Appointy Nine – Why we scrapped our code that took 9 years to build?

This blog is about why and how we were able to scrap 9 years old code and started thinking fresh.

Chapter 1:
APPOINTY IN THE MAKING

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Between 2004 to 2006, we used to develop websites over WordPress for the Health and Wellness industry. There was a WordPress plugin for almost every need – except a scheduling plugin. We got so many requests for a scheduling plugin, that we could not keep up!

So, we wrote our own script. A script that would allow us to save time by not having to build the same code again and again. One of the first challenges that we faced was that every vertical has specific requirements. So, we created scheduling rules to generalize our script for different verticals.

Soon the demand for scheduling increased and Appointy first went live in Jan 2008 with “Do it Yourself” concept.

Unfortunately, in our zeal to please every customer, we kept on adding features and Appointy become overwhelming. And then the same customers started complaining. We realized that we are moving away from the Do-it-Yourself concept. So we went back to the drawing board with the idea to make it simple again while keeping the functionality.

It costed us one whole YEAR. But we learnt an important lesson.

Appointy is a bootstrapped company (never raised any external funds) and had to make money from customers to survive. We believe that the best way to make money is to solve someone’s problem first and then ask for a fair price. The more we can help our customers, the more we will grow.

We started improving our on-boarding and support process. But we soon realized that every business is unique in nature and needs something different. It simply meant that we not only needed to add to our support team but also that we needed to get more programmers. We needed a way to scale vertically in all departments.

We started hiring more programmers. After a few months, during a scrum meeting, a new team member shared that he was happy that something that he had written was live on our production site. For him, it was definitely an achievement. However, I was not happy. I realized that there is something wrong in our setup if it is taking months for new programmers to becoming productive.

It was time to move out of comfort and take some bold decisions. We could simply not scale as quickly as we wanted at this rate!

 

Chapter 2:
HARDEST BUT ONE OF THE BEST DECISION

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Next day, I talked to a few senior guys and tried to understand the problem. The problem came down to the architecture that we created 9 years ago. Technology is changing every year and so technically, we were almost 9 years behind.

I did not know how to tell my team to change the entire code they have been writing for 9 years. I didn’t want to look crazy and decided to first take the plunge myself. After all, I was once a programmer myself (and a pretty good one at that :)!)

I always write down an objective before starting any new task. So here was my objective – Create a modular architecture with a learning curve of less than a week and develop a blazing fast app.

If Google can fetch the right results from trillions of rows in less than a second then why can’t Appointy.

I came across a term RxJS on Angular.io. Followed the topic for a few hours and really liked the idea of streaming the data. The concept was simple, would you watch a video on Youtube if you had to wait 5 minutes every time you wanted to watch?

I decided to give it a try but the reality was I couldn’t do it myself. I would need help from the senior guys.

Next day, I just explained the streaming concept to my team and tried to create interest. For the next few days, I continued the process until our rock stars (who are way better programmers than me now) picked up the rhythm. The first seed of change was sown.

In a few days, we were able to implement the entire streaming concept in the existing code of Appointy. As expected, it was working well, but was not great. We needed to do more.

 

Chapter 3:
TIME TO UNFOLD SUSPENSE

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There were 2 more issues that still needed to be addressed

  1. User Interface and User Experience (UX/UI)
  2. Loading speed

1.5 months had already gone and we had only gained knowledge. No action yet. I was not able to ask the senior guys to work on UX/UI else they would know that we are trying to scrap the old code and I didn’t know what would have happened.

So, I decided to work with one of the interns we had hired. This new intern had a different approach to coding. He wanted to be fast, faster than anyone else. He helped me implement tools so that I could check the changes live and give him feedback instantly. We both started coming early at 6 am and by the time our office would start, we would already have put in a few hours of work. The new product started taking shape.

After a few days, I realized that everything was working great. We were on track and it was time to unfold the suspense to the entire team. Now I had some proof-of-concept to justify that 9 years of code can be scrapped but not without our rock star team.

The day arrived. Showed the new UI and explained the next steps to go live. Our rock star team started believing that it can be achieved. That is just what was needed.

Now after 4 months, our first version is in testing phase.

