Online scheduling apps make your business more efficient — no doubt about it. And the more efficient you are with your time, the more money you can make.
Whether you’re a massage therapist, hair stylist, or yoga instructor, you’re juggling both your client appointments and business management all at once. A specific app for scheduling appointments will allow you to focus on what is truly important — your services. Services build your client base, and, ultimately, bring in the money.
But not all scheduling software is the same. Business scheduling apps and software vary widely in terms of features, price, and even industry, so you’ll need to do some research before you commit.
Your goals should be to get more clients and to get your existing clients to book recurring appointments. 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 app needs to get you the most bang for your buck.
Appointment Scheduling Software 101: Time-Saving Features
1. Flexible Digital Calendar
There is nothing worse than moving your entire year’s worth of appointments over in addition to getting your client list imported, only to find out that you can’t add your next day off.
Make sure you find an online scheduling app that’s intuitive and user-friendly — and that the digital 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 booking 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. Online 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 get you more money.
Try out any scheduling software from the client side before you buy to make sure booking is as easy as possible. For example, Schedulicity offers a preview link, so you can see exactly what the booking process is like for your clients before publishing your listing.
“Schedulicity’s uncanny ability to connect with small businesses was, without a doubt, the deciding factor on my search through about ten different scheduling platforms.
It’s rare to find a company that treats a new business the way I’ve been treated right out of the gate. It’s amazing to know that there’s a big software out there that really cares for the little guys.” —Paul, Education
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 an online scheduling app doesn’t have automatic email and text reminders, it’s not worth your money.
Pro tip: Schedulicity offers both automatic email and text reminders, so you can rest assured your clients are in the know on their appointments or classes.
4. Class and Roster Management
Do you offer fitness classes or art workshops? What about the occasional yoga retreat? You should be able to manage enrollment through your digital scheduling app, including sign-ups, check-ins, and no-shows. Ideally, you should also be able to offer waitlists for popular classes and workshops that automatically enroll clients when there’s a cancelation — all without you lifting a finger.
Some service-based businesses — especially in the fitness realm — require waivers for clients to sign before their classes or appointments. Any scheduling app worth its salt should allow you to create and share waivers, and allow clients to acknowledge the waiver digitally. Waivers and acknowledgements help keep you, your clients, and your business safe in the long run.
6. Clients Alerts
Need a reminder that a client prefers one shampoo over another or has an outstanding balance? Scheduling app for businesses should let you set client 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 apps 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 making you money.
8. Deal Manager
Any online booking 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 — apps for scheduling appointments 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, like Schedulicity, should integrate with payment options like Square or Stripe.
Pro tip: Schedulicity offers contactless payment, sending clients their bill via text message. This way, your clients can pay and tip from the privacy of their own phone!
11. Scalable Features
Be sure the scheduling app you choose for your small business can easily add and remove staff, manage multiple locations, and update hours and services offered. You don’t want to have to change little details, especially at a time when your business is booming. Most online 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 digital spreadsheet or pen-and-paper appointment book? 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 a ton 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 when looking for all the features you need.
The ideal appointment scheduling app, like Schedulicity, is easy-to-use, comprehensive, scalable, and cost-effective. Take all of these factors into account, so you can avoid having the hassle to switch booking apps when growing your business.