Scheduling Apps For Your Business

Do you own a service business? Do you find it difficult to manage your calendar or to check your daily schedules and appointments?

If you haven’t experienced these dreadful side effects of growth, then I promise you these ailments are just around the corner for you as you continue to grow!

With great foibles come great lessons – and here’s a no brainer: you should start using a scheduling app for your small business.

This article will help you manage your calendar so you won’t have to worry about canceling or rescheduling an appointment again. Time for a pre-emptive pre-victory dance! (Yes, I just made this up, and I’m making it a thing now).

How do we look at each scheduling app?

We compared each scheduling app based on price, features, reviews, and cons.

We also check their relevance for small business owners and how it can help them manage their schedules successfully.

We also checked how it can help you as a small business owner. I mean, that’s the whole point, right?

Here are the top 10 scheduling apps for small business that you can check. Strap on your seatbelt, we’ve got some categorizing and comparing to do!

What are Scheduling Apps

A scheduling app is a tool that is used by business owners or professionals. It is used by people and service business owners that rely on appointments.

With a scheduling app, service business owners can plan and manage a schedule with ease.

Here are the advantages of using a scheduling app:

  • You can set parameters
  • It prevents overbooking/double booking
  • It makes payment processes easier
  • It provides access to clients everywhere

Without further ado, we spent hours refining a top 10 list for your beautiful eyes, so here it is… the Top 10 scheduling apps for your small business!

Square Up

Square was created by the founder of Twitter – Jack Dorsey. This scheduling app is easy to use. Clients can use Square Up to book their appointment via their mobile phone.

Price: There is a 2.75% per transaction fee for individual accounts. For a small business account, the basic package starts at $50. There is also a transaction fee of 3.5% plus $0.15 for every transaction.

Features: This scheduling app allows you to accept payments online. It also allows you to set discounts or gift rewards. Small businesses can view client history with this scheduling app. This scheduling app syncs with Google calendar.

Reviews on the web: Individual users highly recommend this scheduling app for its cheap price. Small business users find their packages a bit expensive.

Possible cons: This scheduling app has limited customer support according to users.

Google Calendar

If you want a basic scheduling app for your small business, you can use Google calendar.

Price: It is free. Just sign up for a Google account.

Features: You can add events, make multiple Google calendars under one account, share your calendar with this scheduling app. You can also set reminders. Google calendar also works with premium scheduling apps.

Reviews on the web: This scheduling app is free, but has limited flexibility & features. It also doesn’t integrate payment processing. So your clients can’t pay you from a google calendar invite. Also, clients can’t see your Google calendar online. Unless you give them access to your full Google calendar, which creates some privacy issues (for you). You don’t want clients seeing personal appointments on your business calendar.

Possible cons: You have to subscribe to a premium scheduling app that is compatible with Google calendar.

Outlook

Outlook is another free scheduling app that you can use. If you have Microsoft Outlook, then you can take advantage of its calendar feature.

Price: It is free. Just create your account.

Features: You can schedule, cancel, or modify your appointment with this scheduling app. You can also set an alarm to remind you about an upcoming event or appointment.

Reviews on the web: It is good for office use but if you are managing a business where clients need to place an appointment on their own, this app won’t do. Clients also can’t pay you through your Outlook calendar.

Possible cons: This scheduling app works for individuals who manage their schedules. It is not for business.

Checkfront

Checkfront is an online application that can be used for making reservations. This program can also help you analyze your sales data.

Price: This scheduling app costs $8 per month.

Features: It is compatible with your CRM and can be used for marketing and sales analysis. You can set payment to full or partial.

Reviews on the web: Small businesses that need operational data for analytics can take advantage of this scheduling app.

Possible cons: It is highly recommended to businesses in the travel industry, outside of that it may not be a great fit.

Appointment Plus

Appointment Plus is a great scheduling app, but is not recommended for small business owners. It comes with great features at a high price.

Price: The basic package for this scheduling app is $49/mo.

Features: It comes with more than 500 settings that you can use to manage your appointments.

Reviews on the web: This is a great scheduling app, but is not for a small service business because of its pricing.

