By Melissa Viera
Oversized index cards, reminder phone calls and hours of handwritten notes have served our industry well for many years. But with today’s technology, consumers expect businesses to keep up with the times, providing quick responses and modern experiences.
Trying to operate too many apps can do more harm than good, but streamlining your process with the right technology can be a game–changer for your business.
There are many options when it comes to appointment software. While there are programs made just for pet professionals, other types of scheduling software can work for any type of appointment–based business, and many programs can be customized to meet the needs of groomers. Your chosen scheduling software should do a lot more for your business than serve as a calendar. If you are paying for software that only does what you could do with a pen and an appointment book, then it’s time to shop around.
Before choosing your software, make a list of what you need it to do. Remember, even if the features you need don’t seem to be included, you might be able to customize the software to work with your business. Always ask for a demo and call before making a purchase. Most software companies have a sales team ready to walk you through every feature.
Here are a few examples of features that I shopped for:
Online Booking OPTION (with Restrictions)
I love giving my customers the opportunity to book online, but not every service should be booked without talking to the client first. By separating my services, I can offer online booking for some services and for other services I can leave a note in the description instructing the user to call to book. I can also choose to only open online booking for specific days.
Booking Multiple Clients in One Time Slot
If you book more than one pet per time slot, make sure your software allows this. Even if you only allow clients to book one per time slot online, you might want to manually add additional appointments.
Passes and Classes
Since I run classes and workshops, I looked for software with the option to create classes and different pass purchase options in addition to appointment booking.
It’s very important for me to be able to add notes in for every appointment and upload pictures of service orders, paperwork and grooming photos. This is a feature that can be useful for groomers and should be considered.
I have a very low no–show rate in my business. While we still have a few people (less than 5 out of hundreds) that ask for a phone call, most of our customers love the automated email reminders.
Most programs make it easy to block off your schedule as needed.
It’s important for my business to have detailed information, contact details, vaccine records and history all in one place. When each client comes in, we can check that their pet’s vaccines are up–to–date, we have the best phone number and we know about any allergies the pet has—all in one click to the client’s profile within the scheduling software.
Do you use a landline, cell phone or both? I wanted to make calls while I’m on the go from my business number so I did some research and found that there is more than one way to do this. With virtual phone systems you can have multiple extensions, send incoming calls to landlines or cell phones and make calls through an app with your business number, even when you are not in the office. Virtual phone systems are amazing for anyone who wants to be connected to their business at any given time.
Sending promotions and announcements to all of your clients, or just a selected list of clients is just the start of what email marketing can do. You can send educational resources, welcome emails and much more. Why manually input each new client into your email list when you can find programs that integrate with your scheduling software?
Social media can be an excellent thing for businesses, but poor posting history can make a business look dead to potential customers. If you find social media overwhelming, look for platforms that allow you to put all of your accounts in one place, post to multiple places at once, schedule future posts and interact with followers.
Trying to streamline your business won’t work if you try to use too many different programs at once. Software and technology should save time so you can focus on giving your clients the care and attention they deserve. When researching software, look into which apps integrate with your top picks and how all of the working parts can result in a time–saving process. When you have apps that work together, you can further automate your daily operations.
Scheduling, email marketing and social media are just a few of the many areas that you can use apps and software for. New programs are coming out all of the time. When you do your research and follow the recent technology developments, you can get ahead and stay there. Instead of telling you about the specific programs that I use, I hope to inspire you to find what works best for your business. No two businesses are alike. If you rely on technology, your process will change over time to work best with the technology that you use. It’s important to use what works for you instead of only going by what other businesses use. When you use the right technology for your business, it will help you to grow and improve your process. ✂