Time management takes a lot of effort and discipline, and when you add in clients and team members, well, it gets even more complicated. In fact, there are few things in the wellness entrepreneur’s business life that are as frustrating as scheduling clients and meetings!
I’m sure it’s not a shock that there are many, many tools and apps available to help businesses and “solopreneurs” manage just about anything.
But, in terms of getting your clients to “pull the pin” and book with you – which online scheduling tool should you use to facilitate that?
This is a topic that has come up a lot in our Take Your Health Practice Online Facebook Group, so we thought we would address it on the blog.
Since there are literally dozens, and possibly hundreds, of them out there – we’ve narrowed down the list to four of the most popular that can help you schedule all of your most important business stuff, including your valuable clients.
It should be noted that this article does not cover clinic or practice management systems, that also have scheduling features like MindBodyOnline, JaneApp, Practice Better & OUTsmart (by SmartND).
Why Is It Important To Use an Appointment Scheduling Tool?
Forget chunky spreadsheets and paper planners (although there’s something to be said for good ‘ol pen & paper), you need to get into the uber-organized zone and have a professional, nearly fail-safe system to schedule, follow-through, and engage with all of your Health, Nutrition & Fitness clients!
Practical E-Commerce says, “Online appointment scheduling tools provide efficient, practical, and profitable solutions for consulting and professional service businesses to manage their customer, vendor, and prospect communications. Schedulers are appearing on Contact Us forms, support pages, and services forms throughout the web.”
Here are a few other reasons why this tech tool is not just nice to have, but absolutely necessary for your business:
- Offers a more professional look and feel to your website, and your business – plus, it keeps you on the competitive edge with similar businesses.
- Provides a new level of organization and convenience that will save you (and your clients) so much time going back and forth trying to mesh your schedules, and means no more awkward phone calls or emails…ever. And certainly no more “tag, you’re it!”
- Provides assurance that you will follow-up, as well as motivation for your clients to follow-through, i.e. less cancellations & no-shows, and less confusion or screw-ups. Yes, screw-ups do happen because you’re only human – so take some of the human error out of the equation.
- Prospective and existing clients actually love them! According to Small Biz Trends, the 25-34-year-old demographic now uses, and prefers online appointment scheduling. Oh, those digital-savvy Millennials…
- Consumers these days want experiences, and not necessarily more stuff. This includes their ability and ease to connect, engage and book time with you – whether it’s to meet virtually or in person.
What Makes A Good Client Scheduling Tool?
Consider these points about the “human nature” of your clients and customers:
The less time and effort it takes to book an appointment with you, the greater the chances of that client or customer going through with the consultation or program purchase. This offers a positive, feel-good experience right from the start.
→ A good scheduler would have very few steps from clicking BOOK NOW to having a confirmed appointment.
As an added perk, clients who pay for your services upfront (at the same time as scheduling) are also much more motivated to show up and follow-through. This, again, offers convenience and a good user experience.
PLUS, it reduces your costs from no-shows or late comers. After all, time IS money!
→ A good scheduler would have a payment processing feature built in or can integrate to a payment processor like PayPal or Stripe.
Online scheduling can be another point of connection and engagement with your clients, such as in automated appointment reminders. This is a low-key way of saying that your business is going the extra step in helping them to manage their day-to-day schedule.
→ A good scheduler would have a “remind client” option in which the Health Practitioner can send an email or text message a day or two prior to the client’s scheduled appointment.
Top 4 Client Scheduling Options
Here is what most schedulers, including the 4 we’re outlining here, have in common:
- Free version or free trial offer
- Paid versions with upgraded features for multiple service & business types, as well as adding team members
- Multiple integration possibilities, including syncing to your personal calendar (e.g. Google, iCal, Outlook, Office 365, etc)
- Training, demos, and virtual support provided
Here is a breakdown of features for each of the 4 most popular schedulers, including a more detailed synopsis of how an online scheduling tool can help automate your business:
When a user sets up their Schedulicity account, here’s what they see on their daily dashboard:
Basic description: online scheduling & marketing tools for appointment, class & workshop-based businesses, and a convenient booking option for your clients.
- Attractive, simple interface, and very easy to set-up.
- Clients can book from Facebook.
- Now partnered with Square payment processor, as well as Stripe.
- Create classes & workshops, and easily enroll new or existing clients. Classes have a handy attendance bar so you can see how full a class is, as well as class check-in, so you can track attendance and no-shows.
Unique feature: Client management
Save your clients’ contact info + notes about their preferred services. Access to client-based reports to help you improve your Client-Practitioner relationship so you can fine-tune your marketing strategy.
Platforms: Cloud-based software + iOS app
Pricing: Free account, up to 20 appointments/month. Then $20/month for 1 provider (beyond 20 appts/month), $30 for 2-5 providers, $40 for 6-10 providers, $50 for 11+ providers and $5 per month for upgraded feature add-ons.
