you do best really well. And so we wanted to make it easier, take some of the headache out of doing the thing that you love. So, how I came to this work is a funny story. So, my background is consulting, management consulting. I call myself a recovering management consultant.

Chinwe Onyeagoro:

I used to work at a company called McKinsey & Company, and we worked with many of those 500 plus large corporations who just looking to gain more market share and do this and that, which was perfectly fine. But I don't know if any of you have had this experience where you wake up in the morning and you say, "Gosh, if I don't go into work, I don't think it's going to make a bit of a difference in terms of the impact I have in this world, because there's just so many different factors playing with the big companies that my contribution is limited."

Chinwe Onyeagoro:

And so I felt like gosh, I really want to do something that moves the needle for folks, but for me participating, they may not get there fast enough, they may not go as far as they could go. It just gave me more meaning and more purpose. So, at some point I stepped out and I took the skill sets that I'd built in consulting and I started raising money for small businesses, the smallest of businesses.

Chinwe Onyeagoro:

And I raised about 300 million in small business loans. This is everything from bank loans, to factoring, [inaudible 00:06:18] financing, to loans from community, CDFIs or community development financial institutions, everything in between. And doing that was really gratifying, because oftentimes when businesses are raising money, it's because they're growing or they're starting a new business. And it's just one of the most exciting times to be able to help someone who's really going far and adding a lot of value.

Chinwe Onyeagoro:

When I was doing that work and looking under the hood of these businesses tell their story to these financial institutions, I saw many businesses that were struggling with cashflow issues, that I felt like were solvable. But many of their cashflow issues had to do with when they got paid, they were oftentimes allowing their clients to pay them pretty late or not collecting at all, because there was messiness, if you will.

Chinwe Onyeagoro:

And I thought, gosh, in many cases, they shouldn't be raising money for this, they should be improving their payment collection systems, they should be improving the financial health of their business. At the time it wasn't the problem I was set up to solve, but I kept it in the back of my mind, that's a worthy problem to solve because we could actually help businesses not have to raise money, because they are making so much money in their core business. So they can keep more of their profits and again, live a great life.

Chinwe Onyeagoro:

So, fast forward, I'm living in Chicago, and I meet my future husband, and he's living in San Francisco. And so I'm traveling back and forth on flights and basically outsourcing everything at home because I'm traveling for consulting now, traveling for love.

Chinwe Onyeagoro:

And by the way, I'm originally from Nigeria, so just coming from this immigrant background, my mom would be very upset if she knew I was outsourcing everything. So please don't tell. So I had a massage therapist, I had a home cleaner, I had life coach, I had a whole team of folks help and my primary form of communication with them was texting.

Chinwe Onyeagoro:

And I would text them and then magic would happen in terms of really being able to get the support I needed. The challenge though was that oftentimes 90 or 120 days later, I'd get an email with an invoice, and that's 90 and 120 days from when I received the service, and wearing my raising money hat, I was like, "Why is it taking so long to get the bill? I'm happy to pay. In fact, I'm happy to pay up front."

Chinwe Onyeagoro:

And so enough was enough, I had seen this in my professional life, I was experiencing it in my personal life, I started complaining about it. And I complained to my fiance at the time, who was engineer number five at a company called NetSuite. And NetSuite, if you know of them, builds awesome business management systems for very big companies.

Chinwe Onyeagoro:

And so, he knew a thing or two about the logistics of what I was complaining about. And he said, "Gosh, you guys have such a great working relationship over text. Why can't you do everything over text? Why can't you book them? Why can't you pay them?" And I was like, "Eureka." And I was super excited about the prospect of that. And he ultimately built the first version of PocketSuite with that in mind.

Chinwe Onyeagoro:

We put it in the app store and magic happened. We started seeing home cleaners, notaries, fitness trainers, all sorts of folks that we hadn't even conceived of, started using it, and more importantly started emailing us saying, "Can you add this? Can you add that?" And so we were super excited about pursuing this and really creating a platform that just made things easier, so folks could focus on again, doing what they love.

Chinwe Onyeagoro:

Fast-forward, we have now 5,000 businesses that are using PocketSuite across a variety of industries, including massage therapy. And we have over half a million consumers who are booking and paying their professionals on PocketSuite. The businesses that operate on PocketSuite, 80% of their income is generated on the platform and it's recurring income. So that makes us really proud because folks are again, making the money they need to live a great life.

Chinwe Onyeagoro:

So that's my story. I hope it wasn't too long there, but I came at it from two different directions and it just kept leading me to this point.

