One of the biggest concerns for professionals who offer services (e.g. Therapists, Coaches, Lawyers, Accountants) is to find new clients and eventually get fully booked.
Once they are fully booked, they start to earn a decent income and their financial problem is solved. However, more clients mean less free time, more administration responsibilities and less energy.
In other words, the initial goal of finding more clients disappears and the new goal is time management.
So, how can professionals keep a balance between work and leisure?
One obvious thing they can do is to hire employees/interns.
But maybe they are not ready for something like this yet, so they need to look at how they can improve the processes they use in their work.
Most service-offering professionals follow an appointment-based business model. This means that in order to serve their clients they need to schedule an appointment with them.
When someone has 4-5 clients then booking appointments is not really a problem, because there is enough time for everyone.
What if someone has 20 clients though who are all trying to book an appointment during the same week? Then it becomes a little bit trickier and of course time consuming.
Let’s look at two hypothetical examples of a client trying to book a session with a therapist.
2 Examples of a Client Trying to Book an Appointment with a Therapist
Let's analyse each conversation...
1st conversation: In this example the client tries to book a session with the therapist, so the therapist has to look at her agenda to see what availability she has for next week. Then the client suggests a slightly different time that the therapist accepts but then rejects because of another client. Later that day the client sends another message in order to cancel the scheduled session and ask to reschedule next week.
So, what’s the problem here?
The issue with this chat is the time both parties waste time especially the therapist who has to check her agenda for her availability, communicate it to the client and then change the date again because of another client.
And in the end no appointment has been booked and this whole thing needs to happen again next week. And even if the appointment eventually gets booked, they client may not show up.
2nd conversation: In this example the client again wants to book an appointment with the therapist, so the therapist sends a link to the client in which she can book a session. So, what is happening here and what does the client see when she clicks that link?
The therapist is using scheduling software that has connected to her Google Calendar and shows her availability in a single web page. Here’s how it looks like:
Calendly's Client-side Booking Page
The client selects her preferred time slot, she fills in her name and email address and then an event is created in the therapist’s Google Calendar. Besides that, automated appointment (and cancellation) email notifications will be sent to both parties.
Back to the 2nd chat: The attitude of the client is the same… she wants to schedule a session, but then she changes her mind because something happened at her work. What changes though is the time the therapist spends on talking to her client.
Once the therapist decided to put some time into configuring this scheduling system (which doesn’t take too long) she now can respond to her (new) clients by sending them a link they can use to book a session.
You may ask: But isn’t this faceless towards my clients? Just sending them a link and nothing else?
In my experience it’s not faceless and clients always find it convenient rather than faceless. And even if you think it’s faceless or rude, what is more important? You having more free time and not going back-and-forth with messages like in the 1st example or wasting your time on arranging sessions with your clients?
What You’ll Need To Automate Your Client Scheduling
So, how do I implement this scheduling software? Here’s what you need:
- A WordPress website (or any other website will do) – optional
- Thrive Architect (a WordPress plugin to build web pages like a pro) – optional
- An online calendar tool (like Google Calendar) – required
- And an online booking tool (like Calendly, Acuity Scheduling or Schedule Once) - required
The first two tools are optional, because you can use the scheduling tools without having a website. With that said, creating a web page that shows your services and adding a button for people to schedule a session with you always looks more professional.
The third tool is mandatory, because if you don’t use it, it will be extremely difficult to manage online bookings. So, you need it, in order to avoid the chaos.
Regarding the last one, there is not a single available scheduling software out there. Depending on your needs you may have to use a different tool.
With that said, I’ve found that the best free tool that you can use is Calendly. It has a very straightforward procedure to set it up.
It lets you configure it to your needs by setting up rules like the time duration of a session as well as the break time between sessions.
So, go to Calendly.com, sign up for a free account, and follow the instructions. It’s super easy, but if you need any help let me know.
The free version covers all the basic functionalities you may need, but if, for example, you want your clients to pay before they schedule a session, then you need to upgrade to the paid version of Calendly.
Once you’ve setup everything, go to your Calendly account and find your shareable link:
Calendly's "Share Your Link" Popup Window
You can either send this link to your clients via chat or email as in the 2nd conversation example and/or you can create a button on your website that directs people to your scheduling page.
When you own a business it’s not only about growing it in terms of clients/revenue. It’s also about growing it in terms of efficiency.
If you can automate something like sessions scheduling just do it. Or if you want to stop chasing your clients to pay you on time then integrate payments into your scheduling software.
Once you get rid of distractions like these, you may find yourself with a clearer mind. A mind that will have more power to think about growing the business even more.
If you have an appointment-based business, let me know what you think of this booking automation strategy to help boost the bottom line of your business by leaving a comment for me below!
Until next time.