All posts by Gunjan Saini

How to Keep Your Office Running Smoothly During Spring Break

By | Scheduling | No Comments
How to Keep Office Running Smoothly Spring Break

Spring break is known for crazy beach parties and exotic getaways. But for many people, spring break means business as usual. For your business, this means managing your team and operations during one of the more interesting times of the year.

With so many people out of school or taking time off from work, there are a lot of adjustments you need to make to make this week a successful one. Here’s a little advice to help you get through the break:

Avoid Internal Miscommunication

Before spring break even begins, communicate with your team and make sure everyone is on the same page. Everyone should know who is taking time off during the break and who will be taking their place to complete tasks and manage workflows. When there’s proper communication in place, nothing will fall through the cracks.

One idea you can implement is designating an out-of-office contact who is in the loop about current projects. They can be a quick phone call or message away when an employee has a question about a task that the out-of-office employee normally handles. That person can enjoy their spring break without leaving the rest of their team high and dry.

Schedule Everything

A good schedule will keep your business on the right track even when spring break takes a lot of people out of your orbit. For instance, you should have your employees’ schedules set well in advance. If workers are trying to ask for time off at the last minute, things will get complicated rather quickly.

Whether you use scheduling software or appointment software, just keep in mind that it’s absolutely essential to plan. It’s also important to have a collaborative schedule that the entire team has access to. This can help avoid unnecessary questions about where someone is during spring break, when they return, and who is scheduled to work over the break.

You won’t always be able to stick to your perfectly organized schedule. Unexpected events will occur, and you’ll have to make adjustments along the way. Having an established schedule will make it easier to make those adjustments and roll with the punches.

Keep Customers in the Loop

As you make adjustments to prepare for the upcoming spring break, don’t forget to keep your customers in the loop. For example, if you have several employees taking time off, you may want to post a notice that you are unable to accept as many appointments or take care of as many customers during this time. If customers know this is the case beforehand, you won’t get backlogged by frustrated customers assuming that business is running as usual.

Many businesses keep their customers in the loop through social media posts. This is a great way to connect with customers as well as increase your visibility to potential new customers. However, not everyone will be checking social media pages for business updates. You should also be updating your company website regularly, especially if you’re dealing with online appointment bookings. An email newsletter can also help inform customers of upcoming changes they need to be aware of.

Add Some Incentives

Your business might not be worried about employees taking time off for spring break. But it might struggle with employees clocking in and feeling unmotivated because they wish they were on vacation. Whether it’s due to lingering travel concerns or a tight budget, your active employees could use a little push during spring break to keep motivation and morale high.

A few incentives should do the trick. A week-long sales competition with some tantalizing rewards can perk up the office and keep morale going strong. Offering a prize like a paid company vacation or the newest video game console should help pick up the pace of sales.

A guaranteed incentive will shine some light at the end of the tunnel as well. The office atmosphere will be a little lighter if employees are looking forward to a nice team dinner on Friday night rather than going home without any spring break plans.

Enable Remote Work

If there are aspects of your business that can be performed digitally, give it a whirl during this upcoming spring break. Your employees who want some extra time off during this time period will be able to do so while still being able to complete some necessary tasks. This may even set a precedent moving forward where hybrid work is enabled and allows employees to spend more time at home with their families.

There are many ways your business can enable remote work. A phone system can be set up in a home office to field calls from customers. Outgoing calls for sales or appointment confirmations can be made through a remote phone system. Any digital aspects of your business can also be done from home, such as payroll, marketing, and scheduling.

For many businesses, there has to be at least one person in-house in order for operations to continue and likely more if you run a customer-facing business such as a salon. It might not seem fair to employees that their coworkers are able to work from home, so consider incentives you can offer to make it up to them. Perhaps an extra paid vacation day at a slower time of the year will provide the needed motivation.

While it might not be as exciting to be working rather than vacationing over spring break, you can make it tolerable and even fun. You can also use these strategies for other holidays to keep your business running smoothly no matter what logistical hurdles arise.

Image Credit: Buro Millennial; Pexels; Thank you!

4 Ways to Get Your Customers on a Regular Appointment Schedule

By | Scheduling | No Comments
Get Your Customers Regular Appointment Schedule

Life is so much easier when you have a well-planned schedule in front of you. Unfortunately for appointment-based businesses, this isn’t always the reality. Customers can be quite spotty when it comes to making their appointments, which leads to a lot of last-minute adjusting of schedules and bookings.

While a lot of appointment booking is out of your control, there are some things that your business can do to promote a more regular appointment schedule from your customers. Being able to plan further out in advance allows you to be more prepared to serve every customer well and not lose time and efficiency in a scramble.

If you’re ready for more appointment continuity and stability, here are a few ideas you can try this year:

1. Enable Recurring Appointments

There are a lot of customers who would appreciate a regular appointment schedule as much as you do. One way you can make this possible is by enabling recurring appointments. This allows customers to book appointments on a regular cadence rather than sporadically.