Affiliate program? NO
2. Acuity Scheduler
When a user sets up their Acuity account, here’s what they see:
Basic description: Clients can quickly view your real-time availability and self-book their own appointments, reschedule with a click – and even pay online.
- Integrates with many widely-used website & online business tools such as Aweber, MailChimp, FreshBooks, Zapier, Zoom, Google Analytics and many more.
- Several payment integration options: Stripe, PayPal, Square, BrainTree, Authorize.net
Unique Feature: A more customizable client scheduling page and follow-up emails in which you can detail…
- What to expect from the service they’ve chosen
- How to make the most of it, and
- How you’ll contact them.
Platforms: Cloud-based software + iOS app (but site is responsive on all devices, including Android)
Pricing: Free for Solo account (no added features, just scheduling of unlimited services); $15/month for Emerging Entrepreneur (1 calendar = just you at one location); $25/month for Growing Business (6 calendars, multiple users + added features); $50/month for Powerhouse Player (36 calendars, multiple users + added features)
Affiliate program? YES
Special note: this one is a little clunkier and harder to set up than the others, but does offer some amazing integrations.
Here’s what a user sees when they first set up their ScheduleOnce account:
Basic description: This newly reconfigured software is a scalable, comprehensive appointment scheduling service that offers solutions for every phase of the customer lifecycle.
ScheduleOnce provides you with all the tools you need to integrate scheduling into your processes, conform with your brand, and provide the user experience your customers expect. Easily integrate scheduling with your web forms, campaigns, and emails.
Coolest features: in its base program “Plus”, you get one booking page per user and includes:
- Unlimited bookings
- Google and iCloud calendar integration plus TONS of other business tool integrations like MailChimp, PayPal, Active Campaign & Zapier
- SMS notifications
Unique feature: very robust set of features (even for their base program), including additional support and training – great demos for how to set everything up depending on your business model and industry type.
Platforms: Cloud-based software, but NO APP YET
Pricing (in USD): 14-day free trial; Plus: $5 per user per month; Premium – $9 per user per month; Professional – $19 per user per month; Enterprise – $49 per user per month.
Affiliate program? NO
We may be a little biased about this online scheduling tool because it’s our fave over at WBH headquarters, as we mentioned in the recent Free Tech Tools for Your Online Health Business
When a user sets up their Calendly account, here’s what they see in their dashboard (screenshot from tutorial video):
Basic description: scheduling software for organizing meetings and appointments between individuals and their colleagues, and between businesses and their clients or customers.
Provides a clean, simple way to let people schedule meetings with you when you’re available, and makes scheduling appointments (and re-scheduling) easy and painless.
- Optimized for mobile devices.
- Set up your availability for various meeting types, then send sales leads, clients, or coworkers a link that will show them your availability.
- Natively integrated with Google Calendar, iCal, Outlook, and Office 365, the service automatically syncs scheduled appointments with your calendar of choice, as well as your invitee’s calendar.
Additional feature: this just in! New Stripe integration for accepting payments (in Pro plan only), and more payment processing options are in the works.
More details about how Calendly works – and how it can help you automate your wellness business:
Calendly enables users to set their availability preferences, and then send out their own personalized invitation link to arrange meetings or appointments.
The invitee (who is not required to register for an account themselves) is presented with a selection of available times and dates based around the user’s availability, and can make their choice from these.
When an appointment is scheduled, Calendly automatically sends out custom confirmation emails and event reminders to invitees, and notifies all meeting participants via email if an attendee reschedules.
Integrations with Google and Office 365 calendars enable users’ calendars to be automatically updated, with Calendly checking for any booking conflicts before adding events.
Calendly saves multiple meeting types, so you can clone weekly or monthly meetings, keeping your preferences for length of meeting and available time-slots intact without affecting your default settings for new meetings.
Calendly works across devices and time zones, which are automatically detected. In terms of your schedule, you have full control over it, so you can add buffer times before and after meetings, set custom event times and set a daily limit of meetings.
Calendly works great if you have a bigger team; for example, you can set it up so meetings are automatically distributed to different team members, or you can give the attendees the option to select which team member they want to speak with.
Pricing (in USD): Basic – Free; Premium $10 per user/month; Pro $15 per user/month
Platforms: Cloud-based software, but NO APP YET
Affiliate program? NO
Finding a scheduling app for your business is pretty easy considering the multitude of options available. However, finding the right one for you and your business may require some trial and error.
There are plenty of free options to choose from, and each may be worth taking some time to test drive a few for yourself. However, it’s been our experience that this is one area it might be worth investing in a paid service, so you can get the best results possible.
But not using anything isn’t an option! As we said, using a scheduler is essential to your business – and your sanity, if we’re being honest.
Remember that you want to consider your prospective client or customer’s experience as they’re navigating your website and deciding whether to book with you or buy a product/program from you.
Just think how helpful and convenient it is to be able to send your clients a link to your online schedule (or have it embedded right on your website) to have them book their own appointments – no fuss, no muss.
Do you use online schedulers in your business? Comment below and share your favourite one!