Michael Reynolds:

That's great. Thank you Chinwe.

Allissa Haines:

I think it's a big deal too because, like you said, there's not a lot of people serving very small businesses. So to have somebody who was consulting with the very large businesses see that void and be able to take that knowledge and refine it to what is actually going to work for us is huge. We don't get enough of that.

Chinwe Onyeagoro:

No, you're right. You're absolutely right. And honestly, every day is a new day and I'm so grateful. I really am.

Allissa Haines:

Sorry Michael, I interrupted you.

Michael Reynolds:

That's all right. Well Chinwe, thank you for sharing your background. I appreciate that. And that's a good time really to take a quick break and let's have Allissa talk about some of the highlights of PocketSuite before we dig into our topic for today.

Allissa Haines:

All right. I got this down now because I've done it a few times, but PocketSuite is an all-in-one app that makes it easier to run your massage business, you can schedule and get booked online by clients, you can manage all your forms, and notes, and contract... pardon me, contracts and payments and reminders, and all the things within one app, and it is a HIPAA compliant app.

Allissa Haines:

So, if you're just starting out or you are super seasoned, PocketSuite can help you save time and make a good living and set up is super easy, I played with it myself, you can be up and running on PocketSuite in 15 minutes my friends. So, our listeners can get 25% off our annual premium subscription for your first year with PocketSuite at massagebusinessblueprint.com/pocketsuite.

Michael Reynolds:

All right. Fantastic. So take advantage of that if you interested in checking it out. All right. Chinwe, we're going to talk about automation tips to take the pressure off solopreneurs, and the word automation, I think for some people sounds very scary and techie and not sure quite what that means. So let's start there. What is automation for a solopreneur? What does it look like?

Chinwe Onyeagoro:

Yeah. Great question. So, let me start by saying, a wise person once said, "That the average person makes about 1000 different decisions in one day." From putting one foot in front of the other, to what you're going to wear, up to what you're going to have for breakfast. 1000 decisions in one day.

Chinwe Onyeagoro:

I would argue that the average solopreneur or massage therapist included, makes probably about 10,000 decisions in a day, and has to keep all of that stuff in you. Oftentimes you're keeping all of that stuff in your head. If you have 20 to 30 clients, the multiplier effect is pretty significant.

Chinwe Onyeagoro:

So, automation is just about taking some of those things that are swirling around in your head, in your work, in your world, and trying to put it into motion in a way that ultimately takes the load off of you, but allows you to still have the magical experience that you want to have with your clients.

Chinwe Onyeagoro:

So it's really taking the day-to-day routines, the things you're doing over and over again and saying, "Hey, you know what? I know a thing or two about doing this. Can I set up some rules within my business, within a technology, within a system, where the technology will just do it for me, still with that personal touch, still with my voice and my messaging. But something that I can then offload so that I can spend more time either with my family and friends or with my clients in a deeper, special way, in a way that still emphasizes that human touch, in a way that technology can never replace." So that's fundamentally what automation is about.

Michael Reynolds:

I really love that because I know that some people, when they think of automation, they think, "Oh, well, it means I'm going to just become this cold robotic business, communication is not warm and fuzzy, it's all just dry." And they feel like it's going to take the human touch out of business.

Michael Reynolds:

And what you just described is exactly what I see happening when automation is implemented very well, which is, it frees up your time and attention to actually put more effort into human centered communication. So I'm really glad that you led with that.

Allissa Haines:

And-

Chinwe Onyeagoro:

No, you're actually right. Go ahead Allissa.

Allissa Haines:

I think that when you are able to automate and delegate that way, it creates a consistency that is not subject to your human flaws. And consistency is caring, sending that automated appointment reminder is caring. And if you're doing it manually and you're not sending it the same amount of time before each appointment, and sometimes it goes at 8:00 PM and sometimes it goes at 2:00 PM, that consistency is providing a really caring foundation for the rest of your work.

Chinwe Onyeagoro:

Yeah. I totally agree Allissa. Just to put this in very practical terms, we see it as two different types of automation, and really, there's one type that we're really promoting, the other type is debatable. It speaks to a little bit of what Michael was saying, which is, "I think we're roboticizing that personal touch."

Chinwe Onyeagoro:

So, the first type of automation is really that automation that's really about making sure people know what to do, when, where to go, and what's going to happen when they go there. It's really just making sure your client's expectations are set, the things you need to interact with your client, to be prepared, to provide that delightful service to your client, that you have that information, and you have that context.