For example, your car garage might get a lot of business doing oil changes. Customers who make daily commutes and like to take care of their vehicles might come in for a bimonthly oil change as part of their maintenance routine. Being able to designate a particular day of the month makes it easier for them to organize their schedule, in addition to helping your business to get regular bookings.

Recurring appointments also work well for small businesses that have personal interactions with their customers. A customer might look forward to the hour she gets to spend with her masseuse each week, and being able to set a recurring appointment in her calendar ensures that her preferred booking slot is always secured.

2. Send Automated Text Messages

Sometimes your customers need a little nudge to kick-start their appointment streak again. Automated text messages are a quick and effective way to reach out to your customers who haven’t scheduled an appointment in some time. Such messages can notify them about upcoming deals they won’t want to miss or be used to send them a personalized offer.

Within an automated text message, you can include a direct link to your online appointment software. Send the right message to the right customer at the right time, and you can start getting bookings from them immediately. Of course, you should always leave the option available to opt-in and out of messaging as customers see fit. Otherwise, your text messages will drive customers away rather than pull them back in.

Emails and phone calls can also be effective methods of issuing reminders. Best of all, allowing customers to choose how they receive messages means you know that your nudging messages are being sent in the best way possible to every single person.

3. Keep Them in the Loop

If you keep customers in the loop with everything going on with your business, they’ll have more reasons to visit your website and regularly book future appointments. New information can also reinvigorate the interest that consumers have in your business.

If you don’t already, try creating and sending out a monthly newsletter containing information regarding upcoming events at your business. This can include special promotions, new services you’re offering, and other announcements as you see fit. Learning that you now offer a trendy new beauty service or will be offering two-for-one mani-pedis next month may be just the thing to spark a patron’s interest. Full calendars of events will prompt many customers to start booking their appointment slots earlier than normal.

Some pieces of news will need to be issued more immediately. For instance, if you’re planning on altering your business hours for an upcoming holiday, you should let your customers know as soon as possible so they can plan their appointments accordingly. Last-minute changes on your end will only cause complications with existing bookings.

4. Incentivize Consistency

If consistency is what you want from your customers, incentivize that behavior. Many businesses encourage return visits by handing out punch cards that provide additional services or rewards after so many uses. You can take this a step further by adding some more parameters.

Many appointment-based businesses prefer a regular appointment schedule over a quick string of appointments booked in pursuit of punch-card rewards. To change the trajectory of your incentives, you could build a reward program that offers points for cyclical visits. Bonus points can be awarded for consistent streaks set by customers, such as triple points earned for three consecutive monthly appointments.

Of course, your incentives program should be specifically tailored to your business, what it offers, and the customer base you’re working with. By thoughtfully taking your business’s particular variables into account, you’re bound to find a formula that works.

While you’ll never have a set-in-stone schedule as an appointment-based business, there are things you can do to promote continuity. Embrace these tips, you’ll benefit from the consistency they can help bring to your organization.

Image Credit: Mart Production; Pexels; Thank you!

5 Ways Appointment-Based Businesses Can Save Money on Energy Costs

By | Business Tips | No Comments
Appointment Based Businesses Save Money Energy Costs

Take a look at your most recent energy bill. Is it higher than you’d like to see? You may regard your utility bill as an unavoidable cost of running your thriving appointment-based business, but it’s a part of your expense column that deserves some time and attention.

Not only can focusing on your energy bill save you money, but you’re also doing your part to take care of the environment. A lower energy bill means you’re being more responsible with your consumption of non-renewable energy and limiting your carbon footprint.

There are several ways your business can save money on energy costs. Some of them are as simple as the flick of a switch. Here are some energy-saving examples you can implement today:

1. Improve Your Lighting

Lighting will always be a significant portion of your monthly electric bill. You can’t expect to run your business without at least a little bit of lighting, but there are some ways you can lower your energy costs while remaining illuminated.

Start by switching to energy-efficient lightbulbs in all of your light fixtures. Newer models use less electricity, providing the same amount of light for a fraction of the cost. Sensor lights in areas with less traffic such as supply closets will automatically turn the lights on and off. A light left on by accident will bring your bill up higher than necessary.

You can also look for ways to let in more natural light. Sunshine isn’t always a guarantee, but on sunny days, you can use a few windows or skylights to light your business space while leaving a few lights off for the day.

2. Automate Water and Climate Control

In addition to automated lighting, there are other ways you can automate your business to improve energy efficiency. Take public restrooms, for instance. Automatic water shut-off and auto-flushing toilets help to reduce the overuse of water by guests and employees.

Another example of automating public spaces involves climate control. A smart thermostat will automatically regulate the temperature in your building. It uses a lot less energy than running an AC unit or space heater during the workday. You can also adjust the thermostat depending on the time of year to further optimize your energy consumption.

