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7 Tips for Firing an Employee Gracefully and Ethically

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Firing an Employee Gracefully

As an empathetic leader, I couldn’t help but cringe when I read how Better.com let go of 900 employees…over Zoom. Not only is this a PR nightmare. It can drain morale and create a toxic work environment.

But, could it get any worse? Well, here’s what an employee, who wasn’t fired, had to say about the experience to Business Insider.

“You’re the lucky ones,” CEO Vishal Garg told them. “Garg said the people he laid off had been low performers — and then he set the bar even higher for those of us left, telling us it was time to work even harder than before,” the employee added. “It was pretty scary to hear that from someone who had just fired 900 people.”

“This wasn’t my first time being at a company going through layoffs, but this one was different,” they stated. “There was absolutely no warning, and in the aftermath, Garg belittled the laid-off workers to the rest of us and told us there would be no second chances from now on. The whole thing was demoralizing.”

“Since the layoffs, everyone has been on edge,” the employee elaborated. “We’re all looking behind our backs, expecting to get fired next. It’s not a healthy environment.”

While the optics are bad, we don’t know what’s happening behind closed doors. So maybe Garg did have a valid reason for letting these employees go. In my opinion, though, he went about it the wrong way.

Why you might have to let an employee go.

One of the most challenging decisions we have to make is to part ways with a team member as a leader. Of course, sometimes, this is inevitable. Examples would be incidents of;

  • Acts of discrimination
  • Assault and harassment
  • Criminal activity
  • Insubordination
  • Lack of competence
  • Constant absenteeism

While the hiring process is intended to weed out unprofessional individuals, sometimes they slip through the cracks. And, in some cases, they may not actually display these characteristics until they’ve settled into their roles.

Additionally, you may have to downsize to improve efficiency or reduce costs. Or, you may have to pivot and change direction to respond to market changes.

Whatever the reason, if terminating an employee is inevitable, here are seven tips to carry this out gracefully and ethically.

1. Offer opportunities for improvement beforehand.

When an employee’s performance is in question, the chances are that a series of events have led you to need to make this difficult decision. That’s why it’s recommended that you might frequently consult with each member of your team individually to discuss their progress and offer feedback on where they can make improvements. You may also want to conduct performance reviews twice a year.

Generally, termination should only be the last option if the employee has violated the company’s policies. However, an employee can use a performance improvement plan (PIP) instead of firing them. This can help them track their progress, reach their goals, or discourage destructive workplace behaviors.

If you’re unsure whether your employee is performing well, ask your other team members for their perspective. For example, you could ask them about their attendance if they’ve missed deadlines or have difficulty communicating or collaborating with others.

If you document other members of the team’s experiences, this strengthens your case for why and how an employee must improve. In short, employees should never be caught off-guard when it comes to being fired. Instead, you should give them a chance to improve.

2. Inform human resources of the employee’s behavior.

The Human Resources department should be informed of all actions taken before terminating an employee. At the minimum, this should include implementing an improvement plan and how the employee progresses. In addition, documentation provides evidence and reasons for an employee’s termination by tracking the employee’s incidents and behavior.

HR can ensure that termination is a fair decision and that the proper procedures and protocol are followed. It’s also essential for both employees and the workplace that termination procedures comply with state and company requirements.

3. Create a transition plan.

“Choose the day and the time for the termi­nation deliberately,” advises management consultant and author of How to Be Good at Performance Appraisals Dick Grote. “While experts disagree on when a firing should occur, all acknowledge the importance of having a rationale — a good business reason for your choice of time and day for dropping the ax.”

“Doing it early in the day, early in the week, encourages the employee to get right to work on finding another job,” he adds. Furthermore, this reduces the chances of them spending the weekend planning revenge. “Friday after­noons, on the other hand, often create the minimum amount of disruption to the rest of the staff,” stays Grote.

Whether or not firing an employee is the solution, always put your company interests first. You probably put up with a subpar performance for months hoping the situation would somehow improve. As the end nears, make sure that the transition goes seamlessly not to harm the company or your colleagues.

“Check the succession plan for an internal candidate,” he suggests. For example, if you need to terminate someone, you may want to start recruiting and wait until you find a replacement. Sending these subtle hints to clients, customers, and even your team that staffing changes are imminent could ultimately work in your favor.

4. Be clear and concise.

When it comes to firing an employee, winging it is never the best course of action. You need to know actually what to say and how you’ll deliver the news. That’s why it’s suggested that you also practice the conversation you will have with the employee.

“Make sure you know exactly why you’re firing a worker, have specific examples, and bring the proper documentation, writes Kathryn Vasel over at CNN. “That includes copies of performance reports, any write-ups, and applicable financial forms like unemployment insurance and health insurance and 401(k) options.”

You should be clear and firm about the termination and the next steps. “There is no room or need to get into a protracted discussion,” said Dan Ryan, founder of Ryan Search & Consulting. “It is what it is; there is no productive discussion that can take place after.”

5. Don’t humiliate the employee.

“If I must fire an employee, I treat them with dignity because I don’t want to humiliate them,” writes Mike Kappel, founder, and CEO of Patriot Software, LLC in Forbes. “I will always fire someone in private behind closed doors.”

“Employment termination isn’t just bad for that individual— it’s also bad for the other employees,” he adds. “Other employees don’t know if or when they’re going to be on the chopping block.”

It’s also possible for your employees to have relationships with the fired employee, such as being friends outside of the workplace. As such, you could “risk draining the morale of the others if you fire someone in front of” the entire team.

He suggests it might be a good idea to fire the employee after the other employees have left for the day. In that case, the terminated employee does not have to leave their office (or wherever you fired them) in front of their coworkers.

Always have a witness.

“When you need to fire an employee, you and someone from Human Resources should be the only two people in the room with them,” Kappel continues. “If you don’t have an HR department or representative, grab a witness, like a trusted employee or even your business’s lawyer if applicable.”

In the event that the employee sues you, having someone else in the room with you is imperative. Why? Because this individual can confirm your firing of the employee was legal and ethical.

