“There never seems to be enough time in the day....”
I can’t even count how many times I have said that over the years.
As small business owners, we have so many tasks during the day aside from what brings in the bread and butter - giving massage. It is enough to make you feel like head is spinning, you’re multitasking so hard.
Am I right?
There are definitely some serious downsides to trying to take it all on by yourself.
- You can end up working 80 hour weeks
- Family time can suffer
- All you think about is work, even when you are off
- You don’t have time handle your personal appointments
- You sacrifice your self care
In short, it can seriously impair your quality of life...and potentially kill your career.
So how do we know when it is time to outsource some of the workload?
Thankfully, that is an easy question to answer - whatever you can!
Here is a list of tedious tasks you can give up to help you free up time to focus on what’s really important.
Keeping books is one of the most tedious and time consuming tasks that business owners have to deal with. It’s enough to make you want to rip your hair out and abandon the whole institution of owning a business.
But at the end of the day, there is no getting around it, they have to be done.
Thankfully, in the digital age there are some cost effective and easy means of getting around the brunt of this chore.
Using bookkeeping software, while needing some managing and set up on the front end, can offer some relief from the day to day managing of the books. How much depends on type of software or company that you use. Some are almost entirely hands off, although you will pay a bit more for these. A few programs to take a look at are:
Quickbooks Online - This is probably the most widely used accounting software, it has lots of great features like automated payments, automated download of your banking, estimate taxes, and even track your miles. It is also relatively inexpensive at $10/month for sole proprietors. If you use this company you will need to set aside time to watch the tutorials and set up your account. Otherwise you might find that your books are incomplete and relatively useless at the end of the year. The good news is, once it is established it will need very little maintenance and handling.
Freshbooks - Another really easy to use and functional online accounting software is Freshbooks. It is completely cloud based and can easily be accessed from your phone, tablet, or computer anytime. This makes your bookkeeping and records highly portable which can save you a ton of time. It also has some neat invoicing features where clients can pay online directly on your invoices.
I have often thought that if I still offered mobile massage that this feature would be awesome. I could ensure that my clients prepaid upfront the day of the appointment so I wouldn’t have to worry about accepting money when I got there.
Bench - If you have a bigger business and lots of expenses to keep track of or if you need more comprehensive profit and loss statements and balance sheets then Bench may be the way to go. It is also great if you want an even more “hands off” approach to accounting. When you sign up with Bench, you will get your own bookkeeping team (made up of real people), who will reconcile your books for you. This can be fantastic if all of the number crunching really gives you a headache or if you are prone to putting off your bookkeeping because you really hate it.
Pros - Your team will walk you through set up of EVERYTHING. If you get stuck or need some answers, you will have support that you need. They will even keep you on track and frequently remind you to make sure you check everything that hasn’t been categorized.
Cons - You will have to pay a pretty penny for this service. Most accounts start around $115/month.
When you are choosing your accounting and bookkeeping software, you have to be honest with yourself about what your needs are. While some programs are costly they can give you back time, peace of mind, and high quality of work environment (if running numbers really really isn’t your thing). Others can be less expensive but require more hands on time learning and managing your accounts. Regardless, any online cloud bookkeeping is going to be miles better than the old handwritten records!
I couldn’t write an article about saving time for massage therapists without touching on this baby. If you are a newly minted therapist then you might not yet have the appreciation for the ongoing, endless battle that we MTs have waged against dirty laundry.
And for many of us, this is in additional to the laundry that our husbands (or wives), children, our childrens’ friends, pets, and even our pets’ friends seem to make.
So when is enough, enough?
What is the right time to start outsourcing your massage business laundry?
As soon as possible.
A linen service is the best way to do this, although I have heard of MTs trading with individuals for this. It is a good idea to call around and get some quotes up front. You will also want to have a trial period with the whomever you end up choosing to ensure that it is a good fit for you and your business.
Surprisingly, scheduling can be quite time consuming and if you are not constantly available to get clients scheduled, it can cost you a lot of appointments...which means money out of your pocket.
So, how do we streamline this process and save ourselves time and schedule more appointments than ever?
Online Appointment Scheduling
Having a good online scheduler can do quite a bit more that just allowing clients to easily book their appointments any time of day.
1) It can serve as cloud based client information storage, saving you in space and upkeep costs for intake forms.
2) It can be used to create client email campaigns - like sending newsletters, happy birthday e-cards, and announcing special events.
3) With some programs, you can even automate your entire appointment reminder process, saving you from client no-shows.
Another seriously time consuming task can be data entry. This can include everything from pertinent client information such as soap notes to scanning business expense receipts.
