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9 Pro Tips for Conducting a Hybrid Meeting

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9 Pro Tips for Conducting a Hybrid Meeting

As companies return to having employees in the office, they may realize hybrid operations are a must. 

Now instead of having meetings with everyone in person or everyone online, you need a hybrid solution. However, this solution creates a new set of meeting challenges to overcome. 

Here are a few smart tips for including video attendees in important in-person meetings without making it awkward for everyone.

1. Share the Agenda

Meetings run smoother when you have an agenda and stick to it during the meeting—sharing it before the session helps attendees prepare. It also helps keeps remote workers connected so they know what is going on and meeting expectations. Add any online references or links to resources that everyone will need. The central information center will help keep the entire team in sync.

2. Use the Most Current Technology

If your conference room equipment hasn’t been updated in a while, now is the time to do it. After a year of everyone being on video conferencing, people expect to see and hear everything clearly. As a result, old conference room telephone systems and outdated audio need to be replaced to keep remote participants engaged.

Don’t forget to check for software updates too. For example, platforms are adding emoji options to give video participants ways to react and share feedback without disrupting the meeting. Some providers are also developing new tools so participants in the room can use chat along with online members. 

3. Show Everyone’s Face if Possible

Remind online participants to keep their videos running and show their faces. If that isn’t possible, encourage them to use a professional headshot for their off-video setting. You also want to have cameras set up in the conference room to capture people’s faces in the room. 

It also helps if you can use a big screen to show the gallery view of participants. Helping everyone be able to see each other’s faces and expressions builds a connection with online participants. In addition, it helps remind speakers to make eye contact with people not in the room by looking at the camera as another person in the room.

4. Start the Video Before the Meeting Starts

Assign someone to start the online meeting room before the official start of the meeting. This can serve a couple of purposes. First, it’s a good time to troubleshoot any technical issues. Second, it gives you a chance to ensure video and audio are working so you can save the meeting time for the agenda.

Finally, it also gives online participants a chance to accomplish a tech check of their own. They’ll be more engaged and less stressed if they aren’t trying to fix their tech issues after the meeting has started.

As a bonus, they’ll be able to take part in the informal conversations and watercooler talk that happens between in-person attendees while they are waiting for meetings to start.

5. Discourage Side Conversations

Online members can’t hear what’s being said clearly when more than one person is talking. Microphones will pick up the side conversations, even whispered sounds. It’s a sign of respect to your video participants to make sure only one person is talking. That way, everyone can hear and participate.

Sometimes the conversation may get exciting, and people try to talk over each other. You may want to add a touch of humor and a trick to moderate this by using a physical “talking stick.” The only person allowed to talk is the person with the stick. When they are finished, they can pass the stick to the next person. The meeting leader should proactively make sure that online members get a virtual stick and a chance to speak too. 

6. Be Deliberate to Include Online Members

It’s easy to overlook people who aren’t in the room. To keep them connected and engaged, be deliberate about making sure to include them. For example, when the meeting starts, greet them by name and ask them to recap their weekend. Giving them a chance to share helps people in the room connect with the virtual audience as well.

As the meeting occurs, don’t forget to ask those on video if they have questions or comments. And remember, silence can be your friend here. It may take people a moment to come off mute, so don’t be in a rush to fill the quiet.  

At the end of the meeting, go around and ask everyone for their takeaway from the meeting. And start with those online. That guarantees members have a chance for any final questions or comments they needed to add. 

7. Plan Facilitation Help

Meeting leaders may find it helpful to ask a co-worker in the room to act as a facilitator. Their role here is to watch the online participants for indications they need to add a comment. For example, virtual members may turn off mute or use the raise hand function to indicate they want to speak. If members in the room don’t notice, the facilitator should mention it to the room so the online members can share. 

8. Use Group Collaboration Tools

Many times, meetings include whiteboard activities. Most platforms have added virtual whiteboards that video participants can also see. If the virtual whiteboard isn’t an option, make sure you have a way of showing the papers in the room on camera so that everyone can read them.

Another good practice is to use polling software that can consolidate responses from people in the room and online. That may mean employees in the room also need to have an online device with them in the meeting. Let them know this ahead of the meeting to have their device with them and the app installed.

9. Get Feedback

As people start returning to offices and in-person meetings, hybrid meeting practices will grow and evolve. Seek feedback from meeting attendees. Ask them to rate the meeting and provide suggestions for how to improve the experience. It may also help to make sure facilitators occasionally attend hybrid meetings virtually. This first-hand experience will help them get a feel for the online experience and what can be done better.

Conclusion

A recent survey conducted by McKinsey shows that nine out of ten executives expect to have hybrid work. Moreover, as people return to in-person operations, most people expect more remote work than before the pandemic.

The tips above can help make sure your hybrid meeting runs smoothly and keep everyone engaged wherever they happen to be located.

8 Backyard Activities for Your Online Calendar

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8 Backyard Activities for Your Online Calendar

Summer is full of so many fun opportunities, especially with the kids having extra time off from school. However, there will be many days when your kids complain about how bored they are. Is it your job to never let that happen? Well, no, it’s not your job exactly — but here are some fun activities that will tickle your young ones.

With the Fourth of July on Sunday, I hope you can get away — but if not, try a couple of these fun activities.

8 Backyard Activities for Your Online Calendar

One way to keep your kids busy and active all summer long is to use your imagination by turning your backyard into a play place. This article outlines just 8 of the many activities you can put in your online calendar this summer and for years to come.

1. Camping

You don’t have to venture out into the wilderness in order to go camping. You can have just as much fun pitching a tent in the backyard. Your lawn will be a lot more comfortable than the uneven ground you normally find at a campground, and being within walking distance of the kitchen and bathroom doesn’t hurt either.

If you want to make it feel more like camping, add in some activities that you would normally participate in on a normal camping trip. Set up a fishing game in a backyard pool and put together a fire pit to roast some marshmallows.

2. Scavenger Hunt

A scavenger hunt will keep the kids entertained for hours if set up correctly. You’ll be able to get some alone time or focus on a summer project while your kids scour the yard for clues leading to a secret treasure or reward. Invite some friends over to load up the search party and so that everyone can have some fun with it.

successful scavenger hunt will take some planning, so use your online calendar to take some time to make it just right. Write up clever clues, stash away hints, and add some decorations to make the hunt seem like a pirate’s treasure hunt of the incredible journey of some sci-fi adventurers.

3. Movie Night

There’s nothing quite like enjoying a movie in the backyard. All you have to do is get a white sheet, set up a projector, and enjoy the show. A couple of extension cords should be enough to hook up the projector and some speakers for a nearly authentic movie experience.

With your online calendar, you can plan the perfect night where the weather is ideal. Rain clouds or stifling heat will quickly ruin a movie night, so it’s best to avoid a dreary forecast. Additionally, scope out the days when the sun sets early to not keep the neighbors awake with your late-night movie watching.

4. Barbeque

The smell of a backyard barbeque should bring back some summer memories. Why not make some more by grabbing your apron and spatula and whipping up a delicious meal for the whole family. There are all kinds of different meats to try and even vegan options that will add some flavor to your summer.

Suppose you like a party, the more, the merrier. Have some friends, family, and neighbors come over to enjoy the perfect summer meal. Send them a calendar invite asking them to bring drinks, silverware, or a side dish to complement your grilling. Who knows, they might invite you over to their own barbeque later in the summer as their way of saying thank you.

