Are you using a pen, paper, and planner to schedule your appointments?
Are you wasting your time chasing down clients over email or the phone? What if you don’t have money for a receptionist, so you’re stuck leaving your clients and running to the phone every time it rings?
If you’re a serviced-based business like a salon or yoga studio and you’re looking to save time, get more new clients, and fill up your calendar with booked appointments, then you absolutely should consider online scheduling software.
Simply put: Online scheduling software saves you time and makes you more money. What’s not to love? Today, we’re breaking down exactly what online scheduling software is, plus which options you should consider using to book your appointments.
So what exactly is online scheduling software?
Online scheduling software, sometimes referred to as an online scheduling tool or scheduling app, is an online platform that streamlines the appointment booking process for service providers and their clients. It allows you to manage all your appointments in one place, including scheduling and rescheduling, and (for some apps) transactions and charges related to those appointments.
Using an online scheduling tool is kind of like having a virtual front desk receptionist. Setting up appointments becomes super easy with scheduling apps—clients can book online and providers like hair stylists and fitness trainers can manage their calendars through the app. Some scheduling software—like Schedulicity!—even syncs with your personal calendars, putting all of your scheduling needs in one place.
Who is online scheduling software for?
Any service provider—from dog walkers to spa owners to yoga instructors to tattoo artists—can benefit from online scheduling software to manage their appointments. Some examples:
- Yoga instructors
- Spa owners
- Hair stylists
- Tattoo artists
- Fitness studio owners
- Nail salons
- General cosmetologists
- Day spas
- Piercing studios
If your business relies on booking appointments with clients, you could benefit from the automation that online scheduling software provides. And you’re especially in need of a scheduling app if you’re still using a paper calendar, if you’ve accidentally double-booked a client, or if you’re dealing with persistent no-shows.
How does online scheduling software work?
Let’s start by going over your typical appointment booking process without software.
- A client finds your services online (hopefully) and scans the contact page to make sure you’re open.
- They call you, hoping you’re not with a client and have time to answer.
- If they’re lucky, you’re able to answer the phone.
- You’ll then play a particularly rousing game of dueling-calendars, trying to find a time that works for both of you.
- You’ll put the appointment into your calendar, hoping that you don’t make a mistake (we’ve all made them).
Look at the clock. That’s time you won’t get back. And going through this for all 20 appointments you have to fill in a day? Yikes.
Online scheduling software works by making this whole interaction seamless—and faster. When clients head to your site, they find a clear “Book an Appointment” link that points to your scheduling software page. They can then book on their computers or phone without calling you.The scheduling software shows them your available appointments, which get updated in real time, 24/7, without you having to lift a finger.
Once booked, clients and providers can edit, cancel, or reschedule appointments from any phone, without the back-and-forth. Any scheduling software worth your time should also send automated text reminders to your clients, reminding them of their upcoming appointments. The result is faster booking times but also a reduction of appointment no-shows.
What are the benefits of online scheduling software?
Online scheduling software makes booking hassle-free.
As a service provider that gets paid by the hour, your time is a precious resource. With automatic online scheduling, you will have more time to actually help your clients during appointments. A two-minute phone call to book an appointment doesn’t sound like much, but barbers can book on average 100 appointments a week.
When you’re growing your business, it’s key to make it as easy as possible for clients to book. Having to pick up the phone or get into an email chain is a barrier that will make many clients simply move onto the next provider—one who offers seamless booking that takes no time at all.
Online scheduling software allows clients to book from wherever they are on whatever device is most convenient for them, so they’re more likely to book instead of giving up in frustration and taking their business elsewhere.
You’ll save time on booking appointments.
Remember that three minute call I mentioned earlier? That’s the best case scenario, one that depends on the client picking up the phone, having their calendar available, and that you two can easily find a time that works for both of you. If you have to make these calls for 20 appointments in a day, that’s at least an hour spent on scheduling—or another appointment where you could be making money.
Keep in mind that you’re not billing for the time you spend scheduling, so anything you can do to cut down on time spent on the phone helps your bottom line.
Online scheduling software reduces no-shows and cancelations.
No-shows are one of the most frustrating elements of running a service business—you end up wasting an hour that could have brought in money. Most scheduling software should offer one critical feature to reduce cancelations: automatic text reminders.
Text reminders seriously work: When we ran the numbers, we found that 66 percent of Schedulicity’s salon businesses cut down on no-shows with text reminders. Make sure your online scheduling software offers automatic text reminders, which do the heavy lifting of scheduling work for you.
You can accept payments online.
You want scheduling to be as easy as possible—but something else should be just as seamless: getting paid! Scheduling software allows you to set up online payments for your services.
First, consider setting up pre-payments or deposits. Having clients pay up front drastically reduces cancellations, and ensures that whether a client shows up or not, you’re still making money for their appointment time.
Online scheduling software with payment options also lets you manage your promotions and discounts, giving you flexibility with your payment options and a place to keep track of everything.
Online scheduling apps make booking more accessible.
Not only can clients book through your website on their phone, tablet, or computer, but easy integrations with other platforms mean clients can book on your social media accounts, too. Is your website under construction? In the meantime, make sure your Facebook and Instagram are equipped with a Book Now feature. That way, clients can book you wherever they find you without having to track you down.
You can generate data that helps you get more clients and make more money.
Another added bonus of using online scheduling software is all the comprehensive data that apps track. Did the 10 percent off deal fill up your Wednesday? Is the student discount bringing in more of the younger clientele?
These data metrics can show you how well your marketing efforts and deals are performing. With this information, you can make deliberate marketing decisions based on your previous efforts, so you can repeat the success or stop anything that isn’t delivering.
10 Online Scheduling Tools That Make Life Easier
That’s us! Schedulicity is the destination for service businesses like hair salons, spas, fitness training, dog walking—you name it. Features include class management, waivers and alerts, marketing tools like email marketing and business listings, online payment processing, data analytics, and a seamless booking experience. The app is free with the option for add ons.
AppointmentPlus offers bookings for a huge variety of businesses, from healthcare to logistics to service-based companies to retail. Their packages come with tons of features, including text reminders, payment processing, and analytics. Pricing starts at $49/month.
With Booker, you can list your calendar online, and sell items like gift cards through their e-commerce platform. Pricing starts at $129/month.
Mindbody offers business software for online booking, marketing, and point of sale, integrating into social and making everything available through the Mindbody app. Pricing starts at $129/month.
Beyond online booking and calendar management, Vagaro offers a website builder for your business, an email marketing platform, invoice and form generation, and customer tracking. Pricing starts at $25/month.
In addition to your basic suite of scheduling features, Wellness Living offers the chance to book through Google. Pricing starts at $39/month.
With GenBook, clients can book on social, Google, and anywhere else online you can possibly imagine. GenBook also offers automated reminders and a performance dashboard. Pricing starts at $29/month.
8. Luma Health
Luma Health is aimed at medical professionals, and the scheduling software offers enhanced security to be in line with privacy policies surrounding medical care.
FlexBooker includes standard scheduling features like online booking, automatic email or text reminders, and online payment processing. It also touts enhanced security measures to keep your clients’ information safe. Pricing starts at $29/month.
Mend is the online scheduling destination for medical professionals, offering scheduling features as well as a complex patient management platform. Starts at $69/month.
Online scheduling software can sometimes seem complicated and intimidating, but it shouldn’t be. If you’re a service-based business owner looking to save time, then you definitely should consider using online scheduling software. Remember, Time = Money!
Considering multiple tools? Here’s a simple scheduling checklist to get you started!