Chinwe Onyeagoro:

And that if there's any follow on steps that are necessary for your client, again, to get the most out of the interaction that you've had, whether it's just, "Hey, relax," after that great massage, or take a hot steam bath, or a cold shower, or whatever it is, that they have that context and they have those instructions and that guidance. So those are some of the basic elements of automation.

Chinwe Onyeagoro:

There's an advanced automation, where we debate whether or not that's necessary, which is, hey, someone reaches out to you with a pretty involved question. Can you potentially have a first line of response that's automated to them, that somehow gets you to the next step? So, someone writes and says, "Hey, I've been having back pains, it's in my lower back and I'm not sure what to do."

Chinwe Onyeagoro:

There're some organizations that might have a chat bot that responds and says, because they have data on lower back related pains, any of these lower back related pains or symptoms are familiar to you, to just get a little bit more information, to be able to then either diagnose you or serve up the right resource, who can engage you further on that issue.

Chinwe Onyeagoro:

We feel like the technology is not far enough to get that right, and we feel like when a client reaches out to you about something super specific, you need to bring that human touch to them because there're so much complexity and so many variables, and in many cases they need a listening ear that ultimately can be responsive to everything from their tone of voice, to the substance and content of what they're saying.

Chinwe Onyeagoro:

So, we would table the more advanced automation and say, you know what? The basic automation is something that will and can make your life easier. These are questions like, what's your address? How far in advance should I be there? What date and time is my appointment again? These are some of the questions that often come from folks that you're working with, that absolutely can be automated.

Chinwe Onyeagoro:

And then there're a set of automations that are just about your normal transaction flows. So we'll talk a little bit more about that.

Michael Reynolds:

Yeah. That's exactly where I was going to go. So, my brain loves specific examples, and a lot of our community does. So we framed this as automation tips to take the pressure off solopreneurs. So, I guess, can we dig into those tips and maybe specifically, if you have some examples that are very relevant to massage therapist specifically, what are some examples of things we can see?

Chinwe Onyeagoro:

Absolutely. I will start where I always start, which is how you make your money, which is how and when you get paid. So, in many cases, what we've seen with massage therapists is that you're either being paid upfront, because when they book you they're paying a deposit, or you're being paid because they've purchased a package. So they've purchased a bunch of appointments upfront. And they're just using those appointments over time and you're tracking the number of sessions until they renew, hopefully, that package.

Chinwe Onyeagoro:

The third is, you've got a subscription, which is awesome. They're coming frequently enough where they're able to pay you on a recurring auto charge basis, and then within the timeframe of each of their cycles, they're able to use your service a certain number of times. And if they use it or lose it in that timeframe. We've seen that.

Chinwe Onyeagoro:

In rare instances, we see folks sending invoices for massage therapy. And I'd like to talk about that. That's definitely one that we think it's right for automation. So, as you think about the different payment methods, one form of automation, if you think about the deposit, one form of automation is, is there a way for me to connect the booking of the appointment with the deposit itself?

Chinwe Onyeagoro:

Oftentimes what will happen is, someone will text you or email you or call you and say, "I'd like an appointment." And you'll work out the details on that appointment, you'll document it somewhere and then you'll request a deposit from them. So you'll send them an invoice, or you'll reach out to them on the phone and say, "Can I take your credit card?" And take that deposit.

Chinwe Onyeagoro:

So the question for us is, is there a way for you to automate that interaction where they're doing the booking and paying the deposit at the same time? So that's one piece. So, there're a lot of different ways to automate that deposit piece, but the key is connecting the booking itself with the deposit, getting some kind of system or tool that allows folks to enter their credit card information and enter their requested date and time.

Chinwe Onyeagoro:

So that's happening all at once and you don't have to follow up on the deposit after the booking has been made. That's one.

Michael Reynolds:

So you're making an argument for online scheduling then? Do all the folk one time.

Chinwe Onyeagoro:

Definitely. All at one time. So, people want to be able to have certainty around scheduling immediately, but you also want to make sure that your time is respected. And so, a deposit oftentimes allows you to do that, at minimum if it's not a deposit, you should collect the credit card information. So, if you have a cancellation fee, you can enforce it. So that's one example.

Chinwe Onyeagoro:

The other example I'll give is around packages. Packages are brilliant, they're awesome, because you're able to not only get a commitment, particularly for folks that are working on a particular issue in terms of massage therapy, "Oh, I've got this back pain, or I've got this leg injury, or I need that human touch over a certain period of time." You're working on them with something where a one and done appointment it's just not going to do it, you need to work with them over two months, three months in order to be able to really, both train them, but also train their body in a way that ultimately relieves that pain, or gets them to their goal.

