Appointment-based businesses have always been a significant part of the UK’s economy. Hairdressers, beauticians, tattooists, nail technicians, spas and clinics provide invaluable services that enable clients to give themselves the self-care they need.
As we all adjust to living with Covid, however, appointment-based businesses are increasingly relevant. They enable businesses to control the flow of clients through their premises, reduce unnecessary crowding and therefore drive down infection risk. Effective appointment management also allows companies to improve revenues, ease cash flow and insulate themselves against risk in an unstable economic climate.
However, managing appointments alongside walk-ins requires a delicate balance. Getting it wrong can result in crossed wires, double-bookings, long waits and disappointed clients. The digital age has given rise to a range of scheduling software solutions to help these businesses to manage their appointments more effectively. Here, we provide an overview of how these can benefit your business.
Increase bookings and reduce no-shows
An online booking system uses automation to increase bookings and reduces the risk of no-shows impinging on cash flow.
Making it quick and easy to book online inevitably means more appointments. Simply add a link to your website or social media profiles and prospective clients can easily make bookings with you after being impressed by your work. This is usually more convenient for the client than calling you to book an appointment.
What’s more, online booking systems usually have a scheduling system that reminds clients their appointment is coming up.
Keep bookings on offer 24/7 when your doors are closed
You never know when a prospective customer will discover your brand. They may land on your website or social profiles long after you’ve closed your doors for the day. With appointment software, however, they don’t need to wait until you reopen to book an appointment. New and familiar clients can access your booking system all day, every day.
Reduce wait times at check-in/out
Long queues at check-in and crowds around your reception area are not a great look for your business. Not only are they potentially risky for the Covid-conscious, they imply a lack of organisation on your part.
When customers can book online through their mobile devices at their convenience, it eases the flow of customers through your doors, and reduces wait times.
Enable/require prepayment to help with cash flow
Last-minute cancellations can stymie cash flow and curtail revenue. With online booking systems, however, businesses can make prepayment a requirement of booking. Appointment software usually has the facilities to securely store payment-card information prior to the appointment. Typically, if a client cancels an appointment at the last minute, leaving the business unable to refill the appointment, the client will still be charged.
Create upselling opportunities
Some scheduling software solutions allow for effective upselling opportunities. They can enable clients to book optional add-ons and products when booking their appointments. For instance, if a gentleman is booking an appointment for a haircut and beard trim, the system may offer the chance to book styling wax and beard oil to take home after his appointment. If a lady is making an appointment for acrylic nail extensions, she may also appreciate the opportunity to treat herself to a pedicure.
These can be presented to customers before they check out, allowing them to enhance their experience while also presenting the business with an upselling opportunity.
Get time back from admin
Service-based businesses build their reputation on the quality of service that they provide. Frustrating and time-consuming admin can be a drain on your time and attention, potentially diminishing the customer experience.
Because appointment software is fully automated, it can greatly reduce the time and effort dedicated to admin. This enables business owners and their staff to deliver the exceptional service that earns them loyal repeat customers. It also reduces the double bookings and other mishaps that can occur as a result of administrative errors.
Get data and insights from your appointments software
Scheduling software does more than simply facilitate bookings. It provides business owners with intuitive analytics that can yield useful insights. They can show businesses how much their customers spend, how often they return, and what their favourite services and products are. This enables businesses to identify their VIP clients, help to drive customer loyalty, and ensure a more personalised experience for all.
Build a list of loyal customers to market to
Another huge benefit of online scheduling software is that it enables service-based businesses to retain contact information for their clients.
This provides a list of loyal repeat customers to whom they can extend special offers and promotions. This can enhance customer loyalty and build value in their brand, ensuring that repeat customers are never tempted to venture elsewhere for their services.
How to choose an online booking system
There are many benefits to incorporating appointment software into your operations if you run a service-based business. But with so many solutions available, how do you know which is the best fit for your needs?
When looking at different solutions, you should ask yourself:
- Will it integrate with my website platform and IT infrastructure?
- Does it integrate with my existing POS system?
- Can I create and manage customer profiles?
- Can I manage my customer loyalty and rewards program?
- Does it allow me to book repeat appointments?
- Can I send estimates and invoices?
- Can I manage calendars for my team (including Google calendar integrations)?
- Does the plan / pricing schedule suit my needs and budget?
How Square Appointments can help your business
With its suite of impressive capabilities and user-friendly interface, Square Appointments can help your appointment-based businesses to enjoy the above benefits. You can even try it out completely free of charge. With Free, Plus, and Premium versions, you can choose a plan that best suits your needs and budget.
Offering complete integration with your POS, Square Appointments can manage your schedule from your Square Stand or mobile device. It can streamline your booking process, make you more available to your clients and even help you increase your turnover. In fact, service-based businesses that use Square Appointments experienced an average of 37% cumulative year-on-year growth.