How Social Media Can Land You More Appointments

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How Social Media Can Land You More Appointments

With social media, the world is, quite literally, at our fingertips. With just a few taps, we can connect with friends, plan our next meal, or get inspired. 

While social media is entertaining, it can also be a powerful tool for business. If used with intention, social media can help you foster client engagement and even increase the number of appointment clients book with your business. Here’s how you can use your social media channels to help you land more appointments.

Post Consistently 

Today, having a social media presence for your business is non-negotiable. It’s also one of the most cost-effective marketing tactics around. Creating content and posting it regularly gets you in front of potential customers and builds trust. You can create standard posts, host a livestream, and add posts to stories that will live for 24 hours.

The problem is, posting engaging content can be a challenge, especially if you don’t have anything planned prior to sitting down to update your pages. Fortunately, this last-minute stress can be eliminated through the use of a social media calendar. By leveraging a social media calendar, you can create relevant content ahead of time and schedule posts all year long, holidays included.

A social media calendar will enable you to post consistently and build credibility for your brand. Not only that, but you’ll make your own life easier and will have more time to focus on your clients.  

Engage With Your Clients 

Sharing photos on your social media stories can help boost engagement, and you can make those stories interactive. With many social media stories, you can include polls for your followers to participate in. Instagram, for example, allows you to include polls, quizzes, and Q&A forms. These features offer a great way to get feedback from clients or answer any questions they have about their appointments. 

Many social platforms want you to go beyond the regular photo posts, and you should use this to your advantage. Your social media content needs to be engaging and memorable. One way to achieve this is by posting video content on your social pages. Try a how-to video, an animation, or even an interview with a thought leader from your industry. And when potential clients see videos of the services your business offers, they will be more likely to book with you. 

With appointment-based businesses, cancellations are inevitable. If you have a last-minute opening, social media is good for that, too. Announce any available time slots on social media so they can still be used productively.

Brag About Your Business

Don’t be shy when it comes to sharing your successes on social media. People want to have confidence that they’re making the right choice when it comes to spending their money and precious hours. So that means it’s time to boast and be bragged on. 

Most consumers make their purchasing decisions based on the reviews they read and the recommendations they hear from people in their circle. Including reviews and testimonials from past clients on your social pages can help future ones feel more secure in their decision to choose you over competitors. 

You can also share photos and videos of your satisfied clients. This will help your future customers imagine themselves in your current fans’ shoes. Including real clients will bring a touch of humanity and emotion to your brand. This makes it easier for clients, old and new, to support your business. It will remind them that they’re interacting with real people and not a robot that posts every day at noon. 

Make Booking Appointments Easy for You and the Client

Let’s face it, with technology, we’ve been spoiled. With just a couple taps, we can have whatever we want (almost) whenever we want it. When clients are ready to book an appointment after scrolling through your pages, they want to schedule theirs quickly.

You can share links to your website to book appointments or include a booking button on your social media pages. Adding this button is a snap, and you can even connect it to an automated program that moves the request along to staff for approval. This functionality will help you strike while the iron is hot, turning audience interest in your social content into more appointments in your (digital) schedule book. 

When you plan your next campaign to bring in more appointment bookings, don’t forget about social media. You can interact with your clients and answer their burning questions. You can provide updates in real time. And you can share the stories of your current clients and bring your brand to life.

Social media is a powerful business tool, and it’s only growing. If you plan your content with intention, you can use social media as an inexpensive marketing tool to land your business even more appointments.

How to Develop New Forms of Leadership

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How to Develop New Forms of Leadership

What do all successful leaders have in common? They’re on a constant quest for knowledge. Whether through books, workshops, or shadowing peers, it’s an essential leadership trait.

Why is this the case? Because it keeps them up-to-speed on the latest trends and sparks creativity. And, most importantly, it ensures that they can grow into an inspiring and productive leader.

With Gen Z entering the workforce, this is more important than ever. After all, how boomers and millennials were lead are completely different than what Gen Z would expect. One area that you shouldn’t overlook is developing new forms of leadership so that you can connect with this demographic.

Increase your leadership capacity.

“Developing leadership skills is one of the most powerful moves you can make to transform your professional and personal life,” states Team Tony. “It’s an empowering process of harnessing your natural talents to inspire others.” During this journey, you’ll also “become more attuned to your strengths and weaknesses, which creates self-awareness and the ability to relate to others.”

How can you achieve this? By asking yourself the following three questions;

  • Do I know what my leadership style is? “Understanding your leadership style opens the door for building managerial skills in harmony with your true nature,” the authors add. “Is your leadership approach democratic, visionary, coaching, affiliative, pacesetting, or commanding?” Knowing “where you fall in these categories, you’re better equipped to develop leadership skills.”
  • What are my weak spots? Be honest with yourself here. It’s the most effective way to pinpoint what skills or form of leadership you need to address.
  • How can I take action? Now that you’re aware of your strengths and weaknesses, you can take steps to develop leadership skills. For example, if you want to become more of a coach, then you’ll want to focus on areas like becoming more self-aware and how to ask guided questions. And, you also have to practice offering guidance as opposed to micromanaging others.

Get in the trenches.

Do what separates a boss and leader? Bosses believe that they’re above the team. True leaders, however, are a part of the team.

Instead of hiding out in your office or distancing yourself from your team, spend time with them. You can do this by eating lunch with, scheduling one-on-ones, and working next to them. Besides giving you the chance to get to know them better, which you can use to motivate them, you can also learn new forms of leadership from them.

For instance, maybe it’s difficult for you to give up control. That’s understandable as a business owner. But, encouraging ownership is one of the most effective ways to motivate your team.

But, after spending time with a team member, you realize that they possess more of laissez-faire or hands-off style. You can then pick their brain or shadow them to see how you can delegate more effectively, promote a more autonomous work environment, and how to let go of control.

Embrace 360-degree feedback.

A 360-degree feedback approach is when leaders use a full circle of viewpoints to evaluate their performance. Examples include feedback from subordinates, colleagues, customers, and their own self-assessment. When done correctly, this can increase self-awareness, clarify behavior, and encourages personal development.

The biggest hurdle to jump is being willing to listen to negative feedback. Don’t take it personally. Use it as an opportunity to learn, grow, and make changes.

Learn from a coach, mentor, or consultant.

Whether it’s hiring a coach, catching up with your mentor, or bringing in outside consultants, these types of relationships are priceless. They can share with you how they achieved past victories, as well as setbacks.

Moreover, they can challenge you to try out new forms of leadership. Or, you can be inspired by them and put your own twist on their style.

For example, you may look up to Steve Jobs or Elon Musk for being innovative, decisive, or encouraging teamwork. But, you don’t have to romanticize their bad behavior. As such, you could blend those styles with empathy.

Work outside your organization.

“One of the simplest and most powerful sources of learning is simply to have worked within different organizations,” writes Ben Brearley BSc. BCM MBA. “Leaders who have spent much of their time within a single organization tend to become accustomed to the status quo.”

To prevent this, spend time in other work environments. When you do, you become exposed “to new ideas, new people and new organizational models,” adds Brearley. “It also provides you access to more diverse leadership approaches, because you’ll have had many different bosses to report to.”

“If you are somebody who has worked at the same organization for a long time, you need to ensure that you continue to learn from as many different external sources as possible,” he suggests. Hopefully, this will “provide you with diverse outside information that you can bring into your current role.”

How can you work with other organizations? You could find a part-time job, volunteer, or collaborate with partner companies. Some ideas for the latter would be co-sponsoring an event, co-branding a product/service, or publishing research together.

