Online Scheduling Software Gets the Knots Out of Your Appointment-Setting Process

From the MASSAGE Magazine article, “Check Your Compass: Strategies to Put Your Practice on a Successful Path,” by Cherie Sohnen-Moe, in the July 2010 issue. Article summary: Throughout the life of your business, you will encounter times when it is vital to reassess your direction. You might have an elaborate business plan with specific goals, but if you don’t have the self-assessment tools to chart your path successfully, then you won’t get to where you need. Come with me on a journey of self-exploration and assessment to put your practice on a successful path.

by Eric Richard

Proper management of client appointments and information is an important, yet time-consuming, task for many massage therapists and offices. Thanks to online technology, massage professionals are turning in their paper appointment books for appointment-scheduling software that helps streamline their operations and focus more on their clients and practices. 

Known as software as a service (SaaS), online appointment-scheduling systems are similar to other Web-based programs, such as online banking, shopping and e-mail. They give massage therapists and offices secured, online functionality to better manage key components of their appointment-setting procedures, such as:

Client self-scheduling. This feature allows clients to schedule and manage their sessions at their convenience, 24 hours a day. All they need is an Internet connection.

Online payments. Besides scheduling their sessions, clients can also pay for their services online. Additionally, some software providers give users the ability to create service “packages,” which can include multiple sessions, add-on products or services, and other items.

Automated reminders. Studies have shown appointment reminders in any form can reduce a business’s “no-show” rate by 50 percent. Functionality in many systems will automatically send clients e-mail and/or text messages reminding them of future appointments.

Recordkeeping. Offices that do not utilize scheduling software often record and manage client appointments, session details and contact information in several different appointment books or files. Online appointment-scheduling software centralizes client details so staff can access everything from one location, instead of shuffling through multiple books and folders. 

Because it’s Web-based, online appointment-scheduling software does not require any costly hardware components or product uploads. In most instances, you simply access and manage your page as you would any other website. In addition to ease of use, online appointment-scheduling systems give massage professionals the ability to access their administrative pages from any location with Internet access. 

Massage operations that utilize online appointment-scheduling services often experience immediate results. Some of the most noticeable are time and monetary savings. Allowing clients to book and pay online reduces the number of phone calls staff has to take, thereby freeing up time that can be spent on other tasks. 

The functionality of online appointment software makes it a perfect fit for massage therapists and offices. Give it a try, and let the power of the Web improve your appointment-setting procedures.

Eric Richard is the public relations specialist for Appointment-Plus (www.appointment-plus.com), an online scheduling system that has booked more than 45 million appointments and reservations since its launch in 2001. Its developer is StormSource Software, a Scottsdale, Arizona-based technology firm specializing in the development of online appointment software for a wide variety of applications and industries.