Possible cons: The pricing is high because it targets large companies.

Bookeo

Bookeo helps businesses to manage their bookings effectively. It is used by businesses in the car washing and photography industry.

Price: The price of this scheduling app starts at $14.95/mo.

Features: This scheduling app can be used to make payments. It is also designed to prevent schedule conflicts and cancellations.

Reviews on the web: If you are a party or event organizer or a service business owner with at least 3 staff, this scheduling app is for you.
Possible cons: This scheduling app has no free trial. This scheduling app is not ideal for solopreneurs.

Acuity Scheduling

The best feature of this service business application is its customer-facing option. When a client set up an appointment, this scheduling app will collect basic information.

Price: It has a free trial for individual users (doctors or tutors) and a plan that starts at $15 a month. For service business owners, you can opt into their $25 per month plan or $50 per month plan that comes with multiple calendars.

Features: Automatic updates of schedules with your calendar, compatibility with MailChimp and Google Analytics, and it can process payments (if you bring your own payment processor). Kind of like BYOPP (Bring Your Own Payment Processor). Doesn’t have a great ring to it does it?

Reviews on the web: Service business owners provide a great review of this scheduling app because of the time they save with data collection.

Possible cons:  This scheduling app is very complex to set up. Get out your spectacles and your ibuprofen.

GigaBook

For a detail-oriented scheduling app, the GigaBook scheduling app is something to check out, for sure. This scheduling app allows you to make appointment timeframes to maximize each schedule. It also allows clients to choose the staff they want.

Price: Price starts at $12 every month with a $7 additional fee for additional access. The $7 is for every staff member that you add.

Features: This scheduling app allows customized appointment set-up and for clients to choose their preferred staff for assistance.

Reviews on the web: New users complain about the complexity of this app.

Possible cons: It is hard to use for non-techy users.

Appointy

This app allows your clients to schedule their appointment based on your availability and theirs.

Price: Free for small businesses that get at least 100 appointments per month. Small business with less appointments has to buy a plan that starts at $19.99/mo. Professional plan for $49.99 and $79.99/mo are also available.

Features: You can let your service business clients select available appointment dates. You can also add discounts and gifts or make packages that your clients can choose from. It can also process payments and it can send SMS reminders to your clients about their appointment.

Reviews on the web: This scheduling app is affordable for small businesses and service business owners. It is easy to use.

Possible cons: You have to bring your own payment processor to the table by linking it with Stripe or PayPal to receive payment for your service business.

PocketSuite

With PocketSuite, you can manage your schedule, allow your client to make appointments online, and collect payment easily. This scheduling app is highly recommended for individuals who need to manage their schedules (estheticians, fitness trainers, pet professionals, therapists, health and wellness professionals, and other small businesses like dog walkers / cleaners, contractors, photographers, life coaches, beauty professionals, and more).

Price: This scheduling app is available for free trial. A premium plan starts at $19.99 per month. For more features, get a Premium Plus plan for $49.99.

Features: This scheduling app features online booking, sign e-contracts, send forms to your clients and more. It has POS, invoicing, packages, subscriptions, gift certificates, and scheduling all-in-one platform.

Reviews on the web: With its free basic plan and 24/7 live customer service support, users of PocketSuite find this scheduling app a helpful one.

Possible cons: We couldn’t find many cons, if you’re a small business you owe it to yourself to give PocketSuite a shot!

Found what you need for your service business? Remember that all scheduling apps are the same in a way, some are more affordable and offer more features than others.

Now it’s time to go get yourself that single glass of wine to celebrate your new appointment app!

Like this article? You’ll love our guide on how to generate leads for service businesses in 2019, and of course our Frustrations with Square article!

Appointment Apps For Your Business

Are you a service business owner looking for an appointment app? Do you find it hard managing your bookings and appointments?

I can understand. Once you hit 15-20+ clients it gets confusing!

It’s time for a “whole new world” so to speak, as you begin to manage your calendar with ease using an appointment app.

An appointment app can make your small business processes easier. Processes such as booking an appointment or making a payment can be completed much faster with simple software.