5. Obstacle Course

Has your family watched any American Ninja Warrior this summer or plan on watching the Olympics? Unleash your inner athlete by putting together an obstacle course in the backyard. The best time wins a trip to their favorite restaurant the upcoming weekend.

Your obstacle course can be as creative as you want it to be. Anything you can find or build can become an obstacle. Just be sure to keep safety first! You can even add some water features to make it extra challenging.

6. Photoshoot

When was the last time your family took a picture together? Maybe this summer is the opportunity for you to get an updated portrait together. Even if your backyard is nothing fancy, it’s home. The pictures you take will be full of the memories you make there.

A family photoshoot doesn’t have to be perfect. Candid shots can be a lot more fun than static, cheesy smiles if you plan them right. You might have even more fun having a themed photoshoot with costumes, props, and more.

7. Water Fight

Is it really summer if you don’t have at least one water fight? Whether it’s splashing each other in the pool or running around the lawn with water guns, getting soaking wet is a must if you really want to say you beat the heat this summer.

Tossing water balloons at each other in the backyard is one thing. Getting the entire neighborhood together for a full-out water war is another. Wage one side of the street against the other for the mother of all water fights to highlight your summer activities. You can coordinate with other families by sharing online calendars and deciding which day will be the best for everyone to get soaked.

8. Sports

There are so many sports that can take place in your backyard. Put together a family whiffle ball game or simply play catch together in the shade. Set up some soccer goals, take each other on, or have a penalty shootout to see who has to do dishes that night.

Even some of the more obscure sports can come into play here. Try something your kids might not have heard of before, like bocci ball or croquet. These lowkey sports aren’t as likely to disturb the neighbors or get a ball launched over the fence and can quickly become family traditions.

The possibilities really are endless. Grab your online calendar and start planning out some fun and games today so that the remainder of your summer is jam-packed full of fun from end to end.

Appointment-Making in the New World of Remote Work

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Appointment-Making in the New World of Remote Work

Businesses navigating through the treacherous waters of 2020 all learned a similar lesson. It can be difficult to maintain meaningful engagement with employees because of remote work. 

Don’t get the wrong idea: remote workers can be just as productive as their office-dwelling counterparts, if not more so. The problem lies in connecting with remote work employees while keeping operations fluid. Engaged employees tend to be happier.

Whether your entire team is back in the office or not, using your scheduling software to increase engagement and deepen your connection with employees is a huge win. Here’s how you can begin to make that happen.

Use Video Technology

Whenever possible, use video technology to your advantage. Video is a powerful tool for connecting and engaging with remote work employees, especially when an in-person meeting is not an option. Video is more personable than a regular phone call, which eliminates the ability to do things like read body language.

Always include a link to a videoconferencing platform in your scheduling software. You might have hired a remote worker whom you have yet to meet in person. A video call will help you put a name to the face and enable you to connect with them better as a leader

Check In Regularly 

The past year was difficult for everybody. That should be a reason enough to commit to checking in on your employees more regularly. Whether they’re in the office or back at home, schedule one-on-one time with each employee to show that you’re there for them. 

Be wary, though, of becoming that boss who feels like a helicopter parent. Employee check-ins only need to be frequent enough to check progress and touch base with remote workers you don’t see often. They don’t need to be a weekly — and certainly not a daily — occurrence. Consult with each employee and come up with a routine that fits their schedule best. 

Remember that a check-in appointment doesn’t have to be a performance review. Ask employees about their family and hobbies or solicit suggestions on what you can do to make remote work easier. Each check-in should have the goal of incorporating the employee further into the company so that they feel more comfortable with their place in it. 

Make Hybrid Arrangements Work

If you do have a balance of remote workers and in-house staff, look for ways to formulate hybrid solutions that work for everyone. Your remote workers will be much more engaged when they feel like they’re a part of the entire team and not just a forgotten cog in the wheel.

Take staff meetings, for example. Would remote workers benefit from attending these meetings? If so, include them in your scheduling software invite list. Then put your tech skills to use to create a hybrid meeting that incorporates every attendee.

Planning a hybrid meeting isn’t as difficult as it might sound. All you need to do is set up a videoconference call with your remote work team and position it in a way that they can participate. A simple USB microphone and speaker will help with any audio troubles, and your remote workers will feel included. 

Broadcast Your Availability

With scheduling software, you can list availability for others to see. Your business can use this feature to book clients, or you can use it to show employees when you’re available for a visit. Broadcasting your availability will encourage employees to approach you with questions and comments they would otherwise keep to themselves.

Let’s say you have an open hour on Thursdays every week. Tweak your online scheduling software to reflect that. Soon, you might receive a call during that time slot from a remote work employee who has been dying to speak with you without seeming like an inconvenience. You’ll make a lot of progress with your employees when you welcome interaction like this with open arms. 

Include Some Fun 

Not every event you create with your appointment software needs to be so serious. A little bit of company fun never hurt anyone. In fact, it’s often promoted as a way to improve team bonding and reduce burnout. 

Be sure to plan some fun activities that even your employees that do remote work can participate in. While they may not be able to attend an office cookout, they can get together online to compete in a friendly game of Kahoot or Pictionary. This will provide an opportunity for the water cooler conversations that remote workers aren’t able to enjoy in an out-of-office setting. 

Coordinate Deadlines

Not every appointment has to be a personal meeting. Half the battle is coordinating the efforts of your remote work employees to make sure they’re up to speed with projects and are completing their tasks on time. Using appointment software to set deadlines should do the trick.

Perhaps all your employees who do remote work are writers creating content for social media and blog pages. Use appointment software to assign submission dates for each piece. The writers can work on their own schedule but have a calendar date that tells them specifically when tasks must be completed. 

An honest effort to engage your employees is all you need to start. Appointment software is just a means to this end. Look for ways to connect with both in-house and remote work employees, and you’ll see your team grow stronger together — and your business with it. 

How to Make Your Work Meetings Work for You

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How to Make Your Work Meetings Work for You

You know all about the workday marathon. You finish with one work meeting, and then you have to sprint over to the next meeting. You may even end the first meeting early just to get to the second one on time. The situation certainly isn’t ideal. 

In fact, this kind of terrible time management can cause all kinds of problems. It leaves too little room for error and causes unnecessary stress.

How you schedule your meetings will determine how successfully you’re using your time. If you schedule back-to-back meetings, you’re making your life harder than it needs to be. Thankfully, there are things you can do to change this. The following tips will help you alter your meeting habits for the better. 

Add Buffer Time Between Meetings

The first thing you should do to prevent work meeting overlap is to add buffer time to your schedule. A few minutes between meetings will give you some time to catch your breath after you dash from one to another.

Sitting through the end of a meeting knowing you’re going to be late for the next one is incredibly stressful. You’re more likely to be distracted, and you may even miss important information. Plus, a presenter can tell when you’re itching to leave.

Then there are the concerns about the second meeting. Tardiness is often seen as inconsiderate. If it’s a meeting with the boss, you certainly don’t want to look bad.

It’s much better to be safe than sorry. Build-in buffer time even if you don’t think you need it. 

Plan for Longer Work Meetings

Don’t be afraid to schedule a bit more time than you actually need when organizing a meeting. Take a training meeting, for example. You can’t predict exactly how many questions employees and new hires will have during the event in question. It’s best to get all questions answered rather than cut the discussion short. 

To be clear, this should be separate from adding buffer time. Buffer time gives you what you need to get to and from appointments. Planning for longer meetings also helps other employees manage their schedules. 

Basically, this means scheduling an hour and a half for a meeting, even if you think it’ll take an hour. After that 90 minute block, you’ll still want an additional buffer of 10 minutes. After all, nature could be calling by then. 