During the termination of an employee, a police escort may be appropriate in very rare situations. That may sound excessive. But, if you feel that they may become aggressive or violent, it’s better to be safe than sorry.

“I once had to fire an employee with a police escort,” recalls Kappel. “She threatened to beat up another employee.” She also engaged in cage fights on weekends. So, when the officer arrived, the employee was let go — and thankfully without incident.

6. Keep documentation of the entire process.

Documentation is essential for the company’s reference — both during the termination process and afterward. These documents may include records such as a written notice of termination. As a rule of thumb, you should always document any actions taken, such as implementing a Performance Improvement Plan and its results, before firing an employee.

In general, the more documentation you have, the more straightforward this process can be? Why? Because it ensures that all work procedures are followed based on your employee handbook and pertinent labor laws. And, if the employee dispute the firing, you can use these documents to validate your decision.

7. Handle paperwork and tie up any loose ends.

In addition to termination documents, you should also bring the employee’s final paycheck with you. If you offer a severance package, explain what’s included. Review any noncompete or nondisclosure agreements with the employee, along with if they’ll continue receiving benefits like health insurance.

“After learning of the termination, the employee will most likely feel confused and upset,” writes Amy DelPo, attorney, for NOLO. Prepare to assist the employee by answering questions such as;

  • “Do I work the rest of the day or leave immediately?”
  • “When can I collect my belongings?”
  • “Do my coworkers know this is happening?”
  • “What should I tell my clients?”
  • “I have appointments scheduled for the rest of the week; what should I do about those?”

It would also be helpful if you developed a plan for ongoing work before the meeting to address the following;

  • Are these projects going to be assigned to someone else?
  • Are there any tasks the employee needs to complete?
  • Is the employee required to assist with the transition?

What to do after terminating an employee.

The following steps may be necessary after firing an employee. However, doing so may avoid terminating another employee or helping the department fill the vacant position.

  • Educating employees about workplace expectations. You can accomplish this by sharing employee handbooks and having one-on-one meetings. As a result, this could be enough to prevent additional firings.
  • Keeping employees in the loop. The law outlines specific guidelines about when and how to discuss an employee’s termination. However, being transparent about an employee’s termination openly and discussing any behavior that may still exist within the workplace will discourage rumors from being spread.
  • Posting a new job to fill the existing position. Reassign tasks to other employees after terminating an employee’s employment, or have managers temporarily take on those tasks to account for the departed employee. To avoid overburdening other employees with work and responsibilities, create a new job posting for the vacant position as soon as possible.
  • Strengthening your existing team. Host team-building activities if you need to bolster morale and encourage team bonding. You could also celebrate your team’s achievements or have some fun in the workplace, like throwing a pizza party.

Image Credit: Sora Shimazaki; Pexels; Thanks!

4 Methods to Improve Client Retention

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Methods to Improve Client Retention

There are two great battles being waged by businesses every single day: the fight to get new customers and the fight to get them to stay. Customer acquisition and client retention are a never-ending cycle for companies, one that requires a lot of time and effort to manage.

While it’s important for a business to always be looking for new customers, once a good clientele is established, retention is debatably a higher priority. Not only is it less expensive than acquisition, but having loyal customers will ensure that you’re continuously pulling in revenue to keep your company running smoothly.

Once you recognize the need to pay more attention to boosting customer retention, it’s time to take action. Here are a few ways you can make a more concentrated effort to keep your clientele around for the long haul:

1. Reminders When They Schedule

When a person books an appointment with your business, it’s their responsibility to remember the date and time they’ve selected and uphold their commitment. However, that doesn’t mean you should sit back and hope that every customer fulfills their end of the deal. A person’s plans might change, or details may simply be forgotten while navigating a busy schedule.

Providing your customers with appointment reminders adds extra security to each booking. This will make sure patrons get through the door on their first visit and ensure they can enjoy a high-quality experience that leads them to book future appointments with your business.

Appointment reminders can be provided in a variety of ways. You could write up appointment cards at the front desk, give a call the day before, or send texts, emails, or even app notifications. Customers should be able to choose how they receive their reminders, ensuring that they’re helpful and effective rather than pointless or irritating.

2. Periodic Complimentary Services

When you periodically reward your faithful customers, you’re more likely to see new ones stick around in the hope of getting those same deals. Incentives have long been a powerful tool for client retention. That’s why rewards programs that use recurring visits to accrue redeemable points are so commonplace today. If you reward loyalty, you’ll see it more often.

You don’t have to put together an entire rewards program to improve your customer retention. Get started by including one complimentary service that any repeat customer can take advantage of. For example, many car dealerships offer free oil changes to any person who purchases a new car from their lot. The sale of a new car is worth a lot more than a few oil changes, and this deal will keep the customer coming back, opening the door for more potential sales.

Some of the complimentary services you provide can be permanent. For instance, providing in-house Wi-Fi for guests is a relatively small gesture, but it will add to the overall appointment experience and promote retention at the same time.

3. Check In When It’s Been Awhile

If you haven’t seen a customer for an extended period of time, reach out to them. Let them know that they’re more than just a successfully closed sale. You want to be of service to them for a long time, not just take their money for one transaction and send them on their way.

When checking in with customers, be sure to make your interactions as personal as possible. Consumers can easily tell whether or not a company is being sincere. They will notice when a message is crafted from a template as opposed to one that is customized just for them. Send them an email that references past visits, or give them a call to check in and offer your services. This, in turn, can help your business improve its client retention.

4. Ask for Feedback

Sometimes in order to improve retention, you have to make a few adjustments. Instead of making changes blindly and hoping they work, ask your clientele for their honest feedback. Soliciting feedback from customers who only visited once is especially valuable because they can often share a specific reason they did not return.

The easiest way to receive feedback is through survey responses. After a customer has completed their appointment, send a thank-you email with a link to your survey. Ask specific questions about their experience and be sure to provide an opportunity for them to speak their mind on issues you might have overlooked.

