Cutting down on schedule headaches
One day recently I noticed my hair was a tad long. It was 5:45 a.m., too early to call my barber for an appointment, so off to the office I went. You know what happened then? I got busy and forgot. By the time I remembered, the shop was closed. The next morning my hair was still too long, and again it was too early to call. I again got “busy” and forgot to call in the morning. Fortunately, I remembered before the end of the day and called. The receptionist couldn’t find “the book,” and while she was looking, I got another call and had to hang up. Time passed, the shop closed for the day, and I still didn’t have an appointment.
I eventually did get my haircut, and while there, I asked my barber, “Why can’t I make an appointment on the web?” Her response was, “I wish we could, but it would be too difficult and too expensive.” I knew that couldn’t be true, but I had no suggestions, so we dropped the subject. Later, I went looking for a system to facilitate online appointment making. What I found was an entire genre of products. I was impressed at the breadth of offerings. I selected a product known as 10to8 and began a deep dive into its features and benefits. I soon discovered a well-designed offering that applies to most any personal service-based company, such as barbers and beauty salons, tutors and teachers, sports and fitness, medical providers, and professional services — including tax preparers.
The main feature is the two-way calendar system. It provides real-time message exchanges between the company and its clients. The app syncs with Google Calendar, Microsoft Exchange, and Microsoft Outlook. New entries are synchronized to 10to8, providing visibility to both your schedules and appointments. Clever and quite useful automated smart SMS and email alerts remind both the provider and the client of an upcoming appointment. The company is immediately notified of changes or cancellations, allowing it to quickly adjust availability for other clients.
Because 10to8 lets customers book online, they can do so at their convenience. It allows clients to make single or recurring appointments, request changes or cancellations, or reply to reminders. It also sends personal SMS messages directly from the calendar. The booking site can be customized and specifically branded for each company. Integration application program interfaces provide access for clients directly from Facebook and Slack. Clients see open times, and providers can manage internal logistics efficiently. The company decides when, how, and what can be booked via a manual booking request approval system. The platform coordinates staff availability and can assign various times based on provider, client, and service selected. Finally, the system handles online payments via PayPal, Sage Pay, and Stripe, with no additional commission charge.
What I found beyond a straightforward scheduling system was the ability to record notes, payments, changes, and customer appointment history — all valuable information to help discern trends and business insights and develop strategic plans.
Greg LaFollette, CPA/CITP, CGMA, is a strategic adviser with CPA.com, the commercial subsidiary of the American Institute of CPAs. To comment on this article or to suggest an idea for another article, contact Jeff Drew, a JofA senior editor, at Jeff.Drew@aicpa-cima.com.
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