Evaluate Your Meeting Locations

Your work meetings’ locations have as much of an impact as when they’re scheduled. For example, you might need to take a long-time client or a group of investors to lunch one day. You’ll need a lot more buffer time if you have another meeting scheduled back at the office afterward. 

This won’t be as much of an issue if most of your meetings are online. However, you’ll still need to keep location in mind. Small relocations, like going from the conference room to your office to set up a Zoom call, can still take time. After all, technology can be unpredictable, and you might need the extra time to fix your mic or hunt down a presentation. 

Prepare Meeting Agendas in Advance

Just as important as planning the times of your meetings is planning their content. You’ll find that meetings run a lot more smoothly when there’s an agenda to follow. Use your online calendar to set a reminder to make an agenda before every planned meeting.

If you’re attending a meeting rather than leading it, ask the host for an agenda. This might prompt them to make one if they haven’t already. This small request can help ensure that meetings go efficiently, even when you’re not in control. 

Keep the Number of Meetings to a Minimum

Did you know that the average employee is wasting 31 hours a month in unproductive meetings? Think of all the things you and your team could accomplish with those lost hours. How can you reclaim that time? By identifying and cutting out unnecessary meetings.

Deciding which meetings to keep can be a challenge. Start by asking yourself a series of questions. Can everything you plan to say in this meeting be written in an email? Are these meetings actually just a way to micromanage others? After some introspection, you should be able to clear your calendar of at least a few meetings. 

Internal communication platforms should keep the need for formal meetings to a minimum. Individual questions can be sent through direct messages. Plus, project management software allows you to give plenty of instructions for specific tasks. 

Avoid Last-Second Meetings

Sometimes a last-minute meeting pops up, and you’ve got no choice but to drop everything and go. However, when you can avoid last-second meetings, you should. Nothing will clog up your schedule more than an unexpected meeting. Trying to squeeze it in between your previously scheduled commitments is just asking for trouble.

If someone requests a meeting with you for the same day, take a look at your calendar before saying yes. Look for a clear opening in your schedule. If there isn’t time for a couple of days, see if that time frame would work for the other person. Very rarely will you actually have to fit in a last-second meeting. It’s always easier to negotiate a meeting time than to reschedule existing commitments. 

Schedule Blocks of Time Without Meetings

If meetings start to overwhelm you, schedule some times where you won’t allow meetings to take place. This will ensure that you can get some actual work done. If you know when you’re most productive, you can schedule this time accordingly. For example, some people do their best work early in the morning. If that describes you, it’s best to block off that time for your own work.

Some people prefer to have all their meetings on one day. Then they have the rest of their week for other work. Others like to keep their meetings spread apart so that they never run too closely together. Whatever your preference, make sure to designate some time away from the meeting room when you can. 

Meetings are an important aspect of any business, but they can take over your professional life if you let them. Finding the right approach to organizing your meetings will keep you from becoming stressed. Open up your calendar now and start making the adjustments you need for smooth sailing at work. 

How to Use Your Online Calendar to Promote Mental Health

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How to Use Your Online Calendar to Promote Mental Health

Your most important asset isn’t your car, your house, or even your professional expertise; it’s your mental health.

The rest of your life relies on your mental wellbeing. Especially while the world is facing COVID-19, you have to protect it with every tool available to you — including your online calendar.

What Your Calendar Can Do for You

Your online calendar can’t change your mental state by itself, but it can help you implement and maintain healthier habits. You might be surprised at just how much your mental health improves when you:

1. Schedule Breaks

Going full-throttle all day, every day is exhausting. If you don’t permit yourself to take a step back, you may begin to burn out. Scheduling short breaks throughout your day can help you stay productive without getting overwhelmed.

It can be tough to take breaks when things are hectic. That’s where your online calendar comes in: If it never seems like a good time to take a break, schedule one every few hours. Your calendar can be set to remind you 10 minutes before it’s time, letting you wrap up what you’re working on.

2. Take a Mental Health Day

Frequent breaks throughout the day are helpful, but sometimes you need a full day to yourself. Although it’s best to schedule mental health days for weekends, don’t be afraid to talk with your employer if you need one stat.

Once you’ve decided on the right day, add it to your calendar. Either put together an itinerary for yourself — replete with food and fun activities — or give yourself an unstructured day. There’s no wrong way to do it!

3. Remind You to Move

Regular exercise is tightly correlated with better mental health. Physical activity feels good, takes your mind off your stressors, and gives you something to do with friends.

Why not use your online calendar to put together a workout schedule? That way, you don’t have to decide at the moment whether or not you want to work out — and if so, what exercises you’ll do. After a few days, physical activity will be just another part of your daily routine.

If you’d rather attend fitness classes or play a team sport, your online calendar is also a great place to record those sessions. Add other attendees to the event to create some positive social pressure.

4. Set and Achieve Goals

Setting goals gives us something to work toward, and achieving them provides a sense of fulfillment. That’s why many experts recommend goal-setting for both mental wellbeing and productivity.

Goals should be:

  • Specific: What, exactly, do you want to achieve? Instead of becoming happier, maybe you want to have five low-stress days each week.
  • Measurable: If your goals aren’t measurable, you’ll never know whether or not you’ve met them.
  • Achievable: There’s no sense in setting a goal you have no hope of achieving. Shoot too high, and you’ll only discourage yourself.
  • Relevant: If your priority is your mental health, your goal shouldn’t be to get a promotion. Do you really need more responsibilities at work right now?
  • Time-bounded: A goal without a time horizon attached is just hope. When is a challenging but realistic amount of time for achieving your goal?

5. Schedule Affirmations

Self-affirmations are mantras designed to encourage during moments of hardship. They take little time to say but can deliver big mental health benefits.

Even something short, such as “I won’t give up,” can do wonders when you’re feeling down. Repeat them as often as needed. If you worry about others judging you for talking to yourself, step into a private space.

6. Start a Journal

Sometimes, a little self-reflection is all it takes to get yourself to a better mental state. Remind yourself that if you’re looking for reasons to be sad, you’ll find them. Looking for the good instead can help you see things from a more positive perspective.

Journaling doesn’t take hours to work its magic. Start with a five-minute session: Add a reminder to your calendar to reflect on something that makes you happy. Soon, you’ll be reminding yourself to save your gratitude journaling for the time slot you selected.

7. Eat Well

The food we eat directly affects our emotional state. Eating a healthy, balanced diet ensures our brain has the nutrition it needs to be at its best.

Online calendars are ideal tools for meal planning. Mapping out what you’re going to eat makes it easier to stick to a diet or, perhaps, more importantly, limit the unhealthy foods you spoil yourself with.

8. Get Into a Groove

Adding structure to your life helps you feel in control. While scheduling every minute of your day isn’t always necessary, using your calendar to establish a healthy routine is critical. Moving forward with your routine can give you a sense of optimism even when the odds are stacked against you.

A good place to start is a morning routine: What do you need to be your happiest, most productive self at work? Routines are also important for other times of day, such as bedtime: How do you prefer to wind down, especially when you have a lot on your mind?

You have to make your mental health a priority because no one else will. Think through what you need to take care of yourself, and use your online calendar to make it happen. Remind yourself — as often and in as many ways as you can — that you deserve to be happy.

Best Appointment Scheduling Software: 7 Apps for Business Scheduling

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A person manually setting up appointments without any of the best appointment scheduling software.

It isn’t fun to manually set up schedules, follow up with appointments, handle emergency bookings, and skim several calendars to see appointment dates. 