Perhaps you are struggling to get feedback from your customers. Or, you just want to reward those who complete your survey. If either of these are the case, attach a little incentive. This should be something general, like a coupon code for Amazon, for example. This way, it also appeals to customers who only visited your business once and aren’t likely to return; At least not until changes are made.

Image Credit: Life of Pix; Pexels; Thanks!

5 Things to Consider When Setting Up Self-Service Scheduling for Your Business

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Things to Consider When Setting Up Self-Service Scheduling for Your Business

So you’re wanting to add more self-service options for your customers. This is a great idea for a number of reasons. It lightens the workload of your employees and provides your customers with additional flexibility. Appointment-based businesses will benefit from self-service solutions just as much as those in any other industry.

Before you hand the reins over to your customers and allow them to run wild, though, there are a few things you need to consider. Keep these five things in mind when setting up self-service scheduling for your appointment-based business:

1. Business Capacity

How many staff members are available to assist customers on a day-to-day basis? This will help you determine how many appointment slots to include when setting online scheduling options. If you allow people to book an endless amount of appointments, the influx of customers can overwhelm your staff.

Start by listing some important details about your appointment process. What are your hours of operation? How long does the average appointment last? How many appointments can you take at a single time according to your staff list? Do you need to include buffer time in between appointments?

That’s a lot of questions to ask, and there are more you can include, but each one is important when setting up self-service scheduling for your business. Your answers will determine how many appointment slots you make available and what sort of cancellation policy you want to put into place.

2. Cybersecurity

How secure is your network? If you can’t answer with absolute certainty that your security is up to par, then improving it is your first order of business. It won’t matter how many bells and whistles you add to your online appointment experience; customers will steer clear of your business if your data security is full of holes.

There are a number of steps you can take to build up your cybersecurity. Don’t be afraid to overdo it a little if it ensures your customer data remains secure. Install antivirus software, firewall protection, and data encryption to your system. Stay on top of data security practices such as recognizing phishing schemes and screening any third-party companies you might work with.

3. Payment Methods

The purpose of self-service scheduling is to provide additional flexibility to your customers. It allows them to book, change, or cancel appointments at any time of day or night. But don’t limit your system’s flexibility to just time management. While that’s a great perk on its own, you can use your online appointment software to expand your payment options as well.

Customers love convenience and flexibility on payments, and including additional payment methods can bring more people to your online appointment platform. Simply adding PayPal compatibility alongside debit and credit card payments will expand customer options. You can also look at integrating mobile payment apps or even find ways to let customers spend cryptocurrency at your place of business.

4. Customer Support

Once your self-service scheduling is all set up and ready to go, it might take some getting used to. Some customers will get the hang of the new system immediately, while others might need a little guidance their first time around. Smart business owners will prepare their customer support reps to help answer any and all questions regarding online appointment setting.

Make sure to train and equip your employees with everything they need to assist customers getting used to the new self-service system. With the necessary resources, they’ll be able to help every customer get their bearings.

The beauty of self-service appointment setting is that customers can use it outside of business hours. For those times when a customer service agent isn’t available to answer questions, a chatbot can fill in. Adding one of these digital helpers to your website can guide customers through the appointment process and answer frequently asked questions no matter what time it is.

5. Data Collection

We’ve already touched on how important it is to protect customer data. However, it’s also important to recognize the value of the data you do access and how its use can upgrade your business.

Because self-service scheduling is done entirely online, your business’s data-tracking potential is about to hit new all-time highs. The data your appointment software gathers can give you new insights into your customers so you can serve them better.

For example, before using online appointment software, you might not have had a clear picture of your main customer demographics. With the creation of customer profiles, you can get exact numbers on demographic characteristics like gender and age among your customer base. This will help you develop new services and tailor marketing campaigns to the people who will respond most positively.

Adding self-service scheduling will totally transform your business for the better. You’ll be able to help more customers, increase revenue, and create a more efficient workflow all by making this one influential change to your system.

3 Reasons Scheduling Software Can Help Businesses Build Camaraderie With Customers

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3 Reasons Scheduling Software Can Help Businesses Build Camaraderie With Customers

There isn’t a single business on earth that can survive without customers. Even business-to-business companies need a reliable client base in order to stay afloat. While your products and services are extremely important, your highest priority should always be to take care of your customers.

One of the best ways to develop a strong relationship with your customer base is to value and respect their time. Each interaction with a customer is a chance for your brand to express that respect for customer time and attention. This will in turn foster camaraderie and loyalty over an extended period. 

To provide more value to your customers and honor their time, scheduling software is your go-to solution. Here are three reasons why implementing a scheduling software solution is the right choice for your business:

1. Customers Appreciate a Straightforward Experience

Clients will appreciate that you’ve prioritized making scheduling easy for them. It’s a simple gesture that shows that you care about their experience and want to make it better. Improving appointment scheduling doesn’t have to be difficult, either. All you need to do is enable online appointment software, and you’ll have already made a dramatic improvement. 

Being able to book appointments online opens up so many doors for customers. They no longer have to stay on hold to inquire about availability or wait until 9 a.m. to book the next available slot. Online appointment software is functional 24/7, meaning customers can always check or adjust appointment times based on their personal schedules. 

Scheduling software also speeds up the check-in process at the beginning of an appointment. When all of their appointment information is already booted up online, customers can show up mere minutes before their appointment starts and be welcomed in promptly. 

Leaving an appointment is also more straightforward. Customers can pay in advance through the scheduling software itself and book a return visit on their own time. Clients will never have a quicker or more painless appointment experience. 

2. Customers Will Know They Can Rely on You

Online appointment software makes your business seem reliable. When customers feel like they can depend on your system of operations, they’ll be more inclined to stick around for the long haul. Customer retention is one of the most valuable metrics your business will ever track, and the improvements you’ll make in that area alone make scheduling software worth every penny.  

If your company is constantly messing up appointment times and leaving callers on hold for lengthy stretches, you aren’t developing a reputation as a very reliable brand. Customers will view your business as a last resort rather than a superior option.

