Freelancer, consultant, plumber, personal trainer, salon owner — if you want your business to succeed — you need to schedule and manage your appointments. Most important, stress-free scheduling.
At the speed of a new Tesla — your calendar can get cluttered and out-of-control with overbooking. You may start accepting appointments when you’re “off-the-clock” — which means you’ll have a hard time catching a much needed breather.
Even worse, your lack of organization may infuriate your clients. Do you think that they’ll continually support your rescheduling their appointments because you’re not available — or worse — late? You may get some pretty brutal calls or emails and potentially lose their business.
Ultimately, this all creates more stress in your life. But, to be honest, this can all be avoided if you managed your calendar properly when scheduling appointments.
Stress-free scheduling can be done in 12 accessible and manageable ways — that you can accomplish quite easily.
1. Use the right tools.
How much time do you spend sending emails back-and-forth on when to meet with someone? I doubt it’s more than just one or two. That’s why you need to select a calendar program or scheduling tool. Have one that allows you to automatically create, schedule, and manage your appointments for you.
For example, with calendar you can share your availability with your clients through email or embedded links. They then pick a date and time and the event is added to everyone’s calendars.
Calendar also uses machine learning so that it can make smart suggestions on when, where, and which type of meeting you should schedule.
Besides Calendar, there are hundreds of other options, such as Acuity, TimeTap, SimplyBook.me, and Setmore. When searching for calendar programs and scheduling tools — focus on cloud-based tools that are scalable. Find ones that fit your exact needs, and can integrate with your existing calendar.
2. Prevent shared calendar confusion.
Sharing your calendar with your clients definitely makes scheduling appointments easier. As mentioned above, it eliminates those back-and-forth emails. It also prevents mistakes like double booking since a client can see when you’re available and when you’re not.
At the same time, a shared calendar is only effective if you don’t make the following four errors that can lead to shared calendar confusion:
Scheduling a meeting last minute.
Just because a client canceled and you’re free doesn’t mean that another client is available at the last minute. Always scheduled meetings well in advance so that if there are any adjustments there’s time for everyone to plan accordingly, instead of waiting until the last minute.
Sharing your calendar with the wrong people.
Let’s say that you’re in the construction business and a client wants to meet with you to discuss windows. You wouldn’t invite your electricians and plumbers to the meeting, right? Be selective with your calendar and only share it with those who need to view it at that moment.
Allowing too much or too little time.
Check your timing when setting up events. If you need 30 minutes to meet with a client, then block out an hour with them. That’s wasting everyone’s time. Additionally, don’t schedule 15 minutes when you need 30 minutes. This could cause the meeting to run late, causing everyone to be late for their next appointment.
Waiting too long to cancel or reschedule meetings.
Unless it’s an emergency, don’t wait until the last second to cancel or reschedule a meeting. The last thing you want is to have a client arrive for a meeting that was cancelled or rescheduled.
3. Get prospective clients to come to you.
Instead of reaching out to prospective clients, have them come knocking on your door. Clients booking makes for stress-free scheduling. You can do this by using these simple marketing tips:
- Don’t target everyone; focus on your niche market.
- Make your marketing campaigns funny, memorable, or worthy of sharing.
- Offer free resources — such as a guide or eBook.
- Use authority positioning to gain trust. Having a blog, writing in industry publications, and appearing in media channels where your audience spends their time are great place to start.
- Create a strong digital presence through a blog and social channels. This way people can see your talents and who you are as an individual.
Once the right perspectives have found you, they won’t hesitate in booking an appointment with you. As an added perk, you won’t be wasting your time with a client who has no serious interest in your business.
4. Set up reminders.
If you’re using a calendar program or scheduling software, this shouldn’t be an issue since they’ll send you automated reminder and notifications.
For instance, if you booked an appointment into your Google Calendar, then you’ll receive an email and SMS message reminding you of the event. I also set up reminders 25 minutes before the appointment starts so that I have time to prepare and get in the “zone.”
Also make sure that your scheduling program sends out reminders to your clients as well so that they won’t forget about the appointment.
5. Schedule client days.
Set aside one day a week to meet with your clients. This way you won’t get distracted from other tasks and can solely focus on the client. It also prevents you from switching gears mentally since you can stay in meeting mode all day.
Make sure that your team and family knows which day you’ve designated as a client day so that they know in advance that you’re not available.
6. Charge a cancellation or reschedule fee.
This isn’t applicable for every business owner, but let’s say that you are the service industry and a client cancels at the last minute. You probably can’t book a new client, which means for the next hour or so you’re not making any money.
One way to resolve this is by charging a cancellation or reschedule fee. It may help reduce those last minute changes to your schedule. But it also guarantees that you’re at least making something for the time you set aside for the client.
7. Make sure your meetings and appointments are productive.
When a client requests your time, first make sure that a meeting is absolutely necessary. You may be able to handle their questions or concerns with a quick phone call.
If you do need to meet with the client, keep it as productive as possible. I do this by focusing on no more then three goals that I want to achieve with the appointment.
8. Block out time for white space.
Don’t schedule every minute of your day. Leave some blank spaces in your calendar. Also called white space, these are blocks of time when don’t scedule anything. I usually block out time in-between appointments so that I can reflect on the appointment, as well as jot down any notes and what actions to take next.
It also gives me a chance to recharge before my next appointment.
9. Help your clients prepare.
You can make your appointments run a lot smoother for you and your clients by helping prepare in advance. Instead of wasting time explaining what they should expect send them an agenda or FAQs document. If they have to fill out paperwork send it to them prior to the meeting.
When your clients are prepared, you can jump right into what really matters. This creates stress-free scheduling on both sides of the table.
10. Keep in touch with your clients.
By keeping in touch with your clients, either through a catch-up call, sharing a piece an article on Facebook, or monthly newsletter, ensures that you stay fresh their in minds. This way when they require your business they won’t hesitate to schedule an appointment with you.
11. Reassess your calendar every morning.
There have been times when I’ve gone to sleep anticipating a certain schedule. However, with online booking, my day may have changed overnight because a client had to cancel or reschedule an appointment. This shifted my schedule around.
Because of this, I make it point to check my calendar every morning when I wake-up. This way if there were any changes, I’m aware of them and can plan accordingly.
12. Have someone else manage your calendar.
As your business grows, learning how to delegate and outsource becomes increasingly important. After all, your business will only thrive when you’re providing value and not spending time on daily tasks like scheduling appointments.
Thankfully, you can find a virtual assistant who can schedule all of your appointments, meetings, and conference calls. This way you can focus on growing your business, without worrying about scheduling appointments with your clients. Stress-free scheduling is the only way to go!