The Complete Buyer’s Guide to All-In-One Appointment Management Software & Online Booking Systems For Salons, Spas, Massage Therapists, Acupuncturists, Barbers and More [With Downloadable Checklist]
Automating the day-to-day operations of a small business is one of the top priorities for an entrepreneur like you.
But here’s the catch—with a long list of tasks on hand each day, and very little time to spare, it’s a difficult proposition. That’s where a booking and business management software(also known as an online scheduling software) comes into play.
What is an all-in-one business management software (Appointment Management Software)?
An all-in-one online business management software is a tool that eliminates friction and does the elbow greasing for you—while you focus on growing your business.
Without a business management and an online booking system, the growth of your beauty, hair, or wellness business will be stifled. Managing bookings with pen and paper, excel spreadsheets, or appointment books may allow you to scrape by, but it definitely doesn’t allow you to properly manage your clients or scale your salon, spa, barbershop, or online business due to scarcity of time.
A modern all-in-one business management software and online booking systems automatically process all online bookings and displays it to you in a user-friendly calendar view. At its core, it gives you the technology you need to efficiently manage bookings and increase your revenue at various levels such as:
- Process bookings (online and point of sale)
- Manage client appointments from the moment they arrive to as they checkout
- Manage client booking details
- Track your availability and time
- Handle general accounting
- Manage the client relationship (automated emails and texts)
- Enable effective marketing and promotion
- Process payments and refunds
- Allow working via a mobile app
A good business management system will keep you organized and save you plenty of time by doing all the heavy lifting for your administrative work.
But then again, it’s important that you pick the right one for your business. In researching the best business management system for your small small business, you’ll soon realize that there is a wide array of options available to you.
This can get rather confusing and the best way to use your time effectively, and make the selection process easier is by listing out the requirements you’re looking for and scoring each vendor.
Below are a few pointers that will guide you in the right direction:
All-in-One Business Management Software & Online Booking System: Must-Have Features to Know When Comparing Vendors
Here are some must-have features of modern-day all-in-one business management software and online booking system:
#1 Automate client communications
Email and text is the best way to keep in touch with your clients, as this is the most effective way to ensure you minimize no-show customers. In fact, Genbook’s all in one solution reduces no shows by up to 90%!
The tricky bit is prioritizing your time so that each client receives a consistent, personalized, and high-quality experience when receiving standard email or text communications from you.
Automation means you’ll never have to worry about remembering to send an email, reminding a customer, and the business management system never forgets names or how to spell them – not to mention you’ll save valuable hours every month!
Use this scoring sheet when comparing various vendors:
#2 Manage client booking details
Your business management system should allow you to easily amend bookings so you’re not scrambling to find the information you need, or having to update information in multiple places.
Staying organized means you’ll know exactly who is coming in, and when, so you can be more welcoming and prepared for your clients.
#3 Easily check clients out
As a small business owner, you can’t afford to be constantly looking at your appointment book and scrambling to check your clients out after the service. For example, you might need to step clean before the next client arrives. Or perhaps your next client is already there waiting.
A client’s arrival and subsequent checkout at your business is a very important part of their customer service journey. You want them to walk in and feel recognized, attended to, and most importantly welcomed.
Without a solid business management system, clients may arrive, but you or the staff are not ready, so they have to wait for you to prepare it.
With a modern business management system, you will be able to go about your day with confidence, because checking out is just that much more streamlined.
#4 Online presence, marketing, and business experience
Your business management and scheduling system should have the ability to enable a better business for both you and your clients. This means helping you control and amplify your online reputation as well as marketing you to potential clients that upholds your brand.
#5 Measure your success
Your business management system should give you a complete overview of the daily running and performance of your business. Without advanced reporting, you will be stuck trying to get the insights you need to optimize your business. Instantly view client payment details, easily generate monthly performance reports, or select a view of your best-performing services or staff in a glance.
#6 Sync services and availability across marketing channels
Online sales channels like your website, Google, and Instagram are necessary booking sources if you want to book more appointments. The trouble is keeping your availability and services up to date across all of these channels.
If your business management system doesn’t support bookings in real-time across all of these marketing channels, you will spend a great deal of time trying to prevent overbookings, or on your phone taking them.
#7 Inbuilt integrated payment processing
Payment should be quick and seamless for both client and service provider, with a premium placed on convenience. Time wasted wrestling with payment terminals or trying to record and locate client payment details is frustrating for everyone, so a payment solution is an essential piece of online scheduling software.
But most importantly in today’s climate, it is really important that your provider is PCI compliant – this means that they comply with the payment cards industry standards and keep your clients’ details safe (and the risk of you getting sued for leaking payment information, unlikely)
Considering the cost of buying an all-in-one business management software & online booking system?
Salon, Spa, Barber, and Wellness entrepreneurs have to be extremely careful with how they spend their budget, so it is important to assess the costs involved.
While there is a multitude of online appointment scheduling providers to choose from, you need to consider the specific needs and budget of your small small business.
Here are the costs you need to consider:
- Licensing cost —The cost of using the software will either be in a number of booking-based or monthly subscription format. A monthly subscription is better for budgeting purposes and will allow you to reinvest most of your revenue back into the business as you grow (instead of taking a significant chunk of it). The percentage of booking costs can really creep up on small business, and so keeping costs stable is key.
- Additional support or setup fees— find out if your business management system will charge you for initial setup and training.
- Hidden client booking fees—find out if your business management system will come with any hidden client booking fees.
As an entrepreneur, you need to budget wisely. Pick the solution that will help you scale the best, and give you some wiggle room in the way they will work with you. Genbook is one flat cost with all features included. There are no hidden fees with Genbook – we don’t charge your clients at the time of booking.
Time to Complete the puzzle
Your appointment scheduling and business management system is just one piece of the puzzle!
Business management and scheduling systems have advanced to the point that they integrate with the top online booking sources including your website as well as your business social media profiles like Instagram. They also drive a good online presence and help build a better business experience.
Find an all-in-one solution
Make sure the software you choose lines up with the needs of your small business, especially in terms of flexibility and cost. Some solutions will enforce contracts, and structure their pricing based on a percentage of bookings, number of text or email reminders, or charging your clients and ruining your reputation. It is difficult to grow with such a pricing model.
On the other hand, systems like Genbook offer a no-contract, fixed monthly fee, which makes it easier for you to budget your expenses and there are no hidden surprises for you or your clients.
Make sure you take a free trial of each of the systems you look at – they are standard in the industry. If no free trial is available, at least request a demonstration of the product.
You want to play around with it to make sure that it is truly the easiest and most comprehensive online booking solution for your small business. And last but not the least, have a look at what these entrepreneurs are saying about the benefits they reap from using Genbook’s all-in-one system, which includes a business management system.
So, what is the next step? Action! Evaluate your current online booking software and find ways to take things to the next level. This often involves upgrading your booking system.
Check out Genbook, an appointment scheduling software that has everything you need to manage your business and bookings. Get in touch today and learn how Genbook can take your business to the next level.