When you build in buffer time, scheduling software can also help your business prevent appointments from running long. Its automated notifications will likewise discourage late arrivals. These two actions will lead to a more fluid appointment experience for everyone. Customers will be more willing to book multiple appointments if they’re confident that your business will work with their schedule and make sure they get in and out on time. 

3. Analytics Enables Loyalty Programs

Membership programs that offer special benefits and rewards are a surefire way to build camaraderie between your business and its customers. Rewards foster a desire to book multiple appointments over an extended period, boosting your retention rates and yielding more revenue. A good rewards program can also set you apart from your competitors, even if they offer similar services (as is inevitable in every industry).

With online appointment software enabled, businesses can look at past scheduling analytics to put together a proper rewards program and follow through with it. For example, one of your promotions might be that members get a free day of service on their tenth visit. Thanks to scheduling software, you’ll know exactly when that tenth visit is for each customer even if they happen to forget. Discounts can be automatically applied online as a welcome surprise for your loyal patrons. 

Since scheduling software is accessed online, you can attach any deals or promotions you have going on to the booking area of the software. New customers can enjoy an ongoing sale even if they weren’t aware of it previously, and they will be thankful that your business included them in the deal instead of making them pay full price. 

Remember to be transparent when collecting data. Many consumers have grown wary of companies using their information for financial gain. Be open about what data you collect and exactly how it’s being used. Make it easy for customers to change data settings if they don’t want to share certain information. This transparency alone will build a strong bond between your customers and your business. 

Online appointment software is useful for so many other things. The only mistake you can make is taking any longer to implement scheduling software into your business. Your customers will be even more grateful than you will be for the changes you make with this technology. 

Planning for Retirement With Calendar

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Planning for Retirement With Calendar

It’s never too early to start planning for retirement! In fact, it’s encouraged to begin planning for the day you retire as early as possible. The sooner you begin planning for retirement, the more contributions you can make to ultimately live out your dream.

It’s also ok to realize that it’s not too late to start making retirement plans. If you don’t know where to start, let’s work through some of the basic steps you should take to begin creating your retirement plan and turning it into a reality:

Start to Visualize

Picture in your mind the ideal retirement scenario. Do you find yourself in a house on the beach or a cabin in the mountains? Do you go golfing every week, or is your time spent woodworking in the shop? Ironing out these details allows you to create goals to work for and implement into your retirement plan.

Make sure you write down your retirement goals somewhere. You can refer to these goals over the years and adjust them as needs and interests change. You might have to change your overall retirement plan to match your new trajectory. Regardless of how often you change your mind, you’ll always have a set plan to work toward.

Your goals and aspirations will need dollar signs attached to them. How much money will you need each month to live out your dreams? An estimation of your cost of living will give you a tangible target goal for your retirement fund.

Set Money Aside

Retirement isn’t cheap. It takes quite a bit of money set aside to live the life you want without earning a steady paycheck. Fortunately, if you start setting money aside now, you should be able to retire comfortably by the time you’re in your 60’s.

Between paying bills and shopping on Amazon, people tend to forget to make contributions to a retirement or savings account. Your Calendar can help with that. Set a monthly reminder to move some money into one of these accounts.

The day you set aside money doesn’t matter as much as making sure you have committed to the process. Your day could be the day you receive your paycheck so that you always make that contribution before spending it on something else.

Be sure to note that retirement accounts such as a 401k have limits to which you can contribute each year. But for most of us — we don’t have $58,000 to drop in our 401s — so just make sure you contribute to your fund.

Be sure to get a tax person to look at your info. Even the Forbes article says $57,000 ($63,500 for those 50 and older) after it tells about the limit being $19,500 — plus another catch-up of $6K.

Nonetheless — getting as close to that savings maximum limit as possible gives your account a greater ability to accrue interest over time, so it’s a good goal to reach if you’re living within your means.

Take Advantage of Company Plans

Most companies offer retirement benefits to their full-time employees. If you qualify for such a plan, take advantage of it while you can. With the help of your employer, you can significantly expand your saving and investing potential over the years.

The benefits you’ll typically get are employer contributions to your retirement account, usually in the form of a 401k. The contributions made by your employer stack on top of the contributions you make on your own up to a certain percentage. You set aside much more money, which generates a more significant return as interest piles up over the years.

Choosing retirement benefits may even impact where you decide to work in the future. A typical employer contribution is 50 cents on the dollar up to 6% of your income. Don’t worry; they’ll do the math for you, but this is a good benchmark for deciding which retirement benefits package you lean toward the most.

Get a Grip on Your Time

You only have so long to prepare for retirement, so there’s no time to waste. However, by improving your time management, you can do more to work toward retirement before it’s too late.

For instance, using an online calendar can help you plan out your days better to get more done in the same eight-hour shift. Getting more done can lead to entrepreneurial advances, promotions, or other career jumps that augment your income. Proper time management can also open doors for side hustles and other forms of income to be added to a retirement fund.

Be sure to remember that you should enjoy life leading up to retirement as well. Time management with your Calendar allows you to get your work done while spending quality time with family, pursuing hobbies, and getting proper rest. These aspects of life are just as important now as they will be when you ultimately retire.

Find Alternate Sources of Income

Speaking of additional income, this is a great time to address the need for more than one source of monthly stipend. The reality is that many Americans don’t make a great deal of money from a single paycheck to pay their expenses, keep up a healthy savings balance, and save enough for retirement. Many have found success by generating additional income through a variety of means.

Investing is one way retirement dreams have become a reality for many Americans. Unlike a 401k or IRA account, investment portfolios don’t have a contribution limit. You can invest as much money as you’d like and withdraw it at all. Make smart, calculated investing decisions on stocks and bonds, and you can watch your money grow from year to year.

Starting your own business is another excellent way to increase your income. You can do some freelance work on the side using one of your skills or look at getting into real estate and collecting rent on a couple of properties. Each option has risks and labor involved, so choose wisely the paths you wish to take.