3. Clock Out Your Hardware

Energy usage dips down significantly when your employees clock out for the day. However, your business is still using energy that you will ultimately have to pay for, even without workers or paying customers. While some power usage is required, such as for regulating the building’s temperature throughout the night, there are a few things you can unplug to save on energy costs.

Any office equipment should be powered down at the end of each shift. Computers that are on and plugged in all night will sap extra power even though they’re not actively being used. You can even go as far as to unplug kitchen appliances in the break room or other devices that would otherwise raise your power bill unnecessarily.

4. Keep Your HVAC Systems Up to Date

With all the hustle and bustle of running a business, when was the last time you thought to have the air filters in your building changed? It’s easy to overlook this small task when you’re busy managing employees and appointment schedules day in and day out. It’s also an example of something simple you can do to keep your energy costs low.

A dirty air filter makes it difficult for your HVAC system to run at full capacity. It has to work harder to perform the same function, which uses up more energy. Plus a dirty air filter means the air in your business isn’t going to be as clean and pure as you’d like it to be.

If you own your building, you’ll need to keep your other equipment up to date as well. It might take a significant down payment, but you’ll be able to significantly reduce energy costs in the long run. Replacing your HVAC systems might not seem fun when you first see the bill, but a good system can operate for over a decade, and you should definitely reap the benefits in the coming years.

5. Look Into Renewable Energy

If you really want to lean into energy efficiency, take a look at some of the renewable energy alternatives that are available. Unfortunately, these options have high entry fees, but they also have long-term benefits that are well worth considering for both your wallet and your business’s longevity.

The best example for businesses is probably the use of solar power. Solar panels can be placed on rooftops to soak in the sun’s rays and convert them into heat and electricity. Since this energy comes naturally, you won’t have to use as much electricity from your local power company.

The biggest issue with renewable energy is that it can be inconsistent. Your business can’t run on solar power at night, and it will get limited energy on a cloudy day. Even a little bit of assistance from the natural elements can help you cut down that power bill, though.

Try to do one simple thing that contributes to lowering your power bill before the day is done. Then create a long-term plan that helps transform your business into the most energy-efficient one on the block. You’ll soon see that energy bill plummet.

Image Credit: Narcisa Aciko; Pexels; Thank you!

How Appointment-Based Businesses Can Prioritize Convenience Today

By | Appointment | No Comments
Appointment Business Convenience

Have you ever tested your appointment-based business’s appointment service? Even with an excellent hosting service, there are likely steps that are inconvenient for customers. Of course, it’s important to offer high-quality service. But sometimes customers want the most convenient option rather than whatever is top-of-the-line.

This article will help turn your appointment-based business into an organization that is both high-end and convenient for your customers. The ease with which they’ll be able to access your services and resources will help them to enjoy their experience so much more.

Put Everything Online

Digital advances have made life more convenient in many ways that your business can leverage. Providing as many resources as possible that your customers can access online is one surefire way to make the experience more convenient. For instance, you might enable your customers to access their records at any time and from anywhere.

When looking to provide resources, start by making sure your website is updated with all necessary information. This includes hours of operation, appointment availability, and even your late or no-show policy. Customers will be able to answer many questions on their own in an instant rather than waiting on hold to ask a representative.

Online payment methods are convenient for customers and save employees time. You can even add online prepay options. Being able to quickly prepay for upcoming appointments is a huge plus for many customers. It can speed things along at checkout and streamline the in-person appointment experience. With online payment methods, customers can complete required tasks while they’re taking the subway, eating lunch, or even while on their smartphone in bed.

Make Scheduling Fast and Easy

The scheduling process is a vital part of an appointment-based business, and it’s also the area where many customers get hung up. A frustrating booking process will turn customers away before you even get the chance to wow them with your service. Convenient and easy scheduling is what your business should strive for right out the gate.

One of the most tedious aspects of appointment scheduling is inputting all of the needed information. This might be necessary the first time a customer visits your business, but it shouldn’t be required after the initial visit. You can make return scheduling more convenient by creating customer profiles that save important information. This way, customers only need to log in to start scheduling their next appointment.

Making it possible to book appointments online, as mentioned previously, is a great start, but you’ll need to stay on top of a few things. Slow loading times on your website can be just as frustrating, if not more so, than waiting on hold. Look for ways to keep your website running smoothly and avoid outages so that customers can always easily book their appointments.

Manage Your Time to Perfection

As an appointment-based business, it is vital for you to respect your customers’ time. Otherwise, you’ll become an inconvenience to them. To avoid this, ensure that appointments start and end on time. This means you need to successfully juggle a number of variables, ranging from streamlining the check-in process to working with late arrivals.

As a leader of an appointment-based business, you need to be ready for anything. For example, you can include buffer times in between bookings. This way, late appointments don’t bleed into the next appointment slot. There is nothing more inconvenient than arriving for an appointment on time and having to wait because of a tardy fellow customer.

As another helpful aid, consider posting wait times on your website for customers to be able to view en route. Knowing that appointments are running slower than usual will inform customers that they can hit the road slightly later instead of wasting time in your lobby.