Chinwe Onyeagoro:

A package is a great way to be able to make that commitment. The client makes the commitment in terms of working with you over that time, and you make that commitment to be able to help them deliver on a result. The challenge with packages is that, at some point they are exhausted or they expire. So, when I use the term exhausted or expired, for those that aren't familiar, expiring is basically if the package is timed or limited. So if it's a three month packet or six month packet, if they don't use all of those sessions within that timeframe, then it expires. Exhausted means they might use up all of their sessions within the package within that timeframe.

Chinwe Onyeagoro:

The beauty of automation as it relates to packages is making that package renewable, auto renewable, ideally. So can you set up a system where when their package gets within a certain timeframe of expiration, or when their package gets low enough, in terms of sessions left, remaining balance, where you can either send them a notification saying, "Hey, you're running low, time to renew." So you're able to build that into the package itself.

Chinwe Onyeagoro:

So you don't have to keep track of, let's say you have 20 or 30 clients, and 15 of them are on packages, that means you have to keep track of all of the status of all of those packages at any given time, or worse yet you don't keep track of it, their package expires, and something else comes up for them, whether it's another financial commitment or just something changes, and you're not able to continue that work together.

Chinwe Onyeagoro:

So, building in something that ultimately allows your packages to either auto renew automatically, which is great, because then it allows you to auto charge and continue that support, or at minimum send them a notification automatically that actually lets them know that they're running low and encourages them ideally with some link to renew right there.

Chinwe Onyeagoro:

At minimum, build something in that reminds you so you get a notification that says this person's package is running low, it's time to reach back out to them. So there's three different options there, but you got to do something around automation with packages, because there's such a beautiful way to keep your business healthy and to ensure that your commitment to the clients are constantly extended if they need to be.

Michael Reynolds:

So these are some really good front, end tips. I think a lot of our listeners... I think it's not a stress to really convince people I think these days to use online scheduling, it's pretty common, it's pretty normal, I think for a lot of therapists. So, what I see is that working pretty well, but what about, do you have any tips for internal back office stuff?

Michael Reynolds:

I feel like that's where a lot of times as solopreneurs, we fall down, we look at, "Hey, in the front end, we've got the online scheduling, we've got the payments, all that's good to go," but then managing my social media, doing my general stuff for financials reporting behind the scenes, or my bookkeeping, or my filing or whatever it might be. There's all this stuff behind the scenes in the back-office sense that we let pile up, and I feel like there's better ways to approach that. Do you have any tips there?

Chinwe Onyeagoro:

Absolutely. So I've got both reminders and I've got this concept of saved messages. So, reminders are super important, you've gone through all of this great work to get folks booked, to get them on the calendar. Now the question is, making sure they show up. So, putting in place a system that ensures that an automatic reminder is sent out to your clients, and you can do this on a global basis. Hey, generally I'd like folks to be reminded two days before their appointment or, you know what? Actually, people have a really short memory.

Chinwe Onyeagoro:

So I need them to be reminded within 12 hours of their appointment, because I can remind them two days in advance then a world of things happen within 48 hours, that could make them forget. So you could put in one reminder, you could put in two reminders in place to ensure that folks show up for that appointment.

Chinwe Onyeagoro:

I can't tell you how many massage therapists that we talked to who say, "Gosh, when my reminders don't go out, my no-show rate is actually much higher and I have to charge these cancellation fees and it creates this domino effect of problems associated with the relationship I have with my clients." So, something as simple as a little note, that's friendly, that has your voice in it, can just change the game, and it's not something you have to remember at all. So that's one.

Chinwe Onyeagoro:

The second is saved messages. This is a quiet, I would say beast, in terms of taking charge of your business and really giving you some time back. You get routine questions, whether you've been in business for two to three months, or you've been in business for 20 years. You get routine questions that every client asks, and yes, the answers to those questions are on your website, they're on your FAQ, you've probably shared it with them verbally, but guess what? You're still going to get those questions.

Chinwe Onyeagoro:

And so, the way you can, again, grab that time back and ensure that you're not spending a lot of time recreating the wheel, is grab just nuggets from the different assets that you've already created, and create a set of saved messages. What is a saved message? A saved message is an email that's ready to be sent out, ready to go, or a text message that's ready to go. All you have to do is either copy and paste that exact language into the email and send it to the person who asked you the question about where should they park, or grab that information from maybe one of your notes on your phone and put it right into the text, the SMS thread and respond.