If you want retirement to be everything you hoped it would be, start preparing now. Draft out some preliminary plans in your Calendar and begin taking steps forward, and by the time you wish to retire, you will have the resources to do so.

6 Appointment Software Trends Businesses Can Implement Before 2022

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6 Appointment Software Trends Businesses Can Implement Before 2022

The world of business never stops moving forward. Innovation is required to remain competitive, whether that’s by forging your own path or latching onto popular trends, like appointment software, for example. 

Appointment-based businesses have a lot of trends they can look at leading as we move into 2022. The sooner you integrate these trends into your own business, the better you’ll be able to keep up with the competition. 

To help prevent you from falling behind, here are six of the top trends appointment-based businesses should implement before the next year:

1. Expanded Online Payment Options

One of the best features online appointment software offers is a quick and easy payment method. Customers and clients can streamline their appointment experience by paying in advance or after an in-person or virtual visit. 

Most companies that have online payment systems accept debit and credit cards. However, other payment methods are growing in popularity with users, including several online payment apps and alternatives. This includes payment apps such as PayPal and Venmo, as well as spending cryptocurrencies through their associated wallets. 

Cryptocurrency as a whole is a trend you can jump on. Many small businesses were able to boost their sales for a short time by accepting the latest trending coin. They easily made waves across the internet, with excited consumers looking to make a commemorative purchase. 

2. Increased Personalization

Consumers have a growing desire to have their experience and interactions with companies be as personal as possible. Personalization makes customers feel like a business cares about and meets their needs to the fullest. Even small amounts of personalization in your appointment software can make a huge difference. 

Start with something small, like making it possible to change color schemes and font sizes within your booking pages. Not only will this better fit individual preferences, certain settings will even help your company fulfill certain ADA requirements

Another easy form of personalization for appointment software is reminder settings. Customers will want to receive reminders at different times, whether it’s a week prior to or the morning of their appointment. Options can also include how the reminder is set, such as through a text message, email, or through your company app. 

3. Mobile Optimization

As a consumer, you’re probably aware of how common it is to use your mobile device when researching brands, making purchases, and booking appointments. However, many companies have yet to optimize their online appointment systems for mobile devices. This is a trend that businesses must capitalize on now in order to succeed in 2022. 

One way to ensure a great mobile experience is to develop an app. Most large-scale brands have done this already. But smaller appointment-based businesses might not have jumped on board this trend quite yet. Even if you’re just operating a local mechanic shop, a mobile app can provide an improved experience to your customer base. 

4. Integrations Galore

There are hundreds of useful apps in circulation today, each with a specific function and dedicated user base. Being able to integrate these apps and programs into your online appointment system will win over a lot of new customers. 

For example, customers might find it easier to log into appointment software by linking their Google or social media accounts. This functionality can also carry over into integrated online calendars for more effective appointment reminders. 

Your business will love using integrations as well. For example, you can use Salesforce for better financial tracking or ETLrobot to store and organize data for future use. Online appointment software will be the hub for all of your important applications, streamlining their interactions with one another. 

5. Greater Focus on Data

Speaking of data, every year its value grows higher and higher. Businesses can make more calculated — and therefore effective — decisions by looking at data as a reference point. This almost always wins out over-educated guesses. 

Appointment-based businesses generate lots of data every day. By looking at past appointments, you can determine what demographics you should target with your marketing. You can also figure out how likely a customer is to make a return appointment. This knowledge should directly impact your strategy and decision-making, building a springboard for your business to enter 2022. 

Despite the well-known value of data analytics, fewer than two-thirds of businesses are currently using them to their advantage. You can easily overtake that final third of companies by placing an emphasis on data within your own organization. 

6. Going Virtual

The use of virtual appointments grew exponentially during the COVID-19 pandemic, especially in medical settings. This enabled doctors to continue consulting with their patients when we had few defenses against the virus. Even though most pandemic lockdowns have been lifted, virtual appointments are expected to remain commonplace in various sectors of the medical field.

Some industries are simply unable to have virtual appointments. A hairdresser isn’t able to style your hair over a Zoom call, for example. However, there are other appointment-based businesses that will certainly benefit from enabling this feature.

Alongside physicians, dentists may be able to hold quick digital consultations with patients instead of having them visit the office. This could provide an opportunity to ask some follow-up questions remotely and save both parties a lot of time. 

If you can’t be a trendsetter, at least recognize which trends can guide you to long-term success. Now and into the future, the appointment software trends listed above will help you find your footing in the business world and create a better experience for all the customers you serve. 

7 Tips for Making the Best Use of Your Resources

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7 Tips for Making the Best Use of Your Resources

Just as there aren’t a lot of shortcuts to success, there’s no foolproof formula for driving your particular business ahead. Establishing your brand and business presence will take time.

This is especially the case when you’re up against established competitors. Business growth and development will be an ongoing process. To succeed, you must consistently put in your best effort and remain focused on your business goals.

While there’s no secret path for surpassing other businesses, there are several proven methods for reaching growth milestones and moving on to your next level of success. One of the best ways of achieving this is to make optimal use of all your existing resources. Listed below are seven strategies that can help.

1. Put the right people in the right places.

Connecting the right person to the right position can have many positive outcomes. It can boost performance, enhance employee value, and ensure consistent, high-quality output.

Far too many companies don’t do a great job with this simple process. To determine the right person for the right job, managers must accurately assess employee skills and compare them to overall company goals. They must then make the best possible use of those skills by placing that employee in a position where opportunities to excel exist.

It’s important to maintain focus on your company’s goals as you seek to achieve better productivity throughout the organization. Before that can happen, you must put together a solid team with the necessary skills to help you achieve those long-term goals.

2. Focus available resources on customer experience.

Every now and then, we all need a reminder that our customers are the reason why we’re in business. The way they perceive your business can make or break your hoped-for future. Customer experience is one area where you must maximize your focus.