Solicit Customer Feedback

Want to know how to prioritize convenience today? Just ask your customers. They know exactly how they would like your business to improve. Give them a chance to speak their mind, and you can gain some valuable insight on how to rework your appointment experience.

Include an optional survey at the end of each appointment. This could be attached to a thank-you email or a payment confirmation. Your survey should be concise and ask a few specific questions but also allow customers to voice their opinions in a fill-in-the-blank option.

Say you take a poll of your customers and learn that it’s difficult to find your office in the business complex where you’re located. That can tip you off to the need for better signage and more thorough directions. This simple solution helps to reduce late appointments and makes the entire business function more efficiently. One suggestion has now turned into a substantial resolution.

If you’re struggling to find more ways to promote convenience in your appointment-based business, just put yourself in your customers’ shoes. What would bug you about the appointment process or experience if you were interacting with the business? This will provide additional insight into how you can continually improve your company.

Image Credit: Andrea Piacquadio; Pexels; Thank you!

5 Issues Appointment-Based Businesses Sometimes Face — and How to Resolve Them

By | Appointment | No Comments
Issues Appointment Businesses Face

The best outlook you can have as a business owner is to expect the best but prepare for the worst. A positive attitude will get you far, but you should always be aware that issues will arise — and you have to be ready to deal with them.

Part of your preparation will be to know what issues you will most likely confront when running an appointment-based business. This short list contains some of the top issues appointment-based businesses around the country face on a regular basis and what you can do to address them.

1. System Errors

Operating your appointment-based business is a cinch as long as all of your software is running smoothly. So what do you do when there’s a system error bogging down your business? You can’t expect your customers to sit around while you call your IT guy, so you’ll need a quick solution until repairs can be made.

Many dentist’s offices keep paper records of the day’s check-ins in case an outage causes them to lose internet access. This way they can still manually check in patients even if there’s an ongoing system error.

How quickly you can fix a system error will depend on the know-how of your personnel. Having IT staff on hand or on call ensures that there’s always someone who can take care of an unexpected system outage. Learning how to fix small and simple errors on your own is also a worthwhile investment, as you’ll be able to help take care of customers immediately.

2. Payment Method Problems

Since most transactions these days are processed digitally, there’s additional room for error that wasn’t there when all transactions were handled via check or cash. While computerized banking has made payment faster and easier than ever, problems with cards, apps, and systems are always potential roadblocks that can get in your customer’s way during an appointment visit.

Offering multiple payment methods can cover the gaps created by individual payment problems. If your debit card processor isn’t working, you can always accept cash or even a Paypal transfer. This might not be the ideal situation for you and your customer, but it will get the job done and send them on their way while you take the time to fix things.

Another way you can eliminate payment issues is to enable prepayment. If a customer is able to pay the full balance of their appointment charges before they even check in, they won’t have to worry about being slowed down by your card reader being on the fritz.

3. Customer Issues

Mistakes happen even to the best workers and businesses, but not all customers will handle unfortunate circumstances calmly. From time to time, you will have to deal with a disgruntled customer who is upset at their appointment wait time, the perceived inadequacy of customer service, or some other aspect of their appointment experience that rubbed them the wrong way. How you deal with these customers is extremely important for your business’s longevity.

The reason that “The customer is always right” is that no business can operate without paying patrons. That’s why you need to be as patient and understanding as possible with customers who are experiencing problems. Try to work through the issue with them without playing the blame game. The way you handle a customer complaint determines the outcome. The better their complaint is handled, the more likely they are to return. Additionally, they are more likely to praise your brand to their friends and family.

Of course, there are lines that customers should never cross. This means you may need to make some exceptions to the established dictum. Your employees and other guests should never have to endure bigotry or abuse of any kind. Customers who cross such lines can be refused service indefinitely.

4. Scheduling Hiccups

As hard as you may try to craft the perfect daily appointment schedule, there are bound to be some scheduling issues and hiccups. Customers might arrive late to their appointments or fail to show up at all. Or you could have a large number of walk-in customers trying to squeeze into an appointment slot at the last minute. Learning how to roll with the punches when maintaining an appointment schedule is something you’ll have to get accustomed to.

The secret to schedule management is to be proactive, not reactive. For example, adding buffer time in between appointments now will come in handy on a snowy day when many of your customers arrive late. Thanks to this proactive decision, you can still fit everyone into their bookings without having to turn anyone away.

5. Health and Safety

Something that has been extremely relevant for the past couple of years is the health and safety of your clientele and employees. COVID-19 is not going away without a fight, and appointment-based businesses should remain vigilant while continuing to operate.

Keep your waiting room clean and sanitized, well-ventilated, and spread out. No matter how people feel about the current state of the pandemic, customers will always appreciate a tidy space when attending appointments. Your cleanliness should also extend to areas for employees only. It should be a high priority to keep them safe and healthy as well.