Creating manual appointments can cause you to lose customers and set back your business growth because your scheduling processes are all over the place. 

It gets worse if you continue to do this day in and day out every week.

What if you could streamline your appointment workflow in minutes, book customers faster, and make more money?  

The best appointment scheduling software streamlines bookings, messaging, payments, and other business scheduling. These booking systems help automate repetitive appointment processes and free up time so you can focus on your zone of genius.

Think of an appointment scheduler as your low-cost, super-efficient virtual assistant who doesn’t take breaks but continuously sets up meetings with your customers. It’s a must-have for all business processes and appointment types for an easier booking experience.

Here’s what you’ll find in this guide:

Appointment Scheduling Apps: Definition and Uses

What To Consider When Choosing Appointment Scheduling Software

Best Appointment Scheduling Software

  1. Appointment.com
  2. Calendar.com
  3. HubSpot Meetings
  4. Appointy
  5. Acuity Scheduling
  6. Calendly
  7. Chili Piper

Final Thoughts: The 7 Best Appointment Scheduling Software

Appointment Scheduling Apps: Definition and Uses

Appointment scheduling apps are a solution to manual tasks and processes for booking appointments. With these appointment schedulers, you can automate scheduling processes such as: 

  • Booking
  • Rescheduling
  • Cancellation
  • Follow-ups
  • Payments 

Your customers and prospects can access your appointment scheduling software through a simple URL and book meetings themselves. You can share the scheduling link to your booking page via e-mail and social media, or you can embed an appointment widget on your website and other business pages. 

Booking services has never been easier. An appointment scheduler erases the need for the tedious appointment setup, human error, and back-and-forth communications that characterize manual appointments. 

Appointment scheduling applications empower your clients to choose a time and date most suitable to them while letting you input your available hours. Your clients can book their own appointments without overbooking and stretching you thin. 

The Benefits of Appointment Booking Software 

A person looking at a computer screen reading the best appointment scheduling software reviews.

Here are some of the advantages of using appointment booking apps:

  • Online appointment scheduling software reduces the length of your sales cycle
  • Provides a better booking experience
  • The best appointment schedulers ensure you get paid faster
  • Enables your customers to self-schedule or adjusts their bookings
  • Reduces the number of no shows
  • Appointment schedulers eliminate manual tasks and stressful marketing
  • Prevents overbooking and scheduling errors
  • Provides automation to follow-up with customers
  • Saves you time, energy, and customers
  • Gives you the space to focus on your zone of genius

What To Consider When Choosing Appointment Scheduling Software

The best appointment scheduling software solutions have certain features that cut across them. Here are the five features you should look out for when choosing an appointment scheduling app for your business. 

Calendar Syncing

Calendar syncing is one of the most common features of the best appointment scheduling software. It’s essential to integrate your scheduler with your personal and work calendars. 

Calendar sync increases your efficiency by conserving your energy and saving time. This feature enables you to view your business appointments alongside your personal to-dos and holidays at a glance. 

Check for software that syncs to your Google calendar, iCal, or Outlook. It can be tedious opening one calendar after the other to see when you have appointments. 

Flexibility

Companies often have different appointment scheduling needs depending on their business type and niche.

The best appointment scheduling software solutions consider the versatility of the business world by offering several customization options. Some of these booking apps even create tailored interfaces to suit specific types of services. 

Understand your business’s scheduling needs before you invest in any appointment scheduler, as this will help you know what customizations your business processes need. Then, look for the appointment booking app that matches those needs. 

A person looking at their scheduling needs to determine the best appointment scheduling software for her business.

Easy Access

Your clients need to access your appointment scheduler from anywhere. Go for the best appointment scheduling software that provides multiple access points. 

Ideally, your appointment scheduler should provide a sharing link, integrate with social media platforms and messaging channels, and have website embed functions.

Payment Processing

One of the simplest ways to grow your revenue is to set up an easy online payment system. 

The best appointment scheduling software empowers you to automate payments alongside bookings so your customers can use a credit card or merchant website like Paypal to pay you quickly and easily. 

To reduce financial and time losses, you can have customers pay at the point of sale before the appointment kicks off.

Reminder Settings

Life gets busy, and so do people. Your customers will most likely have other things besides your meeting on their minds. That’s why you should send a reminder ahead of your meeting time to minimize the number of no-shows and emergency rescheduling.

This can be a hassle if you have to send follow-up messages every time you get booked manually. 

The best appointment scheduling software automates reminders, so your meeting attendees are always aware of their appointment time and date beforehand. 

Best Appointment Scheduling Software

  1. Appointment.com
  2. Calendar.com
  3. HubSpot Meetings
  4. Appointy
  5. Acuity Scheduling
  6. Calendly
  7. Chili Piper

Based on several appointment scheduling software reviews and features we analyzed, we’ve rounded up seven of the best appointment scheduling software you can use for your business. 

While the functions and pricing of these app schedulers vary depending on the businesses they support, your choice ultimately depends on your budget, business type, online booking needs, and marketing strategy.  

Here’s the breakdown of the seven best appointment scheduling software:

1. Appointment

Appointment.com is one of the best appointment scheduling software you’ll find online. This scheduler has been satisfying the appointment needs of various business types since 1999. 

The best part of Appointment.com’s software is that you don’t need a website or to install the app or sign any contracts before you start booking clients

So, whether you own a coaching business, health club, or tanning salon, Appointment.com has an appointment solution tailored to your unique requirements.

With Appointment.com, customers new and old can book an appointment with you whenever they want, be it day or night. They can also cancel and reschedule appointments themselves. 

An advantage of using Appointment.com so your customers can book appointments on their own is that it allows you to grow your customer base cost-effectively. 

Key features of Appointment.com:

  • Fast set up in minutes
  • Appointment book and scheduler
  • Full-fledged customization options
  • Gift cards and a tracking system
  • Syncs with calendars like Outlook, Google Calendar, and iCal
  • Appointment reminders and waitlists
  • Multiple locations, departments, and categories management
  • SSL encryption for customer transactions
  • Powerful API that allows for smooth integration with other systems
  • Extensive business analytics
  • Supports payments through PayPal
  • Compatible with any device
  • Free coaching call

Best appointment scheduling software for: Small businesses, both service providers and product sellers.

Price: Free 30-day trial. Plans start at $29/month (pay-as-you-go, monthly, and yearly plans available).

2. Calendar.com

Calendar

Calendar.com is a low-cost option among the best appointment scheduling software. It’s an effective bookable calendar and time management solution for solopreneurs and small teams.

Calender.com is an AI digital calendar that syncs across several devices that empowers you to plan bookings, events, time, and scheduling changes in a single dashboard view quickly and easily.

Key features of Calendar.com:

  • Lets you know when other Calendar users are available and create events around their availability
  • Analytics so you know how you spend your time
  • Support for teams
  • AI-powered — the software learns your schedule and customizes your experience over time
  • Supports Gmail, Office 365, and Outlook
  • Web embedding with white labeling
  • More than 2,000 app integrations with Zapier
  • Access to 24/7 support from the help center
  • Automated email notifications
  • Scheduling time slots
  • Shared and sub-calendars
  • Excellent user interface 
  • Available for mobile devices on the Google Play and Apple app stores 

Best appointment scheduling software for: Freelancers and small businesses looking for an effective, low-budget scheduling solution.

Price: Free (with limited features). Premium plans start at $6/month when billed annually. 

`3. HubSpot Meetings

HubSpot Meetings is a free scheduling tool that has what you need to take your hands off manual appointment scheduling. It’s completely free and one of the best appointment scheduling software you can use for your business.