Marshall the resources you do have to remain committed to delivering great experiences in terms of quality and service. Over time, your customers will place your brand on a social media pedestal. Falter in this critical area, and they can pull down your brand in no time.

A quick look at the strategies of the most successful businesses will reveal that they all have customer service as the topmost priority. They keep customers happy by offering new and innovative products and services. They make sure customer complaints are addressed quickly and satisfactorily. This helps achieve brand loyalty and long-term customer relationships.

Going one step further, engaging with your social media audience is also helpful. Personalizing their brand experience can ensure a strong bond and repeat business.

3. Avoid waste by developing your ability to adapt quickly.

Successful companies typically embrace the trait of adapting quickly to market demands and responding to change successfully. The ability to switch directions without missing a beat — or losing a customer — represents a huge win. Assuming anyone ever was skeptical of the value of a quick pivot, 2020 served to erase those doubts entirely.

Test different approaches to your audience and then compare various efforts to the resulting analytics. Put numbers to all of your campaigns. Give your team freedom to explore new ideas as a way to discover what works best for your market. At times, you may fail. However, an agile approach will help you pick yourself back up again and keep going.

4. Conduct adequate research on your competition.

Competitor research is one resource you must leverage with a high degree of accuracy. You absolutely must know what your primary competitors are up to. Failing that, it will be incredibly difficult to create a clear marketing strategy for your business.

Identify your competitors. Seek to find what has worked for them. After that, work out how your business can chart a different course. Doing so will help you identify, develop, and implement a different strategy. Competitor research typically leads to a more productive business strategy which, in turn, can lead to better sales and profitability.

5. Practice corporate social responsibility.

Consumers today not only look at businesses as commercial enterprises but often as social platforms as well. They are demonstrating an increased preference for businesses that are passionate about social causes. This frequently goes way beyond “reduce, reuse, recycle.”

Make a habit of practicing corporate social responsibility. Making meaningful contributions to your local community and lending support to causes that make the world a better place are good for your bottom line. They improve your image and earn customer respect.

Express your support publicly. Seek out underserved communities, retirement homes, the physically challenged, environmental causes, and others. You can find many ways of being a socially responsible business. Find and focus on a few that all your employees can affirm.

6. Host community events.

Attending and actively participating in local events can be a great way of growing your network. However, hosting your own events within the community can have a more profound impact on your reputation and brand visibility.

Whether managing a fundraiser or sponsoring a local event, put your best foot forward in an agenda-free fashion. Doing so will help create a better awareness of your business. More importantly, it can create a unique and personalized experience for your customers. The likely outcome will be fostering more personal relationships with your target audience.

7. Participate in (and host) networking events.

Nowadays, networking is one of the most important and influential methods for driving your business prospects. You’ll need to do it regularly to build long-term relationships with customers, vendors, and experts. Your presence at industry-specific events can not only help you learn new things but can also prove to be fertile ground for generating new ideas.

Networking provides the perfect platform for learning from others and sharing your views with industry leaders. Every business needs a solid support system to help sustain and surpass benchmarks. Networking can help you build and maintain that support system.

Summing Up

Businesses must constantly innovate and improve their processes to remain relevant and competitive in their niche. While you might wish you had an unlimited budget for pursuing all these tips with abandon, you live in the real world. You can start small with these ideas and then expand on them as your efforts gain traction.

Making the best use of your available resources is vital for maximizing your ROI. There are many other ways of improving your business prospects, but you have to work with what you have. Keep looking for opportunities, then act on them quickly … before your competitors do.

5 Needs Appointment Software Can Meet for Your Business

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5 Needs Appointment Software Can Meet for Your Business

Every business has needs. Even though specific brands and industries will differ in a lot of ways, many needs are universal. Though some companies may try to disrupt the status quo, at the end of the day, your business will probably need to fulfill these needs to stay afloat. 

Business owners are always looking for the best solutions to keep their entrepreneurial dreams alive and serve as many customers as possible. When it comes to meeting business needs, few tools are as versatile as online appointment software

While a single program might seem one-dimensional at first glance, it can actually fill a number of roles in your business. Here are just five common business needs you can knock out by implementing appointment software into your business model:

1. Timely Supply Delivery

Even appointment-based businesses require materials to run. A dentist’s office will need periodic deliveries of fluoride rinse; a hair salon will have to re-up its shampoo supplies. This means working with suppliers to manage shipments that are both timely and cost-effective.

With appointment software, you can schedule shipments more accurately. You’ll be able to minimize the risk of materials coming in late and interrupting service to your customers. 

On the other end is gauging demand for various products. By tracking the different kinds of appointments (cleanings vs. extractions, haircuts vs. colorings), you’ll be better able to anticipate which supplies you’ll need to have delivered and when. Appointment software will help you fine-tune your process so that there are no kinks in the system. 

2. Social Media Strategy

What’s the easiest way to connect with customers? Those same social media sites probably fill up a lot of your break time. Social media platforms are free to use and can help businesses reach thousands of new and existing customers creatively in real-time. 

Finding success through social media requires consistency. Using appointment software, set up a content calendar that prompts you and your team to create and post content on a consistent basis. By posting actively, you will have more data to use for improving your social media strategy over time. 

Besides keeping a social media calendar, use your appointment scheduling tool to make time for social media audits and game planning. Put that data to use and regularly make adjustments to your content so that you’re always heading in the direction you want with social media. 

3. Scheduling and Employee Management

Every employee has an obligation to come to work on their assigned days. In that sense, they’re maintaining an appointment scheduled with your business. Using appointment software will help both sides stay accountable to their time commitments. 

Employee scheduling mishaps can be a nightmare if you depend on team members to arrive punctually every day. Some creative roles can be more flexible, even working from home without direct supervision, but customer-facing roles don’t have that luxury. Appointment software will help keep everyone on time so your customers aren’t kept waiting. 

Managers benefit from using appointment software by being able to better connect with employees. If an employee needs to speak with their manager about a certain issue, they can check their availability via the appointment software. This ensures that communication always happens at a good time and as soon as possible. 