Chinwe Onyeagoro:

It's generally a list of anywhere from 10 to 30 questions that you get often. And you just have that short response and maybe even a longer response, depending on how involved it is, that you can copy and paste at will. It'll save you so much time personally, and if you have an admin or someone who's helping you out, it'll save them time too, it's a great tool to train admins to be able to answer questions and to be able to be ready for the things that come up. So saved messages is a gift, use it, take it, accept it.

Michael Reynolds:

This is huge. I'm glad you mentioned that. And those are my favorite tools for this. For example, I use text expander on my Mac, which is used basically typo shortcuts, it expands a big block of text and just drops it in wherever you are. I know that Google workspace and Google business email and Gmail has built in templates, you can just drop in. What are your favorite tools for that? How would someone specifically set this up?

Chinwe Onyeagoro:

Yeah. So you can... and we have people who use OneNote, people who use WhatsApp or Evernote, where they've just captured all of these notes over time and they're able to just grab it from the app-

Michael Reynolds:

Just copy and paste.

Chinwe Onyeagoro:

Just copy and paste.

Michael Reynolds:

Sure. Okay.

Chinwe Onyeagoro:

It's as simple as that. And have it in a couple of different places, just in case whatever reason the app or tool you're using gets fried and you need to grab it from somewhere else. Google Drive is always a gift to be able to just house some of these things.

Chinwe Onyeagoro:

And then depending on how involved it is, you might use something like Excel or Google Sheets to just keep a running list of the question and the answer. And over time I would keep it fresh and maintain it. So start to see if there are new questions that people are asking, that are coming in, how often. It's not a one and done, it's something that you add to over time as your business evolves.

Michael Reynolds:

Nice. Thank you. Allissa, anything you would add?

Allissa Haines:

Yeah. It was a game changer for me to start making note of all the really common questions I get for people who maybe find me and Google my business, but never actually clicked through to the website. And to be able to have stock answers to those really commonly asked questions. And I do a combo of what you are both talking about, in that I have a big Google Doc with all of those stock answers, and then the most popular ones I have in the text expander built into the MacBook and the iPhone, which is awesome, it's just great, it's just really good.

Allissa Haines:

But yeah. I mean, I'm thinking of other automation things, like we need programs that make it so easy and obvious for us to... and admitting my biggest obstacle is really good client notes, really good charting. That is my kryptonite. And I know that with really good charting, one, my clients get better care, it enhances the therapeutic relationship when I can remember what their dog's name is, or I remember that their partner is dealing with some illness, or I remember... I deal with a lot of people with depression and anxiety, so I need to remember that that person is caring for their parents who lives in home and is progressing through dementia.

Allissa Haines:

I need to remember these things about my clients to properly care for them. So, to have charting built into a system or having these super, super obvious and I needed to be heard to finish a process without doing proper client notes.

Chinwe Onyeagoro:

Yeah, no. I it's interesting, because you say notes and I say forms. And what I mean by that is, your charting begins even before they've become a client. So it's part of your intake process of asking them a series of questions that help you understand where they're at, what their experience has been, whether you can be most helpful, and what some of their health backgrounds are.

Chinwe Onyeagoro:

And so, making sure you have some digitized way to capture this information is so important. Whether it's Google Forms or it's Typeform, or some tool that helps you right at the time when they are beginning to either express interest in your service or move to booking, you have a set of questions that are... I'm sure if you're just starting out, they may be on paper, but you have a set of questions that actually are in digital form that you can text them or email them and have them literally complete in minutes. You'll have that information in insight.

Chinwe Onyeagoro:

Then the question is, well, what do you do with that form? What do you do with that information to ensure that it's not sitting somewhere that you can't access when you need it most? And that's really where it's important for that form to be integrated into your broader CRM system or broader note-taking system, so that you're not asking them the question over again when you meet them, you're actually referring to it in the context of meeting them and building on it with new information when they're in front of you, and you're actually starting to do that work together.

Chinwe Onyeagoro:

So, ideally a combination form note-taking tool is awesome, and charting tool is awesome, because you're able to take that baseline information and build on it and add to it. If there're elements of that tool that you actually share with the client, there may be a part of that tool where you're actually sending them something after the appointment where they actually see some of the work that was done and some of the followup that they should be doing after your sessions.

Chinwe Onyeagoro:

So those are really, I think, really, really helpful tools to ensure that it's not sitting in a file cabinet, that you then have to rifle through at the critical time, it's actually on your phone, or on your iPad, or on a nearby monitor that allows you to refer to it in the context of the session.