HubSpot Meetings’ scheduling app empowers you to add form fields to your meeting page to collect important contact details, such as names, email addresses, and phone numbers. It’s an all-in-one field service management app that captures lead and customer data for future marketing outreach.

HubSpot Meetings integrates directly with HubSpot’s free CRM software and automatically creates records for new contacts so you can monitor and manage your appointments. You can also automatically log call recordings directly to your CRM.

Key features of HubSpot Meetings:

  • Syncs to Google Calendar and Office 365
  • Unlimited bookings
  • Round-robin meeting links that connect you or your sales rep to your prospects
  • Group meeting availability
  • Support for custom domains
  • Direct meeting scheduling
  • Video conferencing software integrations
  • Automated follow-ups
  • Automatic integration with HubSpot CRM

Best appointment scheduling software for: Businesses (small, medium, or enterprise) looking for a free, reliable appointment scheduling solution.

Price: Free 

4. Appointy

Appointy

Appointy is the best appointment scheduling software for you if you own a brick-and-mortar business. It makes it a breeze for companies with physical stores — in any industry — to book appointments while adhering to any applicable social distancing guidelines.

Whether you want to schedule appointments, resources, workshops, classes, events, or tours, Appointy will fulfill scheduling demands with its custom-made features.

Key features of Appointy:

  • Multi-channel bookings on platforms such as your website, Facebook, and Instagram
  • Group scheduling 
  • Zapier integration
  • Integrates with multiple payment apps, including Square, PayPal, and Authorize.net
  • Automatic reminders
  • Syncs with personal and work calendars, such as Google Calendar, iCal, and Outlook 
  • Integrates with video conferencing apps
  • Fair usage policy limit of 2,000 appointments a day
  • Unique subdomain

Best appointment scheduling software for: Brick-and-mortar business owners looking for an appointment solution that adheres to social distancing regulations.

Price: Free (with limited features). Premium plans start at $19.99/month when billed annually.

5. Acuity Scheduling

Acuity Scheduling

Acuity Scheduling, owned by Squarespace, takes out the stress and delays of manual appointment scheduling.

Acuity Scheduling is another one of the best appointment scheduling software because it lets you book appointments with clients in a way that allows them to see your real-time availability. This scheduling app also empowers you to send customized follow-ups.

Key features of Acuity Scheduling:

  • Accepts payments through Stripe, Square, and Paypal
  • Integrates with Zoom, Google Meet, and GoToMeeting
  • Integrates with 2,000+ other apps through Zapier
  • Syncs with Google Calendar, iCloud, Outlook, Exchange, and Office 365
  • Lets you offer coupons and discount vouchers
  • Optional support for client tips 
  • HIPAA-compliant for top-notch privacy
  • Integrates with Google Analytics
  • Integrates with QuickBooks and Freshbooks for invoicing and accounting

Best appointment scheduling software for: Businesses that want scheduling customization that fits their branding.

Price: Free 7-day trial. Plans start at $14/month when billed annually.

6. Calendly

Calendly

Calendly is one of the best appointment scheduling software that empowers you to connect your calendar and book unlimited meetings.

With Calendly, simply set up your schedule and automation, share your link, get booked, and it will automatically send out email notifications and reminders to clients who book with you.

Key features of Calendly:

  • Automates reminders and follow-ups
  • Automatic “thank you” notes
  • Connects to Zoom, Microsoft Teams, Google Meet, and GoToMeeting
  • Unlimited appointment and one-off meetings
  • Custom branded pages
  • Payment processes with Stripe and Paypal (Pro and Enterprise plans only) 
  • Webhooks automatically send updates to connected apps
  • Custom email and SMS notifications
  • Connects to Mailchimp, HubSpot, and Intercom
  • Tracks with Facebook Pixel and Google Analytics
  • Connects to Google Calendar, Office 365, Outlook, and iCloud
  • Available on both web and mobile apps (iOS and Android)

Best appointment scheduling software for: Individuals, small teams, and enterprises looking for low-cost customization and advanced features.

Price: Free (with limited features). Premium plans start at $8/month when billed annually.

7. Chili Piper

Chili Piper

Chili Piper is an effective scheduler designed to help B2B brands book meetings in one click and send automatic updates to their CRMs.

Chili Piper is one of the best appointment scheduling software that eliminates manual tasks and makes bookings and rescheduling easy. It also enables you to schedule multi-person meetings and hold conversations with ready leads in real-time.

With Chili Piper, when you send emails to clients, instead of adding a link to a landing page where they look through your calendar, you can add buttons for them to book meetings with a single click.

Key features of Chill Piper:

  • Instant web form scheduling
  • One-click booking
  • Flexible round-robin scheduling
  • Unlimited event types
  • Calendar integrations with Google Calendar, Office 365, and Outlook
  • Handoff meetings
  • Automated emails, email signatures, and SMS reminders
  • Automatic lead routing to CRM
  • Embeds within website
  • Group meetings coordinated using multiple calendars
  • Instant Booker plugin to schedule appointments from your sales tools
  • Tracks meetings, no shows, reschedules, and cancellations in your CRM
  • Team meeting templates and reminders

Best appointment scheduling software for: B2B brands and companies looking to schedule multi-person meetings at once.

Price: Free (with limited features). Premium plans start at $15 per user per month when billed annually (Instant Booker package).

Final Thoughts: The 7 Best Appointment Scheduling Software

As a solopreneur, small team, or large enterprise looking to book more customers and expand your business, you need an appointment scheduler to sharpen your functionality.

While manual appointment scheduling can cause you to burn out, lose customers, create errors, and ultimately lose your vibe, online scheduling software is the virtual assistant you need to book more clients with ease.

If you’re not using an online appointment scheduler, choose the one that suits your business and scheduling needs from our list of the seven best appointment scheduling software.

Ready to book more clients quickly and efficiently? Try Appointment free for 30 days.

Don’t Be Busy. Be Present

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Don’t Be Busy. Be Present

From the moment your alarm jolts you from a dream to when your head hits the pillow at night — your day is non-stop. Between all of your work and personal responsibilities — you somehow have to squeeze in one day, you’re “busy.”

Take a second to think — this may not be the way to live. It’s an idea that Danish philosopher Søren Kierkegaard explored in his 1843 treatise Either/Or: A Fragment of Life by writing, “Of all ridiculous things the most ridiculous seems to me, to be busy — to be someone who is brisk about their food and work.”

“Therefore, whenever I see a fly settling, in the decisive moment, on the nose of such a person of affairs, or if he is spattered with mud from a carriage which drives past him in still greater haste, he adds. “Or the drawbridge opens up before him, or a tile falls down and knocks him dead, then I laugh heartily.”

In short, Kierkegaard’s response to the “busy” individual was to laugh at them. That may sound mean-spirited. But he may have been on to something here.

Don’t Be Busy. Be Present.

To be busy and productive feels great, but people who have to fill every waking moment with something — anything — even if it’s unimportant are the ones who are not present. For some, frantic busyness provides an escape. Others, however, seem to belong to a cult of busyness.

Interested in this phenomenon, researchers from Columbia University, Harvard, and Georgetown explored why we’re so impressed with being busy.

“In general, we found that the busy person is perceived as high status, and interestingly, these status attributions are heavily influenced by our own beliefs about social mobility,” wrote the authors Silvia Bellezza, Neeru Paharia, and Anat Keinan. “In other words, the more we believe that one has the opportunity for success based on hard work, the more we tend to think that people who skip leisure and work all the time are of higher standing.”