4. Customer Acquisition

For businesses, customer acquisition is an endless battle. Every business has some level of turnover rate, and that must be combated by introducing new consumers to the brand. 

How does appointment software help with customer acquisition? For starters, it’s a user-friendly tool that works in conjunction with your website to bring customers to your physical location. Accessibility to appointment-booking online is a huge selling point for many customers who want to make the appointment process as painless as possible. 

Online appointment software also provides your target audience with the perfect call to action. A link to your scheduling platform can be placed in social media posts, blog entries, and even email advertisements. You can expect a healthy click-through rate for this CTA thanks to the ease and convenience of online appointment scheduling. 

5. Customer Retention

You’re selling your business short if you don’t prioritize customer retention just as much as you do an acquisition. Gaining new customers is certainly important, but it’s more expensive and time-consuming for businesses. By focusing on retaining existing customers, you’ll keep revenue high by reducing turnover. 

Online appointment software makes it easy for customers to keep coming back for more. Booking an appointment online can be done in a few clicks, eliminating the need for phone calls or walk-ins. Keep improving your user experience, and you’ll be able to cater to your customers’ every need. 

Appointment software also opens up a new world of retention-focused communication. You can use appointment reminders and notifications to help customers arrive on time and urge them to make return appointments. 

If you’re encountering some problems with your business, ask yourself how online appointment software can help. You’ll be surprised to see just how multifaceted this tool can be and how many holes it can fill. 

Best Types of Apps for Business Travelers

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Best Types of Apps for Business Travelers

Numerous work capacities require a lot of annual travel. Some occupations travel for a living, such as hotel inspectors that need to hit multiple cities throughout the year. Entrepreneurs and business owners might travel to each of their companies or meetings with other business leaders in their industry.

The average business traveler takes almost seven trips a year. That’s the equivalent of jumping on a flight at least every other month. Therefore, taking advantage of travel time is crucial to making the most of all of these trips.

Being equipped with the right software makes traveling so much easier and more effective. The following list will detail the six most valuable types of apps business travelers should have downloaded for every trip:

Time Management

Time is a businessperson’s most valuable asset. Managing your time on a trip is just as important, especially if you’re juggling a heavy meeting schedule with a business back at home. That’s why a time management app should be your highest priority to download.

Of course, Calendar is an excellent option for all the business travelers out there. Time zone recognition seamlessly moves all of your appointments and reminders to your geographic location. Your team can also see your schedule, so they know when they are able to contact you in between travel commitments.

Using Calendar will also help you stick with good routines even while on the road. Keeping up with morning and evening routines can be difficult without a Calendar schedule to give you some needed structure.

Sleep and Meditation

When you’re on the road, sleep can sometimes be elusive. However, that doesn’t make it any less important, so you need to do what you can to get enough rest each night. An app that helps you fall asleep can do just the trick.

Sleep apps use white noise or guided instructions to help you wind down for the night, even in a strange hotel or in a different time zone. These apps also have guided meditation to relax and focus before a big meeting or for nervous fliers.

Your smartphone might even have a built-in app for monitoring your sleep. While this might not be as useful for ensuring that you get good rest, it can help you evaluate your sleep and if you need to make any changes to your routine.

Communication

Let’s say you’re taking an international business trip where your cell phone service coverage is sketchy and doesn’t reach you. So how do you stay in touch with family, friends, and coworkers? A simple communication app will fix all of your problems.

WhatsApp is an excellent example of a communication app you can download for an international trip. It can work off of a Wi-Fi connection alone, meaning you can send texts and make calls without the need for a cell phone connection.

Most social media apps also have communication features, such as Facebook Messenger. For example, you can send messages back home to friends and family quickly this way.

Fitness and Exercise

Getting your daily exercise is essential even on the road. An exercise app can help you put together workouts and commit to exercise even without access to your local gym or home equipment. You might even be able to find a workout routine that you can do in your hotel room without any equipment.

An app such as MyFitnessPal will also help you keep track of what you eat. A balanced diet is another essential aspect of health and fitness, and one where you might lose control throughout a trip. Keeping an app on hand will help you stay conscious of your health goals and actively pursue them.

Project Management

When the cat is away, the mice will play. This saying is a common phrase used to describe a work setting when the boss is out of the office. Without direct supervision, workers are more likely to slack off and kick their feet up. Of course, this is just human nature, but it’s not what a manager wants to see when they’re away on a trip.

Entrepreneurs and corporate leaders often turn to project management software to ensure that work is still getting done. These programs allow managers to assign tasks in great detail over a long period of time. The boss can even send notifications while they’re in a different city.

Most project management software has a mobile app that allows leaders to guide even from afar. In addition, you can download programs such as ClickUp or Slack to your smartphone or tablet to check in from time to time and keep things running smoothly.

Ridesharing

Most business travelers will choose ridesharing over renting a car. Ridesharing is less expensive, especially if you don’t need to drive around much. Having your rideshare app ready to go ensures you get where you need to go at the exact time you need.

Uber and Lyft are the two big ridesharing companies right now. You can easily download both apps to compare prices and availability in the area you have traveled to. This way, you know you’re getting the best rate and the quickest service no matter where you are.

Open up your smartphone and take inventory of the apps you have. Then, start downloading everything you might need for your next trip and give them a try. After some trial and error, you’ll have the ideal digital suite for all of your traveling needs.

7 Ways Your Business Strategy Needs to Evolve in 2022

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7 Ways Your Business Strategy Needs to Evolve in 2022

The market is becoming choppier, travel is slowing down, and businesses like Lyft, Google, and Apple are postponing their return-to-office plans. How, in the midst of so much chaos, can companies expect to be able to form and cohere to a single business strategy?

The short, unsatisfying answer is that they can’t. A business strategy composed in January was probably in need of serious revision by the time July came around. This is poised to be just as true for next year as it has been for this one: COVID-19 isn’t going anywhere anytime soon, and uncertainties continue to abound. It’s time to call an audible on your business strategy in order to respond to current trends.