If the above is too overwhelming, seek opportunities to take on new roles and responsibilities within your organization. Maybe you could spend a day working for your sales department manager to see how they lead.

Share what you know.

“If you want to learn — teach,” advises Sally Fox, Ph.D. “Those of us who teach leadership professionally know this secret: We have to develop ourselves, keep learning, and model what we believe.”

“No matter where you are in your career, you can mentor others, offer what you know, share your questions, exchange insights, and keep learning,” Dr. Fox adds. “By so doing, you’ll further your own education.”

In addition to mentoring, write blog boats, host a podcast, or start an online course. I also think that speaking opportunities are clutch since you can also mingle and network. Overall, there’s no shortage of ways for you to pass along your knowledge.

Schedule “me” time.

Most of us avoid spending time alone. After all, we’re social creatures. And, loneliness can be detrimental to our mental and physical health.

However, there’s nothing wrong with indulging in some solitude occasionally. In fact, this can be beneficial as this can reduce stress, encourage gratitude, and build mental strength.

Moreover, spending time by yourself allows you to plan and develop compassion. Most importantly? It gives you a chance to reflect and learn more about yourself so that you’re comfortable in your own skin.

Introduce yourself to new and disruptive ideas — as often as possible.

As a leader, I’m positive that you’re surrounded by your favorite books, podcasts, and websites. And, there’s nothing wrong with that. After all, these resources are proven ways to keep learning and growing.

But, you should also expand your horizons. Ask your network what book you should read next. Listen to a brand-new podcast while you commute or exercise.

You can also subscribe to innovation blogs like Innovation Management or Both Sides of the Table. Another idea would be following influencers on social media or stay updated with hashtags. And, you should become a TED Member and dig into leadership reports from organizations like Criterion.

Spring Cleaning Tips for Appointment-Based Businesses

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Spring Cleaning Tips for Appointment-Based Businesses

Spring has sprung, and with blooming flowers and singing birds comes the yearly rallying cry of spring cleaning. Something about those first rays of sun melting the snow motivates people to deep clean after their winter hibernation. While this is a beneficial practice for your home, spring cleaning should occur in your business as well. 

Whether it’s taking a broom and mop to the floor or cleaning up your operations, a good spring cleaning will keep your business running on all cylinders. The following ideas can help you direct your spring cleaning efforts to where they’ll be most effective:

Tune Up Your Website

When was the last time you looked at your website layout? There might not be anything inherently wrong with it, but it’s always good to tune up your online presence from time to time. After all, as an appointment-based business, you’ll get a lot of traffic to your website from customers looking to book appointments online.

Start by testing your loading speeds. If your website is taking longer to load as time goes by, focus your spring cleaning on backend solutions geared toward faster speeds. Also pay attention to how your website performs on mobile devices and determine whether a change in design is needed to recapture the attention of customers. 

Amp Up Your Marketing

While you’re online, take a look at your marketing strategy. Is it accomplishing what you set out to do? Is your ROI acceptable? Taking the time to reevaluate your marketing campaigns is always a good idea.

Even if your marketing efforts are exceeding your every expectation, you should be preparing your next approach. Rarely does a single marketing campaign survive without eventually going stale. A new strategy will attract customers whom your original plan didn’t appeal to and will keep your content fresh.

Your social media pages will need the most upkeep. Consumers are heavily influenced by what they see on social media, with over half of them using social media to research new products. Take a moment to review your profiles and newsfeeds and look for ways to improve your brand image. A change of wording or a new profile picture is a small touch but can make all the difference. 

Go Paperless

As useful as it can be, paper is easily wasted and can slow down your operations significantly. How many times have you dug through stacks of paper looking for a particular document only to come up empty-handed (or, if you did find it, taking twice as long as you had expected to do so)? Fine-tune your operations by going paperless.

Converting your paper-based system to digital platforms is much easier than it might sound. Cloud storage will take care of those paper stacks cluttering your back office, and online document management software will make it even easier for customers to fill out and sign paperwork associated with their visits. Other software applications will help with project management, communication, and any other requirement your business needs to fulfill. 

Clean Up Working Space

What’s spring cleaning without some actual tidying of your business? Now’s the perfect time to deep clean your workspace before the warmer weather and looser COVID restrictions bring customers pouring in. They’ll appreciate the clean and tidy atmosphere just as much as you will.

Start by cleaning everything visible to the customer. Bathrooms should be spotless, reception desks immaculate, and waiting rooms prepped for royalty. A clean business makes a good first impression and sets the tone for a successful appointment. 

Renovations are more expensive, but they are also worth considering. Long-term customers will especially appreciate the improvements you make to your business, such as a state-of-the-art waiting room, increasing the odds that they’ll continue to be loyal to your brand.

Organize Your Bookkeeping

Your business handles hundreds, if not thousands, of transactions per week. Bookkeeping is the active processing, tracking, and recording of these transactions. Bookkeeping is how invoices are sent and received, employee pay is monitored, and financial reports are generated. 

With so much information to keep track of, bookkeeping can be a daunting process. If the task is getting beyond your staff’s capabilities, consider outsourcing it to an accounting service or implementing accounting software like QuickBooks or Sage. Clear all your outstanding balances and check for discrepancies in your accounts. The more accurate and efficient your bookkeeping is, the better your business’s financials will be. 

Evaluate Your Goals

Your goals could probably use some dusting off as well. Are you on track to meet your annual goals? Have you been keeping pace with weekly and monthly goals? If your goal-setting has been lacking these past few months, now’s your chance to pivot in the right direction.

If your annual goals seem too lofty after the first quarter of the year, reevaluate them to make them more feasible. Let’s say your original goal was to triple your customer base by the end of the year. If progress has seemed slow, consider changing that to double. 

Then, establish weekly and monthly goals that will help you reach your new target. You might set a goal of getting five customer referrals per week or increasing walk-in appointments by 25% per month. By creating weekly and monthly goals that break down your year-end goal, you can use them as stepping-stones to get there.

Many hands make light work, so get your team together and dive into your business’s spring cleaning. Once you’re finished, make a plan to stay on top of all the areas you just tackled. Next spring, it will be much less of a project to rejuvenate your business.

The Psychological Price of Meetings

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The Psychological Price of Meetings

With so many personalities within your organization, it’s not every day that you can reach unanimous decisions. However, if there is one thing that everyone can agree upon it’s how much they despise meetings.

People dread meetings for several valid reasons. For starters, most people view meetings as unproductive and inefficient. That’s because there isn’t a clear purpose and a lack of clear, actionable outcomes. What’s more, meetings often drag on for far too long. As a result, attendees are pulled-away from meaningful work.

Other culprits include:

  • Having to wait for late arrivals — which wastes even more time of participants.
  • Believing that there’s too much talking and not enough listening.
  • Inviting too many people because you don’t want anyone to be left out.
  • Not having any structure — such as an agenda or allowing others to go off-topic.
  • Feeling bored or not engaged.

While that is not an extensive list, the point is that people really can’t stand meetings. And, the numbers seem to back this sentiment up.

The Psychological Price of Meetings

Research from Atlassian found that the average employee attends 62 meetings per month, with half being considered “time wasted.” The research also shows that we spend approximately 31 hours per month in unproductive meetings.

According to research from Fuze, unproductive meetings cost more than $37 billion annually. It also wastes 15 percent of an organization’s collective time. However, for middle management, that figure increases to 35 percent and 50 percent for upper management. That’s a lot of time and money when 67 percent of executives consider meetings to be failures.

