Small businesses often struggle with a lack of resources. As the business owner, you have valuable expertise and skills that can bring your business to the next level. But you can often get bogged down with administrative tasks and try to micromanage your business at its own expense. Running a successful small business means knowing how best to invest your time and resources to deliver results.
This is especially true for appointment-based businesses. You need to ensure your calendar is fully booked to make money, but the actual administrative task of scheduling can be time consuming.
Here are three ways an online scheduling software can automate scheduling and free up valuable time for you to focus on growing your business.
1. Real-Time Online Appointment Booking
Online booking makes it possible for clients to book appointments anytime anywhere, even when your business is closed or you are serving other clients. This means your calendar is getting filled even when you are not around.
By directing clients to book online, you are also significantly reducing the volume of calls and emails you receive for appointments, providing valuable time that can be spent developing new business or providing more/better customer support.
What’s more, you can easily integrate the link to online booking in your advertising or social media campaigns, making it simple for individuals who find you online become new clients.
2. Automated Appointment Reminders and Confirmations
It’s not enough to book new appointments – you need to make sure clients are attending their appointments. Last minute cancellations and no shows cost you money. Calling clients one at a time to confirm their presence helps but is extremely time consuming. Leaving voicemail and playing telephone tag also makes this a frustrating process.
You can easily automate this process with email and/or SMS reminders. This is a convenient and non-intrusive way to reach your clients. In turn, they can easily confirm their appointment with the simple click of a button.
Confirmations and cancellations are automatically updated to your calendar. If you have clients on a waiting list, you can even automate notifications allowing them to fill a spot that has just been vacated.
3. Automated Staff Notifications
Coordinating staff schedules and distributing appointments can also be labour intensive, especially if you employ a lot of part-time or independent workers. Online scheduling applications are accessible from any computer, tablet or mobile device with Internet access, making it easy for staff to consult their schedule when needed.
You can even take it one step further and empower staff to securely manage their own schedules. In fact, many software applications allow staff to book, cancel and/or modify appointments for themselves. They can even make changes to their schedule if you authorize them to do so, for example in the case of a sick day or doctor’s appointment. This eliminates much of the back-and-forth between you and your team, without you sacrificing control of your agenda.
Other staff management features to look out for include email notifications when a new appointment is booked, syncing appointments with employees’ personal agenda (ex. their iPhone, Google calendar, Microsoft Outlook, etc.) and SMS notifications for last minute changes to schedules.
Managing appointments do not need to be a frustrating experience – nor should it take up the bulk of your workday. There are a wide variety of online scheduling applications on the market to meet different needs. These apps can generally be purchased on a monthly subscription model with no upfront costs or contract required. This makes for an extremely budgetable business expense that you can try out at no risk to you. It’s worth the shot: by automating simple scheduling tasks, you are taking the first steps to a more profitable business.