Allissa Haines:

Yeah. It's huge. Sorry, Michael. Go ahead.

Michael Reynolds:

No. Sure. So do you think automation has to be super high-tech? And why I ask that, I mean, for example, I consider automation to be, hey, I've got my to-do list, my Microsoft to do app, and I have a ton of things on there every week or every month or every periodic timing, it'll pop up and say, "Hey, do this thing." And the thing might be to copy data from this system into another system. I just manually pick two minutes and copy it.

Michael Reynolds:

And I've learned that the more I try to link apps together with Zapier and fancy tools and all this stuff, there's more points of failure for things to break. And sometimes it's just plain easier to just have my to do list, pop up and say, "Hey, copy a thing from here to here." And once a month, I'll copy a thing from here to here, and my brain can forget about it because it's automated in the sense that it's just popping up and telling me when I have to do a thing. Do you consider that automation?

Chinwe Onyeagoro:

Yeah. I absolutely do. I think reminders are the ground floor on automation. I think setting up reminders for yourself, for your clients, I think that's 75% of it quietly. Because ultimately, what we say is, you don't want to... what do we call it? You don't want to over-engineer your automation.

Chinwe Onyeagoro:

If you put too much into it and you build too many integrations too soon, you've gotten ahead of the need. If you've got 30 to 40 clients, it's actually not worth investing lots and lots of resources and time in creating a level of automation that could support 1000 clients, it's just not necessarily. You would never build a home for 200 people when you have a family of five.

Chinwe Onyeagoro:

It's the same thing with automation. You right-size the automation based on the volume of clients you have. So it's like, "Hey, can I save?" The basic automation is, I don't want to forget this. That's it. I don't want to forget. And so reminders are that ground floor, when you start going up the food chain on automations, it's really then about how much more time? Can I save an extra two seconds or can I save an extra two minutes?

Chinwe Onyeagoro:

And at that level of automation, you have to have thousands of clients for that to be worthwhile, for you to really get out of it, what you think makes sense.

Michael Reynolds:

And sometimes I think automation can take the form of creating a process and then delegating into a virtual assistant.

Chinwe Onyeagoro:

Absolutely.

Michael Reynolds:

That's [inaudible 00:35:38] automation.

Chinwe Onyeagoro:

Absolutely. Here's one type of automation that I think is an uncomfortable one, but I think it's... sorry. It takes you out of this uncomfortable space. And that's asking for referrals and reviews. It's something that every business needs, but it's uncomfortable to ask, it just feels like, "Hey, we've got a relationship. I don't want to make this feel transactional. If they like the service, they'll leave their review." Not so much.

Chinwe Onyeagoro:

People have so much going on in their lives, they're spending this time with you because they really value you and the relationship and interaction, but the moment you're done, their head is somewhere else, they're onto that next thing on their to do list. And if you don't build in somehow from using automation, one additional step that can automatically go in their to do lists, they will likely not do it. It'll be subject to serendipity.

Chinwe Onyeagoro:

So we've had massage therapists who have told us, "I never used to ask for Google reviews. And so, the vast majority of my clients never gave me reviews, but they swore by me, they would be effusive about how amazing the session was. Or how much better they feel after they see me. They give me these live verbal testimonials, and yet it's never showing up online."

Chinwe Onyeagoro:

And so, she at some point said, "Okay, I'm going to bite the bullet and I'm going to build something in that automatically ask them for a review directly after my session with them. It's just an automatic text message they get, as they're walking out of my studio." And she went literally within her zip code, she went to the absolute top for massage therapists in terms of the number of Google reviews she got, because people were just walking out like, "Oh, sure."

Chinwe Onyeagoro:

And many of them didn't actually even write a review, they just sent five stars, because it was quick. So you don't actually need them to write an opus, they just need to give you that five stars or those four stars. And you will automatically move to the top on Google reviews or on Yelp. And that, I'm sure many of you know, that makes all the difference when someone is doing a massage therapist near me search, or when someone's looking for someone new to work with. Usually people don't get past the first three providers on that Google results page.

Chinwe Onyeagoro:

So, if you were at the top, your hit rate is going to be huge. So, just building in that request for review, that requests for referral, after a session with folks, whether it's showing up in their text message or printed automatically on their receipt, somewhere where they're going to be able to see it, or when they're booking you the next time, "Hey, will you leave me a review?" At some point when you have their attention, asked for it, build in that automated ask, and literally it'll 10X the number of reviews you're getting overnight.