Because of this, it’s no surprise that some organizations, like Asana, have banned meetings on specific days as a solution to the meeting problem. Other businesses have even scrapped meetings altogether.

But, few of these organizations have examined the most detrimental part of meetings; the psychological price it has on employees.

The Toll on Physical Health

Wait. Wasn’t this article supposed to be about the psychological price of meetings? Yes. However, there’s a strong correlation between physical and mental health.

While it’s no secret that physical health reduces serious health concern like heart problems, diabetes, or concern, it’s also a proven way to reduce stress and anxiety. Being active also improves your mood, focus, and concentration thanks to the release of dopamine and serotonin.

Exercise has also been found to stimulate other chemicals in the brain called “brain-derived neurotrophic factors.” These allow for new brain cells to grow and develop. Furthermore, research shows that older adults who are physically fit have a bigger hippocampus and better spatial memory.

In short, when you prioritize your physical health, you’re improving your mental health.

Considering that the average person already sits for 12 hours per day, slouching at a conference table only adds to this sedentary lifestyle. No wonder living sedentary has become the fourth leading risk for global mortality.

To counter physical inactivity, it’s suggested that we need at least one hour of physical activity a day. Of course, this is no easy feat during a hectic workday. The good news is that instead of sitting throughout a meeting you implement standing meetings.

While this won’t completely resolve physical inactivity in the workplace, it’s an excellent starting point to improve employee health — they’re also 34 percent shorter. Additionally, standing meetings come with the following benefits;

  • Releases endorphins and boosts energy levels.
  • Decreases distractions.
  • Encourages better collaboration, a sense of purpose, and creative thinking.
  • Keeps attendees focused and alert.
  • Improves posture.
  • Burns 50 percent more calories than sitting.

Added Workplace Stress and Anxiety

Workplace stress has already been dubbed the “silent killer.” The outcome known as a silent killer is because when left unchecked stress can result in physical alignments like headaches, trouble sleeping, and increased blood pressure. It can also affect concentration, confidence, and mood disorders like anxiety and depression. 72 percent of people who have daily stress and anxiety say it interferes with their lives at least moderately.

Meetings can add to an already stressed out workforce due to issues like being afraid to speak in public and interacting with an authority figure. There’s also legitimate worry when there isn’t access to an agenda or resources before the meeting. I mean is there anything worse than not knowing what to expect when entering a meeting? Worse, have you been asked a question for which you didn’t or couldn’t prepare an answer?

When it comes to reducing workplace stress and anxiety, there isn’t such a thing as “one size fits all” approach. However, one solution is to provide all attendees with the required information, resources, and agenda in advance. Giving meeting attendees advanced information offers them the opportunity to prepare — so that they aren’t afraid of the unknown. The dividend is money back in your pocket in saved time.

You may also want to consider offering meditation classes and encouraging employees to take frequent breaks. Also, create a friendly and positive company culture through team building exercises, socializing outside of work, and not tolerating bullying. When employees feel comfortable and respected with their colleagues, it can ease stress related to areas like the fear of public speaking.

FOMO

Despite the evidence that regular meetings are unproductive and costly, why do we keep scheduling or attending them? There may be a simple explanation; FOMO.

FOMO, which is stands for the “fear of missing out,” is defined as “anxiety that an exciting or interesting event may currently be happening elsewhere.” It may explain why leaders schedule weekly meetings. If they don’t see their team, they’ll worry that they don’t know what everyone is working on, or assigned.

Personalities can also play a role. Extroverts, for example, are naturally drawn to recurring brainstorming sessions and group activities. As a result, they set face-to-face communications because they believe it’s necessary.

The truth of the matter is that when everyone within your organization is in-attendance, performance decreases because the group size is too large. C Northcote Parkinson addressed this first with his“coefficient of inefficiency.” Parkinson stated that meetings consisting of five people were “most likely to act with competence, secrecy, and speed.” Above nine, Parkinson added, “the organism begins to perish.”

Via Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking”:

The “evidence from science suggests that business people must be insane to use brainstorming groups,” writes the organizational psychologist Adrian Furnham. “If you have talented and motivated people, they should be encouraged to work alone when creativity or efficiency is the highest priority.”

Before inviting your entire staff to the next meeting, review all current recurring meetings and ask yourself the following questions;

  • Does the meeting still serve a purpose?
  • Is the meeting necessary?
  • Does everyone need to participate or can you invite only the key stakeholders like department heads?
  • Can you use Slack, email, or a project management system instead of in-person?
  • If you must meet face-to-face, can you replace the meeting with a 5-minute inspiration break?

It’s never easy to start eliminating meetings from your calendar. But, start experimenting with alternatives. It may take some trial and error, but you may find a more productive option.

Decreases Morale and Engagement

When meetings are irrelevant to invitees and don’t serve a purpose, they can kill morale. Instead of being able to focus on more critical work, attendees are stuck in a meeting that is an utter waste of time.

When employee morale is low, you can also expect engagement to drop as well. Initially, this may not seem overly significant. But, employee disengagement leads to;

  • Dissatisfaction with their jobs.
  • Unproductivity.
  • Causes people to withdraw, which harms collaboration.
  • Less employee input.
  • A lack of growth, empowerment, and improvement.
  • An increase in costly mistakes.
  • More absenteeism and turnover.

Again, avoid scheduling meetings that are a waste of time. Make sure they have a clear purpose and work towards a common goal. And, make sure they’re short, concise, and engaging.

Unnecessary Information Overload

Do your meetings contain too many facts? Are you throwing stats at attendees left and right? Are you boring them with slide after slide packed full of information?

Annoying people to death or overwhelming them with information may seem innocent. Unfortunately, when exposed to too much information our brains become unnecessarily stimulated. This information overload can result in negatively affecting our mental well-being in the following ways:

  • A decrease in productivity.
  • Drained energy.
  • Difficulty concentrating.
  • Strong compulsion to check emails, social media, etc.
  • A decreased cognitive performance which can impair decision-making.

When planning a meeting keep in mind that the brain can only handle to so much information at one-time. Additionally, our brains can only focus for so long before starting to wander. If a meeting is an hour-long and delivers too much data — processing and focus will be dull, and everyone will lose interest.

As such, only share the most critical data points during your presentation. You can send any supporting information to your team in the form of a word document that they can view at their leisure. A quick, readable piece will also ensure that the event will be short and concise. Ideally, you should take a page of the TED Talk playbook and keep your presentation under 20-minutes.

Multitasking Damages Your Brain

A whopping 92 percent of people have admitted to multitasking during meetings. Whether if this is checking their email or during other work, multitasking does more harm than good.

Research out of the University of Sussex found that multitaskers have “ less brain density in the anterior cingulate cortex, a region responsible for empathy as well as cognitive and emotional control.” A study from the University of London discovered “that participants who multitasked during cognitive tasks experienced IQ score declines that were similar to what they’d expect if they had smoked marijuana or stayed up all night.”

One solution would be to ban gadgets, like a smartphone. Former President Obama, for example, had people place their phones in a basket before entering a meeting.

Another option would be to make meetings more interactive. Interactive meetings take up more time though. But an occasional question-and-answer session can be helpful, group activities, or ditching the chairs and implementing standing meetings can also be beneficial.

Distractions Derail More Than Just Productivity

It’s no secret that distractions harm productivity. For example, if you’re interrupted by an email, it will take around 16 minutes to refocus your attention. As for meetings, it can take 2 hours to recover from these disruptions. The reason? Switching between tasks leaves us with a frantic sensation. As a result, this over-stimulates the brain.

