I’ve often said that the growth of the massage profession is due to the invention of the answering machine. Until then, therapists either needed someone answering the phone to book appointments for them while they were with clients, or had to answer the phone themselves while in session (generally considered disruptive and distasteful) if they didn’t want to miss an opportunity. In today’s world, leaving a voice mail often results in receiving a voice mail that is then returned with another voice mail, which is definitely not a convenient or efficient way of booking massages for clients or practitioners. Enter the technology of online scheduling.
I use Full Slate (I save 50% as an ABMP member), but there are a number of choices. Clients report it’s easy to use and I love it because:
- It’s convenient for clients and myself. The online scheduling option cuts down on phone tag and frustration for everyone. Clients can book an appointment that works for them anytime 24/7 (I’ve received an untold number of bookings that were made in the wee hours or while I was giving a massage). I’m notified by email every time someone books online and also by text if it’s within twenty-four hours of their appointment, so I never miss a booking.
- It generates automated email/text reminders, which reduces no-shows. The best part is I don’t have to remember to send them!
- It helps streamline a Groupon campaign. It encourages first-time clients to be self-reliant and I don’t get overwhelmed with phone calls from the sudden influx of new customers.
- I also use it for email announcements and marketing (I require new clients to submit their email address when booking online). The program comes with a bunch of ready-made templates that I edit, or I can create my own. I’m able to tag each account to send customized messages to specific types of clients, such as those I haven’t seen in a while or my very best regulars.
- It enhances schedule security. An appointment schedule on a cell phone calendar is useless if the phone is lost. My scheduling software can be accessed from any computer or mobile device, so there’s no risk of losing it.
So what about sacrificing control over my schedule? I admit, there are times when the scheduling could be more efficient if I did it all myself, but the convenience to clients and freedom it gives me make that a minor issue. I can set my booking rules to only show openings before or after booked appointments so gaps are minimized, or allow maximum flexibility to clients and show all available openings. Besides, sometimes it’s nice to have a little spare time to take a walk, do some yoga, run errands or dust my office (listed in order of preference).
There are times when letting go of my business works. By giving clients the option to book their own appointments, I’m respecting their time and empowering them to set up a massage schedule that meets their needs without consulting me. It also makes my life easier by reducing the number of remedial tasks I have to manage, allowing me to focus on delivering the best sessions possible in the practice that I love!
What experience or concerns do you have with online scheduling? Please share your thoughts in the comments. Thank you!