You’ll also need to be prepared for a workday with minimal staff in the event that some of your employees need to get tested for the virus or stay at home to recover after a positive diagnosis. Craft a plan for dealing with days that feature many appointments but fewer employees. You should allow clients to reschedule last-minute without penalty or have on-call staff members ready to help when needed.

The greatest businesses didn’t rise to the top due to luck. They learned how to deal with the common problems in their industry and used that experience to become better organizations. Your business can do the same by anticipating the roadblocks you might encounter. And from there, you could develop a plan to overcome every single one.

Image Credit: Andrea Piacquadio; Pexels; Thanks!

4 Risks When Scheduling Appointments Online and How to Avoid Them

By | Appointment, Scheduling | No Comments
Scheduling Appointments Online

Online appointment software is one of the easiest ways you can keep your life in check. Scheduling appointments online takes much less time than doing so over the phone, saving you more time and businesses more money. The system is still less than perfect, though.

As great as online appointment software can be, anything done over the internet entails a few risks to keep in mind. You may share personal information when booking appointments, and you’ll need to take a few precautions to keep yourself safe. To help you do so, this guide will outline some of the common risks associated with scheduling appointments online and what you can do to keep them to a minimum.

Here are 4 Risks When Scheduling Appointments Online

1. Answering Potentially Irrelevant Questions

When you’re scheduling an appointment, especially for the first time, you’ll be asked a series of questions. Most of these will be standard questions (such as asking for your name) so you can reserve your appointment slot and easily verify your identity. However, you should be wary of questions that might be irrelevant or unnecessary for the business to ask.

For example, there aren’t many businesses that should require your Social Security number. Financial institutions are an example of an organization that would need your Social Security number, as well as a pediatrician looking to verify your guardianship of a child. That being said, you shouldn’t have to share such private information with vendors like your hair stylist or mechanic.

Oversharing can put your personal information at risk for identity theft and fraud. Other questions that could pose a threat to your identity include your place of work or even your address if the information simply isn’t necessary.

Before booking an appointment with a business that’s asking some curious questions, ask the business whether or not they require you to share this information. If it is optional, declining to provide it is a safer option. If it’s required, consider looking elsewhere for your services before making that commitment.

2. Using Public Wi-Fi

When you’re scheduling appointments online, be careful about the network you’re using. Public Wi-Fi leaves a lot to be desired when it comes to security. While it might be convenient to opt for public Wi–Fi over cellular data, it’s always safer to wait until you’re on a secure network before booking an appointment.

Nefarious figures can easily hack into public networks and swipe your personal information and location while you’re in the appointment booking process. Some people can even create false Wi-Fi networks you can connect to in public places and hand over your information without even realizing it.

Using cellular data is typically safer than using a public Wi-Fi network. Using your phone as a hotspot for another device is not as secure, but it is not encrypting the information you are sharing. If you are on the road and need to book an appointment, try to do so on your mobile device. Businesses with online appointment software enabled should have websites or scheduling apps that are compatible with smartphones.

3. Unsafe Browsing

If you have to use a public network for some reason, make sure you can verify its security and take as many safety precautions as possible before connecting. Additionally, there are certain cybersecurity measures that you should take even on a secure private network.

For example, saving your card information online is dangerous even if your home network is secure. The longer that information stays on the internet, the more opportunities there are for fraud and theft to occur. Autosaving other information such as your home address can also pose the same risk.

Safe browsing starts by being careful and prepared. While autosaving information certainly is convenient, especially when scheduling appointments online, remember how much safer it is to take a few extra seconds to manually input your personal info each time. Another thing to look for is a lock icon next to web addresses, as this will indicate whether the website you are using is secure or not.

4. System Errors

While not as catastrophic as someone stealing your information, even the best automated systems can experience a few hiccups. A single system error can ruin your entire appointment booking if you’re not paying attention to catch the mistake.

For example, if the online appointment scheduling system fails to synchronize with your personal online calendar, you can end up missing your appointment entirely since it won’t appear in your schedule and won’t send you any reminders. Besides having to reschedule, you could also be subject to missed appointment fees that will be difficult to dispute.

Other possible errors include misentered information, double bookings, and internet outages preventing people to finalize their appointments. Make sure you have a reliable internet connection and double-check all of the information you submit to keep such errors to a minimum.

Don’t let this guide dissuade you from relying on online appointment software with your business interactions. This software has a lot to offer, as long as you use it wisely.

Image Credit: Marcus Aurelius; Pexels; Thanks!

4 Complimentary Service Options to Offer Your Customers

By | Business Tips | No Comments
Offer Complimentary Service Options

Entrepreneurs spend a lot of time creating the best product or service. After all, you can’t run a business if people don’t want to pay you for what you’re offering. However, you should also be focusing on related services that you can provide to your customer base. These are called complimentary services.

Essentially, you offer an additional service free of charge to your customers to enhance their experience with your business. This can give you an edge over competitors that offer similar products and services as well as increase customer retention.