Result:

  1. We are able to reduce the “Admin Area” load time from 10 seconds to 2 seconds. (Yes, 5 times faster!!)
  2. We are able to reduce load on our servers by 50%.
  3. We are able to get new programmers productive within a week.
  4. Finally, I got the time to write a blog.

Whats next?

  1. The first step is to port the existing software. Next step would be build badly needed features (We have been compiling feature requests from our customers and our priority list is ready)
  2. Our API is ready which can either used by our team or external teams to integrate different apps. For example, we would not need more than a week to add a new payment gateway anymore.
  3. We would have more bandwidth to tie-up with other companies who can add more value to your business. We have already tied up with Reserve with Google to help you get new customers.

PS: During these 4 months, we have not only created Appointy from Scratch but  also successfully created another conference room scheduling product from scratch. We sold it for USD 130,000+ without even meeting the customer in person.

Next: I would be covering technical details and processes we used to build Appointy from Scratch in less than 5 months.

If you have any question, please feel free to comment below. I usually reply within 48 hours. 🙂

 

Appointy + Google = More Customers!

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Appointy is excited to be an initial launch partner for Reserve with Google

Google searchers to connect and book directly with Appointy customers

Milpitas, California/ Singapore – December, 2016

Starting today, a Google user will be able to book appointments for spas, studios and gyms directly through Google Search, Google Maps and the Reserve with Google website. The program is still in an early pilot phase, but once it’s at scale we believe that this should lead to more new clients for Appointy customers.

Appointy is excited to be an initial launch partner for Google. We’re always looking for ways to help our customers build a stronger and more successful business. This new experience helps bring Google searchers  directly to our customers. Read the official blog post by Google here.

Nemesh Singh, CEO, Appointy said “Starting from a small town in India, to being one of the first few partners for reserve with Google, Appointy has come a long way. This validates the years of hard work and testing put in by the team, and is an exciting new phase for not only for Appointy, but for Indian startups in general”

Appointy believes that Reserve with Google has the potential to change the way customers search for, compare and book services online. Sarang Verma, COO, Appointy said “We believe that there is significant opportunity for growth in SaaS for the global services industry. We are excited to be able to contribute and be a part of this change, as well as to represent Indian startups on the global map”

To learn more about the launch, contact Sarang Verma at sarang@appointy.com, or visit us at http://www.appointy.com.

About Appointy

Appointy is an appointment automation tool with more than 110,000+ business users in over 110 countries. Appointy streamlines the appointment taking process, minimising human intervention, improving staff productivity, and increasing customer convenience. For more information, visit www.appointy.com.  

Appointy 7.0 – Beautiful. Powerful. Still Simple.

Appointy 7.0 – More powerful than ever before!

Its that time of the year when there is a nip in the air, hues of orange and red start giving way to white, and the average person looks forward to spend some time with family. Halloween, Thanksgiving and Christmas follow in quick succession. However, we all know that for small business owners, it is one of the busiest times of the year. Many owners do more business in these 2-3 months than the entire first half of the year!!

At Appointy, we wanted to do our bit to help these businesses have the best possible end to the year. We have also been soliciting feedback from clients to understand exactly what they are looking for in an online scheduling solution. And our clients obliged. Thankyou!

We listened and we have a number of updates lined up over the next 12 months. And this is just the first installment! We worked hard over these last 2 months to help make this the best holiday season yet. And we can’t wait to show you what we have planned. So here goes nothing!

1.    Gift Certificates 


Did you know that over $100 billion is spent on gift cards annually? Or that 93% of US consumers use a gift card at least once a year? Most customers actually end up spending more than the dollar value of the gift card. Large businesses have always known this fact which is why 97% of them sell gift cards online. On the other hand, only 3% of the small local businesses in the US sell gift cards online. Imagine the lost opportunity!

Appointy allows you to easily create gift cards that are customised for your business and make them available for purchase to your customers. Birthdays, anniversaries, and every little occasion can be celebrated with a gift card!

