Whether you own a service-based business that relies on appointments or you operate a product-based business that hosts special events or classes, appointment scheduling software is a must-have in your arsenal of business management tools.
What is Appointment Scheduling Software?
Let’s be frank. Scheduling tasks takes valuable time away from your day — minutes multiply into hours, and by the end of the week, you’ve put in the equivalent of a part-time job just trying to manage the company’s day-to-day agenda.
Appointment scheduling software and scheduling apps are solutions designed to give businesses a way to automate, and better manage appointment scheduling and booking tasks — saving you precious hours each week.
Let’s take a look at seven scheduling apps, in no particular order that will help your business work smarter — not harder.
Genbook has been providing online booking services since 2006 and is widely known in this niche of software solutions. Specializing in serving the health and wellness and beauty industries, Genbook’s comprehensive platform also makes it perfectly adaptable for business models ranging from dog grooming services to photographers.
Genbook’s years of experience have also resulted in a collection of integrations. These integrations to search engine platforms, business directories, and social media networks, make it easy for customers to find — and book — services with you.
Like any smart software company, they offer a 30-day free trial that allows you to test drive the solution before you’re ready to make a final decision. This incentive alone is an excellent reason to give this platform a try and see how it stacks up to others you’ve tried in the past, or use it as a benchmark for future comparisons if you’re just getting started in your search.
If you want to stay and play, a sole proprietor (i.e., one staff member) package starts at $29 per month and increases from there. If you already have a fairly established customer base and you’ve outgrown a free appointment scheduling software service, Genbook might be the perfect upgrade for your growing business.
Next up on the list, we have Schedulicity. Founded in 2010, Schedulicity serves a variety of businesses and industries from pilates studios and psychology practices to tattoo shops and the performing arts. Clients can schedule appointments, reserve their seat in a class, and even book multi-session workshops with Schedulicity.
With this platform, you don’t just get appointment scheduling software, but you also get a business listing on the Schedulicity marketplace. This additional business directory helps increases your online presence and digital visibility, which is vital in today’s technology-driven society.
Although there is no free trial period, you can get started with Schedulicity for free with limited features — which makes it great for a new small business. Moreover, their solo provider package is at a lower price point — $20 — than Genbook and has an a la carte business model so you can pick and choose the features you need.
For instance, you may want to add on the payments feature so you can easily accept credit card payments and the client text message feature, so auto reminders are sent to help reduce no-shows. However, you won’t have to pay for a feature such as auto billing if you don’t require it.
Like Genbook, Schedulicity also offers integrations and widgets to social media platforms like Facebook and your website so customers can easily ‘schedule now’ online, 24/7.
Specializing in the beauty and fitness industries, Vagaro is next on our list of online appointment scheduling solutions. Like Schedulicity, with Vagaro, you not only get a scheduling app, but you also get an additional business directory for extra online visibility. This business listing platform supports a “daily deal” feature so you can offer discounts, coupons, and seasonal promotions to help draw new customers.
Speaking of new customers, you can create custom forms like digital waivers and surveys to protect your business and keep a pulse on the customer satisfaction barometer. Identifying unhappy customers is just as important as knowing the happy ones when it comes to the long-term success of your business.
Vagaro also allows you to accept payments either online or in person like most of the other platforms on the list. However, beyond just payment acceptance, Vagaro also offers a proprietary Point of Sale (POS) system that helps track inventory on any retail products you may sell in addition to the services you offer.
Vagaro offers a one-month free trial and includes 24/7 customer support with a live rep — should you need it. A single entrepreneur starts at $25 per month and increases at $10 increments per person from there.
4. Square Appointments
In 2009, Twitter founder Jack Dorsey shook up the payments industry by becoming a mobile payment provider that catered to micro-merchants. His company, Square, facilitates payments for an underserved market of small-scale businesses that have a hard time getting approved for a traditional merchant services account.
Since then, Square has grown into a comprehensive small business ecosystem that includes online booking platform Square Appointments. Like Vagaro, Square Appointments also integrates with the Square POS system that you can use to manage the retail segment of your business.
Individuals pay a fixed rate of 2.75 percent for Square Appointments credit card transactions. As your business grows and you add employees, Square Appointments will set you back up to $90 per month for up to 10 staff members.
Acuity has been creating a seamless booking process for clients and business owners since 2006. Clients of freelancing professionals and mid-sized businesses alike can use the platform to schedule appointments, cancel sessions, receive a price quote, and even schedule recurring appointments that perfectly fit into their busy schedule.
If your clientele is local but you want to expand your services to a global audience, Acuity serves nine other markets besides the U.S. — making it a great starting point if you intend to take your business international at any point in the future.