If you’re not sure where to start when coming up with complimentary services to offer, we have you covered. This guide contains four of the most common and most appreciated complimentary service options your customers are sure to appreciate:

Preferred Service Provider Option

Many customers become loyal because they develop a connection with a particular member of your organization. This could be a stylist who cuts their hair just right or a waiter who knows their favorite dishes by heart. It’s this bond and the trust they build with that person that keeps them coming back.

Knowing that this connection improves customer retention, many businesses allow customers to choose a preferred service provider. It can be an option included in your mobile app when customers book an appointment. Or if your customers make appointments over the phone, simply ask whether they have a preferred provider. Your customers will be assured they’ll have their ideal appointment experience every time, and employees will feel fulfilled every time they are requested.

Complimentary Transportation Service

Some services can take an unpredictable amount of time. For example, taking your car to a local garage for an unknown problem could take minutes or hours to diagnose and repair. Expecting customers to wait for undetermined periods of time can be perceived as being inconsiderate. Instead of testing your customers’ patience, provide a simple transportation service.

Driving a customer home or back to work won’t take much time, and it makes a good impression. Plus it allows your customer to accomplish more with their day rather than waiting idly in a waiting room. Any customer will be grateful to have this option available to them.

Compensation for Mistakes

No matter how hard you work at improving your business, mistakes are inevitable. You can hire the best staff, provide the best training, and have all the best equipment, yet something will still go wrong. That’s just how life is sometimes. What’s most important for your business is learning how to handle mistakes rather than just trying to make them disappear entirely.

Compensating your customers when issues arise lets them know they are your business’s highest priority. Even a small compensation package shows that you’re sorry the mistake occurred and want to make it up to them. Customers will usually understand and be open to giving your business a second chance. Devoting the effort to make it right can do wonders in restoring their goodwill.

Let’s say you operate a hotel, and a guest arrives at check-in time to find that their room isn’t ready. This can be frustrating for weary travelers with lots of heavy bags they want to unpack. You can keep these customers happy by offering them a gift certificate to a local restaurant and treating them to a meal.

This way, your guests can wait for their room to be prepared while enjoying some delicious cuisine on the house rather than wait in the lobby. What could’ve been a problem resulting in a bad review can now turn into a memorable travel experience.

Childcare

Many customers you assist will be busy parents trying to juggle their appointments around work and their children’s activities. Trying to attend an appointment with your kids can be equal parts challenging and exhausting. Lend a hand by offering free childcare to your customers during their time at your business.

For example, a parent might have a doctor’s appointment and can’t leave their young children at home alone while their spouse is at work. If the doctor’s office has a supervised play area, they can attend their appointment without any worries.

Gyms, dental offices, and hospitals can also employ this strategy. Providing childcare will require an extra employee or two and some additional business space. But this complimentary service will help busy parents in your area who might just become new and recurring customers.

These services will likely add to your expenses column. However, they should easily pay for themselves as you become able to serve more customers and provide a better experience to them. Keep an eye on your business metrics after implementing complimentary service options so you can see how they’re impacting your business. Offering even some simple courtesies like these can go a long way toward delighting and keeping your customers!

Image Credit: Jonathan Borba; Pexels; Thanks!

How to Encourage Appointment Scheduling in the Winter When No One Wants to Get Out

By | Scheduling | No Comments
How to Encourage Appointment Scheduling in the Winter When No One Wants to Get Out

Seasonal depression is nothing to scoff at. The freezing temperatures and lack of sunlight are enough to make anyone want to curl up at home in front of the fireplace. Unfortunately, this might mean that you’re filling fewer time slots in the wintertime as customers opt to stay indoors and schedule their appointments in the spring.

Encouraging appointment scheduling in the winter won’t be easy, but it’s a challenge worth facing head-on. Not only is getting your customers out of the house good for their mental and physical health, but it’s also good for your business. Here are some ideas to help you fill up your schedule even when the snow is falling:

Offer Incentives

People might not want to leave the comfort of their home for regular old appointments. Unless they absolutely have to, many customers are content with postponing them until temperatures start to rise again. To offset their desire to hibernate rather than book your services, you need to extend an offer that customers simply can’t refuse.

Incentives add an extra layer to appointments, making them more favorable even when weather conditions aren’t. For example, a customer might not normally book a winter appointment but be drawn toward your business by seasonal discounts and amped-up loyalty rewards.

Create Ambiance

The waiting room is an underrated aspect of appointment-based businesses. Even if you have the most streamlined booking system on planet Earth, every single one of your customers is going to spend some time in the lobby before or after an appointment. If you create an ambiance that’s comfortable and inviting, more customers will be willing to brave the cold and trek to your office.

How do you make your waiting room awesome? Look at aspects of your lobby that might go overlooked in normal circumstances. Warm lighting as opposed to blinding fluorescents can create a more inviting environment.

The music you play can also be quite influential. Replacing boring elevator music with modern, upbeat tunes or classic soul will make for a more pleasant waiting room experience. Even just keeping the common areas warm and cozy can bring out your chilly customers.