However, this is just the tip of the iceberg.

Because distractions lead to productivity loss, the work day gets longer. Eventually, this leads to frustration, stress, and a lack of engagement and motivation. And, because we’re attempting to catch up on work, we make more mistakes.

As if that weren’t bad enough, workplace distractions impair employee IQ scores.

Once again, if possible, avoid having too many unnecessary meetings. If a situation can be handled electronically, then go that route as opposed to interrupting people from working. If meetings are necessary, keep them under 30-minutes and at least have one day per week where meetings do not take place.

Can Lead to a Sense of Failure

As mentioned above, a majority of executives feel that meetings are a failure.

Failure isn’t always a bad thing. It allows you to learn and grow from your mistakes. At the same time, that doesn’t make failure an enjoyable experience.

Failing time-and-time again can make the same goal less attainable. It also distorts how you perceive your abilities, makes you believe you’re helpless, causes anxiety, and unconscious self-sabotage.

Every meeting on your calendar should have clear goals and objectives. Calendar info involves:

  • Identifying the desired outcome and how it can be achieved.
  • Determining why the outcome is essential. In other words, how does it align with the bigger picture?
  • Deciding when the outcome should be achieved and establishing roles.

Meetings Aren’t a Good Waste of Time

Meetings aren’t just a waste of time. They’re a terrible waste of time. This doesn’t even account for the psychological price of meetings on a human soul.

While our brains require downtime, instead of sitting in a useless meeting you should provide opportunities for yourself and team to meditate, new learn a skill, exercise, build hobbies, or work on a passion project. In other words, you shouldn’t be watching Netflix for an hour. Instead, you should focus on activities that have some potential positive value.

When time is spent as an investment, productivity increases, it also encourages creativity, solidifies memories, and replenishes attention.

Meetings Can Still Be Beneficial

You may believe that all sessions are a waste of time? But, that’s not honestly always the case. When done correctly, meetings can;

  • Keep everyone in the loop and on the same page.
  • Share problems, concerns, and solutions to problems.
  • Promote leadership and the chance for employees to step into new roles.
  • Opportunity to give and receive feedback.
  • Provide training opportunities.
  • Promote team collaboration. Teamwork can improve the flexibility of the organization, keep everyone engaged, spark innovation, and improve the health of employees.

Even more promising is that meetings can encourage group cohesion. While meetings should be as short as possible, letting participants spend a couple of minutes before or after engaging in informal communication boosts productivity.

A study from MIT backs this statement up by stating that “with increased cohesion likely comes an increase in things such as shared tacit knowledge, shared attitudes and work habits, and social support.”

Moreover, a Microsoft survey discovered that people crave face-time. In-Person meetings are the communication method that makes them the happiest.

Proven Ways to Improve Meetings

Although there have been suggestions throughout this article to help make meetings successful, a team of psychological scientists have developed the following recommendations;

Before the Meeting

  • Assess current needs. Meetings should only be held to solve a problem, make a decision, or have a substantive discussion.
  • Set and share the agenda. An agenda will make the purpose of the meeting clear. It will also keep the meeting organized.
  • Invite only the right people. Attendance should be kept to a minimum. As such, only those who will help achieve its goals and initiatives should be invited.

During the Meeting

  • Encourage contribution. Ask questions. Encourage feedback. Facilitate group discussions. Or, have a little fun by playing games.
  • Add a little humor. Humor breaks the ice, lightens the mood, and creates a more positive environment.
  • Redirect complaining. Complaints change the mood of the meeting and gets the discussion off-track. Squash complaining and address it one-on-one following the meeting.
  • Keep discussions focused. Stick to the agenda and only allow reviews that are relevant to the meeting objective.

After the Meeting

  • Share the minutes. Attendees can refer to this when they need a reminder of what to do next and who’s responsible for specific roles. Those who couldn’t attend can also use the minutes to stay in the loop.
  • Seek feedback. Feedback will help you plan the next meeting to ensure it’s productive.
  • Look ahead. Keep the momentum going by encouraging everyone to think about future actions, follow-through, and short-and-long-term outcomes.

Additional suggestions;

  • Don’t schedule meetings in the morningMornings should be spent on priorities that involve deep work and focus. Instead, schedule meetings in the afternoon, like around 3:30 or four pm since it’s unlikely that any other project will get started at this time.
  • Pick the right location. Where the meeting is held needs to be large enough to accommodate participants, be an environment that inspires creativity and has the right tech if needed.
  • Eliminate distractions. Again, don’t allow phones into the meeting — or ask them to be turned off. Also, do not allow small talk during the presentation.
  • Set a time limit. Meetings that range between 15-45 minutes are ideal.
  • Step-up your virtual meeting etiquette. If working with a remote team, make sure you’re using the right technology, stop multitasking, close unnecessary programs, and mute your mic when not speaking.

Appointment Deals Your Business Should Consider

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Appointment Deals Your Business Should Consider

Every business, even appointment-based businesses, runs a deal at some point to bring in new customers and to give back to their loyal following. Special events renew interest in your brand and can tip the scales in your favor when customers are on the fence. 

Appointment-based businesses will approach deals differently than other industries. While promotions will have to be implemented in different ways, they can still be just as effective at building your customer base and giving revenue a short-term boost. Here are some ideas you can use for your next appointment deal:

Online Booking Promotions

If you’re trying to move toward online appointment booking software, run a promotion that rewards the first customers to adopt it. Even if you explain all the benefits of online appointment booking, you’ll have some customers who don’t like change and will be hesitant to make the switch. Offer them extra reward points, discounts, and flexibility during the first weeks of implementing the new software, and they’ll be more willing to jump on board. 

The real benefits will be enjoyed by your business. Online appointment booking is faster and more reliable than traditional booking. You can easily keep track of appointments, quickly make adjustments, and conveniently access customer information. Your customers can book appointments whenever they please and can even prepay online. 

Loyalty Punch Card

When extending deals to your customers, your primary goal should be to incentivize them to return as often as possible. While new faces are great, it costs five times as much to acquire customers as it does to keep them around. For that reason, many businesses across a variety of industries provide loyalty punch cards to their current fans.

The concept of a punch card is simple. Each time a customer leaves an appointment, they get a punch or a mark on their card indicating they’ve completed a visit. After a certain number of appointments — 10 is typically the magic number — they qualify for a reward. This could be a free appointment or any other incentive that would get customers to pursue the end goal. After their punch card is used up, they can start a new cycle.

First-Time Bonus

Just because getting new customers is more expensive than retaining existing ones doesn’t mean you should stop trying. A healthy business continues to gain new customers as others fade away and need to be replaced. To incentivize new customers to commit to their first appointment, offer them a small bonus.

A first-time appointment bonus should be big enough that it lures in new customers, but not so large that it devalues future appointments they would potentially book. A $10 cut in price or a free additional service will work just fine. A free service — an eyebrow wax with a haircut, say — will also give new customers a taste of what they can enjoy at future appointments. This will act as another incentive to get them to return. 

Bulk Discounts

Another technique to keep customers coming back again and again is to offer a discount for bookings made in bulk. Let’s say you run a chiropractic office, and a regular adjustment costs $60. Over the course of 10 appointments, the bill would run to $600. With a bulk discount, customers can pay for all 10 appointments up front, lowering their total cost by a set amount. A 10% bulk discount, for example, would result in a cost of only $540.

This program benefits your regular customers who were already prepared to pay the full fee for all their appointments. Additionally, it may sway some new customers in your direction as they weigh their options before committing to a business. The promise of a substantial discount on future services when compared to the competition will win over many.

