Last month, the Bonsai team sat down with one of our Bonsai coaching partners, Amy, owner of the coaching brand, Dare to Parent. We talked a bit about Amy’s brand, how she discovered Bonsai, and how she uses Bonsai coaching software to automate her workflows and reduce the amount of admin overhead time she spends running her business.
Bonsai: Can you tell us about your business, who you are and how long have you been in business?
Amy: I have been a parenting and stepfamily coach for 6 years, building that out of my position with the school district as the facilitator of parenting workshops. I started as a coach covering general parenting and over the years I started working with couples. I have since niched in to working specifically with step-couples.
"I started as a coach covering general parenting and over the years I started working with step-couples"
I work with couples who are parenting within a blended family or those preparing to blend. There are so many challenges within the stepfamily dynamic that no one prepares them for! My goal is to empower them with strategies, good communication techniques, and parenting tips for that family dynamic because it's very different from a “first family” dynamic coming into a blended family.
Bonsai: For those unfamiliar, can you explain what a blended family is?
Amy: A blended family is any family where one or both partners comes into the marriage with children. Many times the couple will have children together as well.
Many times I’ll get a call from a client saying he or she doesn’t have children of their own but they are marrying someone who does. Becoming a stepparent can be a tricky role to jump into, there are many challenges along the way!
Bonsai: How many clients do you typically work with on any given basis?
Amy: I'm usually working with two to three couples a month.
Bonsai: And how do they find you?
Amy: It is word of mouth or I was very active in Facebook groups. Moms would get to know me that way and connect with me, or they just know me locally because I volunteer with a number of organizations.
But lately it's been Google searches. The last few couples that have touched base with me said they were looking for a parent coach and I popped up, and they liked what I had to say on my website. I did a little work around SEO for my website near the end of last year, so I think that's what's increased.
Bonsai: How do you provide your services, is it virtual, in person or both?
Amy: Since the pandemic, I've been on Zoom. Prior to the pandemic, I was seeing people in person, and then I realized I have the opportunity to reach more people if I’m available virtually.
I've worked with clients from Seattle and LA to the East Coast in New York. Most of my couples are pretty local, though, because they've heard of me from a friend of a friend locally.
Bonsai: How long do engagements last with your clients?
Amy: I offer two different services. I offer a Parenting Strategy Session, which is one and done. We spend an hour together addressing the couple’s specific questions or concerns. I offer some strategies and techniques to try. We usually do a check-in session a few weeks later to discuss how the strategies worked and I’ll coach around other challenges that may have come up during our time apart.
I also have a six-week program called Steps for Success, and that's where I really hone in on the step family dynamics. During that program, we work on building a shared vision, values and goals (their family foundation) and a clear discipline plan. Throughout this process they are doing exercises and participate in discussions that strengthen their parenting partnership. I check in with them a month after our six weeks are done.
My couples typically keep in touch and have follow-up sessions as new concerns arise because being a stepfamily, there's always another challenge around the corner! As a coach, I love those sessions because it’s a matter of small tweaks to the strategies they already have plus I get to see their family growing and changing. As a mom of 3, I know how fast that happens!
Bonsai: How did you find Bonsai and what made you decide to try the product?
Amy: Actually, you were on a list last year as I was looking for a new CRM. You were one of many I was looking at. At the time, someone mentioned another CRM specifically designed for coaches so I tried them. Unfortunately, I found some hiccups and I decided against spending another year with them.
So I went back and talked to a friend of mine, and she said she had used Bonsai years ago, and she was looking at it again considering going back to your service. You guys checked off a lot of the boxes of what I needed, and I thought, I'm just going to go for it and see. Plus, your price point was lower than what I was paying before which, as a solopreneur, I need to watch the budget carefully. So that was important, too. I did the one week trial, and the ease of setting it up was something I hadn't seen in others. I started playing with it and it only took me a couple of hours on a Sunday afternoon. Bonsai was the easiest CRM I’ve tried.
"The ease of setting it up was something I hadn't seen in others, it only took me a couple of hours. Bonsai was the easiest CRM I’ve tried"
It was easy to understand and you have so much training on it as well. I knew it was time to switch over.
I have tried many, some were way too big for what I needed. They took forever to figure out and it felt like I was spending more time setting it up than working on my business. I’m so glad I listened to my friend’s recommendation. I was up and running in an afternoon with Bonsai!
Bonsai: How did you know your business needed a CRM?
Amy: When I started doing workshops about 10 years ago, I wasn’t really intending to do coaching. I was teaching workshops within our school district and having a ton of fun doing it. Eventually, couples from the workshops would ask to meet with me 1:1 for more guidance on how to apply what they learned from the curriculum in the workshop to their unique family.
This is when I realized I needed a way to organize my meetings and notes. I tried a number of CRM’s over the years and some were better than others, and as I mentioned earlier some were difficult to set up and settle into. So I knew about CRMs for quite a while. It was just a matter of spending the time to really dig in again and figure out what would serve me best.
Bonsai: How do you network with other coaches, is it in person or are you part of Facebook communities or somewhere else?
Amy: Well, I do both. Once a week I attend one of our women’s international meetings and then there's a couple of groups that are local subgroups of Evolve Women’s Networking and we all meet once a month.
Bonsai: How did you find these groups that you network with?
Amy: I have found my networking groups from other business owners I know or through Meetup. I'm really busy with Evolve Women's Networking. That group started here in Ohio, and it has spread and now we've got gals in Canada and every once in a while someone else internationally pops into a meeting, which is kind of fun.
So Evolve is the main group I network with. I have other local groups that I meet with as well. Those group meetings lead to 1:1 “coffee chats” to get to know each other better and have led to many other connections.
Bonsai: What were you looking for when you were evaluating the different potential tools for your business?
Amy: One of the most important pieces was ease of set up and use, which I’ve mentioned. As a solopreneur, I don’t need a huge app like a large company would need. For me and many coaches I know, we need something easy to use with features that help us keep things organized so we can focus on serving our clients. As far as Bonsai, in particular, I love that you have contracts, scheduling, invoicing and all the basics in one spot.
"I love that Bonsai has contracts, scheduling, invoicing and all the basics in one spot"
Your automations are clear and simple to set up as well. The templates you have (there are so many!) are really helpful and truly time savers. In fact, I’ve met a few brand new coaches and told them about Bonsai strictly because of your templates so they don’t feel like they are starting from a blank slate.
Oh, and your form templates are great too! Coaches need intake and contact forms and you have them ready to use. Really, it was the ease and the resources that you offer that really checked off a lot of boxes for me.
Bonsai: How was your experience getting started with Bonsai?
Amy: I don't know, because it was easy to use from the start and very intuitive (part of that may be because of my experience with other CRMs). Even beginners could use Bonsai without any headaches. Your chat responses are pretty timely as well. I’ve been very pleased so far.
"Even beginners could use Bonsai without any headaches"
Bonsai: How did you get up to speed with the product?
Amy: I did use the help center. I reviewed quite a number of YouTube videos that gave a behind- the-scenes look at Bonsai and they kind of talk you through how to set up things like scheduling or invoices. Your help center covers quite a bit of information for anybody that's struggling, they can find a lot of their questions answered there.
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