Since most online scheduling systems come with at least some kind of free trial before you have to purchase the whole she-bang, most people will just sign up for an account without much forethought.
I don’t want to call this method wrong, but as with many things we humans do it may be a bit impulsive. Having studied how literally thousands of businesses have set up their web schedulers, I have witnessed my fair share of “I wish I thought about that before I set up my account” moments.
While we have previously written on considerations when choosing an online scheduling system, today we’re talking about avoiding unnecessary setup blunders. Read the list below to setup your scheduling system with utmost efficiency:
How much time do you really need for your appointments?
With most online scheduling systems, you will enter in what hours of the day you are available and the different types of appointments you offer. Some of your appointments may only take you 15 minutes to complete whereas others will take you an hour to get through.
Depending on the duration of the appointment that the client is booking with you, your hours of availability will break down into respective time slots for the client to choose from. Seems straightforward, but this is an area where many people end up having to make adjustments later on.
Some businesses or professionals have been performing their services for so long that they know exactly how much time each type of appointment takes. Other businesses, however, are starting new or have just added a new appointment type to their list of offerings and thus don’t have much off of which to base the duration.
If you are among the group of people who are starting out new and don’t know what the exact duration will be, I’d recommend following this rule of thumb: add 15 minutes of padding to the duration.
In my opinion, when setting up your account you should overestimate how much time it will take. You can always reduce the duration later on, but if you start out with a shorter duration and then get a bunch of appointments booked only to find out it takes longer than expected to complete each appointment, then you are in for several days of high stress and anxiety.
Do you want a standard start time for each of your appointments?
As mentioned in the previous point, most scheduling systems will break up your hours of availability into appointment time slots based on the duration of the service that the client is booking. Some businesses, however, want a bit more standardization.
It may be that you have one service that is 45 minutes and one service that takes an hour to complete. If your day starts at 9:00am and someone books a 45 minute appointment with you at that time, then by default your next appointment would start at 9:45am.
Offering appointment time slots based on service duration may be fine for businesses that want to maximize the total number of appointments they can have in a given day. For other service providers, they want appointments to start on the hour or half hour mark all the time.
If this sounds like you, be sure to customize how your appointment start times are displayed before sharing your public booking link with your clients.
Can anyone book with you or do you want to only let clients who have pre-registered book with you?
Like all the questions that this blog post poses, this is something that is very specific to your business. As a business or professional that lets clients schedule online, you will have to make the decision as to whether you want to allow anyone who visits your web scheduler to book with you or if you only want clients who you have pre-registered to be able to book with you.
Whatever you decide, make sure to adjust the client login settings on your net scheduler. For businesses that want to allow anyone to be able to book with them, you can set the client login so that either:
You don’t show the option to login to the clients at all
You show the option to login but do not require that they login
You force the client to login before being able to see your appointment availability
If you have a set of members that you pre-register in your scheduling back office before they can book, you will need to switch you client login setting so that only pre-registered clients can book appointments with you. You can add the client members that you have to your back office and assign them passwords to login to the scheduler.
Once you’ve added the clients to your account they are considered “pre-registered”. They will be able to login to your scheduler with their email and password. If you need a scheduling system to get this done, try it out on a free TimeTap account.
Having this setting down pat before going live with your scheduling is especially important for businesses that require pre-registration. Otherwise, randos may book with you and we know that’s not what you want.
How much notice do you want for your appointments? How far out do you want to be booked?
Some people are absolutely fine with only getting an hour heads up before their next appointment. I, on the other hand, like to have at least 4 hours notice before someone can get on my schedule.
This varies on a case by case basis and is really much more of a personal preference than it is something your scheduling system can get right by default. Once you finish going through the initial setup of your online appointment manager, go into your settings on your time panel to adjust your “latest appointment” which determines how close to the appointment start time a client can book with you.
While you’re there, you may also want to adjust your advanced appointment settings. This will determine how far into the future a client can look to book an appointment with you.
What information do you need from clients in order to complete the appointment?
Before clients can reserve a slot on your schedule, they have to tell you at least their name and usually their email address. If you want more information than this from clients before you let them reserve an appointment time, you’ll want to make sure to configure your client information settings.
You can put in custom fields and request specific information or you can request some of the standard stuff you may want to know like phone numbers or address. All of this information will be captured and applied to their client profile so you can have easy access to it before the start of the appointment.
Making changes to your online scheduling account to accommodate these considerations is usually fairly simple, but not considering them ahead of time means that your clients may book appointments in such a way that a few of your days are a bit out of whack.
We’d love to hear from you too. Have you set up an online scheduler before only to have to spend hours later adjusting it? If so, what do you wish you had considered before setting everything up? Let us know in the comments below.