You might be wondering whether this large of a discount will hack away at your revenue. After all, a 10% price reduction can add up over time, especially if multiple customers take advantage of it. What you need to consider is the fact that you’re filling up several appointments in advance. Appointments at a 10% discount still pay more than an empty appointment slot. 

Referral Bonus

Referrals are a powerful asset for your business. A Neilsen study found that more than 80% of U.S. consumers actively seek recommendations before making a purchase. They’ll ask friends and family or poll their social media following to get insight on the brands and businesses those individuals prefer before making a decision for themselves. 

With so many potential customers already looking for recommendations, your task is to get your current loyalists to bring those customers to you. A referral program will incentivize your fans to be more vocal about their decision to do business with you. They’ll talk with their friends and family and guide them to you, receiving a bonus for their efforts.

What should your customers receive for making referrals? For many, additional perks at their own appointments will be a welcome reward. Otherwise, gift cards, lottery tickets, and other prizes may do the trick. You can even hold a referral contest where the winner gets their next five appointments for free or dinner at the hot new restaurant in town. 

Offering the right deals to your customers will help your business grow and flourish — it will also make your customers happy. Don’t be afraid to cycle through these types of deals every once in a while to keep things fresh. New deals and promotions will continue to pique interest in your company year-round. 

What is Revenge Bedtime Procrastination?

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What is Revenge Bedtime Procrastination?

The other night I thought that as soon as my head hit the pillows, I would be out cold. I had one of those non-stop days. You know, getting ahead of work and attending to household responsibilities like laundry.

A peculiar thing happened. I laid there wide awake.

So, I decided to read a book to calm down. When I felt drowsy enough, I put the book down but continued to toss and turn. Frustrated, I grabbed my phone and turned on a podcast until I eventually fell asleep.

I was well aware that it was past my bedtime. I also knew that I was going to pay for not going to bed on time by dragging all day tomorrow. But, I just couldn’t help myself.

Of course, I’m not an anomaly. In fact, this such a prevalent problem that the phenomenon has its own name; it’s called “the revenge bedtime procrastination.”

What is revenge bedtime procrastination?

“Revenge bedtime procrastination is just a cry from overworked people, and they’re actually trying to put off bedtime just a little bit so they can reclaim something for themselves,” said Dr. Rajkumar Dasgupta, assistant professor of clinical medicine at the University of Southern California Keck School of Medicine in Los Angeles.

More directly, it’s sacrificing sleep so that you have more leisure time.

For example, if you’re exhausted and it’s 10 p.m., you might decide to watch a movie? The reason, you didn’t feel that you had much downtime during the day. So, you want to make up for that, relax, and enjoy a movie.

The problem? You’re breaking your normal sleep schedule by falling asleep until after midnight. And, you’re willing to accept the consequences — mainly that you’ll be a zombie tomorrow at work.

Another factor could be an unplanned circumstance. Maybe your favorite baseball team goes into extra innings causing you to it the hay later than planned. Or, you aren’t falling well or dealing with a restless child or dog.

Where did the term revenge bedtime procrastination originate from though? Well, bedtime procrastination first surfaced in a 2014 study out of the Netherlands. Appearing in Frontiers in Psychology, in 2018, the authors stated that those who tried to “resist desires” during the day were more likely to be a bedtime procrastinator.

The link between COVID and sleep.

Another cause is that the lines between work and life have become too intertwined. For instance, you’re responding to emails or Slack messages at all hours of the night instead of enjoying your leisure time. So, to recapture some much-needed “me time,” you stay up later.

For many, this has been the case following COVID-19. Many of us no longer had a clear separation between work and life since our homes became our workplaces. We were also more stressed and couldn’t stop ourselves from doomscrolling.

How bad has gotten? Well, since the pandemic started, 40% of people have reported sleeping problems.

What’s revenge got to do with it.

As the revenge part? That came about in 2016 when it took off on the internet in China. “Revenge bedtime procrastination” is the literal translation is “staying up late in a self-revenge way.”

The phrase finally went viral in English following a tweet by New York-based journalist Daphne K. Lee. She defined this as “a phenomenon in which people who don’t have much control over their daytime life refuse to sleep early in order to regain some sense of freedom during late night hours.”

The importance of sleep.

It might some harmless to occasionally stay past your normal bedtime. After all, at least you’re getting some amount of z’s, right?

Occasionally, this might be acceptable. However, it’s a myth that you can catch up on sleep. Moreover, bedtime procrastination can lead to sleep deprivation.

Why’s that concerning? Well, falling short on slumber doesn’t just make you so tired that you chug multiple pots of coffee. It can cause symptoms like;

  • Being more prone to accidents or making mistakes.
  • Degrades decision-making, thinking, and memory.
  • Difficulty concentrating.
  • Mental health disorders such as anxiety or depression.
  • Irritability, which can impact your relationships.

What’s more, a lack of sleep can also cause physical health conditions like;

  • Heart disease
  • Diabetes
  • Obesity
  • Hormone-related problems
  • Weaker immune system
  • Chronic pain

As if that’s not bad enough, a lack of sleep can reduce self-regulation and impulse control. And, it also raises the odds of dying early.

In short, sleep deprivation negatively affects all facets of your life. As such, it needs to be a top priority.

Getting revenge on revenge bedtime procrastination.

Ideally, we all should be getting between 7-9 hours of quality sleep per night. For adolescents and teenagers, it’s more. But, how can we win this fight against bedtime procrastination? Well, here are 6 recommendations.

1. Honor your sleep chronotype.

“According to sleep expert Dr. Michael Breus, there are four different chronotypes or circadian rhythm personalities,” writes Abby Miller in another Calendar article. “He suggests that you determine which one you are so that you can mirror the sleep-wake habits that best describe you.”

  • Bear. For most of us, our sleep-wake patterns follow the sun. As such, you’re “ready for intense tasks smack in the middle of the morning,” but feel a dip by mid-afternoon.
  • Lion. Lions are early risers. “These are the go-getters, the leaders, the type-A movers, and shakers.” The downside is that they usually have to go to bed earlier.
  • Wolf. Wolves are nocturnal loners. That means that they get a later start and have two peak periods — noon to 2 pm and late afternoon/early evening.
  • Dolphin. Since dolphins are light sleepers, they’re more likely to have irregular sleep routines. They’re also perfectionists and do their best work from mid-morning through early afternoon.

“To find out what your animal, track your time and take Dr. Breus’ sleep chronotype quiz,” she advises. “After that, re-organize your day so that you can align your sleep pattern and work schedule. For example, if you’re a lion, then you would want to tackle your most important work bright and early.”

2. Chillax in the evening.

As you should know, your morning routine can make or break your day. But, your evening routine is equally important. And, that should conclude with your bedtime ritual.

Preferably, this should take place around 30 to 60 minutes prior to bed. And, it should contain only activities that make you feel relaxed. Some suggestions would be;

  • Taking a warm bath or shower.
  • Meditating or doing light stretches.
  • Focusing on your breathing.
  • Listening to soothing music.
  • Reading a book.

3. Resist the blue light special.

Electronic devices, such as your phone or tablet, emit blue light. In case you weren’t aware, this reduces melatonin levels. Melatonin is the chemical that’s responsible for your wake/sleep schedule.

What’s that mean? When these levels dip, you’ll have more difficulty falling asleep.

Additionally, blue light can stimulate your brain. Which, as you might have guessed, makes sleep more of a challenge. And, if you keep your phone close, notifications that you receive at night can interrupt your sleep.