In this article, we will help you find the best appointment app to use for your service business.

Our criteria

In choosing the top 10 appointment apps, we used price, features, reviews, and possible cons for each appointment app.

Are you excited to find the best appointment app for your service business? First, let’s define an appointment app.

Defining: What is an Appointment App anyway?

An appointment app is an app on your phone that allows you to manage your calendar. With this kind of software, you can do the following:

  • Schedule appointments or meetings
  • Track appointment and set reminders
  • Cancel or modify appointments or bookings
  • Accept payments

Let’s take a look at the top 10 best appointment apps for 2019. We’re breaking it down listicle style, ladies and gentlemen!

Up first we have a heavyweight hitter that we all know (but not all of us love…)

Squareup.com

Square Appointment is an appointment app that small business owners use to manage online booking.

Price: The use of this scheduling app is free but every transaction comes with a 2.75% transaction fee. Team accounts also come with a $50/mo subs fee on top of a 3.5% +$0.15 per transaction fee.

Features: This scheduling app has features like online booking, payment, cloud-based calendar, built in point of sale system, and customer management. It is compatible with Google calendar.

Reviews on the web: This is a popular appointment app for service business owners because of its user-friendly interface.

Possible cons: Pricey at $50/mo plus a transaction fee. You can only take payment via Square.

Schedul

Schedul is a free appointment app that offers a lot of features. Being a new player in the appointment app market, they offer a lot of features that are not free with other appointment app programs.

Price: Free

Features: This appointment app sends automatic booking reminders to customers, allows easy online bookings, and tracks your current bookings.

Reviews on the web: Designed to work best with service business providers like salons and spas only.

Possible cons: It doesn’t have an integrated payment system and is not compatible with popular calendars like Google Calendar.

Google Calendar

Also a free appointment app, Google calendar is your definition of a basic appointment app. It is a regular calendar with extra features like appointment setting, setting a reminder, and being a cloud base.

Price: Free

Features: It is web-based so you can see your calendar wherever you are.

Reviews on the web: It is easy to use but lacks a lot of features of a good appointment app.

Possible cons: This appointment app works for individual users for setting meetings and appointments, but not for managing small business operations.

Outlook

Want another free appointment app? Try Outlook calendar. This is embedded in your Outlook email. This appointment app is also easy to use but is highly recommended for individual users only.

Price: Free

Features: This free appointment app allows you to set meetings, appointments, and even create an alarm for reminders.

Reviews on the web: It is easy to use but only works best with professionals who need to manage their schedule on their own.

Possible cons: It lacks features like payment options and your customers can’t use it to do online bookings.

10to8

The 10to8 appointment app offers features like built-in email, promotional tools for social media, and a chat feature. Users of this appointment app can get help via online chat.

Price: This appointment app is free if you only schedule 100 appointments/mo. For a small business that gets more appointments, plans start at $9.60/mo.

Features: Schedules can be managed by multiple users and it can process credit card payments.

Reviews on the web: Service business providers with multiple staff can take advantage of this appointment app and its excellent features.

Possible cons: Small business owners can’t use it for sales analytics.

Setmore

Setmore allows online booking and offers a login to at least 20 staff members with a single account. It is a generous plan for a simple appointment app, considering you can do all of this for free.

Price: It offers a free trial, but if you want to have an integrated payment system via Setmore, you have to subscribe to their $25/mo subscription plan.

Features: The free plan alone can support 20 logins. If you have a small business with less than 20 staff members, this appointment app will work for you.

Reviews on the web: The client booking screen is easy to use. Setting up a parameter for each booking page is also easy (like the auto-close feature for bookings with a limited slot) – say you are setting a class with a limited number of enrollees, you would use this feature for that purpose.

Possible cons: This appointment app has payment processing, but it’s not free.

SimplyBook.me

SimplyBook.me is an appointment app with a professional look. Their booking page is easy to manage and use even for non-techy web users.

Price: This appointment app is free if you only receive 50 or fewer bookings in a month. If your small business will be receiving more, you can subscribe to one of their plans that start at $9.90/mo.

