As a service-based startup, you have the opportunity to optimize your administrative processes from the get-go, starting off on the right foot and setting the path for the future. Unfortunately, many startups do not take the time to find the right scheduling software, assuming it’s too expensive or unnecessary for their small business.
At this stage of the game, paper scheduling or even using personal calendars such as Google Calendar or Outlook can add to the administrative burden of appointment booking and take your attention away from focusing on growth and customer retention.
4 ways a scheduling software can help service-based startups
1. Generating New Business with Online Booking
Booking an appointment is probably the most important step in the sales process for a service-based business because appointments drive revenue. Online scheduling software makes it possible to integrate the booking process into your advertising or social media campaigns. This means that individuals who discover you online can easily book their first appointment and instantly become new clients without any intervention on your part.
Online scheduling software also enables you to easily track the source of your new sales opportunities. This, in turn, allows you to better focus your marketing budget for future sales campaigns. Online booking is available 24/7 in real-time and should be highly visible on your corporate website, Facebook page, and other social media accounts.
2. Keeping Your Team Lean with Smarter Scheduling
Businesses that are just starting off often do not have the budget for a full-time receptionist or support staff. Scheduling tools optimize administrative tasks, making the time you spend on scheduling more efficient. For example, online booking significantly reduces the volume of calls and emails you receive for appointments; and automated appointment confirmations and reminders save you the tedious task of calling clients one-by-one prior to their appointment.
With most scheduling tools, staff can also consult their appointments on-the-go and make changes to their schedule using a dedicated staff account. This eliminates much of the back-and-forth between you and your employees without you sacrificing control of your agenda.
3. Reducing No-Shows at Your Service-Based Startup
Last-minute cancellations and no-shows translate into lost revenue for your business. Unforeseen gaps in your agenda also mean you have idle staff whose salaries you may still have an obligation to pay. Calling clients one at a time to confirm their presence 24 to 48 hours before their appointment is often the approach used to avoid this unfortunate scenario. However, that process can be extremely time-consuming and frustrating in instances where you are forced to play telephone tag with clients.
Appointment scheduling software automates this process with email and/or SMS appointment reminders. Clients can easily confirm their presence with the simple click of a button. If they can no longer attend, there is also the option to cancel the appointment with sufficient notice so that you have time to fill the spot. You can even automate email notifications to clients on your waiting list, allowing them to snatch up spots from cancellations.
4. Build a Sales Pipeline with Waiting List Management
Ensuring availability for new and existing clients is key to a lasting business. Losing new and existing clients because you are not available during certain times can be a bigger problem than it seems. Not only will you lose the revenue associated with that appointment, but potentially all future revenue from that client if they are forced to go elsewhere. If their experience at a competitor is satisfactory, they may never try to book an appointment with you again.
This is why it’s important to maintain a solid line of communication with all your clients and be aware of their appointment requests. If their preferred time is not available or they cannot find any availability within a specific date range, let them register for your waiting list online.
Many scheduling software applications will maintain an electronic listing of all clients waiting for an appointment along with their appointment preferences. When a cancellation occurs, clients are automatically notified of openings by email. This allows you to fill your gaps in your schedule while helping your clients find an appointment that suits their preferences. In addition, this can help you better serve your clients by optimizing your hours to match times often requested by new and existing clients.
The Bottom Line
Being a startup is not an excuse to be disorganized. There are many great apps available to help businesses maximize efficiencies and deliver results. As a service-based startup, your primary focus must be on booking new appointments, reducing no-shows and doing it all extremely efficiently. Get organized right from the start by using an appointment scheduling software.
There are a wide variety of scheduling apps to choose from based on your specific needs and they can be extremely affordable. With free 30-day trials and no-contract billing available, there’s no reason not to give it a try. After all, optimizing your scheduling practices means more time can be spent developing new business or providing better customer support, which in turn helps grow your business.
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About Dominic Iafigliola
Dominic Iafigliola is the founder behind CalendarSpots.com, a hosted online appointment scheduling software for small- and medium-sized businesses. Since the launch of CalendarSpots.com, Dominic has helped businesses within a variety of industries to improve their scheduling processes.