There are times in life when it is clear that, however comfortable and familiar something might be, a change is needed. Like that time when you changed into your ten-year-old jeans to go out, because they were comfy, and your roommate asked you "Are those the jeans you are going to wear?" You knew they weren't expecting an answer, but suggesting a much-needed wardrobe change. And it may be no different with your business' appointments system.
Well, a bit different. But the fact is that many businesses are operating with a scheduling system that should have been replaced years ago, because that's when they were last even vaguely useful.
Like that critical fictional roommate, your current booking calendar system may be giving you some obvious hints that it's ready to retire and that it's time to upgrade to an online calendar scheduling tool that is suitable for the 21st century.
If any of these scenarios sound familiar, then you can be pretty certain that the time to make a switch to a better system is now.
"Is THAT your appointments schedule?" your clients snigger as you rifle through the well-thumbed pages of your paper appointments book in search of a spot to pencil in their next appointment, preferably one that is not covered in coffee stains and strange scribbles that no one can remember making.
Their sniggers then turn to confusion as you hand them a paper appointment card. Not having seen one of those in years (if ever) they do not understand what to do with it. How are they going to add that to the iCal on their phone?
It does not end there either. How many clients have you had show up, seemingly unannounced, only for them to tell you that they called to make an appointment weeks ago, and thinking back, you recall that they did, but you forgot to write it down and now there's no way you can fit them in today.
As the rather upset now perhaps ex client prepares to walk away, they say something that should be a wake up call for you. "This wouldn't happen if you'd let people make appointments online". And that's a very fair point as no, it almost certainly wouldn't.
It's a daily drill. One of your employees - who could almost certainly be doing one of probably a dozen or more far more productive things has to stop what they were doing and take an hour - or more - out of their day to make what are often frustrating attempts to call and confirm the next day's appointments.
It's frustrating because most of the time they get a voicemail, our a voicemail box that's full and so don't really know if their reminder will get through in time or not. They may also find that in taking the client's information someone got a number or two mixed up and while the local zoo sounds like a fun place, they are fairly sure that no-one who resides there will need a haircut (or financial planning or whatever it is you do) any time soon. And you, as a business owner, are paying them to waste this time every day.
Even if this is the way you have been doing things for years, it's time to change. People are busier than ever these days, they don't have time for phone calls. A text or an email on the other hand? That would be great. For them and for you, as it's a research backed fact that automated reminders like these are far more effective for getting people to show up, and show up on time.
There is nothing wrong with Google Calendar. It's free, you can access it across a huge number of different devices and millions of people use it every day. And for some things it is great. Tracking your own doctor's appointments, when you are next due to take your Mum to lunch, or when the upcoming parent's evening at your kids school is. It's great for all of those things and more, but for a business it does not make an efficient online calendar scheduling tool.
When businesses try to use Google Calendar as an appointment booking system, the cracks show quickly. “Can’t I just set my appointments online without having to call or text?” customers ask, and “Why can’t I just pay online, before our appointment?” Google Calendar can’t do any of those.
And that's not all Google Calendar can't do. It does not integrate with social media. It does not allow a customer to select the service they want. It does not allow you, as a business owner, to capture crucial customer data you could use for marketing purposes that could be boosting your bottom line. It does not let you collect deposits. And it does not let a client make an appointment by themselves. And that really is, as you'd find out if you asked them, want your clients want.
These are just a few of the problems that online scheduling can solve, there are many more. And a lot more advantages to be gained when you make the switch, for both you and your clients. Some people work late, can't make calls during the day, don't have time to get near a phone during the day in fact. But they can snatch a minute or two to head to your website at midnight to book an appointment, filling one of your open slots quite literally while you sleep.