Features: Two-way calendar and booking access allows you to create offers for your clients and process payments.

Reviews on the web: This appointment app has a lot to offer, but if you want to unlock more features, you have to start paying their monthly subscription fee.

Possible cons: The free trial of this appointment app isn’t even workable for a service business that gets more than 50 bookings per month. Bigger businesses should look elsewhere.

Flash Appointments

The aim of Flash Appointments is to make scheduling easier for both small business owners and their clients. This appointment app features RIA or same-time update across all of its page users.

Price: The price of this appointment app starts at $10 per month. There is a free trial offered for one month.

Features: Can handle thousands of schedules of online booking, offers access to users from multiple locations.

Reviews on the web: It has a unique, useful feature called RIA (Rich Internet Application) which makes it so a single page update will update all screens accessing the same page. This prevents double booking and overbooking.

Possible cons: It requires a complex set-up and familiarity with a web program. Professionals and small business owners might find it hard to use.

Appointment Care

This appointment app serves service business providers such as salons, vets, doctors, dog and pet groomers, and dog and pet trainers. It aims to help in increasing small business revenues with their easy to use booking system.

Price: This appointment app is available to test drive using their 30-day free trial. Their basic plan starts at $14.95/mo. Their most expensive plan is $59.95.

Features: This appointment app offers small business owners flexibility in managing their online booking with their automatic reminder feature and website. It also features a staff calendar and customer management system (CMS).

Reviews on the web: It is easy to use and the CRM has a fairly quick learning curve.

Possible cons: It is expensive. Small business owners with more staff have to pay more, which adds to the fees.

PocketSuite

This appointment app is highly recommended to service business providers like fitness trainers, dog trainers, therapists, estheticians, life coaches, pet experts, photographers, beauty professionals, and cleaners. If your service business relies on schedules, PocketSuite is a good match for you.

 

Price: PocketSuite is free for individual users who just need a basic appointment app. For service providers, getting their basic plan is advisable to unlock more features. A premium plan starts at $19.99/mo.

Features: This appointment app allows direct messaging, scheduling online, payment processing, online booking, e-contracts, online forms, subscriptions, packages, discounts gift certificates, sales taxes, inventory tracking, saved message templates that your service business staff can use and much, much more.

Reviews on the web: It is easy to use and the free plan offers a lot of features.

Possible cons: Small business owners that need logins for their service business staff have to pay for this feature. However, the price is still lower than many of the other apps we mentioned.

Have you found an appointment app from our list that you can use for your service business? To make it easier for you, create a checklist, choose at least 3 appointment apps, then compare and find the one that best suits your small business needs.

Like this article? You’ll love our guide on how to generate leads for service businesses in 2019, and of course our Frustrations with Square article!

Angie’s List Premium Listings

Premium Listings

To be honest, the “Premium Listing” model is arguably a declining model due to:

(1) The influx of so many free listing platforms around the web; and

(2) The fact that consumers are charged an ongoing fee to search for businesses.

However, there is still one well-known player in this category – Angie’s List – that is alive and kicking.

What’s the deal?

Angie’s List is a directory of service based businesses. If you’re a service professional, you can sign up and pay an ongoing fee to be listed in this directory. In order to get access to search through this directory, clients / homeowners need to pay an ongoing fee to get access to search, review and hire these professionals.

Angie’s List touts over 3 million individuals who are “members” of its platform, and about 54,000 participating service providers (i.e., who are paying to be listed) as of the end of September 2015.

A way to think about this platform is that there are “serious” customers here looking for professionals they want to hire. You can call them serious because they are paying money to get access to businesses like yours (if you’re listed, of course). Point being – they can afford spending money, and having clients who can afford paying a lot is a good thing!

There are additional advertising products you can purchase on Angie’s List to get promoted in front of its homeowners. You can promote the “ratings grades” that customers give you towards the top of search, or you can promote your business profile in front of local homeowners on the platform.

Angie’s List’s Business Center explains at a high level their goal as a platform. In short, it’s kind of like a smaller Yelp for business and homeowners to pay to get access.

How do I set it up?