The problems with being too busy.

Are there obligations that must be met? Absolutely. But that doesn’t mean you have to be doing something constantly.

It’s been found that being a member of “the cult of busy” creates a chronic stress response in your body and mind. As a consequence, you might experience symptoms like fatigue, insomnia, headaches, and gastrointestinal discomforts. You’re also asking for possible cardiac issues as well.

But, it’s not merely our physical well-being that we’re putting in harm’s way. There’s also a link between stress and depression. Additionally, relationships and work performance suffer too.

Specifically, when you’re busy, you’re;

  • Not giving essential tasks and relationships you’re undivided attention.
  • Missing out on new opportunities
  • Not effectively prioritizing your time.
  • Making excuses for actual problems.
  • Forgetting about your “why” and self-care.
  • Aren’t working to your full potential.
  • Failing to set healthy boundaries which can lead to burnout.
  • Not giving yourself time to think, reflect, and dream.

In other words, being busy negatively affects every part of your life. As such, it’s time to leave this cult. And, you can make that possible by focusing on the present instead.

Don’t ignore the past and future.

Let’s be real here. Living in the moment is a formidable force. And, you can thank evolution for that.

“Human psychology is evolutionarily hard-wired to live in the past and the future,” explains Eyal Winter Ph.D. “Other species have instincts and reflexes to help with their survival, but human survival relies very much on learning and planning.”

“You can’t learn without living in the past,” adds Dr. Winter. And “you can’t plan without living in the future.”

Rather than trying to shut out the past or future completely, find a healthy balance. For example, you could reflect on a past accomplishment or mistake during your morning or evening routine. If you’re worried or anxious about a future event, jot it down and develop a plan of action.

Most importantly, take and do these new actions in small steps and small doses. Personally, I allocate no more than 15-minutes of worrying time per day. During this time, I get all of these thoughts out of my head and organize them for later so that I can focus on the task at hand. You may need a little longer — but too much time worrying can easily overwhelm some people.

Fewer, but better.

As I’ve already said. There are responsibilities that you must follow through with. However, most of the items on your to-do lists could probably be removed. Maybe that’s why 41% of to­-do items are never completed.

The fix? Do less.

That may sound easier said than done. But, it’s possible to use techniques like the Pareto Principle, aka the 80/20 Rule.

“The Pareto Principle is a concept that suggests two out of ten items, on any general to-do list, will turn out to be worth more than the other eight items put together,” clarifies Brian Tracy.

“The sad fact is that most people procrastinate on the top 10 or 20 percent of items that are the most valuable and important,” which is known as the “vital few. Instead, they “busy themselves” with the least important 80 percent, aka the “trivial many.”

You can encourage this by;

  • Simplifying your to-do lists with the Eisenhower Matrix. You can also try mapping out your main priority, 3 medium priorities, and 5 smaller to-dos.
  • Tracking your time so that you dedicate the right amount of time to complete your most important tasks.
  • Restructuring your routine so that you’re working on your MITs when you’re most productive.
  • Training yourself to bolster skills like concentration.
  • Thinking beyond work. Following the 80/20 Rule will allow you to pursue other interests outside of the workplace that can make you healthier and happier.

Consider the opportunity cost.

The opportunity cost is often used when making a financial or investment decision. In a nutshell, it’s determining the return you’ll receive from each option you’re weighing.

For example, you decide to spend $2000 on a new Macbook. While you now have a new laptop, you also can’t put that money towards something more beneficial in the long run — such as making sure your emergency fund is full.

You can also use this concept when it comes to how you want to spend your time. You could accept that meeting invite. But, it’s an hour-long and doesn’t have a clear purpose.

Instead, you may determine that that block of time could be better spent finishing an important task so that you can leave early to spend time with your family.

Let go of the narrative so that you can focus.

“If you are feeling fear, shame, overwhelm, anxiety, worry … this is completely natural,” writes Leo Babauta from Zen Habits. “Let yourself feel it fully for a moment.” From there, “see if you can let go of the narrative that’s causing the fear.”

“What narrative are you playing in your head that’s making you afraid?” he asks. Are you concerned about not meeting a deadline you set or being perfect? “These are not necessarily false narratives, but they’re hurting you no matter how true they are.”

Narratives, like the examples above, “keep us from being present, pulling us instead to thinking about other things,” states Babauta. They also “add fear and worry to our experience, which makes it harder to focus.”

“So think of the narrative as a soap bubble that you can just pop,” he advises. “Pop! And it’s gone.”

Bring more mindfulness into your life.

Well, you know that this was eventually going to pop up.

“According to thousands of years of tradition, Buddhists meditate to understand themselves and their connections to all beings,” writes Jill Suttie, Psy.D. in Greater Good. “By doing so, they hope to be released from suffering and ultimately gain enlightenment.”

Research, however, also shows that “mindfulness affects many aspects of our psychological well-being,” adds Dr. Suttie. These “include improving our mood, increasing positive emotions, and decreasing our anxiety, emotional reactivity, and job burnout.” Moreover, mindfulness is good for our hearts, improves immune response, and decreases cognitive decline.

Even better? You can introduce mindfulness into your daily life via;

  • Start each day on the right foot. Rather than jumping directly on your phone, ask, “What is my intention for today?”
  • Visualize your goals.
  • Practice peaceful eating and savory every bite.
  • Conduct body scans throughout the day.
  • Take frequent mindful breaks, such as going for a 20-minute walk outside.
  • Activate the “slow brain” by creating new patterns, such as a series of “If this, then that” messages.
  • Be more clear about the aim of your physical activity.
  • Drive yourself calm during your commute. For instance, before turning over the engine, engage in breathing exercises and checking for any body tension.
  • Review your day and practice gratitude.

Stop overscheduling yourself.

There’s a rule that I’ve followed for years when you feel over-committed and need to decide where to trim the fat. “If you’re not saying ‘HELL YEAH!’ about something, say ‘no,’” recommends Derek Sivers.

“When deciding whether to do something, if you feel anything less than ‘Wow! That would be amazing! Absolutely! Hell yeah!’ — then say ‘no.’”

“When you say no to most things, you leave room in your life to really throw yourself completely into that rare thing that makes you say ‘HELL YEAH!’”

Whatever you’re invited to, regardless if it’s a meeting or social function, if you’re not 100% into it, politely say “no.” And use this thinking with any other time requests that come your way as well.

Connect with people — in real life.

“In many Muslim cultures, when you want to ask how they’re doing, you ask: in Arabic, Kayf haal-ik? Or, in Persian, Haal-e shomaa chetoreh? How is your haal?” writes Omid Safi.

“What is this haal that you inquire about?” Safi asks. It’s “the transient state of one’s heart.” That means that you’re genuinely asking, “How is your heart doing at this very moment, at this breath?”

“I am not asking how many items are on your to-do list, nor asking how many items are in your inbox,” he states. “I want to know how your heart is doing at this very moment.” Whether it’s filled with sadness or joy, this builds a stronger connection with others.

“Tell me you remember you are still a human being, not just a human doing,” adds Safi. “Tell me you’re more than just a machine, checking off items from your to-do list. Have that conversation, that glance, that touch.”

“Be a healing conversation, one filled with grace and presence,” he advises.

Make everything negotiable.

“You will never find time for anything. If you want time, you must make it.” — Charles Buxto

I can’t stress this enough. You are the gatekeeper of your time. Don’t let anyone else tell you otherwise.

