Mobile phones lower overhead costs, help small business owners stay organized


Amanda Ellerbrock, co-owner of Revitalize Spa & Salon in Ottawa, demonstrates how she uses her cell phone to look up hairstyle ideas when working with a customer.
Amanda Ellerbrock, co-owner of Revitalize Spa & Salon in Ottawa, demonstrates how she uses her cell phone to look up hairstyle ideas when working with a customer.

OTTAWA — When Kathy Heeter switched to exclusively using her cell phone for her business, the amount of business she had doubled.

She used to miss calls on her landline. If the caller didn’t leave a message, she’d potentially lost a client. Now, if people call and don’t leave a message on her mobile phone, she can just call them back.

Heeter, a licensed massage therapist, opened The Massage Studio on Main in Ottawa in March 6 and has since used her smart phone to access her business’s website, schedule appointments, text clients, deposit checks, process clients’ credit cards and more.

Using her smart phone has made her more efficient.

Amy Sealts, executive director of the Ottawa Area Chamber of Commerce, said she first started seeing business people use their smart phones more a couple of years ago.

“Before it was kind of like a side factor,” she said. “They can’t always be on location … it makes it easier for them to kind of step away when they need to.”

It can also help cut overhead costs, like those of a credit card reader, a cash register and more.

Sealts has seen small business people use their smart phones for scheduling, marketing and banking.

At Revitalize Spa and Salon in Ottawa, co-owner Amanda Ellerbrock uses her smart phone to text or call clients, email, pull up hair ideas on Pinterest and take before and after photos.

Sealts said she’s even seen some stylists post on Facebook if they’ve had a cancellation and have an opening.

“It’s helping them fill up their schedule and bring more income to their business,” she said.

The increasing use of cell phones to run a business also means that “more of these businesses are out doing business,” said Cindy Tenwalde, vice president of the Lima/Allen County Chamber of Commerce.

“It helps the consumer because business is more accessible to them,” Tenwalde said. “So I don’t always have to go into a physical store to get the services I want.”

It also helps small businesses reach their customers more quickly, she said.

Many small businesses are also getting rid of their landline or not getting one in the first place, Sealts said, though she’s mostly seen that in the service industry.

Heather Liening, owner of photography company Xpressions by Heather in Lima, has always used her cell phone number for her business.

“It’s more convenient to have one number always with me,” she said. Now, she uses her iPhone to schedule appointments, take calls, email clients, post on social media and more.

It helps her on the bookkeeping end as well, as she uses a card-reader that connects to her phone and does her bookkeeping through a program on the device.

“Everything’s synced,” Liening said.

Though it’s easier to stay organized and less expensive to use her phone for those things, there are drawbacks.

“You can never get away from work,” Liening said.

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