With phone calls and emails coming through consistently during work hours, organizing your appointments can be difficult. Here are some ways to simplify and manage the process:
A paper notebook can get very messy very quickly considering the amount of cancellations and re-scheduling that can happen in a given day, week or month. A simple, cost-effective approach would be to create a Google Calendar and share it with your staff members. There, they can book appointments and make edits in real-time.
There are also many apps and websites that offer scheduling and calendar management, along with other features such as: group scheduling, venue/room bookings, recurring sessions, reminders, and more. These services are often paid; therefore they may only be appropriate for medium to large businesses.
Make room for error
One of the worst things that can happen to anyone working independently, on a tight schedule (beauticians, hairstylists, plumbers, electricians, etc.), is that an appointment goes overtime, pushing back all other bookings in a domino effect.
Create a list of the different services you offer and choose the upper limit as the length of time it takes. Then, when you or your receptionist are booking appointments, there will be a clear reference to use.
Keep your calendar tab open at all times, either at your front desk or on your phone, where all it takes is a glance to see if any sessions have shifted since you last checked. Of course, it’s also important to verbally communicate with your employees, keeping them aware of any changes to the day.
A great habit to get into is calling your customers the day before their appointment. This will help eliminate the confusion of no-shows and is also helpful to your customers, in case they forgot.
Chronic no-shows can hurt a business by leaving gaps in a schedule, which results in unnecessary staffing and therefore, unnecessary costs. For this reason, many businesses have a 24-hour cancellation policy where last-minute cancellations incur a fee. Keep in mind, this goes both ways: if customers are expected to be punctual, so too must your employees.
Save yourself and your customers any confusion by informing them up-front about your prices and cancellation policies. This can simply be over the phone while they are booking their appointment as well as within a confirmation email.