How to Choose the Best Appointment Scheduler for Small Business: A Comprehensive Guide
As a small business owner, you’d know the importance of reducing costs while maximizing your working hours. But achieving the desired result would raise many challenges and questions along the way.
Questions like – Are you facing difficulty managing your business? Is your growth rate satisfactory, or did you expect much more? Is it frustrating to answer client calls mid-session?
Sometimes it can get tough to handle everything (staff, clients, and appointments) at the same time.
As a small business owner, automating day-to-day operations should be your top priority in order to save time and money, and correctly invest them into growing your business.
This is where the right appointment scheduler for small business can help you out. There are hundreds of options available, so the task that remains now is choosing the best one that suits your business.
A. First off, what is an appointment scheduler software?
You probably already know what it is but to summarise, an appointment scheduler system is a software that has features designed in a way to help businesses manage their operations efficiently.
Scheduling software simply provides a platform to help organize your appointments (and much more, as you’ll see), so you can focus on other aspects of running your business.
Whether you own a spa or are a trainer at a gym, a scheduling system helps all types of businesses in streamlining their daily operations and eliminating any kind of scheduling friction.
To help you understand what you need to look for when choosing an appointment scheduler for your small business and make an informed decision, we’ve compiled a list of a few key features to consider.
Let’s jump right in!
B. Key features to look out for
Here are some must-have features you’d need/see in the best booking software for your small business:
1. Multi-channel booking
Nowadays, merely having a booking portal isn’t enough. You have to be present wherever your customers are. In short, you need to expand your online visibility.
Most appointment schedulers out there provide customers with a self-branded 24×7 booking portal but what sets some of them apart is the ability to integrate it with other digital platforms like Reserve with Google, Facebook, and Instagram.
- Reserve with Google (RwG) – Most people turn to Google to search for a business near them. Check if your scheduling software is an official partner of RwG to get your business registered to appear in the Google search results.
- Social media – It is extremely essential to have your presence on social media platforms like Facebook and Instagram. Look out if the software offers to add a ‘Book Now’ button on your pages – it provides an ease to the customer in booking an appointment with you.
- Website widget – Some softwares also allow you to enable a booking portal widget on your website, thereby eliminating scheduling hassles for the customers.
2. Calendar integration
A built-in calendar provides the ability to view and manage your appointments varying by day/week/month in one place.
Although most scheduling systems have inbuilt calendars, only a few provide integration and the ability to sync with Google, Outlook, or iCal calendars.
Calendar integration allows you and your staff to stay informed about all the appointments on the go, at any time and anywhere. It also provides the staff with the ability to manage their schedule and stay efficient.
3. Easy client communication
As a business owner, a lot of your time must be spent on handling client calls, emails, and reminders. A good online scheduling software for small business can help you automate this entire process in order to direct your efforts in the right direction.
Automated email and text reminders sent at preset times is the best way to reduce no-shows and save your time. Also, how good would it be if these emails and text messages could be customized to suit your brand image? Check out for that as well!
4. Inbuilt marketing tools
Marketing is critical for the success of any business. While you might already know that marketing is important, it can be challenging to handle the same. And that’s exactly why your appointment scheduler software should have the ability to handle marketing for you with its inbuilt tools.
You should be able to create gift cards, discounts, and offers and share them online to attract new customers during festive seasons (or even lean periods), and retain existing ones.
The software must also provide you with the ability to ask your customers for reviews and share the ones you want on your social media channels.
5. Payment integration
Payments must be quick and easy for both you and your customers. Secure payment and instant checkout will create a good experience for your customers. The greatest advantage of online payments is making your revenue flow directly into your account.
Accepting payments at the time of booking keeps you away from chasing late payments and over-dues.
Most software offers payment integration with their system. But you should look out for systems that offer integration with the most secure and commonly used payment gateways like PayPal, Square, and Stripe.
Once you integrate your payment gateway with the scheduling software, your payment records must stay automatically up-to-date and in sync with your appointment history in your scheduling system.
6. Inbuilt CRM (Customer Relationship Management) tools
You can maintain an extensive customer database by storing important customer data and notes to enhance service, build brand affinity, develop loyalty, and learn from any past mistakes.