Of course, this doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be disrespectful of others. For instance, when you get paid to do a job on an agreed-upon deadline, then you have to see that through. On the flip side, if you’re at full capacity, don’t commit to anything new until you have the availability.

The key is to be transparent and flexible upfront. Sharing your calendar, in my opinion, is the easiest way around the stress of being transparent and flexible. As opposed to role-playing as Tom and Jerry, they can see when you’re free to have a conference call, meet for lunch, or start a new project.

Establish tech-free zones.

While you can’t completely go-off-the grid, you do need to establish boundaries with technology. Your phone, as an example, has a knack for distracting and pulling you from the present. Just think about how many times you’re in the zone or relaxing only for a text to transport you to some future event.

While turning off notifications or blocking apps/websites at certain times can help, there’s always the temptation to look at our phones. In fact, there’s even a phenomenon known as phantom vibration syndrome where we think that our phone is ringing or vibrating when it’s not.

The best way to counter this? Go on a tech detox by designating tech-free zones.

When it’s time to eat dinner, leave your phone in the living room. Have your family do the same is that everyone is fully engaged in conversation. When it’s bedtime, turn your phone off and keep it somewhere else in your home — even if it’s just across the room.

While leaving your phone in another room may be uncomfortable initially, it will get easier over time. Eventually, you’ll realize that you don’t always have your phone beside you 24/7. And, that will improve your relationships, encourage a better night’s sleep, and make you in-tune with your surroundings.

It May Be Summertime, but the Living Ain’t Necessarily Easier

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It May Be Summertime, But the Living Ain't Necessarily Easier

In reality, it’s mostly only teachers and students who get to take the entire summer off. Even so, the summer months are heavily associated with vacations, beach days, and other fun extracurricular activities. Warmer weather certainly enables a lot more outdoor fun than the other months of the year.

Don’t let all the fun in the sun go to your head, though. There’s still work to be done.

It can be all too easy for business owners to adopt a summer vacation mindset and allow things to slide a bit. When you feel the heat slowing you down, it’s important to set appointments — with yourself — to stay productive. Below are five examples of the types of appointments you should set to keep up your forward momentum.

1. Weekly Planning Sessions

Summer often arrives coupled with a “go with the flow” attitude. While this can be an attractive way to spend your days, a sustained lack of structure often leads to decreased productivity. To keep yourself — and your business — on track, schedule weekly planning meetings for yourself.

Weekends might be an ideal time to hold these personal planning sessions for anyone who operates on a regular 9-to-5 schedule. Whatever time slot you select is less important than keeping that appointment each week. If something does come up, reschedule this time immediately.

When the time for your planning session arrives, open your calendar and plot out the next seven days. Are there any events you need to prepare for? Block out time to do so. Is there a milestone you need to reach in pursuit of a summer goal? Write down your task completion percentage. Use this time to organize your time and efforts to pursue a productive week.

Make your plans as specific as possible. Vague notes are more easily overlooked. Plenty of blank spaces in your calendar may unintentionally provide room for idleness. The more you can plan out your work hours, the better.

2. Self-Care Appointments

Scroll through enough summer vacation photos on social media, and you may begin to feel left out. Burnout and idleness are common during the summer months as workers dream about the beach and count the days until the next weekend. One way to avoid such burnout is to regularly schedule smaller blocks of time for yourself.

Self-care might sound counterintuitive when talking about productivity, but it’s been shown to be an effective long-term play. Approaching your personal time by setting appointments ensures that you’re making time for yourself and that you do so responsibly.

Two dangers to be aware of are taking too much personal time or not taking enough. Scheduling a spa day or a movie night will give you quality time to unwind without taking it too far. By being well-rested and in good spirits, your energy and focus during work hours will be increased.

3. Personal Budgeting Meetings

Over half of the U.S. population takes their spending up a notch during the summer months. Oftentimes this is because summer is strongly associated with fun and new experiences. Extra trips and excursions are planned and taken. If you’re not keeping a personal budget, you run the risk of overspending.

What does budgeting have to do with productivity? As it turns out, a lot.

Money problems are one of life’s biggest stressors. The realization that you’ve spent more than you should have can cause anxiety, which in turn reduces your productivity and overall well-being. You might feel inclined to counterbalance stress by working more hours, but that doesn’t always equate to more effective work. This tactic is often self-defeating.

You may not need to set personal budgeting appointments as often as you do for weekly planning. Once a month might suffice unless you have to accommodate a major event such as a summer wedding or an unexpected medical bill. Document your expenses, necessary or not, and do your best to stay within that budget for the rest of the month.

4. Review Your Metrics

Let’s get down to business. When was the last time you checked your business metrics? These will be one of the greatest indicators of overall productivity this summer. Any slump will be directly reflected in your numbers. This is especially true if you’re a small business owner or operating a startup where even the slightest action can have a big impact.

Set a recurring appointment with yourself to review your business metrics. Doing so will ensure you actually glance at them from time to time. Here are a few metrics you should consider:

  • Response time: How quickly are you following up with a prospective customer?
  • Website traffic: How many customers are using your website in a given time period?
  • Social media followers and engagement: What’s the number of customers supporting your business online and interacting with posts?
  • Cash flow: What’s your total revenue minus total expenditures?

These numbers and others are good indicators of how healthy your business is. A commitment to your personal productivity should cause these numbers to improve. As you look at data metrics, set goals and formulate plans that put your productivity to work instead of throwing ideas at the wall until something sticks. Make appointments with yourself to check progress.

5. Self Check-In

Some of us need constant reminders to keep productivity up. If you’re one of these people, feel free to set personal appointments as often as you see fit. This could even be a daily occurrence where you check in with yourself to gauge your progress that day.

Let’s say you’ve set a personal goal to make 20 cold calls a day to grow your startup business. A self check-in appointment at midday can help you get into gear if you’re falling behind on your quota. Regular self-check-ins will also hold you accountable for the different goals you set throughout the summer.

You definitely want to make time to enjoy summertime, but a small business owner can only afford to get so comfortable. The summer months may be pivotal for your business and your personal progress. Experiment with setting personal appointments to stay motivated so that you don’t let too many opportunities pass you by. 

Employee Vacations Don’t Need to Slow Down Your Business

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Employee Vacations Don’t Need to Slow Down Your Business

As summer arrives, many employees are eyeing their next vacation destination. Managing absences can get tricky for even experienced business managers, especially if they don’t plan ahead.

However, employee vacations don’t have to slow your business down. There are ways to plan around them, and even encourage them, to keep workflows running smoothly and employees energized. Here’s how you can make it happen:

Recognize the Importance of Employee Downtime

First of all, you need to acknowledge the fact that employee vacations are necessary. When a manager is willing to work with employees to take time off, the process becomes a lot smoother. Additionally, you’ll see notable improvements in workplace productivity.

The American Psychological Association’s Work and Well-Being survey found that 58% of workers were more productive and 55% believed their work quality increased following a vacation. Paid time off (PTO) allows employees to recharge and come back with an improved mindset, which ends up paying dividends to your business. 

Once you realize that vacations help your business instead of hurt it, you’ll be more open to implementing the following suggestions to make time off increasingly possible. Employees, in turn, will be more willing to cooperate with your PTO guidelines when you show them that you truly value their vacation time. 

Operate Above the Bare Minimum

A big reason why businesses struggle with employee vacations is because they regularly operate on a bare minimum basis. They have just enough employees to cover every shift. When someone asks for PTO, it means there’s no one who can pick up the slack. 

Employees who are overworked and feel incapable of taking time off will burn out quickly. This leads to a decline in job performance and high turnover rates, which are complicated and costly for businesses to handle. 

