Artichoke is a software for massage therapists that work for themselves. In addition to providing an online scheduling solution, it offers other helpful tools for you to manage your practice and run a successful massage therapy business. In this article, I will share an objective massage software review.
Before I go into the details about Artichoke and what it can do for your practice, I want to share with you the rating criteria I came up with to help provide a more useful and objective massage software review. There are 8 categories of the review criteria. Below is the name of each one and its meaning.
- Pricing. Pricing is most likely the first thing people look at when the look into massage online scheduling software. Once someone knows a price, they pretty much say to themselves “it’s okay” or “it’s too expensive”. Unfortunately, this preconceived notion prevents Massage Therapists from better understanding what the software actually does, compared to how much it costs. My rating system for pricing is based on what the software actually does for the cost to use, as well as in comparison to what else is available (I’ve reviewed 12 different softwares and determined the average cost for using an online scheduling software is about $23 a month).
- Responsive. There are different ways someone can use an online scheduling software. You could use it from your computer, tablet, or smartphone. You could also use an app or a web-based version of the software. This rating criterion is called “responsive” because it will cover how compatible the software is with all of the viewing platforms that you use.
- User Friendliness. You will be using this software every day (or close to it). What helps is if it’s easy to navigate and use. You also want to feel good while you are using it. Why deal with headaches or heartaches because of a bad software that’s not user friendly? From this rating criterion, you will know how you will feel when using this software.
- Customer Friendliness. You’re not the only one who will use this software. It is so important to also make sure that your clients feel good when they use the software! However, they won’t be using it like you do. I’m going to make sure that you know the software is also good for your clients to use.
- SOAP Notes. I’ve added the SOAP notes criterion because I know it’s important for your practice and several massage scheduling softwares include SOAP notes as a feature. But just because SOAP notes are offered doesn’t mean that they’re good. Considerations like how SOAP notes are stored, shared, and what kind of visual aids are available need to be weighted as either pros or cons. I’ve done the research for you and you will have a full understanding of what you can and can’t do with SOAP notes for this software.
- Automation. Part of investing in a massage scheduling software is the ability to automate certain processes. Automation saves you time and money. If your online scheduling software is compatible with your website and social media pages, that will make things more automated. It will further help you feel saner because you won’t have to remember so many things that you need to do. In this rating criterion, I am going to help you know what will save you time and money if you use this software.
- Payment Processing. Yes, some online scheduling softwares take payments. Maybe you want a software that will hold a credit card as a reservation or charge clients for a no show. Payment processing can make your life a lot easier when the software is working right. I’ll be sharing a lot of helpful information about the software’s payment processing capabilities and what it can or can’t do for your business.
- Add-Ons. Sometimes softwares have some cool features that you may have not even considered. I’ll review these features, providing more information about whether they’re worth your time and money.
When reading through each criterion, you will see an overall rating number after the title. I used the familiar “on a scale from 1 – 10” rating system. This number represents the quality of the software, specific to the criterion reviewed. For example, if you see a number 5 in the section, you will know it is average. 1 is poor. 10 is excellent. After each number rating is shared, there will be explanations and examples about how the software provides this feature.
Now that you know the what and how of this massage software review about Artichoke, let’s dive right in.
Software for Massage Therapists- Artichoke Review
Artichoke’s pricing is $25 per month, with the opportunity to do a 30-day free trial. 30 days of free use is generous. (Most massage scheduling softwares offer a 14-day trial.) There is no tiered pricing (tiered pricing means that you pay “x” amount of dollars for “x” amount of features, and pay more for more features). I really like this. It makes things more simple for you, knowing exactly what you get, and not have to be bothered with the upgrades or downgrades. Payments are month to month. You are not bound to a contract or a long term commitment.
If you are a member of ABMP, you can save 20% on a yearly membership. I know I just stated there is no long term commitment but Artichoke must have some special arrangement for ABMP members. It isn’t advertised on Artichoke’s website. 20% off a yearly membership would cost you about $240 for the year, rather than $300. You save $60 a year.
Artichoke has done a really great job to make the pricing very simple to understand. Also, for what you get, $25 a month seems like a steal. (More on what you get is in the Automation criterion section.)
Artichoke is web based with responsive design. This means that you can access the software from any type of device, as long as you can access the Internet. This is both good and bad. It’s good because it’s convenient. Yes, it’s great to quickly login and check something on your phone while at the grocery store or somewhere else that is unpredictable.
The bad part is that you either have to remember the URL or you have to bookmark the login link on every device you use. For example, take this scenario into account. You’re at your best friend’s house hanging out. You realize your phone was left at home and you haven’t checked your massage scheduling software in 6 hours. You’re a little anxious so you ask your friend if you can borrow her laptop to see if anyone scheduled for tomorrow. You open the computer, open chrome, and then what? You have to type in the website of your login page. Plus, you have to remember your username and password (we know how hard that is to remember!).
An app might be more helpful in most cases of using the software. However, in the example above, an app is of no use because you forgot your phone at home.
There really isn’t an ideal option for a massage scheduling software that is responsive to all situations. Artichoke may have chosen the better option by making something that is web based.
User Friendliness- 8/10
When you use Artichoke, it’s like logging into a simple website. The key is to know your login credentials and to know what the login URL is, as noted above. (Every Artichoke URL is something like <your business name>.getartichoke.com) Once logged in, the navigation is pretty simple. There is a column on the left-hand side of the page that tells you exactly where you are and what your next step is.