The solution? Avoid blue light at least an hour before bed. You should also stop using your phone as an alarm and place it across your room.

4. Keep your bedroom sacred.

Your bed needs to be reserved only for sleep and sex. Nothing else. What’s more, your bedroom should be cool, dark, and quiet.

Preferably, set your thermostat between 60°F and 67°F, invest in blackout curtains, and even earplugs. Also, don’t skimp on your pillows and mattress.

5. Release stress before bed.

If you’re putting off sleep because you’re worrying, then address these thoughts before laying down. For instance, you could jot down your worries so that they’re out of your head.

Other suggestions include;

  • Planning and organizing tomorrow by prioritizing your lists.
  • Journaling.
  • Meditating.
  • Purchasing a weighted blanket to reduce anxiety.

6. Use your online calendar.

What does your calendar have to do with hitting the hay? In a previous Calendar article, Angela Ruth argues that with your trusty calendar, you can add structure to help encourage a better night’s rest, such as;

  • Follow a consistent routine. “It’s easier to get sleep when you follow a routine,” writes Angela. “If you don’t make time in your schedule for rest, it may become sporadic. Adjust your rhythm gradually, or you could overcorrect — and oversleeping can leave you feeling groggy and unproductive.”
  • Take charge of naps. “When you nap, use your online calendar to hold yourself accountable,” she advises. “Make sure you’re not taking one too late in the day and set an alarm to ensure your power nap doesn’t turn into a snooze fest.”
  • Manage your eating and drinking. “Just as you shouldn’t be napping too late in the day, there are other things that should be reserved for earlier hours,” she adds. Examples would be avoiding caffeine later in the day or eating too late at night.
  • Add exercise to your day. Block out a regular time during the day for physical activity as this promotes sleep.
  • Kick bad habits. You know which vices I’m referring to. Smoking cigarettes, drinking, and eating junk food are all bad habits that you need to ditch. You can use your calendar to set goals and track your progress.
  • Keep things tidy. Set a recurring event to declutter and clean your bedroom to reduce stress. And, don’t forget to regularly wash your bedding.

If you’ve done all of the above and are still struggling with sleep, then make an appointment with your physician. The sooner you get to the root cause, the faster you can nip bad sleep habits from robbing you of another good night’s sleep.

The Best Amenities for Your Waiting Room

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The Best Amenities for Your Waiting Room

Think about your most recent experience in a waiting room. What — if anything — did you enjoy about the atmosphere? What bothered you? Now think about the customers that come to your business waiting room. What are they thinking as they wait for their appointments?

Time spent in the waiting room is inevitable for appointment-based businesses. While you can do your best to cut down on wait times, you should still provide the best waiting experience possible. You can improve your own lobby by offering these valued amenities to your guests:

Free Wi-Fi

Even during a short wait before an appointment, your customers want to stay connected. Whether they use it to scroll through social media, play a mobile game, or finish up some work emails, your clients will be grateful for the Wi-Fi connection you provide.

When offering Wi-Fi to your customers, keep cybersecurity in mind. You’re better off extending a private connection that requires guests to sign in before use rather than a public server. A private connection is more secure than the public alternative, reducing the risk for any users. You can set this up via a customer portal where only regular customers can connect. 

If you want to go the extra mile, include a workspace in your waiting room. This will be especially appreciated if your customer base largely consists of business professionals who could use the area to get some work down while waiting for their name to be called. Besides, everyone will be thankful for a place to charge their device while they wait. 

Space for Children

Many a parent will enter your business with a child in tow. Whether the appointment is for the child or the parent simply can’t leave them home alone, having a special place for children will keep them entertained as they wait. 

For children at a dentist or doctor’s office, a play area will help them relax and feel less anxious before their appointment. Parents will likewise be less stressed when their children are entertained and can get their wiggles out rather than struggle with boredom and confinement.

Keeping play areas clean is a top priority, especially while COVID-19 remains a concern. Opt for toys and games that can easily be cleaned, such as blocks and toy cars. Avoid anything that might be a choking hazard or could easily get lost. 

Comfortable Seating

Even a short wait will feel like an eternity when you’re stuck in an uncomfortable chair. The most basic aspect of your waiting room is the seating arrangement, so it makes sense that comfortable chairs should be a high priority.

The type of seating you have available will also impact the attractiveness of your waiting room. A couch will be comfortable, but it will probably only appeal to family members who want to sit together. Strangers will feel more inclined to keep some distance between themselves in individual chairs, especially during the ongoing pandemic. A variety of seating options will cater to every guest.

A massage chair may also be a welcome addition to your waiting room. Not only will it make wait times more bearable, some customers might even wish for a more extended wait so they can enjoy the massage for just a little longer!

Check-In Kiosks

The more efficient you can make your appointment process, the better. Online appointment software will help speed things along before the actual appointment. Once customers arrive, you can cut wait times with self check-in kiosks in the waiting room.

For busy appointment-based businesses especially, self check-in prevents lines from forming and helps customers get checked in faster. Once customers check themselves in, the front desk is alerted, and appointments can be set in motion. This operations system also makes it easier to work around late arrivals by enabling staff to adjust the queue to keep things moving fluidly. 

Refreshments

It’s hard to turn down a free cookie or bottle of water when the wait for an appointment makes you realize how empty your stomach is. Refreshments are welcomed by customers of all ages. They help hit the spot when being hungry or thirsty could otherwise make customers irritable before an appointment.

Many appointment-based businesses provide coffee to their customers. Think carefully before making this decision for your business. While a cup of coffee certainly helps a lot of folks in the morning, extra caffeine can work up already anxious customers. Considering your customers’ particular needs will help you decide whether caffeinated beverages are actually the best choice for your waiting room or not. 

Reading Material

A staple of waiting rooms for years is an array of magazines sitting on a coffee table in the center of the lobby. And for good reason — a 10-minute wait provides the perfect amount of time to catch up on celebrity gossip or digest an opinion piece. A range of magazines on different topics will appeal to the variety of customers you get every day. If you choose to continue the magazine tradition, make sure the issues you provide are up-to-date and in good condition.

A shelf of books is another way to provide reading material. Books of different genres and sizes can be just as entertaining, and they never become outdated. If a customer gets sucked into a particular novel, let them borrow it. Your bookshelf can turn into a small lending library that will encourage customers to book a return appointment.

Reading material can replace a wall-mounted TV or be a separate option for waiting guests. The problem with a TV is that the channel may be tuned to something customers aren’t interested in — or may even object to. Plus, reading is a much more fruitful and relaxing activity to participate in.

Adding some of these amenities to your waiting room will keep customers happy even if their appointment needs to be pushed back. Between keeping public areas tidy and providing these comforts and conveniences, you’ll be sure to have a winning waiting room.

How Much Customer Information Does Your Business Actually Need?

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How Much Customer Information Does Your Business Actually Need?

The majority of companies handle a lot of data and sensitive information every day. Appointment-based businesses, in particular, regularly keep track of individually identifiable customer details. Keeping the personal information of your recurring customers safe and confidential is increasingly vital for maintaining a positive brand reputation.

You may not need to ask for every piece of information you’re currently collecting from customers. Unnecessary information contributes to database clutter and makes the information that much more susceptible to malicious attack. The first step toward keeping a firm grip on the integrity of your data is to collect only what you need in the first place.

Personal Details

Start with the basics. You’ll of course need a first and last name. Other than that, you may not need many specifics. You can ask for general demographic info if you’d like, which may help with future marketing efforts. While information such as age, gender, and ethnicity are useful, they aren’t often required unless you work in a medical field where the information is relevant.