The exterior of your business shouldn’t be overlooked either. Clear sidewalks and parking lots will be a lot more welcoming to customers than icy pavement and snowy curbs.

Offer Online Check-In

If customers have an option to wait in their warm cars until their appointment, they might feel more inclined to venture out for it. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be taking care of your waiting room. Rather, offering online check-in will provide another option for customers to consider. More options for customers means the business will have a better sales funnel.

Checking in online can easily be enabled through a mobile app or online software. All a customer needs to do is confirm that they have arrived at the office on time. A phone call, email, or text message will let the customer know when their appointment is about to start so they can quickly run from their car to the building, staying as warm as possible from start to finish.

Stretch Out Your Schedule

One reason why customers are hesitant to book appointments in the winter is because of perilous road conditions. Driving in the snow and ice is not a fun experience no matter how accustomed to it they are. This means drivers have to travel extra slowly, which might put them at risk of missing their appointment.

You can eliminate this fear by stretching out your schedule. Add some extra buffer time in between appointments just in case someone is running late due to poor weather conditions. You can also add more availability for walk-in customers if business is slow enough to accommodate them. This will give customers more flexibility and peace of mind.

Reach Out

If you’re using online scheduling software, you should easily be able to see when a customer made their last booking. Using this information, you can contact your regular visitors whom you haven’t seen in some time. Sometimes just reaching out to a customer is enough to bring them back for a winter appointment.

When getting in touch with customers, try to make your messages as personal as possible. Phone calls are easy to make personable but are more time-consuming. If you use some sort of messaging system, just be sure to draft up a message that doesn’t sound copy-and-pasted to your entire email list. When customers can tell that you sincerely care about them and want to serve them, you’ll have more success with winter appointment-setting.

Winter only takes up a short portion of the year, but it can feel like an eternity sometimes. Taking measures to fill up your appointment slots and stay busy will pass the time much more quickly and help your business start the next calendar year off on the right foot.

How to Decide the Minimum Amount of Appointment Cancellation Notice to Require

By | Appointment | No Comments
How to Decide the Minimum Amount of Appointment Cancellation Notice to Require

In a perfect world, every appointment your customers make with you would take place. But in a perfect world, ice cream would be a superfood and a staple of every diet. Alas, that just isn’t the case. Unfortunately, cancellations are a fact of life. Lots of things can happen that result in canceled customer appointments. 

How your business deals with appointment cancellations will play a big part in its ultimate success. Some organizations require a fee to be paid if an appointment is canceled or issue a no-refund policy for every booking. That allows them to recoup some of the money lost when an appointment slot goes unfilled. However, a certain amount of lenience can provide a much stronger relationship with your customers. Working with a customer’s changing schedules and accommodating their needs as a business can create loyalty that is more beneficial long-term.  

For that reason, many companies implement a grace period before charging fees. This is part of an appointment-cancellation policy that customers are expected to follow. 

The biggest question with any cancellation policy is how much notice is required. How far in advance will you require your customers to cancel before they incur a penalty? The following variables can help you craft the perfect appointment-cancellation policy for your business and its customers:

1. Hours of Operation

The first thing you should consider when formulating an appointment-cancellation policy is your hours of operation. Businesses that are open from 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. may want to specify that their cancellation deadline hits when business doors open for the day (or even by close of business the previous day). This can be done to make it easier for business owners to plan their daily schedules and not have to roll with the punches of multiple cancellations, no-shows, and late arrivals throughout the day. 

Businesses with longer hours of operation might have to attempt more of a balancing act. For example, a salon owner who books time slots until 9 p.m might allow patrons to cancel appointments up until noon. The extra hours they have at their disposal could allow them to fill those coveted after-work appointments with people on their waitlist, minimizing disruption and revenue loss.

2. Staff Availability

Appointment cancellations directly impact your staff. If you’re gearing up for a full day of appointments, you may plan to have your entire staff on hand to absorb the anticipated traffic. When last-minute cancellations occur, a busy day can get completely off-balance. All those employees you asked to come in that day may not have enough appointments to keep them busy anymore.

If the number of appointments you have on a given day directly impacts your staffing decisions, you might want to opt for a cancellation policy that requires advance notice. For example, 48 hours’ notice allows employee schedules to be adjusted without a last-minute scramble. This will be especially helpful for any on-call workers you might employ who have more flexible schedules but appreciate at least some certainty. 

3. Appointment Demand

How in demand are your appointment slots? This might fluctuate depending on the time of year, but it’s an important component of your cancellation policy. If you have a long waitlist for daily appointments, short cancellation notices might not affect your business at all. As soon as an appointment slot opens up, it can be filled instantly, and your schedule will be none the wiser. 

For example, a tax accounting service may be incredibly busy in the first four months of the year, but business may slow in the summer. During slower months, you might appreciate having a little more notice for appointment cancellations when fewer people are waiting in line for open slots. You might even consider changing your cancellation policy during this time to accommodate changing needs for your business. If that’s what you decide to do, just be sure to make the changes clear to your customers so there’s no unnecessary frustration. 

