Practice Management Technology
Technology for your Practice
Technology was designed to make our lives easier. I get overwhelmed sometimes with Facebook, Google+, Twitter, Window 8 Apps, Texting on my phone and now HootSuite™. Where did my day go?
Practice Management Software (PMS) is designed to help you run your business of massage. Remember, you’re in the business of providing massage to your clients. When setting up your business, you need a financial system (keeps track of your Income and Expenses), credit card processing and Point of Sale system (POS), bank accounts, scheduling system (Paper vs. Electronic), web site and social media. Having everything in one system (PMS) is the ideal way to go. If there was one system that did all of this for us, we’d all be in a better place with our businesses.
Before you dive into picking software that works for you, you have to understand your process of doing business. This is unique to your business or it can be “Best Practices” in running a Massage Business. How does one make an appointment? Do they call? Do you play phone tag all day? Email? Facebook you? Do you require a credit card to make an appointment? How do you check them out? How do you track the appointments completion? How are you charging them for no-shows? How are you storing their credit card information? Most of these answers are governed by laws or contracts with other businesses. So you have to get knowledgeable in what each one requires. Most of us are electronic and the ones that aren’t are afraid to give up control. And that is OK.
Knowing your Business
First you need to know what you need in a system. Sit down and write out your issues with doing business. Then write out scenarios that you do on a daily basis when running your business. Make sure you are working on the things that work and include the issues you wrote out as well. With these scenarios, you evaluate your systems that you want to test. Most will have free trials.
Each scenario should be rated as Must Have / Nice to Have. As you test the software, you mark each scenario with Pass, Fail, work around available. This is very important for you to measure. If you can’t live with a function of the software you’re purchasing, then why purchase it? If a feature like Online Scheduling is important to you, and it fails, then you don’t want to purchase it. If keeping all your client records in one place and it fails, then you want don’t want to purchase it.
How important is integration to other systems you currently use? I’m a huge Microsoft Power User. I need my Outlook Calendar and email. So when my software doesn’t integrate with my Outlook, I’m not going to purchase it.
I took a look, at the most popular systems most of us are using or thinking about using within a reasonable price range ($0.00 – $400). I reviewed GenBook, Schedulicity, Full Slate, Mindbody, Massage Office Professional V3.0, Practicemate and AdvancedMD. Firstly, I’m disqualifying Practicemate and AdvanceMD from this article due to pricing and online scheduling. Massage Office Professional (MOPv3) offers everything except online scheduling, but has very powerful Customer Relation Management (CRM) processing.
Before you choose a software package, I’m sure you have a business issue that you are trying to solve. Online scheduling is so popular and everyone is moving that way. Even our doctors are moving to online scheduling. Not to mention some restaurants have online ordering and a delivery time you can schedule. I have evaluated these systems based on the following:
- Online Presence
- Credit Card Processing
- Appointment Controls
- Social Media
- Integration with other systems
Do you already have a website? Most of us do and so we need something that will integrate nicely into our website that we’ve spent money building. Some of these PMS have integration by using a Widget or web code. A Widget is a self-contained coding that you just drop onto your Facebook page or blogging site. Widgets are fun to use but not always the best thing for your website’s look and feel. Web code is usually more customizable for the look and feel of your current website. I found a few of these that have both, so knowing what you want is important.
The other great thing I found when looking at the integration with your website is do they offer any kind of help promoting your business. I really liked Mindbody’s Jill’s List, iSpa, and Spa Finder and Schedulicity’s search by zip code. Although there are pro’s and con’s to every search site, every impression counts.
Credit Card Processing
When you move from a paper office to online systems, most of us have a credit card processing system already in place. I know Square is very popular, but I’m sad to report, when evaluating these PMS, not one offered Square as an integration solution. That left us with, PayPal, X-Change, Stripe, Authorize Net, Transgen and Bluefin Payment Systems. I am familiar with some of these systems but not all. When you have a contract with a credit card processing system, you have to do the research when cancelling one and starting out with another. The cost can be minimal and sometimes costly to break your contract. This will also contribute to your decision on the PMS you chose.
If you are going to use a system that has credit card integration, you want to use the one that they recommend. Keep it simple and keep everything within one system. I like having my POS within my PMS. When we had two systems, one credit card system and one “Cash Register”, LMP’s forgot to post the credit card payment and we would bill the client erroneously. When you have it in one system, there are no mistakes. You can’t check the appointment out without running a credit card or settling it to cash.
When talking about price with companies, most pricing is based on volume, number of users or one price for everything. Whether you use all the features, knowing what you need is important. Also, can you afford the monthly or yearly expense of the system you use. Remember to keep in mind how much time it will save you performing within your business. I know the time I spent playing phone tag with some clients, it was well worth every penny on an online system. Put the power of booking the appointment in the hands of the client.
The range of these systems is $19.95 – $75.00 per month ($239.40 – $900 per year) for one user. So for the single practitioner, this cost is minimal in the scheme of running your business and a valid expense. As you add users to your business, the pricing gets a little more complicated. Schedulicity and Genbook give you multi-user at $39.95 per month ($474.40 per year). Full slate and Mindbody incremented based on the number of users 1 to 5 and 6 to 10.
Setting up your services for people to book is the easy part. Whether you ask for a credit card before they can book is more complex. Most systems are either all or nothing, meaning you ask everyone for a credit card or not. Genbook allows for you to do global or individually. Asking for credit cards before a service is rendered opens a lot more questions on security of storing someone’s credit card to what happens when you have to use it for a no-show.