Acuity gives you the best of both worlds — a 7-day free trial and a freemium version — so you can get started with no upfront costs. If you decide this solution is right for your business, the paid version for a single entrepreneur will only set you back $15 per month.
It’s worth noting that Acuity recently joined the Squarespace family — a leader in website building and hosting services for small businesses. So, if you happen to use Squarespace already, leveraging Acuity scheduling is a no brainer.
From student scheduling for tutors and music teachers to managing patient appointments — both human and for our four-legged friends — since 2011, Setmore is making scheduling appointments simple.
A unique aspect about Setmore is that it allows you to both book appointments and schedule interviews with potential job candidates. Hiring is a challenge for every business — big or small — and every company struggles with it in some capacity. Why not try to make a part of the hiring process run a little smoother?
What’s fantastic about this platform is that you and three other employees can get started for free. That’s right the free version of Setmore provides up to four staff login calendars at no cost. Since most other solutions only allow one user and calendar with the free version, that’s a big win in our book.
Additionally, their only other price level is a premium package for $25 per month, so upgrading won’t cost an arm and a leg.
Booker found their niche in the health and wellness industry in 2010and never looked back. While they may not cater to every industry, they do one thing, and they do it well.
It’s worth noting that Booker and their sister software company, Fredrick, are now part of the MindBody family. The former is a marketing automation software and the latter is a point of sale company turned technology provider for the wellness services industry.
Sound familiar? Think Square, but specifically for health and wellness providers. MindBody is on track to create an entire ecosystem of business management tools to serve a specific market.
Although you can’t test drive Booker with a free trial or freemium version, you can request a personalized demo with a member of their staff. While this might not be ideal for those that prefer the DIY approach, a one-on-one demo with a live rep is a great way to open the lines of communication and ask questions as it relates to your unique business needs.
Booker will set you back $129 per month for their Essential Package. Although that price point is significantly higher than the others we’ve mentioned, you get a considerable amount of features for your money:.
- Unlimited logins
- Appointment reminders and notifications (text and email)
- Integrated point of sale
- Inventory management
- Gift certificates
- Detailed customer records
- Package, series, and membership management
- Customer document storage
- 20 reports
Features to Look for in a Scheduling App
When it comes to choosing appointment scheduling software, business owners like you have unique needs. What works for one business may not work for another, and that’s okay. It’s all about finding the best solution for you, your employees, and of course your customers.
Here are a few must-have features.
Cloud-based and Native Applications
The last place you’ll find a small business owner is tied to a desk. That’s why it’s essential that the scheduling solution you choose is cloud-based so you can access your data from anywhere. Bonus points if the scheduling app comes with a native iOS or Android app.
A Business Directory
In today’s digital age, you need all the help you can get to stand out from the crowd and rank at the top of a Search Engine Results Page (SERP); the more web pages that mention your brand or link to your website, the better.
Integrations, Widgets, and Plugins (Oh My)!
It’s important that your customers can find you on their preferred online booking platform. Not everyone will go to your website’s booking pages — especially new customers who’ve never heard of your business.
On the other hand, new customers may come across your business on social media, Google search, or Yelp. And when they do, make sure it’s simple for them to schedule an appointment.
Service-based businesses know the struggle is all too real when it comes to reducing no-shows. No matter what type of policy you put in place, customers will try to wiggle their way out of the consequences of a late cancelation (unless you enforce a prepayment policy so they can pay online when booking services).
If you need an in-store payment option, make sure the scheduling app includes an option for online payments as well as in-person transactions. Keep in mind there might be some restrictions on which payment processor you can use, but all of the options on our list are capable of both types of transactions.
Room to Grow
Although you may be a small business today, in 10 years you could have an enterprise. You’ll want to choose a scheduling app that can grow with your business — and that’s synonymous with any business management software solution. You want solutions that are scalable.
Intuitive and User-friendly
The easier to use, the better. One goal for using appointment scheduling software is cut down on tedious tasks – don’t trade one problem for another. Whatever solution you choose should be intuitive and user-friendly.
Client scheduling apps go hand-in-hand with employee schedule apps. Many of these solutions can also be used in tandem with your time clock, so you can be sure your employees’ schedules and hours worked match your bookings.
Q: What’s an appointment if the service tech, teacher, or stylist doesn’t show up?
A: An annoyed customer that is much less likely to do business with you again.
When customers schedule appointments, make sure your staff shows up prepared.
The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPPA) is the healthcare industry’s standard for sensitive patient data protection. If you’re in the healthcare field, you’ll want to make sure your scheduling app is HIPPA compliant.
To Sum Up
There are many options when it comes to choosing appointment scheduling software. Now that you’re armed with the appropriate knowledge, hopefully you can make a more informed decision to find the one that works best for your business.