You can go Angie’s List’s business center and either claim or create your profile: http://www.angieslistbusinesscenter.com/

From there Angie’s List will send you a starter’s guide of how to subscribe and the things you can do to start promoting your business.

What are the risks?

The risk is that you pay a lot to be listed without have any clients reach out to you at all. So you’re incurring an ongoing fee but you are getting no return out of it.

At one time Angie’s List (which was founded way back in 1995 actually) was the ideal place to be listed and to find premium local professionals, but now with all the directories and search platforms out there for consumers, the amount of customer inquiries that go through Angie’s List doesn’t justify the price. The company’s reported numbers are saying the same thing – a decrease in the number of service providers on platform from a year ago.

OVERALL THOUGHTS

I would be careful jumping into the premium listings game. For the most part, clients searching for service professionals should not have to pay to be able to simply search…but Angie’s List forces this.

Now, if you offer extremely specialized services, then premium listings might be right for you. For homeowners who want specialized and high quality service, then paying a few bucks a month to give them some further assurances at times might make sense. I would simply reflect on your type of business and ask yourself if you really need a “premium service” listing, or if there are plenty of other ways for eager clients to find you.

Pay Per Transaction (“On Demand”)

On Demand Services

The “On Demand” platforms are probably the most talked about types of models around these days (FYI, publicity isn’t always a good thing).

Some of the more talked about platforms are listed below, and they range from industry specific to broader services: Handy, TaskRabbit, Uber, Care.com, DogVacay, Amazon Home Services, and others.

For efficiency’s sake, let’s just dig into the On Demand model as a whole…

What’s the deal?

These models are all pretty much the same in terms of how they operate – a client comes in requesting a service, the platform sends the service professional (that’s you!) to perform said service, the client pays the platform, and then the platform pays the service professional for work done anywhere from 75-85% of the job.

They call it “On Demand” because of the convenience for the client. Clients want to book a service and they (for whatever reason) don’t care who comes to perform the service – they just want it done. So that’s the client’s mindset.

For you – the professional – the platform sends you these jobs directly. They tell you what to do and where to go. Then it’s up to you just to perform the service. You don’t have any real interaction with the client, and the entire scheduling and payment part of the transaction is done through the platform itself. You are advised on how to behave (almost like an employee) and you need to agree that the customer is the customer of the platform, not you.

But it’s pretty much guaranteed money (for the work you do), you don’t have to spend any time or money marketing, you only give up a fee (the platform fee) when you get paid, so no upfront costs or financial risk.

How do I set it up?

Since you’re essentially working for the platform directly, setting yourself up for these On Demand companies take a bit of time. They usually do a background check, references sometimes, even bring you in for a personal interview potentially. Each setup process is a bit different depending on the platform, but expect a bit of time to go by before you can start accepting jobs.

What are the risks?

The risk of On Demand platforms is you not being able to grow your business. You’re treated essentially as a subcontractor or employee, and are shielded from having direct access with the clients you serve. Thus you can never really build a base of a clientele from which to grow your business to a larger scale.

The platform is your boss. So long as you do a good job and the platform is large enough to attract a lot of consumer traffic, you’ll get staffed on jobs and paid. However, the pay might be 20% less than what you would normally charge clients directly (since the platform is taking a cut), and your upside is limited. There are also rules you need to abide by in order to continue working for this new boss of yours.

More detail around how entrepreneurial professionals can exist (or can’t exist) in this On Demand world can be found here.

OVERALL THOUGHTS

On Demand platforms overall are ideal for the type of professional who fits into one of the below categories:

(1) You’re just starting out. Say you’re just jumping into a new industry and would like to hone your skills or get some experience under you and even get some cash in your pocket. Taking jobs from an On Demand platform will give you the practice and feedback you need to perform a solid service. Reviews are quite common on these platforms so you’ll be able to manage and react to feedback, and you’ll be able to hopefully save some money along the way to then start your own business when the time is right.

(2) You have no desire to grow a business.  A lot of the workers for On Demand platforms have no interest in entrepreneurship or building a business. They essentially consider themselves as employees or contractors, and are perfectly fine being told where to go and what to do so long as they get their paycheck at the end of the week.

