If you’re still booking all of your appointments manually, you’re not using your time efficiently—and you’re likely losing money.
Whether you’re a massage therapist, hair stylist, or chiropractor, you’re juggling both your client appointments and business management all at once. An appointment scheduling app will allow you to focus on what is truly important—your services which builds your client base and, ultimately, brings in the money.
But not all scheduling software is the same. Appointment scheduling apps and software vary widely in terms of features and price, so you’ll need to do some research before you commit.
So which scheduling software features do you need to better run your business? Your goals should be to gain more clients and to get your existing clients coming back for more. To make that happen, you’ll need a mix of booking services, marketing tools, and payment options, all rolled into one easy-to-use dashboard.
Here’s exactly what your online scheduling software needs to get you the most bang for your buck.
Appointment Scheduling Software 101: Time-Saving Features
1. Flexible Calendar
There is nothing worse than moving your entire year’s worth of appointments over in addition to getting your clients imported, only to find out that you can’t add your next day off.
Make sure you find an online scheduling software that’s intuitive and user friendly—and that the calendar is flexible. Can you add new appointments and edit existing ones all in one place? Can you book again, create recurring appointments, cancel, view client details, and mark no-shows without breaking a sweat?
You’ll be using the dashboard daily, so it should be super simple to navigate. Check to see if the software has a trial period prior to making any commitments, so that you can find out all the kinks without spending a dime.
2. Easy Client Booking
New and existing clients should be able to find new services easily from their phones, tablets, or desktops and booking should be totally seamless—so clients don’t take their business across the street to providers who make booking less of a hassle. Group bookings should be quick and simple, so clients can bring friends with them and net you more money.
Try out any software from the client side before you buy to make sure booking is as easy as possible.
3. Automatic Email and Text Reminders
Reminders significantly reduce no-shows, which waste your time and can be a total drain on your bottom line. But you definitely don’t have time to confirm all of your appointments by phone or email, which is why your scheduling software should do it for you. If a scheduling app doesn’t have automatic email and text reminders, it’s not worth your money.
4. Class and Roster Management
Do you offer classes or workshops? You should be able to manage enrollment through your scheduling app—including sign ups, check ins, and no-shows. Ideally, you should also be able to offer waitlists for popular events that automatically enroll clients when there’s a cancelation—all without you lifting a finger.
Some service business—especially in the fitness realm—require waivers for clients to sign before their appointments. Any scheduling app worth its salt should allow you to create and send waivers, and allow clients to sign on the dotted line digitally. Otherwise, you’ll drown in paper that easily gets lost.
Need a reminder that a client prefers one shampoo over another or has an outstanding balance? Scheduling software should let you set alerts so you can keep track of your clients without covering your office in disorganized Post-Its.
Must-Have Marketing Features
7. Email Marketing
Email marketing is critical to nurturing client relationships—from newsletters that announce special deals to thank you notes for repeat customers to event promotion. Scheduling software should come with easy-to-use custom email templates so you can up your email game, and metrics should be included in your package so you can see what’s bringing in the money.
8. Deal Manager
Any scheduling software should come with a platform to manage your deals and promotions, so you can keep track and run multiple specials at once. Deal managers make selling automatic, so deals can run in the background while you focus on providing great service.
9. Online Marketplace or Business Listings
If you have a website and it’s not gaining traction, your marketplace business listing will bring you more visibility to your services.
Business listings give you the benefit of their marketing efforts—scheduling apps are spending tons of money driving traffic to their listings. It’s marketing done for you.
Scalable Features That Grow with Your Business
10. Payment Integrations
Make payment as easy as booking with online payments—including deposits or pay-up-front options. Clients should be able to pay directly through the app, and scheduling software should integrate with payment options like Square or Stripe.
11. Scalable Features
Be sure the scheduling app you choose can easily add and remove staff, manage multiple locations, and update hours and services offered. You don’t want to have to change scheduling app, especially at a time when your business is booming. Most software can handle these changes, but you’ll want to know beforehand to avoid being blindsided when the time comes.
12. Excellent Customer Service
Your scheduling software will become the heartbeat of your business, so it’s critical that the app’s customer service team is on top of their game. Inquire about a service’s customer service options—are they available 24/7? Do they get on the phone or work exclusively over email? Do they offer live chat? You never want to get stuck with a problem without help on the way.
13. Easy Set Up
Do you keep your schedule in a paper calendar or spreadsheet? You’ll need to move your data over to your new scheduling app, which can be tedious and exhausting. Some scheduling apps offer to do the data migration for you—which saves you tons of time. And if they don’t offer data migration, find out the process of inputting your info so you don’t end up with a massive project on your hands.
14. A Reasonable Price for Scheduling Software
Make sure you find an appointment scheduling solution that will work for you—and fits your budget. Many schedulers will have different pricing levels, so be sure to consider your budget in getting the features you actually need. Consider a service that lets you add features a-la-carte, so you can pay for exactly what you need and nothing more.
An ideal appointment scheduling app will be easy-to-use, comprehensive, scalable, and cost-effective. Take all of these factors into account – so you can avoid having the hassle to switch apps when growing your business.