Do you have to schedule meetings to meet with prospects, clients, and colleagues? If so, how many email exchanges does it take to find a date and time that works for both parties? If you’ve had to send more than two emails, that’s one too many. Every hour that you spend trying to respond to emails for administrative tasks is time that you aren’t earning money for your business. You can’t afford to spend your time having four to five email exchanges with prospects, clients, and colleagues in trying to set up a date and time to meet. Assuming you can make at least $10 in sales each month, you need to invest in a software tool to cut down the email clutter. The best tool to eliminate unnecessary emails is a scheduling tool.
7 Reasons Why Small Business Owners Need a Scheduling Tool
- Email – Decreases the number of emails in your inbox by providing a direct link to book time on your schedule.
- Availability – Allows prospects, clients, and colleagues to view your available days and times and immediately schedule a meeting. Meeting will show booked on both parties’ calendars.
- Customization – Set up specific days, time blocks, and amount of time for different types of meeting (i.e. sales prospect vs. client vs. colleague)
- Sales Prospect – Minimizes the chance that a prospect will go to a competitor (i.e. if it takes too long to schedule a meeting with you).
- No-Shows – Minimize no-shows by automating reminders of scheduled meetings.
- Payment – Ability to require a deposit or upfront payment to confirm meetings.
- Flexibility – Ability for schedule changes to be made in the system. (i.e. client can easily re-schedule in the system or you can block off specific days for upcoming vacation or an all-day off-site meeting.)
Best Tips for Using a Scheduling Tool:
- Event Types – Decide on the different types of appointments you need.
- Example, if you are a coach, you would have at least three types of meetings: 1) complimentary consultation for prospects 2) coaching session for clients and 3) connect / networking meetings with colleagues.
- Availability – Determine what days of the week and time intervals you are available for each event type.
- Tip: It’s easy to over-schedule yourself, so be sure to block out time to work “on” your business. I block off Thursdays as a no-meeting day for creative work.
- Event Duration – Set up how long each event type will last.
- Example: 1) complimentary consultation for 15 mins 2) coaching sessions for clients at 1 hour and 3) connect calls with colleagues for 30 mins.
- Date Range – Set how far in advance people can book meetings with you.
- Tip: I like to set this to a rolling 15 – 21 days. This way if things come up or urgent client requests come in, you don’t have to try to modify too many appointments.
- Request Information – If you want more details for why the person is booking an appointment, add questions that need to be answered to confirm booking.
- Example: For a prospect wanting a consultation, you can ask “How did you hear about us?”, “What is your top challenge that you’d like to solve?” and “Would you like to be added to my newsletter?”
- Payment – If you want to minimize no-shows or last minute cancellations, require a deposit or upfront payment from clients. Depending on which scheduling tool you use, this may require an upgraded plan.
Best Scheduling Tools for Small Business Owners:
Now that you’re convinced that you need a scheduling tool, which one should you use? There are lots of tools available and I recommend trying one or two out first before you commit. I’ve used Calendly and Book Like a Boss. While I like Calendly and it’s easy to set-up, the look-and-feel is not as polished versus my Book Like a Boss page that looks like a mini, professional website. I’ve heard others who also like Acuity.
Sneak Peek: Below are examples of exactly what prospective clients would see when they go to schedule time to meet with me via Calendly versus Book Like a Boss.
Example #1A: What Users See When Viewing Calendly Link:
Example #2A: What Users See When Viewing Book Like a Boss Link:
Example #1B: What Users See When Selecting a Date and Time in Calendly:
Example #2B: What Users See When Selecting a Date and Time in Book Like a Boss:
How Much Does a Scheduling Tool Cost?
Many of the scheduling tools have a free trial period, which I highly recommend to take advantage of to see if you like how the tool works. Once you decide which software tool to use, it will typically cost you about $10 – $15 per month for a scheduling tool. If you have a team of people and need advanced features, you may pay as high as $25 – $50 per month. Pick the plan that’s right for you and your business, taking into consideration if you have a team of people working for you, if you want to remove the branding of the software company to match your own website’s look and feel, and if you need to take payment for products and services.
Examples of Pricing for Scheduling Tools:
- Calendly: $8 – $12 per month (see pricing) (*Note: They have a free plan for one event type only, but most business owners will need at least three event types.)
- Book Like a Boss: $9 – $29 per month (see pricing)
- Acuity: $15 – $50 per month (see pricing) (*Note: They have a free plan, but this has very limited functionality.)
If you are just starting your business or don’t have a scheduling tool, this is a line item that is a must-have in your business budget. You won’t be able to scale your business if you don’t include this software tool in your operating expenses. You can typically save money if you choose an annual plan, ranging from $18 – $58 per year in savings if you choose Book Like a Boss.
Summary: Why You Need to Budget for a Scheduling Tool
If your inbox is full of unread emails, the last thing you need is to get into a string of email exchanges to schedule a meeting with prospective clients. Calculate how much your time is worth, and you’ll quickly realize that a scheduling tool is a must-have for your small business. Directing prospects to a link to self-book time in your schedule may even help you gain a new client, especially if your competitors rely on phone or email and don’t respond as quickly. In fact, I once lost a sale because it took too long to try to coordinate a date and time to meet with a prospect. While I did have a scheduling tool in place, my available times didn’t work for her and in the attempt to accommodate to her schedule via email exchanges outside of my tool, it took too long and a few weeks later she responded that she already found someone else.
I’d love to hear from you! What tool are you currently using to schedule your meetings? If you aren’t using a scheduling tool, what questions do you have?