Automating aspects of your business is crucial to making your life simpler and freeing up time that could get bogged down with admin. Having an on-line scheduling system for your appointments is an easy way to get started with automation. Generally, these systems work by creating a link that you can send to your clients. The link takes them to an on-line booking page which shows the available slots in your calendar and allows clients to book in at a mutually convenient time. This saves telephone or email tennis going back and fourth comparing diaries and doesn’t take up any of your time.
The calendars integrate with cloud-based calendars like
Google Calendar so automatically avoid offering appointment slots if they clash with anything already scheduled in your diary. (Clients can’t see your diary, just a list of times of available appointments.)
You are generally able to control settings like:
- how long the appointment is
- any buffer time before or after the appointment
- which days and times you are available by default
- blocking out non-default days off like Bank Holidays
- intake questions to be completed upon booking
- time zone and availability for clients to choose their own time zone when booking
In this post I will be giving you three options you might like to have a look into.
Calendly is a simple option. The features are quite limited to an extent but it’s functional if you are really only looking for a booking system and little else. You can get a 14-day trial of the Premium version to test drive all the features. If you don’t upgrade after that time you will still have access to the free version.
Calendly offers 15, 30 or 60-minute appointments and you can create up to 4 questions on an intake form when booking. The paid version allows you to create unlimited appointment types and personalise who can book what, when.
There is also the function to book multiple clients into the same event which is perfect if you are running classes or group sessions. There’s a team option too so clients can see availability for all team members on one screen.
The free version allows you to offer only one appointment type. This would be ok for you if you just wanted to use automated booking for eg your discovery call or initial consultation
appointment and then book your next appointment with your clients when you speak with them. Obviously other features are reduced in the free version such as the opportunity to use custom branding, team booking and group booking.
One of the biggest drawbacks with Calendly is that there isn’t a direct option for clients to pay for appointments at the time of booking. If you don’t take payments in advance this isn’t really an issue. However if you normally do, you can add in a link to your payment provider or have the system set to direct clients to a custom thank you page with links after they confirm their booking.
You can get your 14-day free trial here.
Acuity is the option that the majority of my clients use. If you are a coach it has lots of relevant features and integrates with a number of other useful software for CRM, accounting and email. One real plus is that Acuity do seem to listen to their customers and implement requested features.
Alongside taking bookings in a way similar to Calendly, you can also integrate a number of payment providers including Paypal and Stripe. There are options for your clients to access a shop page to pay for appointments or programmes however you can choose to keep this hidden and only allow clients to pay when you send them a link (for example if you only take clients on after they have had a discovery call and you’ve decided you’re a good fit).
One of the things I like about Acuity is the option to create packages as well as individual appointment types. This means clients can pay for a 12-week coaching programme made up of say, 10x 60 minute coaching sessions and a half-day intensive. They can go on to book the intensive and coaching sessions later and will not be charged again for the individual appointments. You can also create codes if you want to offer discounts and there is an option to sell gift certificates.
Again the free option on Acuity offers limited features but there is a three-tier pricing structure starting at $10 per month. Most options are available at the first price point, the higher ones are for more users and more locations.
You can check it out and sign up for a free trial here.
I was recently made aware of YouCanBook.Me Although I haven’t used it I really do like the look of the userface (look a bit prettier than Acuity) and seems to be used by some big hitters including Amazon, Hootsuite and TED. It appears to have a good range of features including booking forms (5 q’s on the free version, unlimited on the paid) and payment methods. What’s free and what’s paid for are slightly different compared to Acuity but at $7 per month it could be what you’re after.
Check out the features for yourself and I’d definitely give it consideration in your search.
Just as a final note I haven’t included Satori in this list. Although it does have a number of great features for coaches, I have heard reports from many different users that they have experience numerous technical glitches. Hopefully this is feedback that the company are listening to and acting on but if you are considering using this software just bear this in mind.
Do you have another scheduling software that you love or are you just getting started with automation? Let me know in the comments if you have had a great experience with another scheduling software or if you’ve been trying to find one that’s right for you.