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Manage Gift Certificates

    2.   Resource Scheduling


Many business situations require that scheduling takes into account the availability of more than one resource at a time. For example, you may need to schedule both staff and rooms (and only show open time slots when both are available). Maybe you need to schedule a tennis court and instructor at the same time. Or a parking lot with a loading/ unloading forklift.

Appointy now allows you to maintain the schedule of additional resources (rooms, instruments, facilities). You can control situations where more than one resource is needed to perform an Appointment. Appointy is now more flexible than ever before!

Manage 3rd Resource

    3.    Booking Without Registration


One of the things we hear from our customers was the fact that many of their customers were not repeat customers. Also, in some cases, customers were only given the booking link after their credentials had been verified.

In such cases, the additional authentication step at the time of taking an appointment proved to be an unnecessary inconvenience. And so the option to book without registering was born.

You can now choose to allow your customers to book without creating an account or using facebook/ google authentication. Increased convenience and flexibility helps you control your business better!

Booking without login screen

    4.    iPhone & Android Mobile App


Out of office and need to take a quick appointment on behalf of a client? Or need a quick sneak at the next appointment? Appointy is now available with its own native iPhone App. You can stay on top of your business, no matter where you are.

The Appointy mobile app will be launched in private beta in the first week of December 2015.

Appointy iPhone App

Our Android app is on its way as well, and here is a quick peek at what is on offer. Isn’t it beautiful!

   5.     Receipt Customisation

Many of our clients told us that they needed to be able to change the format of the receipts that are generated and shared with their customers. With the latest version of Appointy, you can now change almost everything that is displayed. It could be the language, the layout or even the name (receipt or invoice). YOU control everything!

Customise receipts

   6.    Revamped Booking Interface

We have made some minor changes to the order confirmation screen in order to make it more intuitive and readable than before. An easier booking process means happy customers and more bookings!

Customer booking screen

We hope you like it!

Thank you.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Good Customer Service is the New Black for Hair Businesses By Kerry Hines

We all have stories and thoughts to share. This one is by one of our customers – Kerry Hines, who talks about how customer service is the differentiator when it comes to adding profits.This article is taken from Kerry Hines blog post.

Kerry Hines has written the definitive book on How to Get Rich in the Hair Business.  He also hosts the radio broadcast about hair, “The Hair Radio Morning Show”.  

When we say Good Customer Service is the New Black, ‘the new black’.. is referring to being ‘in the black’ as in making a profit to your bottom line. Not being in the red.  This really boils down to professionalism at the highest degree and good customer service is really born out of that. It doesn’t take rocket science to figure out that good customer service is the true cornerstone for any successful business, hair or otherwise.

You would think this is a no-brainer, wouldn’t you?  If you care about your business and want it to thrive than you have to not only invest in the physicality of your business, ie. buildings, chairs, etc. and the best staffing but also cultivating a great customer relationship.  This can be a challenge in a busy bustling hair salon or barbershop.  And if you agree with me, let’s also say that just because it’s a busy shop does not excuse the fact of providing poor customer service.  The good news is that if it’s a busy shop that’s usually reflective of the fact that they are doing something right!

My favorite correlation of good customer service and the professional hair technician is being on-time for clients’ hair appointments.  Also, the hair technician should be in welcoming position at least thirty minutes prior to early morning appointments.  My secret to success is using an appointment service. They’ve helped me craft an air of greatness with the clients.  It’s been a big affordable help and I’ve got a great referral.

There are many components that figure into a successful hair business that is ‘the new black  Good Customer Service is Always in Fashion!  Can’t we can also say that when it comes to the awful feeling that poor customer service creates, you can always remember exactly where you were and what you were doing.   As I mentioned earlier, the lack of professionalism and poor customer service usually go hand in hand.  The problem, though, is the feeling of  poor treatment is seems so pervasive, we don’t even bother to expect anything else.  Have we become a very jaded society?  Do we not believe that we should expect a certain level of kindness when it comes to business exchanges?  Have we just given up and should we just throw our hands in the air?  Absolutely not!  We must continue to fight the good fight!

We must create the kind of service that we desire?  Here are a few steps that we can share with our hair technician.  First, have discussions built around service excellence.  Each hair facility should declare their commitment to customer service with a bullhorn or wall posting.  They should also offer loyalty programs and have regular surprise ideas that will keep the clients feeling engaged.  And, of course, you should expect recognition on your birthday and or other milestones in your life.  The hair facility should have all of that information on file.