Chinwe Onyeagoro:

And that same massage therapist said, when she was doing it manually, she stopped because things got busy, she started growing, her reviews plummeted, and then she put into place this automation and they went right back up, literally at the same level, if not more, she was getting than when she was doing it manually.

Chinwe Onyeagoro:

So, I think that's one we undervalue because it's effectively helping you acquire new customers, these reviews and referrals. So you can't take it for granted. And it's something that you can literally build into your workflow in terms of an automation.

Michael Reynolds:

Yeah. That's the one thing I think... it is one of the easiest thing to implement with the biggest impact, reviews.

Chinwe Onyeagoro:

Interesting.

Allissa Haines:

To just have it be something that happens automatically, so takes the pressure off of me because then I'm not standing in front of a client being like, "Tell me my massage is really good." They're just getting a text or an email or whatever that they're like, "Oh, this is a common business practice now. And yes, I got a great massage, and yes I want this massage therapist to succeed because I need them to be here for another 10 years."

Chinwe Onyeagoro:

Exactly.

Allissa Haines:

It's such an automatic and known thing for people to do now, that it's not so scary. And just having it happen without you being like, "Could you leave me a review?" Is so nice. It makes me feel less goofy.

Chinwe Onyeagoro:

I love your jazz hands, Allissa.

Allissa Haines:

Yeah. I do a lot of gesticulating during this podcast.

Chinwe Onyeagoro:

For folks who are worried about... sorry, just one point on that, Michael. For the folks who are worried about spamming their clients like, "Oh, I don't want to send them every time they come." There're ways to create settings where, "Hey, this is only going to go out to your clients once a year."

Chinwe Onyeagoro:

So, if you've asked them once, you'll never ever have to ask them again, or you can do it a little bit more frequently. But it is important to ask them multiple times, it can't be a one and done, because as you all know Google, it prizes recency. So, if your reviews are old, it'll actually deduct points from you in terms of your ratings and your ultimate ranking.

Chinwe Onyeagoro:

So you want to keep them fresh, and oftentimes you may need to include even in the messaging to your clients like, "Hey, if you've left me one before, I really appreciate you updating it," because this, unfortunately, matters in the rankings and in the reviews. So clients totally get it and they lean in.

Michael Reynolds:

Right on. Well, this has been really great. Is there anything we've left out or anything you would like to add before we wrap up, when it comes to advice for automation, for massage therapists? Anything we haven't asked, anything you would add?

Chinwe Onyeagoro:

Yeah. I would say two things. One is, when we talk about massage therapists working for themselves and living a great life, a huge part of it is really about repeat clients. We worked so hard to get those first time clients, but ultimately it's the repeat clients that steady your income and then ensure that you are in a position to keep doing what you're doing.

Chinwe Onyeagoro:

And so, investing a bit in automation related to getting repeat business, I think is really important. I've talked about packages. I do think subscriptions are a really powerful model. I don't think they're for everyone, but I do think if you have regular clients who you're seeing literally twice a week, twice a month, three times, consistently for years, you're in a position to potentially put some of those folks in autopilot.

Chinwe Onyeagoro:

If you have folks that you know you really have to see, to really accomplish what they're trying to accomplish over that period of time, they're in a position to be put into autopilot in terms of creating a subscription plan for them that allows you to serve them.

Chinwe Onyeagoro:

So, I would just consider what is your strategy to get folks from that first time visit to potentially the second visit, to a repeat client status. Packages are an option, subscriptions are an option, repeat appointments, just scheduling those appointments out is an option. So you don't have to-

Allissa Haines:

I was just going to jump in with that.

Chinwe Onyeagoro:

Yeah. You don't even have to collect payment, but just getting the commitment, putting it on the calendar, getting their ideal dates and times, all of that, steadies your income, and extends your relationship with the client, and enables you to accomplish the work that you're trying to do together.

Chinwe Onyeagoro:

So, I would really, really encourage you to think about that first client experience and then think about how you get each client that is a good fit to a repeat client status. So that's one point. And then I think the other just broad point is just, I know automation may feel scary, but the beauty of automation is you can just take it one step at a time, pick the most annoying thing that you just would love to not do anymore, and let's just start with that.

Chinwe Onyeagoro:

And that could take three to five minutes to just build that automation in, you can start to see the benefit of it, and then you might say, "Hey, look in a re-up, let me find the next, most annoying thing." So you don't have to do it all, it's not an implementation of a big business software where it's like, "Six months implementation before you get any value."

