As solopreneurs, we need to reduce the time required to schedule appointments as much as possible, for this is not billable time. Using e-mails and phone calls back and forth are very time-consuming. What options do we have?
- make/take appointments ourselves
- use an auto scheduling program
- hire a Virtual Assistant (VA) to manage them
Our goal must be efficiency for the business owner and respect for others’ time.
Do It Yourself
- It’s important to use an electronic calendar to ensure that wherever you are and whatever your device, you always have it. Paper appointment books are very inefficient.
- Google Calendar is free and meets all our needs because the data is in the cloud and can always be accessed.
- To avoid mistakes that happen when we are busy, appointments should be colour coded according to the roles we play (personal, business, volunteer, family)
- Make good use of the reminder system to ensure you don’t forget or go overtime on some other activity.
- Send a confirmation to the client so that they can enter the appointment. This can be done in Google Calendar by adding the client’s e-mail in the Add Guests box.
The Automated Way
- Suitable when the clientele is tech-savvy.
- When your business gets a lot of traffic, an online scheduler is very convenient for your customer.
- There are many stand alone applications (example https://www.appointlet.com/) as well as plugins for your Word Press website. I’ve been looking at the Appointy WPplugin.
- Be sure to block off your unavailable times.
- Ensure the confirmation response includes a variety of auto calendar entries for the customer (Google Calendar, ical for others)
The Virtual Assistant
- Suitable for high traffic businesses where the clientele prefers telephone appoint making.
- VA answers call, discusses best times with the client and enters appointments into your calendar.
- Useful when it’s important to have details prior to the meeting.
- VA calls the client to reschedule when emergencies require re-booking.
- You can locate a local VA or look for one in http://canadianava.org/
- If you must reschedule or cancel for an emergency, make a personal connection and offer at least two alternatives. DO NOT say why you must do this – they will only feel that someone else is more important to you than they are. Better to leave them assuming there is an emergency. Simply apologize and state that you must do this.
- When making personal appointments with professionals (medical, personal care, home/car maintenance, etc.) remember that missed appointments impact their business income and be respectful. It’s sad that many professionals charge extra for missed appointments because their clients did not give them the required 24-hour notice.
- Show respect for appointment times and arrive five or ten minutes early so that other’s schedule does not get backed up because of you.
Mindset Monday Challenge
Take a minute to review how much time you use on scheduling activities. Can you free up some time?