Again, this is where moving into the digital age can help really streamline these processes. There are several online freelance work site that you can use to have these tasks done inexpensively.
Answering phones can be a tricky task for massage therapists. Not only do we often miss calls while we are in appointments, it can be difficult when someone calls right when we are expecting a client in...and they can keep you on the phone when you need to be getting ready.
With a phone forwarding service you can make sure that all your calls are answered whenever you aren’t available. There are several answering service companies that will also book appointments for you as well.
This can be one of your bigger expenses (around $40-$150/month) but can easily triple or even quadruple your booked appointments. The key to finding a good answering service is to choose a company that has a flat rate for a certain amount of calls with a small fee for each call that they answer. This is usually a much better choice than being charged for minutes that they are speaking with your clients or potential clients.
Check with your phone provider to see how many phone calls you receive each month. This will help you choose the right answering service plan to fit your needs.
It is usually a good idea to outsource the cleaning of your office space. Often tedious and time consuming, your effort can most definitely be spent towards much more productive activities.
Many therapists argue that they enjoy cleaning their massage space - but in the end, it just isn’t a good use of your work time. It would be much more financially beneficial to take that same time and direct it towards networking or marketing or even more massages on your schedule.
A cleaning service usually charges around $15-$20/hour - if you make $70 an hour in massage work or $560 for sending out a newsletter requesting clients to book with you - it is in your best interest to outsource the work.
If spending the money on the front end makes you balk and you have the extra massage time, rather than paying for cleaning service, it is quite easy to find someone to trade with. But once you are established and your appointment book is full it is best to just pay for outsourcing this chore.
Make sure that you are keeping track of your cleaning expenses - you can write them off at the end of the year!
Marketing and Advertising
Believe me learning to write sales copy, website content, and newsletters is no easy feat - even if you do like to write! Sometimes it is best to look to the experts to get these tasks done.
I happen to enjoy writing but it can still take me hours and hours to design some really good content that engages my clients.
I don’t believe that you can ever totally outsource this task, your clients need you to engage them personally and it needs to “sound” like it is coming from you. But it also isn’t necessary to spend more than a couple of hours each week crafting your marketing and advertising.
With an abundance of freelancers available at your disposal, you can certainly cut down on the amount of time that you spend muddling over marketing and advertising.
Two really good website I use to locate good freelance workers are Fiverr and Upwork. You can easily navigate and find people who are experienced with all sorts of tasks including:
Freelancers for virtually any kind of marketing or advertising work that you might need help with can be found on these sites.
When looking for a new freelance worker, have 2-3 tasks that you need done in a particular area (such as creating client emails). Hire a couple of promising looking freelancers that have good reviews. Have them each complete a similar task and then afterwards compare their work. From there, you can choose the freelance worker that you resonate the most with.
You might be surprised to see this one on the list, but there are definitely times when outsourcing massages can be a great benefit to you. In fact, it can even be lucrative if you manage it right.
So when is it the right time to send clients to other therapists?
Rather than cancelling your whole schedule when you are sick, you can have another therapist work on your clients. When this happens to me, I will collect the payment from the client and then pay the therapist minus a fee. So I will still make a small amount of money even though I am unable to work. I also retain a hand in working with that client so they continue with me once I am well.
Another good time to outsource is with a client you are having to work too hard with or are not getting good results. Not every client is the perfect fit. Sometimes they talk too much after the massage and make you late for your next client.
Others can require you to work outside your normal massage pressure comfort level - although if you constantly struggle with applying enough pressure might want to check out this modality.
By outsourcing these clients, you create a better work environment for yourself and allowing for more productive massages during your day.
You can charge a small finders fee for passing these clients on to others.
If your schedule is full but you are still getting calls for new clients wanting to get in for massage appointments, you should send them to another therapist!
This can be incredibly beneficial for everyone involved. You can collect a small fee for each client you send to cover your advertising costs needed to market that client. The other therapist gets a brand new client and an opportunity to turn them into a regular. The client receives a good massage in a timely manner. It’s a win-win-win.
The key to being able to effectively refer a client to another therapist is to plan it out! Make sure you have the names and contact information for several therapists with different skills and strengths. Approach them about creating a referral network. If they are amiable, you can then establish your methods, fees, and rates. Write them down so you both understand what will happen in the referral process, this will alleviate any issues that might arise down the line with misunderstandings.
With these methods of saving time (and effort), you can cut your current workload in half. Giving you extra free time that you can spend with your friends and family or focusing on tasks that increase your professional income and success.
Either way, you will truly gain by implementing good outsourcing practices.