Chinwe Onyeagoro:

No, you can do one automation at a time, three to five minutes a week even, and you'll see a tremendous amount of value and that then builds both confidence and really the business case for doing more automations across your business.

Michael Reynolds:

Nice. Thank you. Allissa anything you would add?

Allissa Haines:

Yeah. So, Chinwe and I did an Instagram live several weeks ago and it was super fun, but she's super startled me by asking me, "Hey, what are you watching on Netflix right now?" And, so yeah. Chinwe, what are you watching on Netflix right now?

Chinwe Onyeagoro:

Oh, you're killing me. Oh, no.

Allissa Haines:

Yeah. That's right. How do you like that?

Chinwe Onyeagoro:

Okay. So, my favorites... Okay. So, there're some series that I actually watch once every year or two years. And one of my favorite series is West Wing. I just love that.

Allissa Haines:

Oh my God. I love that.

Michael Reynolds:

So good.

Chinwe Onyeagoro:

I'm obsessed with C.J. Cregg, Josh Lyman, Toby.

Michael Reynolds:

So good. All of them. Yes.

Allissa Haines:

Yes.

Chinwe Onyeagoro:

I'm like, "Why can't we be friends. I think we'd be friends in a different life." So, that's one that I've watched. And then the other that has really caught my attention. I'm really big into legal thrillers, political thrillers, crime thrillers, it's an international foreign one, but it's called Lupin. If you've ever heard of Lupin on Netflix, it's new series, it is subtitled, it's French, but it is just extraordinary. It's really, really good.

Allissa Haines:

All right. I'm going to check that out.

Chinwe Onyeagoro:

Yeah. If you're interested, it's on season two. If you're interested, check it out, it won't disappoint.

Allissa Haines:

That's fantastic. Michael and I are both obsessed with West Wing.

Chinwe Onyeagoro:

Thank you for paying the favor.

Allissa Haines:

Okay.

Michael Reynolds:

Yeah. West Wing is so good. I almost cried when that series ended. I was like, "Not over."

Allissa Haines:

I know.

Chinwe Onyeagoro:

There is no reason for it to end.

Michael Reynolds:

Keep going forever, ladies.

Chinwe Onyeagoro:

Find a new president.

Allissa Haines:

Did you listen to the whole podcast, the West Wing weekly podcast?

Chinwe Onyeagoro:

I used to listen to that podcast. That was a nice... okay, we've got this still.

Allissa Haines:

Side note. Hrishikesh Hirway, the host on the West Wing Weekly podcast is also a composer and he composes for some video games and he made a soundtrack for a video game called the Red Lantern, and it's fantastic massage music. So segue to that everybody.

Michael Reynolds:

Well, that was a fun fact. All right. Well, Chinwe, thank you so much for being here. We really appreciate it. And I love your story of leaving the big fancy corporate environment and taking all that knowledge and fighting for the solopreneurs like us. So we appreciate that.

Michael Reynolds:

It's been great to hear that journey and great to hear more about you. And I love hearing your advice on automation for a solo massage therapist. So let's wrap up one more time with a shout out to PocketSuit, and Allissa, you want to share the offer again?

Allissa Haines:

I do. Rock on PocketSuite, Massage Business Blueprint listeners can get 25% off your annual premium subscription for your first year with PocketSuite, you can go to massagebusinessblueprint.com/pocketsuite to check it all out. And I'm going to note that all of the automations that we talked about today can be done in a lot of different ways with a lot of different programs, and they can be done in PocketSuite, because it is your all-in-one app that will just make all of the things easier and in a user-friendly HIPAA compliant app. That's what I have to say.

Michael Reynolds:

All right. Fantastic. As a PocketSuite [inaudible 00:47:00] massagebusinessblueprint.com/pocketsuite, to take advantage of our offer. All right, we've been talking with Chinwe Onyeagoro. Chinwe, thank you so much. If people want to find you, is there a good place you tell people to find you or just reach out to PocketSuite? What's the best way?

Chinwe Onyeagoro:

Absolutely. Check out our website pocketsuite.io. And you can email me at chinwe@pocketsuite.io as well. Looking forward to connecting with all of you awesome massage therapist entrepreneurs.

Michael Reynolds:

All right. Fantastic. Thank you so much Chinwe. And thanks everyone for joining us as always. If you want to reach out to Allissa and me, you can find us at massagebusinessblueprint.com. Have a great day. We'll see you next time.

Allissa Haines:

Bye.

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