A good appointment scheduler software will enable you to store everything from basic client details like contact info and booking history to maintaining dedicated client notes.
Having access to clients’ likes, dislikes, preferences, and booking history can play a major role in elevating your services for them which in return will help you build a solid customer base.
7. Real-time reports and analytics
Regular reports are a valued tool for tracking and analyzing the performance and overall health of a business. Taking data-driven decisions helps your business and revenue growth.
Your scheduling software should give you a complete overview of the daily, weekly, monthly, yearly (as suitable for you) performance of your business.
The software must also allow you to instantly view appointment details to date, client payment details, generate monthly sales reports, etc. to understand where your business is heading and make informed decisions.
C. Study the pricing and choose what fits best
By this time you would have got a fair idea of what to look out for while choosing the best appointment scheduling software for your small business. Appointment scheduling software often comes with different packages that vary in cost depending on the features available.
Small businesses need to be extra careful about how they spend their money. Although subscribing or buying an appointment scheduler is a must, properly assessing the cost is crucial.
1. Type of payment format
How does the software charge you for using the services? Is it booking-based or monthly/annual subscription-based?
Monthly subscription-based is the perfect option for small businesses. A booking-based format will wipe out a good percentage of your earnings and hence, needs to be avoided.
Appointy offers monthly subscription-based plans (annual plans available at a discount) suitable for small businesses. To know more about the pricing and included features, click here!
2. Free trial
Always test the waters before jumping in. Look out for software that offers a free trial. Most respected brands believe in themselves and aren’t scared to offer their services for free for a fixed trial period.
But remember, using a new software can be difficult in the beginning, try to get a hang of it by accommodating some of their features in your daily business operations. A good and free scheduling software for your small business is one that is easy to use, has a good interface, and serves all your needs.
D. Additional factors to consider
As a final point, there are some fundamental requirements you need to look for before you choose the right online booking system for your small business.
1. Data Security
When you start your business, you have access to all your customers’ data and payment details. This data is highly sensitive and confidential and it is crucial for your business to ensure the security of the same.
Potential loss or misuse of data happens because of vulnerabilities in the scheduling software or the cloud service they are using.
So you should ensure that the software offers fully encrypted cloud-based storage on secure and safe servers like Google Cloud. Also, make certain that the company hasn’t been in the news because of data security issues in the past.
2. Customer Support
When using a new software, there might be some occasions when you may run into a few problems. In this fast-paced world, in order to sustain your business, you need to ensure that you get your queries answered instantly.
If the support team isn’t fast and helpful, your business processes will be affected too and that’s the last thing you want.
So, choose a software which provides 24×7 customer service to answer all queries. You can also read reviews about their customer service online. Make sure you choose the one which has extremely supportive customer service.
For instance, Appointy is known for its excellent support team which ensures that all the customer issues are resolved in a timely manner.
Always ensure that the software is compatible with all types of devices – from Android to iOS, or Mac to Windows. It helps you and your staff to continue using the same software even if you plan to change your device.
Also, the best appointment scheduler should offer a scheduling mobile app so that you can keep track of your small business’s schedule at any time and manage it on the go.
Conclusion: Here’s an all-in-one solution for you
The success of any business depends on how happy your clients are. The best appointment scheduler for small business makes you and your business more efficient. It’ll give you more time to deliver better client experiences, manage your business, and as a result, maximize revenue.
Make sure the software you choose meets the needs of your small business, be it flexibility or cost.
You now have all the information related to a scheduling software and now it’s time to decide upon the right one for your business!
We, at Appointy, are committed to providing you with the best appointment scheduler software solution so that you can grow your business faster. We offer everything that you’d want in your ideal scheduling software.
Plus, we offer affordable pricing plans that fit your business. You can find out how Appointy can help your business by scheduling a free demo with our team:
Or, if you wish to start using Appointy and kickstart scheduling for your business, sign up and get started now!
We at Appointy, help business owners grow and run their businesses with our online scheduling software. This blog was a part of our ‘Manage your Business’ category, where we provide expert tips, and resources, or simply talk about the challenges that small and medium businesses face every day.
If you have any thoughts on this blog or would like to chat about your business struggles and achievements, let us know in the comments below.
We love a good talk!