4. Reminder Practices

Appointment reminders are one of the greatest tools your business can implement. By running all your appointments through online appointment software, the system can automatically send reminder messages that keep no-shows and late arrivals to a minimum. They can also help you when it comes to cancellations.

Most businesses will send reminders 24 hours in advance so that appointment reminders are fresh in customers’ minds. However, this is too late to include a reminder about your cancellation policy. Try sending your appointment reminder messages 48 hours in advance if you want to implement a 24-hour cancellation policy. Include a link for canceling or rescheduling appointments in the reminders you send, and changes should be made smoothly.

Your goal will always be to keep appointment cancellations to a minimum, but you should also be prepared for when cancellations inevitably occur. Draft an initial cancellation policy and weigh it against the four variables mentioned in this article. Once you come up with a good balance, share it with customers and observe how it affects appointment bookings over the next few months. 

5 Ways Self-Serve Appointment Scheduling Amplifies Your Business

By | Appointment, Scheduling | No Comments
Ways Self-Serve Appointment Scheduling Amplifies Your Business

Being hands-on with your customer service strategy is a great idea. However, these days customers love being able to do things on their own. Self-service saves a lot of time for everyone and cuts down on human interactions that many people may wish to avoid if possible. 

While appointment-based businesses usually have a stronger relationship with their customer bases, there are still ways they can implement successful self-service options. Self-service can actually strengthen those relationships even though it may seem like customers are keeping their distance. Online appointment scheduling is a valuable integration that can really amplify your business in the following ways: 

1. It Offers 24/7 Scheduling 

Back in the analog day, appointment setting was very limited. You could only book an appointment over the phone during business hours when a company representative was available. This method of setting appointments was (and is) inconvenient for both parties.

With online appointment software enabled, customers can schedule appointments whenever they want. Someone could be lying in bed at two in the morning and book a dentist appointment. Thanks to your self-serve appointment solution, customers are less restricted when booking appointment slots.

Having the ability to schedule appointments 24/7 will do more than provide your customers with additional flexibility. By providing unlimited opportunities for customers to book appointments, you increase the likelihood that your time slots will get filled. Additionally, you’ll need to take fewer calls, which frees up your employees to tackle other tasks.

2. It Has Auto-Schedule Capabilities 

When you book an appointment after hours, there’s a chance you’ll forget the appointment entirely the next morning. However, you can easily avoid this by using another excellent appointment software feature. Calendar-syncing options are available so customers don’t have to manually add events to their calendars. 

Auto-scheduling helps keep missed appointment rates low. Couple this with appointment reminders, and your conversion rate will hit all-time highs. Online appointment software will do a lot of the heavy lifting when it comes to helping customers stay true to the commitments they make. 

Do you have loyal customers who make frequent visits to your establishment? Help them set up recurring appointments. If you have a client who always comes in on Monday mornings, automatic booking for those appointments will ensure they always get a time slot without going through the trouble of booking every single one. 

3. It Makes Appointment Scheduling an On-the-Go Affair

Not only can customers make appointments at any time, they can make them from anywhere. As long as customers have a device that is connected to the internet, online appointment software is ready and available. This means customers can book appointments while on the subway, at the gym, or even while at work. 

Online appointment software makes payment easier as well. Customers can choose to make payments online before even arriving at your place of business. This means they don’t have to spend as much time in the lobby. This will come in handy for customers who don’t have a very flexible schedule and might like using their lunch breaks to get quick appointments in. 

Simply having access to everything online is convenient. Customers can make changes to their personal profile, appointment preferences, and even upcoming appointment times on their own. 

4. It Reduces Errors

Let’s face it, humans are imperfect. Even your best employees will make mistakes from time to time. Reducing errors in appointment setting will save you a lot of headaches and keep your customers content.

With self-service, much of the responsibility falls on the customer when booking an appointment. The scheduling software will do the rest. Technology is programmed to keep errors to a minimum. As long as customers are careful about the times they select, everything should run smoothly. 

5. It Promotes Transparency

Along with self-service, increased company transparency is at the top of growing consumer desires. The more transparent you can make your business, the more you can amplify it.

For example, when customers use online appointment software, they can see the exact data settings you have put into place and can even customize them to their preferences. This gives you an opportunity to be upfront with how your company is using data and exactly what information you collect, as well as giving customers options. 

You can also be more transparent about things such as pricing. Calculating appointment costs can be tricky sometimes, especially when customizing services. If customers choose to pay upfront online, they can get a better idea of what your business is charging. 

There are many reasons why self-service will benefit your business in the long run. Besides, online appointment software is helpful in so many other ways that adding self-service is just one of many bonuses you’ll receive. Start implementing this solution today and watch how your relationship with your customer base continues to grow. 

Register Now & Get a 30 Day Trial Register Now