The second point should be to let your feelings be known.  If you feel like you’ve been slighted, let your hair technician know.  I completely understand, I had been going to a shop for many years and somehow I started to feel like I was being taken for granted.  No one wants to feel like they are part of the wallpaper.

Third, you should be engaged, as we mentioned earlier.  You should not only be revealing layers of your own personality to the hair technician but also he or she should be doing the same.  The objective is to get to know each other as that is what creates the bond.

How do these ideas translate to being the new black?  Well, unless we can get all of the folks out there to read this article, unfortunately, there will be another brush with poor customer service but think in your mind that you’re unhappy now (in that moment) and they will be unhappy later when they see the bottom line.  Good customer service IS the new black.

I promised I’d always take a moment to let the companies that I interact with know when they’ve missed the mark and to rush to acknowledge when they’ve knocked good customer service out of the ballpark.

Many thanks to the wonderful folks at Appointy.com from us at HaiRadio.com and http://www.KerryHinesCommunications.com. Amazing service!

 

It’s the 4th of July – Celebrate freedom with Appointy!

Happy Independence day. This week we celebrate freedom!

Celebrate freedom with Appointy

Celebrate freedom with Appointy

Every business owner deserves the freedom to pursue his or her passions. Freedom from the many daily chores involved in running a business. Freedom from spending hours on end scheduling, following up and coordinating with customers. Freedom that lets you focus on what matters most – your customers!

This week, we celebrate freedom. We at Appointy are giving you the freedom to choose what’s best for your business with our 60 day money back guarantee – NO questions asked. In fact, it’s so simple, you can do it yourself. You don’t even need to inform us. What’s more, you get a FREE 2 month extension of your subscription if you pay annually. This is a limited period offer. So, what are you waiting for? Go ahead, signup, tell your friends, and celebrate freedom with Appointy!

Happy 4th of July

The Appointy Team

Service Image – Give a visual sneak peak of your service

How many times have you got a phone call asking you to explain a service when the information was already available on your booking page? The entire purpose of having your customers schedule online fails when they end up calling you anyway.

We believe there is a simple solution. A picture is worth a thousand words! We took feedback from many of our customers and today we are launching a new feature that would allow you to add images in order to describe each service. This will give your customers a chance to visualise a service as opposed to only reading about it. We are committed to helping you focus on your business and will continue to innovate in this direction.

You can upload up to 3 images for every service. Appointy will automatically save each image in multiple sizes. You can select one of the images as a default image which will be shown beside the name of the service while the remaining images will be shown in the description.

Here is how it will look on the customer booking interface:

service image

The default image will also be used in reviews posted on customer’s Facebook Profile. (Feature in Beta)

Here are the steps to add image:

  • Login to your Appointy admin area.
  • Go to “Settings” –> “Select Services”.
  • Click on the image icon next to the service name to upload an image.
  • Once the image is uploaded, you will be given an option to crop the image in 2 different sizes. One small square image will be saved as the default image and the other rectangular image will be saved for service description. You can upload up to 3 images within each service.
  • Go to the customer booking interface and see your new visual service list.

We look forward to seeing your refreshed and updated customer booking interface soon.

Appointy Team

Happy New Year 2015!

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Looking back at 2014, we are struck by how incredible an year it has been! We started the year by being one of the top 16 technology start-ups at Microsoft Accelerator Program. During the year, we pushed 2 updates including Appointy 6.0, arguably our most comprehensive software update yet. We ended the year by shifting our base to California.

The year 2015 is exciting for us as we have a number of important updates lined up for you, starting with a fresh website in early January. We are also on track to bring significant software updates during the year making sure Appointy remains one of the most flexible and powerful online scheduling solutions on the planet. A new mobile app for both Android and iOS is also in development.

In 2015, we would like to re-affirm our commitment to helping you grow your business and reach new heights of success.

We take great pleasure in wishing all our customers a happy and prosperous new year 2015!

Regards,


Entire Appointy Team