Here’s how you can do just that by evolving your business strategy:

1. Keep up with COVID.

This is the big, no-exceptions mantra that should ring out whenever it’s time to make a decision regarding business strategy. While major economies are unlikely to return to the harsh lockdowns of early 2020, the future trajectory of COVID-19 is something a lot of consumers are watching vigilantly. According to an ongoing survey conducted by Deloitte, some 51% of customers are concerned about their physical wellbeing when it comes to their activities, up from 47% a month prior.

Far too many businesses have been on the back foot when it comes to COVID-19, waiting for trends to appear before responding to them. Significant portions of your consumer base are taking matters into their own hands when it comes to COVID safety; if cases start to spike, they may be more hesitant to travel or perform business in person. Instead of working to accommodate those preferences as they arise, closely monitor your local and national situation and adjust your practices accordingly. If you’re not willing to take the steps necessary to make your customers feel safe and protected, they will find another business that is.

2. Complete your digital transformation.

Plenty of companies were transitioning to the cloud before 2020, but the events of that year just added more fuel to the fire. For most of the past year, developments like the rise of remote or hybrid working and virtual communication have been front and center of most companies’ business strategies. The reopening of the economy in 2021, however, has seen some businesses put a pause on their digital transformation for the time being — that’s a big mistake.

While the world may seem to be “returning to normal” for now, the future is all but certain to be one that happens online. Businesses need to transition to the cloud if they want to be ready for the next stage of digital commerce. For example, smart home and small business solutions provider Plume estimates that there will be 8.4 billion digital voice assistants in the world by 2024 — if your business is still married to brick-and-mortar operations, how effectively are you going to be able to respond to a consumer base whose primary method of purchase and research is digital voice assistants? The transitions that occurred in 2020 need to be accelerated, not halted, as 2022 approaches.

3. Don’t bet on rosy markets.

When the stock market plummeted in March and April of 2020, it seemed like the global economy was going to be in the dregs for some time. Little could anyone anticipate just how untrue that would end up being: the recession of 2020 ultimately lasted just 2 months, the shortest in US history. Growth since then has been on a sharply upward trend, and plenty of business leaders are getting ahead of themselves in expecting this growth to continue unabated for years to come.

Predicting the trajectory of the economy and the markets that comprise it is almost impossible, and there’s reason to be skeptical of those who forecast halcyon years ahead. Legendary Boston-based money management firm GMO recently predicted that the S&P 500 will have lost half of its inflation-adjusted value by 2028, for example. Don’t build a business strategy on a foundation of optimism alone. Create workflows and operating principles that can work in both good and bad times, and your business will be able to ride both the crests and troughs of whatever waves may come your way.

4. Meet your customers where they are.

In 2020, businesses had to be able to reach their customers at home if they wanted their attention. In 2021, customers were more eager than ever to get out of the house and head to businesses directly. Which of these routes is more likely for 2022? What about the 2020s in general? How can businesses expect to cope with the uncertainty of consumer behavior?

Sticking to your storefront may ultimately cause more trouble than it’s worth. Indeed, Bloomberg reports that the e-commerce industry could be worth over $16 billion by the year 2027, with few signs of slowing down in growth thereafter. There’s nothing wrong with returning to normal for a while in the next few quarters. However, don’t bet too much on brick-and-mortar making a long-term comeback. Make your way to the cloud; your customers will be waiting for you there.

Consider offering a hybrid option. You would be accommodating both customers who want a traditional in-person experience, and those who prefer to do things virtually. Be sure not to neglect the latter in favor of the former, though. Doing so is equivalent to adopting a business strategy far too near-sighted for long-term success.

5. Adjust to new social media practices.

Social media usage is booming across all platforms. However, that doesn’t mean you can just post-traditional content and expect higher levels of engagement than before. As users grow, social media trends and practices evolve. The posts that accrued big engagement in 2018 will probably not make the same kind of splash in 2021.

This is perhaps most true in the ever-growing world of social media influencers. Just a few years ago, they were objects of fascination or derision in most marketing departments. But, businesses dismiss them at their own peril. A Google-commissioned survey from Ipsos found that 40% of millennial YouTube subscribers say that their favorite creator understands them better than their friends — that level of trust and engagement is way more likely to get a customer’s attention than promoted tweets ever will. Don’t let a dynamic business strategy become sclerotic when it comes to social media.

6. Respond to changing employee priorities.

It’s not just consumers and markets who have had their trajectories changed by the past year. Your employees have likely undergone a few changes themselves. Quality of life is increasingly privileged over big salaries and flexible work over traditional office setups.

In fact, attempting to quickly re-transition to the way things were before may cause quite a bit of consternation among your team. A recent survey from The Morning Consult found that 39% of workers would consider quitting if their bosses forced them to give up remote work and return to the office. This isn’t just true for your current employees either. Prospective hires will also be expecting accommodations when it comes to remote and flexible working options. Businesses too set in their ways when it comes to cubicles and the 40-hour, 5-day workweek risk creating business strategies already out of date.

7. Think global, stay local.

It’s an oft-employed maxim that the world is constantly getting flattered, and not in the literal sense. It’s becoming easier all the time to communicate and do business across borders. At least, it was before COVID-19 struck. Disruptions to travel and international shipping meant that businesses once again needed to refocus their efforts on local and domestic markets.

What about 2022? Should companies bank on the reopening of borders and flourishing of international business or play it safe with nearer markets? Unsurprisingly, the answer is a bit of both.

Don’t abandon your local operations in the hopes that your business’s horizons will broaden in the near future. Instead, continue to nurture any and all existing customer relationships. And, do so while waiting for a good time to begin expansion further afield.

Make sure your business strategy reflects this by emphasizing operations you know can be sustained into the future while probing for potential opportunities down the line.

Anyone who tells you that they know what 2022 will look like is lying. The uncertainty that plagued 2020 and 2021 isn’t going anywhere, and your business strategy needs to be composed accordingly. Prepare your company against whatever may come, and expect solid growth in return.

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