If you are, however, a professional who is an entrepreneur at heart and you’re interested in leveraging these platforms to grow, then here’s a major pro tip: start taking these customers “off platform”.

Here’s what I mean – these platforms deal with the customer directly, and simply send you (as the professional) to perform the service. You technically are not permitted to “steal” the client…that is you aren’t supposed to approach the client and say – ‘Hey, next time you need service can you just call me directly? That way, we don’t have to get the platform involved. The price and service quality is the same for you, and for me I can keep 100% of the service price.’ That is what we call going off platform.

The reality is, for many customers they are totally fine going off platform. If they like you and your service quality, then going to you directly the next time they need a service is actually preferable because they know what service quality to expect (as opposed to going to the platform and getting a new professional to help them). So long as that customer doesn’t tattle on you, then this is the ideal way for you to build a solid book of business and recurring clientele.

6 Finance Tips for Small Business Owners

Handle finances and budget

As an entrepreneur and small business owner, you are likely used to focusing on big picture projects: new products or services, transforming industries and building your business to succeed. However, you cannot neglect the more tactical things, either. Managing finances are an essential part of running a business and ensuring you have a regular income. By adapting to some best practices and forcing yourself to keep to a routine, you can improve your personal finances and free up more time to focus on the creative side of your business:

1) Don’t procrastinate

One of the most common mistakes entrepreneurs make is putting off managing their finances altogether. However, putting it off increases the risk of getting overwhelmed and making mistakes, like missing an invoice or forgetting to track a big expense. If you have trouble staying on top of it, using a program like QuickBooks can simplify the process and make invoicing and expensing an easier chore.

2) Track your hours

When you’re getting your business off the ground, it can be all too easy to fall into the trap of working 80 hours or more a week, at the expense of your sleep, eating habits and time with your loved ones. During the early stages, it’s understandable that you need to put in a lot of hours. However, if it’s something you need to do regularly, that is not sustainable, and it signals a problem within the business. Either something needs to change with your business model or you need to hire additional staff; running yourself that thin will only lead to bigger problems down the road.

3) Increase access to capital

Even though the recession happened several years ago, the repercussions are still significant, particularly for small business owners. Ensure you have access to additional funding now so that you can take advantage of opportunities later on. Establishing a line of credit or opening a business credit card can ensure you have the money you need when situations arise. That will make managing your personal and business finances easier since you can stop using your personal credit cards for company expenses—your accountant will thank you.

4) Separate your expenses

Along with that, make sure your personal and business expenses stay completely separate, not using your personal accounts to pay for business utilities and vice versa.  Blending your finances will make your taxes impossible and can end up costing you significantly due to lost deductions. Keep a clear line between accounts to make your life simpler later on.

5) Minimize your debt

When your startup is launching, your profit margins can be razor thin if you make a profit at all. You can maximize the chances of your business succeeding by lowering your monthly expenses, both professionally and personally. If you have debt, such as student loans or credit cards, try to bring down your debt burden to free up more capital. You can transfer your credit card balance to a zero interest card to help more of your money go towards the principal, or take out a low-interest personal loan to pay off the debt. If you have student loans, refinancing them can give you a lower interest rate or a smaller monthly payment with an extended repayment term, giving you more money to work with each month.

6) Budget to meet your goals

When building a budget, many entrepreneurs focus solely on the business profits and cut expenses drastically to make the company profitable. But in doing so, they forget one key aspect: you’re supposed to be making money off of this. When you’re creating your budget, make sure you account for a salary that reflects your time and talent.  While it may not be the same as what you would get in the corporate world working for someone else—at least for right now—your salary should still be enough to cover your expenses, and then some, and you should plan for regular increases.

Managing money may be one of the most dreaded tasks you handle, but it’s an essential part of being a small business owner. While you have more earning potential as an entrepreneur, you also have more financial burdens and hurdles you need to cross. Instead of focusing all your time and energy on making your business produce money, make sure that you also are taking care of yourself and your income.

By following these tips, you can both keep your personal finances in order and ensure your business is profitable.