The Benefits of Online Scheduling

By Brian Bechut

How to set up an online booking and scheduling service for a hairdresser, beauty therapist, personal trainer, school, or university

The old way. Writing down appointments in a big diary that is on the table by the phone is just so old fashioned. Anytime that the phone rings then someone has to stop earning money for the business and take the phone call, find an appointment time that works for the client and then write it in the book. They then have to remember to send a message or email to that person before the appointment to remind them of the time. The appointment book is stuck on the table by the phone and is difficult for a few people to look at and can only be used to make appointments while the business is open.

The new way. An online system can work so much better. The client can make their own appointment at any time of the day or night. They can see for themselves what time slots are available and find one to fit in with their own schedule. Some of the online appointment programs can also send an email or even a text message to the client to remind them when the appointment is due and this can cut down dramatically on the number of “no-shows” in the business. The online calendar is also available for staff to view at any time so a stylist or masseur can see what appointments have been made for them on the following day without having to ring the office or shop.

The setup. Online appointment systems can also be used for booking of physical resources including meeting rooms, equipment hire and classrooms in schools. The setup is slightly different but the principle is the same so that the appointment book is visible and accessible by a wide range of people. Setup for appointment systems can vary from a basic 15 minute setup to taking several hours to include specific timeslots and a range of available services that can be booked online. There are also some companies who can prepare more complex bespoke systems.

The competitive services. When looking to buy an online appointment service there a few things to look out for. Check that the system works for the type of company that you are – is the appointment schedule flexible enough to accommodate your booking times? Has it been setup to be used in your country (many will only work for the US) What is the ongoing cost? Some charge a monthly fee (eg Appointmentplus.com have services from $39-$79 per month) and some are free to start with but charge a subscription for extra services (eg Setster are free for less than 10 appointments per month but charge up to 30 for the full service), and some are completely free (eg Clickbook.net).

Brian Bechut is a marketing specialist who helps small companies to grow to big companies. He specialises in creating and executing practical marketing plans to fulfill the requirements of the business owner. Recently he has been helping companies with their online appointment systems. Brian can be reached via email for more information.

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