Sometimes it can add a personal touch to gather some information even though it’s not required. Birthdays, for example, provide an opportunity for you to reach out. With that piece of information, you can send the client a personalized message with a unique offer just for them to enjoy.

To protect your customers from identity theft, make it clear what information you will be requesting and what you don’t need. Knowing this will protect them should a hacker posing as your business attempt to scam them. For example, make certain that your customers know not to give their Social Security number to anyone, even if they claim to be speaking on behalf of your company.

Contact Information

Being able to contact your customer when needed is extremely important for appointment-based businesses. For starters, sending appointment reminders cuts down irritating no-shows. In addition, appointment reminders enhance your customer service strategy, as the lack of a reminder can be frustrating to clients juggling busy schedules.

There will be situations where an appointment time needs to be changed. Being able to contact affected customers will prevent confusion and alert customers about an adjustment before it’s too late. Ask for either a phone number or an email address, depending on customer preference. Let the customer decide whether they want to be notified via phone call, text message, or email.

Appointment Specifics

The information you collect at this stage will depend in large part on the industry you’re in. For example, a doctor’s office will record symptoms, prescriptions, and diagnoses to patient files to provide the best care possible with each appointment. Hair salons will record information about haircuts and treatments to easily refer to past appointments. Appointment-based personal trainers will keep track of workout information and so forth.

This type of customer information enables you to provide a personalized experience to each individual. Given the nature of this information, you might need to create your own documents to store information where it can be easily — and securely — accessed. Be sure to keep the notes section of your online appointment software or customer portals up-to-date with any necessary specifics.

Payment Information

If a customer makes payments at your store location, there’s no need to record payment information. They will have to authorize their payments each time and may want to switch cards on occasion, so saving payment information does you no good. Given that credit and debit card information is a primary target for hackers, you don’t want to store this information unless it is verifiably secure. Data that is not maintained on your servers can’t be breached.

Using online appointment software presents an interesting dilemma. Typically, a customer will continue to use the same payment method online since cash is clearly not an option. Online shopping is also more convenient when card info is saved to a local device. In this case, leave the option to the customer. Allow them to decide whether your system stores their payment information or not instead of collecting it by default.

Wherever you do store financial data, place the highest priority on keeping it safe. Look at options for encrypting data, make sure your website has a firewall in place, and choose storage options with state-of-the-art security. This way, even when your customers willingly provide their information, they can do business with you knowing their info is in good hands.

Referral Notes

What brought customers to your business in the first place? Did they see your billboard while driving by, or were they attracted to your business by social media? Collecting this information holds no value or sensitive details, so acquiring it poses little to no security threat. Knowing which marketing strategies are successfully bringing in business will also help you adjust your efforts to focus on the most effective ones.

Additionally, you’ll probably want to keep track of customer referrals if you have any sort of incentive programs in place. That way, you can make sure loyal customers who are bringing in friends and family are properly rewarded.

Customer Feedback

Any information you don’t collect from customer intake forms can be solicited through surveys and questionnaires. This is how you can get volunteer feedback either on-site or through online messaging. Examples of information you might want to pursue include:

  • Likelihood to refer the company to a friend
  • Customer service rating
  • User experience feedback for the website, mobile app, and online appointment software
  • Reason for not returning, if applicable

Knowing how your customer thinks and feels allows you to better cater to their needs. Without this information, your business can grow stale and out-of-date while customers move on to greener pastures. 

As you seek to make improvements, you’ll want to refer often to the feedback you’ve been given. It’s easy to miss the mark if you focus on making changes based on the thoughts of employees and management. Prioritize customer experience first, then move on to making changes manageable for everyone else.

What data your business chooses to collect is ultimately your decision to make. Just be sure to start out only asking for what is absolutely necessary. You can always open up the information funnel later on. 

Spend the extra time and care to protect your customers by being sensitive to their privacy and security concerns. Customers enjoy getting birthday coupons, sure, but that bit of company goodwill will go up in smoke if you’re responsible for exposing them to a serious data breach.

Not an April Fool’s Joke: These Are Real Appointment Statistics You Need to Know

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Not an April Fool’s Joke: These Are Real Appointment Statistics You Need to Know

The numbers don’t lie: online appointment software will do wonders for your business. In this article, we’ll outline some of the most attention-grabbing statistics about the use of online appointment software by businesses. 

As you’ll soon find out, online appointment software can boost customer retention, save your business money, and more. There’s really no reason to not use online booking for your appointment-based business. One of these statistics is bound to convince you of the need to get started.

Businesses With Online Booking Are Winning

Online booking is rapidly becoming a necessity. In an Accenture survey of healthcare consumers, 68% of respondents said they prefer a provider that allows appointments to be made, changed, and canceled online. That means if your business doesn’t utilize online appointment software, you’re probably losing customers to the competition. 

That number will only climb as online appointment software becomes the norm for businesses. So what are you waiting for? Being among the early implementers of online booking will build a loyal customer base before the competition knows what hit them. You’ll also have more time to perfect your online booking system so that, by the time the technology is omnipresent, you can rely on your smooth experience as a competitive advantage.

Nearly Half of Appointments Are Booked After Hours

If customers can only book appointments during business hours, you’re missing out on a lot of opportunities. A social media survey of salon owners showed that 46% of their appointments were booked before salons were open or after they closed for the day. That’s nearly half of the customers these businesses have on their schedules!

If you’re looking to fill all your appointment slots, online booking software is the solution you need. Customers may not be thinking about the appointment they want or need to make during operating hours. Allowing them to book at their convenience opens the door for so many more individuals. 

No-Show Rates Freefall With Online Booking

Due to its many benefits and features, online appointment software is proven to slash your no-show rates immediately after implementation. Research on several medical centers and practices saw no-show rates drop by as much as 42% after adding web-based booking portals to their websites. No-shows are costly and inefficient, and getting rid of them is a high priority for all appointment-based businesses.

For many customers, the convenience of being able to book appointments online and change them as needed encourages them to hold true to their commitments. Many other customers make appointments in person or over the phone because they feel pressured to do so. That pressure is eliminated when customers can make appointments on their own terms at any time or in any place. 

Most Customers Book on Mobile Devices

Market research has found that 82% of clients schedule appointments on their mobile devices as opposed to other platforms. As beautiful as your website might look on a desktop, you need to optimize your online booking experience for mobile users. 

To improve your mobile experience, start with the customer journey. Booking an appointment on a mobile device should be easy; otherwise, customers will get discouraged and log off. Make selections easy to find and the booking process as straightforward as possible. Loading times for your website also need to be adequate to avoid high bounce rates resulting from impatient customers. 

Millennials Are the Customer Segment Most Likely to Book Online

Of all the nation’s demographics, Millennials are responsible for a quarter of appointments booked online. This isn’t surprising, given this generation’s combination of tech savviness and needs that can be filled by appointments. The quick acceptance of online booking software by the Millennial generation suggests the trend will likely be popular with younger customers, too. Expect Gen Zers to slide in right beside Millennials as they begin booking their own appointments. 

Even if Millennials aren’t your primary age segment, they’re a great place to start when implementing online appointment software initially. You’ll be able to work out the kinks of a new system with an eager subset of your customer base. As Millennials continue to book appointments online, other customers will join in until you’re able to make online scheduling your only — or at least foremost — method of booking. 