Sit down with your finance team and calculate the budget needed to add one or two more team members to your roster. Even having a few part-time or on-call employees can help cover essential tasks when a worker is on vacation or even taking sick leave. 

Encourage Vacations During Slow Season

While you’re building a culture that supports time off, try to do so as efficiently as possible. Businesses will be able to support employee vacations much more easily during their slow season as opposed to their peak months. 

Let’s use a car dealership and/or its service department as an example. The auto industry typically booms in the summer when driving conditions are optimal and travel is more feasible. You’ll want all hands on deck in these months, so encourage your employees to take more time off in the fall and winter. 

Of course, many vacations and family reunions are planned in the summer when kids are out of school. Don’t use the busy months as an excuse to never allow an employee to take time off. Work with all employees to stagger their PTO so you can cater to their personal situations and the needs of your business.

Update Your Scheduling System

The system that many organizations use to field and approve time-off requests is outdated. There are too many hoops to jump through, or forms get lost and verbal commitments are forgotten. If you really don’t want employee vacations to slow down your business, update your scheduling system.

Start by moving the entire process online. If you’re reading this blog, you probably already use online appointment software to benefit your business and its customers. Implement technology to do the same with your employee PTO scheduling. 

Scheduling software will keep employee shifts organized, ensuring that everyone knows their work schedule and every day is covered. PTO requests can be digitally submitted, reviewed, and approved in minutes. The schedule can then be altered accordingly without miscommunications or lost time. 

Establish PTO Guidelines

Rules are never fun, but they’re necessary to maintain order and equity. With a set of rules and guidelines in place, your employees will be able to better choose when to cash in on their vacation time.

For example, one of your rules might be that two employees in the same department can’t be on vacation at the same time. Workers then know that they won’t be able to ask off work, except for emergencies, if certain dates are already claimed. This also encourages employees to plan in advance so that a lack of foresight doesn’t cause them to miss a wedding or a family reunion. 

Transition as Much As Possible to Remote Work

Employees who work from home have much more flexibility when it comes to taking a vacation. In many cases, they can still work on the road, and the business won’t even notice they’re gone. Enabling as many remote work opportunities as possible keeps your business running even with vacation time in the mix.

For appointment-based businesses, there may be fewer opportunities right now for remote work. Still, you can look at digital customer service options or have your back-office teams work from home. Your IT technician can be just as effective from a hotel room in the Bahamas if you really need them. 

Another exciting development in the world of appointment-based businesses is telecommunication. Some professionals, such as physicians and therapists, can hold consultations with patients via videoconferencing. This gives these service providers more scheduling flexibility, allowing them to plan vacation activities around the appointments they have each day. 

Vacations are an essential part of life. Make sure both you and your team are taking the time you need to unwind and relax. And use these tips to make sure your business doesn’t suffer because of it. 

6 Tips for Scheduling Appointments with Reluctant Customers

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6 Tips for Scheduling Appointments with Reluctant Customers

The onset of the COVID-19 pandemic brought upon us a long, grueling, utterly unprecedented year. Everyone — from individuals to communities to entire countries — faced their own unique and strenuous challenges. 

Luckily, the pandemic appears to be on the wane at last. While case numbers continue to fluctuate, people across the country are receiving doses of highly effective vaccines. As the vaccine rollout accelerates, getting back to normal seems increasingly likely.

And yet, for owners of appointment-based businesses, the challenges of COVID-19 are still ongoing.

On the bright side, many companies have opened their doors and resumed in-person work. However, even if employees are happy to return, many customers don’t feel the same way. Thus, persuading these customers to return for face-to-face appointments remains a hurdle.

If you’re facing this issue, don’t stress out — you’re not alone. Read on for six tips on scheduling appointments with reluctant customers.

1. Follow your state and local COVID-19 guidelines.

Official COVID-19 guidelines were implemented for a reason: to keep us all safe. Adhering to these guidelines will benefit your customers and your employees alike. So before your grand office reopening, be sure to brush up on these essential rules. 

Every state is different, so you’ll have to do a bit of research on your own here. Fortunately, there are convenient tools that can help you keep track of state-by-state guidelines, restrictions, and more.

Not only does following applicable laws protect your business, but it also helps put your customers at ease. If they know that officials have deemed it safe to conduct in-person business, they’ll be more likely to book a face-to-face appointment with you.

2. Continue to adhere to social distancing policies.

Social distancing has been the name of the game for over a year now. Remaining six feet apart and wearing masks feels like second nature these days.

As a result, even though restrictions are easing up, lots of customers don’t feel ready to return to mask-free, shoulder-to-shoulder life. This is why staying socially distant for a while longer is the right move.

Basically, you should continue to take precautions to handle your appointments safely. Ensure that everyone in your office wears a face covering, stays six feet apart, and avoids eating or drinking in common spaces. To take it one step further, you could even require daily temperature checks or rapid COVID tests.

By continuing to follow strict health guidelines, you’ll show your clients that you’re still taking this pandemic seriously. Customers will feel safe, protected, and ready to show up for an appointment.

3. Communicate with your customers.

Communication is more important now than ever. It seems as if the world is constantly changing, especially as COVID-19 restrictions can loosen or tighten every day. Right now, it’s vital to respond accordingly and keep your customers in the loop. 

If clients are uncertain about your current mode of operation, they may be reluctant to reach out and schedule an appointment. That’s exactly why you should make an effort to keep them informed about all the details of your office reopening. 

In other words, be sure to let them know that you’re following tips 1 and 2 above. If you consistently maintain communication with your customers, you’ll be well on your way to a rush of new appointments.

4. Use social media to your advantage.

Social media is an indispensable business and marketing tool that’s only grown more popular during this pandemic. There’s no doubt it will remain just as important post-COVID.

As you and your business readjust to normalcy, don’t forget to leverage your social media channels. It’s an effective way to interact with customers, provide real-time updates about the business, and promote your company. 

Whenever COVID-19 guidelines change in your area, make sure to post about your business’s response to the changes. This will help ease any lingering concerns your customers may have about COVID dangers.

5. Give customers an at-home option.

Although we’re moving closer to normalcy each day, the pandemic is still not over. Yes, cases have gone down in most areas, and vaccinations are well underway. Despite this progress, however, many people are still uncomfortable with the idea of returning to in-person work and social events. 

Unfortunately, some customers won’t feel ready to return to your business just yet — it’s that simple. If this is the case, convincing them otherwise may be impossible.

The good news is that we live in the 21st century, and we have modern technology at our disposal. If the nature of your services makes it possible, allow your customers to opt for a virtual appointment if they desire. It may not be ideal, but it’s better than missing out on the opportunity entirely.

If you give customers the choice to stay home, they’ll certainly feel safer returning to your business in the future. Even better, they will greatly appreciate your effort to be accommodating. 

6. Be open to adaptation.

If we can offer one final tip, it’s this: don’t be afraid to adapt. After the year we’ve had, perhaps this goes without saying. 

When you discover that one of your normal practices isn’t working, it may be time to try something new. For example, a hairstylist whose customers are still hesitant to return for in-salon appointments could make house calls. Or, weather permitting, they could move one salon chair outside for alfresco haircuts. 

Much has changed in the past year, and there’s no doubt that things will continue to change throughout 2021. So as your business transitions from virtual to in-person, it’s important to remain flexible. 

The pandemic has forced all of us to reevaluate and rearrange our priorities, both business-related and otherwise. Just remember: you’ve made it this far. Stay adaptable, and you’ll be fine.

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