Sometimes you get stuck without knowing what’s happening or why. When glitches in the software arise, or you have a question about your use, you want to talk to someone about it. The logical thing to do is to contact support. Artichoke has a support system that is set up by a company called Zendesk. This is a good thing because “tickets” are created and it makes sure that your questions/needs get fully answered.
Artichoke also has a platform they call “University” available to help answer frequently asked questions. This saves you time by not having to wait for a response.
Customer Friendliness- 6/10
Your clients will be able to schedule with you in a few clicks of a mouse or taps on a phone or tablet. The thing that I’m not that excited about is that they are taken away from your website (your branding) and pointed in the direction of something created by Artichoke (their branding). Ideally, you want everything to look the same. This has an influence on whether or not your client follows through with booking a session with you. This is all part of branding and it is vitally important to your practice. Artichoke’s branding looks something like this:
Notice the colors; black, white, and gray (and an orange “book now” button). This isn’t too exciting and looks kind of stale. If your website, logo, and marketing colors are purple, blue, or green, then this display on the book now page is going to look very different to your client. This may confuse them. Once they are confused, they might think twice about booking a session. They may ‘x’ out of the page, leaving you short of a new or returning client 🙁
Contrary to the branding challenges, the client user navigation is really nice. It’s easy for them to book a session. If the time is available, they are prompted to confirm. If the time is unavailable, they are offered alternatives. This is very easy. Artichoke has done really well with this aspect of online scheduling.
Once your client schedules, they are sent a confirmation link to their email address. This is a good thing because it helps eliminate chances for a no show but it’s a bad thing because it is an extra thing your client has to do. Ideally, you want convenience for your clients. Convenience ensures more sessions scheduled with you.
Lastly, clients schedule sessions via an artichoke booking URL. This link needs to be embedded/pasted on all digital marketing materials. I didn’t see an option to make the URL something of a subdomain for your website- like schedule.mymassage.com. You would have to do some redirecting through your domain provider, and that gets pretty techy.
SOAP Notes- 6/10
Artichoke’s SOAP notes are pretty basic regarding their design. They don’t offer any cool visual aids. Instead, they focused on features that help you stay organized. They added a search bar in their notes section so that if you have a dozen notes for one client, you can use a keyword to search for a specific note relating to that keyword.
Artichoke also stores notes automatically in your client online files. Again, this is great for organization. If you create a SOAP note, you will need to connect that note to a name.
After looking more into how Artichoke designed their software, I realized they were well intended with helping their customers automate processes and business management. Artichoke offers a lot in this area. Here are some of the things that Artichoke automates and helps you save time and money managing your practice.
- Intake forms can be automatically sent to clients. This can greatly benefit you if done right. It’s a bit technical for setting up (you have to have a web page to link to).
- Client notes are customizable (can make templates) and each note automatically attaches to a client file.
- When a client pays by credit card, their information is stored in the system. When the client schedules another session online, they can select their credit card as the method of payment. Nice.
- The day before an appointment, the software will send an appointment reminder to your client. This is sent via text or email, depending on what they chose when the scheduled.
- When you log into your Artichoke account, you see numbers in a bar graph. This is an automated bookkeeping feature. There’s a lot that the numbers indicate, which is very helpful come tax time (or anytime).
Payment Processing- 8/10
Artichoke has done their best to streamline credit card payments. They assume credit card is the preferred method of payment by every client you work with. There is a process of capturing information to create a one-touch payment process. If Artichoke has assumed correctly that your clients want to pay by credit card (and you want to charge credit card), then the software is going to work pretty well for you.
The software partners with Stripe for payment processing. You will be charged 2.9% and 30 cents per each credit card transaction. This is reasonable and also competitive with most other payment processing companies.
Add Ons- 7/10
There are several add-ons Artichoke offers. Below is a list of some of their featured ones and more information about their usefulness for your practice:
- Client Reviews. They are stored on a “booking” page within your Artichoke account. You can comment on these, copy and paste (or screenshot) them to your website, and invite clients to write reviews. It’s not the best thing for your practice because you actually want the reviews written on Yelp, Facebook, or Google so that new/potential clients see how great you are before getting to your booking page.
- Automated Referral Engine. Artichoke has an “engine” that helps you ask for referrals. You can also track referrals and a total value of each referral. This “engine” is a little foreign to me (how it works) but as long as it doesn’t steer clients away, it can only help.
- Gift Cards. They can be sold and used online. Everything is tracked. You are able to see unredeemed gift cards on your Artichoke dashboard. It’s all automated and it helps your Gift Card tracking stay organized.
- Email Marketing Integration. If you use mail chimp or constant contact for email marketing, client emails will sync when someone new schedules a session with you via Artichoke.
- Fallen Off Clients. Artichoke has a reclaim feature that creates a list of clients who have “fallen off” (haven’t scheduled in a long time). Once you view your list, you can contact your clients and try to get them to reschedule.
Software for Massage Therapists Review- 7.3/10 Overall Rating
Artichoke is a pretty good massage software (7.3 out of 10) to use for your scheduling and practice management needs, especially if you work for yourself. Its functionality is pretty smooth and the company has done their best to make things work with less effort on your part. The price is pretty fair at $25/month. When used comprehensively, you will get more than what you bargained for.
Now that you know the ins and outs of Artichoke, you may be interested in trying the software out to see if it works well with your practice. If so, I would like to help.