(Always require credit card for this client to book with you)
Are you a Facebook’er or Google +’er? Are you a tweeter? How about a newsletter to your clients? Your clients love you and therefore want to hear from your business of massage. Are you running a special? What’s New? All these are great reasons to use Social Media. Schedulicity, hands down, did an excellent job with the Newsletter. Not only does it have many templates to choose from, it recorded the history in each client’s records. Genbook does a survey email to the client after their appointment. Full Slate will send a reminder email after a set number of days of the last appointment. Mindbody and Massage Office were lacking in this area. Mindbody does integrate with Constant Contact which is great if you use Constant Contact.
Since I’m a huge Tech Geek and use to work in the industry, I love my gadgets. Android vs. iPhone. Most of these systems are either optimized for one or the other and a few both. Whether you are an Android or iPhone fan, you most likely will make your decision on your PMS based on whether or not you can do it from your phone. So keep this in mind when looking at the different systems.
Integration with other systems
I use Constant Contact for my email newsletter. There are many to use, but most common are Mailchimp, iContact, and the fairly new one Infusionsoft. There were no others around that did any integration with any other software companies when I chose the PMS we use (2007). Here are the reviews for 2013 Email Marketing Software ( http://email-marketing-software-review.toptenreviews.com/index.html) and another good article from Crazyegg (http://blog.crazyegg.com/2012/12/17/email-marketing-software-reviews/). Whichever you use, integration within your PMS system can be important. Mindbody did a great job in every new client is automatically added to Constant Contact. When the new client gets the first email newsletter, they can then Opt-Out of Constant Contact.
Facebook integration is great to have but is it necessary? Do your clients want everyone to know they are getting a massage? Well it’s good for you but not everyone likes to Facebook their personal appointments. Most of the reviews of these systems did a great job with Facebook. No one integrates with Google +.
Since you most likely have a credit card processing system on your desk now, if it’s not one of the ones listed, then you will have issues finding a solution. Unless you are using Intuit Quickbooks, which we’ll discuss later.
Mindbody and Massage Office give you reporting nirvana. If you like reports, these two systems give you every report you need and then some. As for the others, reporting isn’t quite the features they give you. Reporting is nice to have since you most likely have a Financial System to keep track of your Profit and Loss, balance your checking and savings account and pay taxes from. If your current system for online scheduling and PMS doesn’t have reporting capabilities, you’ll have another solution to solve.
Putting it all Together
A good flow of your business process is important to be successful and keep costs to a minimal and profits to a maximum. Michael E Gerber states “Facing low reimbursement rates and more restrictions and requirements make it harder for us to make a living” (e-Myth Physicians). Choosing the correct system to help you run your business is vital to the success of your business.
Practice Management System
Casting a Net
Most of us have websites and our clients usually find us on the web. Whether it’s from the insurance companies website, Google, Yelp, Facebook or Google +. Once they get to your phone number or website, Online Booking with all the customer information is an easy solutions. All of the systems seem to do this well except for MOPv3.
Customer Relationship Management (CRM)
Now that the client has shown up for their appointment, a good CRM is crucial in the electronic world of your PMS. Having all the information about the client, Name, Address, Email, Phone numbers, Medicine they take, Injuries current and past. How did you find them? Have they referred someone to you or got referred to you? Mindbody and Massage Office do a great job on this and allows for reporting. Your CRM should help you build your practice by maintaining referral information and what source was your initial referral from. It should also give you a summary of the person’s account in a few clicks. A true CRM system will give you the ability to make a few clicks and get the information you may need. I really liked Full Slate’s “Send Email” button on the profile page. It popped up a list of templates to choose from or you can free form the email in its own message system. What I didn’t like is there is no history of the email ever going out.
(Full Slate – Send Message and Templates)
With all the other systems, it opened up Outlook and I had a history of the email in my Outlook. Mindbody will record a system generated email like reminders and scheduled confirmations within the log history.
Massage Office Professional v3.0 – Maintain Clients
Since we are medical providers we chart for every visit. MOPv3, Mindbody, and Genbook do a good job doing this. Genbook and Mindbody are free form. MOPv3 is where it overcomes all the other issues of Online Scheduling and such. There are many systems that have Online Scheduling and that’s all they are good for. MOPv3 has the charting with the pictures you can draw on and if you have a color printer you can print them out in color. There are other Charting systems out there like Soap Vault, Soap Notes for iPhones and iPads and many other Electronic Health Records system. For the systems I tested Mindbody did a great job on the charting and the ability to print out charts for medical reviews and Personal Injury Claims. If you are a single practitioner, Genbook and MOPv3 is cumbersome where you have to print each out individually. So keep this in mind when you chose a system.
The Whole Story
You are the only one that can determine which system works best for your business. Putting many systems in place and having to do dual entry in all the different systems is not the ideal way. If Online Scheduling is all you want with some Social Medial tied in, then Schedulicity, Full Slate and Genbook are your go to systems. If you need more, Mindbody and Massage Office Professional V3.0 was the best option of getting everything in one place. Mindbody did a better job with Online Scheduling and Reporting. MOPv3 did a better job with Soap Charting and the ability to upload to Office Ally to bill electronically. Not having Online Scheduling was the only thing it was missing. If you use a financial system like Quickbooks, all your POS and Credit Card Processing can be done within Quickbooks. Have an online system for scheduling and then Quickbooks for POS and Credit Card processing. It’s nice to be able to have people pay their invoices online. I wish more medical offices would allow for this. Since we have implemented an online payment system in our office, people have been paying their bills much faster.
Remember – It’s what you feel comfortable with. It’s your system and your processes that govern your Profit and Loss as a business owner. Choose the system that works best for you.
NOTE: The full comparison can be found on Massage Practice Builder by Julie Onofrio’s Website (http://massagepracticebuilder.com/online-scheduling-software-for-massage-therapists/)