Companies That Use Data Get a Leg Up

One of the greatest benefits of online appointment software is the ability to automatically gather data for your business. Data is one of your greatest assets while doing business in the 21st century. It eliminates the guesswork that often forms a part of your everyday decision-making.

A study done by the McKinsey Global Institute found that businesses that leverage data are 23 times more successful at acquiring new customers. Customer acquisition is one of the most important, and daunting, aspects of running a business. Data gives you a clearer picture of customer demographics, successful marketing strategies, and popular appointment times. Without data, you’ll be taking shots in the dark. 

Ready to heed the math? There’s no doubt that online appointment software will benefit your business in more ways than one. Identify your goals and put online booking software to work. Before you know it, you’ll have exceeded your expectations and then some.

Still Working From Home? Here are 10 Must-Read Books

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Still Working From Home? Here are 10 Must-Read Books

Even before COVID-19, remote work was having a minute. Global Workplace Analytics estimates “that 56% of the U.S. workforce holds a job that is compatible (at least partially) with remote work.” Moreover, “25-30% of the workforce will be working-from-home multiple days a week by the end of 2021.”

Regardless if we ever actually return to a pre-COVID world, it does appear the working from home isn’t going anywhere. And, that’s both a blessing and curse.

For years, remote workers have proclaimed that they’re more productive and happier. Numerous research has backed this up. As for business owners, they have more productive teams — and are saving money like scaling back on the size of a physical workplace.

The thing is, it appears that we’ve hit a wall. Between Zoom meetings, social distancing, and yearning to finally get back to normalcy, we’re flat-out exhausted. Additionally, there are unique WFH distractions, knowing when to disconnect, and overcoming isolation.

Still Working From Home? Here are 10 Must-Read Books

In short, the honeymoon with remote work is over.

If you’re in this position — here are 10 books that we should read to help you fall back in love with working from home.

1. The New Corner Office: How the Most Successful People Work from Home by Laura Vanderkam

For my money, Laura Vanderkam is one of the best sources to turn to if you need advice regarding productivity and time management. During her career, Vanderkam authored some of the best books in this area, such as I Know How She Does It, What the Most Successful People Do Before Breakfast, and168 Hours.

In 2020, she released this timely book that shares the following hacks;

  • Managing tasks, as opposed to time. For example, only setting 3-5 ambitious goals per day.
  • Getting into a rhythm by allocating time for work, breaks, and downtime.
  • Constructing broader and more effective networks

2. Remote: Office Not Required by Jason Fried and David Heinemeier Hansson

Although written in 2013, Remote did an excellent job convincing people of the perks of working remotely. In the wake of COVID, though, the book has seen a resurgence. And, it definitely deserves that.

Authored by the founders of Basecamp, the book has timeless lessons for both employees and leaders. These include;

  • Building trust and collaboration through messaging tools, virtual water coolers, and focusing on outcomes instead of “time in the chair.”
  • Being aware of “dragons.” To avoid pitfalls, make sure that you have the right equipment, ergonomic furniture, maintaining healthy habits, and socializing.
  • To effectively manage remote teams, use asynchronous communication, don’t overwork them, and schedule one-on-ones.

3. Working From Home: Making the New Normal Work for You by Karen Mangia

Written by Karen Mangia, Vice President of Customer and Market Insights at Salesforce, Working From Home is another timely book as it was released in August 2020. And, like Remote, it covers tried and true advice for those working remotely.

Key takeaways include;

  • How to build an inspiring and budget-friendly workspace in your home.
  • The importance of establishing routines, rituals, and boundaries.
  • How to break boulders into smaller pieces.
  • Igniting innovation by creating new processes.
  • Tips on sprucing up your virtual meetings.
  • Advice on how to handle burnout and Zoom fatigue.
  • Redefining success by focusing on what you can control.

4. Work-from-Home Hacks 500+ Easy Ways to Get Organized, Stay Productive, and Maintain a Work-Life Balance While Working from Home! by Aja Frost

Aja Frost, Head of Content SEO at Hubspot, put together over 500 quick and easy solutions in one handy book. It’s quick and to the point.

It contains popular advice ranging from setting up your workspace to overcoming distractions. There are also tips on how to stay organized so that you can be productive.

This book is more geared to WFH newbies. Those who are seasoned at working remotely are probably familiar with the hacks in this book. For example, putting on real clothes and establishing boundaries. Still, if you’re still struggling with this new normal, it wouldn’t hurt to go back to basics.

5. Surviving Remote Work by Sharon Koifman

Sharon Koifman, DistantJob’s President and Founder, wrote Surviving Remote Work in the wake of COVID-19. In the book, Koifman shares insights on his remote management. After all, he has more than 15-years of experience in this arena.

Going beyond obvious and common-sense advice, Surviving Remote Work provides strategies for onboarding employees and building a connected culture remotely. Koifman also has tips on managing extroverts and introverts and what tools should be in your arsenal. And, how to protect yourself from cyber-threats.

6. Work from Home Superstar: How to Stay Focused and Rock Your Day by Jack Wilson

Released in the good, old days of 2017, Jack Wilson offers a crisp guide into working from home based on his own hilarious experiences. Through his experiments, he discovered what the biggest distractions are when working from home — I’m looking at you Netflix — and how he structured his day for productivity.

Wilson also has recommendations on how to get into the right mindset and develop self-discipline. And, Work from Home Superstar also stresses the importance of prioritizing your health and occasionally getting out of the house.

7. The Remote Facilitator’s Pocket Guide by Kirsten Clacey and Jay-Allen Morris

According to one review over at Goodreads, “Everyone who does online meetings should read this book.” And, I couldn’t agree more.

Clacey and Morris begin The Remote Facilitator’s Pocket Guide by going over the challenges of virtual meetings, such as;

  • Virtual events often feel more intimidating than in-person events.
  • It’s harder to focus and encourage engagement as 8 in 10 participants are multitasking.
  • These events are more dependent on the mood and style of the facilitator.

To overcome these pitfalls? The authors provide strategies like how to create equal opportunity, enable flow, and nurture connection. They also recommend using visuals to your advantage and encouraging playful learning.

8. The Long-Distance Leader: Rules for Remarkable Remote Leadership by Kevin Eikenberry and Wayne Turmel

Published in 2018, The Long-Distance Leader can actually be a resource for anyone in a leadership position. However, as founders of the Remote Leadership Institute, Eikenberry and Turmel have essentially written the book on remote leadership.

The book covers all the basics like using technology as a tool, focusing on outcomes, and building trust. There are also tips on how to set goals, seek feedback, and avoid burnout. To companion the book, there are also online tools and resources, such as a team goal clarity assessment and pre-conference checklist, to help you become a stronger remote leader.

9. How to Declutter Your Home or Work Office to Improve Productivity by Sarah Adams

Clutter may not be on the top of your mind. However, it can interfere with your productivity. It can also increase stress, sleep problems, and make it difficult to relax.

With that in mind, it’s crucial that you keep your home and work area tidy. To assist you in that department is How to Declutter Your Home or Work Office to Improve Productivity. Although it’s a short read, it’s still packed with inspiring and practical tips on how to keep get, and remain, organized.

10. Unhackable: The Elixir for Creating Flawless Ideas, Leveraging Superhuman Focus, and Achieving Optimal Human Performance by Kary Oberbrunner

While not specifically written about working from home, Unhackable is a must-read as we navigate through the “Attention Economy.”

Written by coach and author Kary Oberbrunner, this compelling book presents 30 daily missions that will help you develop superhuman focus and organize your life around your “flow.” As a result, you’ll get more done in less time and live the life you truly want.

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