Choose the Best Online Booking System for Small Business | 5 Tips
When you’re searching for an online booking system for your business, the options will overwhelm you! All of them have different pricing models and tons of various features. When you are looking for the best booking system for a small business, these are the points you should consider before investing your time and money in the software.
1) Caution: Registration on the Third-Party Platform
The online booking system you’re using MUST NOT force your customers to create an account on their platform i.e., a third-party platform at the time of booking your services. The registration process is not a good user experience.
It is proven that the registration process increases the page-abandonment rate and businesses lose customers if there’s a barrier before the appointment booking step.
Use software like Yottled, or Calendly which makes the booking experience fast and easy, without any registration process.
An obvious point! Online booking systems range from free to $3,500/year! Price variations are mind-blowing in this industry. It’s always advisable to do proper market research about various pricing models.
Free: Scheduling and booking software like Yottled is 100% free. All features are included. Everything is unlimited. They charge $0.99 convenience fees to your clients when they book online and make a paid transaction. Businesses can use the entire software for free.
Freemium: Many appointment booking providers have a free basic version, with limited features and a cap on the usage, and an option to upgrade. SimplyBook.me, Bookafy, Calendly, etc. are some of the examples of such freemium software.
Paid: Most of the booking systems fall into this category. For example, MindbodyOnline, GoLMN, Square, Appointedd, etc. Make sure you’re getting the most value for your money if you’re using such services.
3) Payment Card Processing Fees
Before choosing an online booking system for small businesses, you must be aware of what payment processor they are using. Selecting the wrong one will impact your revenue to a great extent.
The trick here is to contact the customer care staff of your chosen software and ask them “For every $100 bill I charge to a customer, how much I’ll be taking home?”. Let me come up with a definite number.
Choose Yottled that gives you the option to transfer credit card fees to your clients’ final bills and help you save 2.9% + $0.3 per transaction (Stripe’s charges) instantly. For every $100 bill, your take-home money is $100. While your customers’ final bill will be $104.19.
|Stripe’s charges: 2.9%||$2.9|
|Stripe’s per-transaction fees||$0.3|
|Yottled’s convenience fees||$0.99|
|Final bill amount, payable by your customer||$104.19|
Note: With Yottled, you’ll get the option to pay the above expenses by yourself or push them to customers’ final bills.
Ask your software provider who is their payment partner and what fees they charge. Many platforms charge an additional fee or revenue share on top of the payment processor’s fees. Make sure you ask the right question about all these fees before you commit to any booking system.
4) Core Features
When you do market research about the online booking system for small businesses, you’ll be bombarded with a plethora of features. Don’t fall for that. Make a list of the top 5 to 8 features your business needs. Otherwise, you’ll end up paying for all the fancy features you might not use often and compromising on the core features that you need on daily basis.
After working with 1,000+ small businesses in the service industry, we came up with the conclusion that these are the most important features for business owners.
- Scheduling & staff management
- Payment processing
- Membership selling (especially in the fitness-related industry)
- Automated notifications and reminders on text and emails
- Email marketing tools
- Website integration/ webpage
- Reservation/ Appointment booking
Make a small list of your business’s requirements and choose an all-in-one software that offers all the features on one platform. Don’t combine 2-3 business management software just for the sake of saving money. Otherwise, you’ll end up making your life more complicated and wasting your precious time.
Some booking software are extremely difficult to use from the backend. If you’re stuck with any of such platforms, you and your staff need to spend way more time learning and managing the backend admin tasks. Some software like MindbodyOnline and GOLMN are so notoriously infamous for being difficult to operate that they have to open a training academy! A booking system for small businesses must not be that difficult. Use something like Yottled or Acuity that is easy to operate.
Solution: Choose an online booking system that offers a free trial without taking any credit cards or having commitments and contracts. Get yourself familiarized with the system, take help from their support staff to navigate the software, and take your decision afterward.