Why Should Your Business Go O.N.L.I.N.E.

Optimize your time. How much time each day must you devote to paperwork, scheduling and accounting? You strive to meet the needs of your clients, but when chained to the obligations of business management, it's just as important to make sure the doors stay open as it is to satisfy customers. By integrating your daily tasks and taking advantage of the amazing Web-based software solutions out there, you can make more time for clients and spend less time behind your desk. Do you work from home? When your business is online, you can manage your business any place you have a connection to the Internet

Nickel here, nickel there. A close second to making your customers happy is your business's bottom line. Save money by transferring workloads. When your clients schedule classes and appointments online, you might not need a full time receptionist. If you choose an online resource that manages schedules, accounting and client information, you won't need separate software programs. Make money by offering series, packages and gift cards online. Identify the squeaking wheel through comprehensive Web-based marketing and sales reports. Find out what is selling, what is not; who is filling classes, who is not; and make necessary changes to grow your business.

Lose the appointment book. You have a staff schedule, a class schedule, a room schedule and your own schedule to manage. That's four appointment books and calendars! Using an online resource that manages all your scheduling needs at once not only streamlines your business, but lets you ditch the paper appointment books and calendars, clearing your desk, your office and your head. Plus, by publishing your calendars online, your customers can manage their own schedules better. With the click of a mouse, they know if there's a class Thursday morning they can make class or not. Plus, your teacher and instructors can see what classes and appointments they're scheduled for and prepare accordingly. Even better, allow your teachers to book themselves as unavailable for things like doctors and dentists appointments.

Innovate. An Internet presence is more than just a Web site. Offering content and information to customers online is valuable, but allowing them to interact with your business on their own time is a precious benefit. When a customer can view your calendar online, schedule a class, and pay for it all from the comfort of home when it's most convenient for them, you've taken a giant step in customer satisfaction.

News! What's happening at your studio? Have you hired a new teacher? Are you offering more classes? Are you adding a location or running a monthly special? A Web site provides the world with instant access to your latest and greatest. Keep customers in the loop and attract the attention of the local media by offering press releases, monthly newsletters, and more online. When cancellations occur, post the notice on your Web site instead of the studio door!

E-Commerce. Make your customers and your bank account happy by offering your services and gift cards for purchase online. Your customers have just about as little spare time as you do. Help them by providing them a way to pay membership fees, purchase class packages or even gift certificates where and when it's convenient for them.

Using a Web-based management tool also allows you to monitor your sales from home when it's convenient for you. Planning a much-needed vacation? Check your sales from the hotel room (or, better yet, the beach).

With over a decade of experience in technology and project management, Joyce Rimmele is an expert in helping businesses organize, focus, and execute. As Director of Marketing for MindBody Software (http://www.mindbodysoftware.com), Joyce helps yoga and Pilates studios, spas, and resorts identify and implement Web-based solutions. To reach Joyce, e-mail her at [email protected].

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