You have a tried and tested method of doing business; an office management system, full of spreadsheets that everyone can keep a track of. So why do you need an online booking system?
There are many myths about moving to an online booking system – from it being too expensive, to the learning curve being steep. In reality, this could not be farther from the truth.
In this article, we will compare just some of the tasks (an actual list would be too long to read!) that an online booking system simplifies for you, at the same (if not lesser) cost, and with the flexibility to handle uncertainties and customizations in your business that you may have not even thought of.
Outlining Business Tasks
A business can be of any type: a rental, one which sells physical products, virtual products in wholesale or retail, situated locally or globally.
Spreadsheets, no matter which program you use, were a definite upgrade from physical pen and paper. But as the world goes increasingly online, as people shop online now more than ever, it is necessary to update that model. Having a business website alone is not enough, indeed that is a two-decade-old practice. What you want is the benefits of a spreadsheet on your own website.
Each of these tasks would get more and more complicated if you tried to add more products or different kinds of products. In a multimedia world, your storefront also has to reflect that dynamism.
Enter the online booking system.
The Better Way To Do Things
An online booking system is a one-stop, centralized booking management that integrates neatly with your WordPress content management system to transform your website into a fully functional portal.
Let’s take the example of a salon. There are several ‘products’ such as mani-pedi, haircuts, waxing, polishing, hair styling, makeup, spa, etc, offered as services, across several times of the day.
In a spreadsheet, you would have to enter many orders for each service, check who is available and when, and if they were booked for a time slot before you give the customer booking confirmation.
In an online booking system, you would only have to set up these details once. As soon as a customer makes a booking, changes will automatically be reflected in your booking system.
Discounts for appointments in the mornings, or special discounts for particular services on the weekends; in a flexible world where customers are spoilt for choice, there are a number of tricks one must resort to.
How do you keep track of these changes? It is easy to get lost in a maze of spreadsheets when a customer calls to book for a spa appointment, haircut and facial cleanse, all with different discounts applied to them.
Instead, in an online booking system, you could set special prices not just for specific days but also for specific dates. The customer simply has to book the appointment, and in case they call to book, you have to enter it in the same system so that nothing is lost in the process.
Say Goodbye to Columns and Rows
Columns and rows are efficient database management systems. But what if you have specialists in your business, each with their own work-hours and charges?
Let’s take another business for this (though salons certainly are applicable). Say you run a tutoring center, and each tutor has their own consultation hours. To the customer, it can be very confusing to see who is available and when, and whether that tutor is available for the customer’s desired time slot.
At first, there were five tutors. Now, there are 20. More names, more columns, more rows, more permutations, and combinations. And every time someone new joins, you guide them through a myriad of systems you use to ensure all of this runs smoothly. It’s not just a pain, it’s also a significant Human Resource cost.
In an online booking system, you can add and assign a ‘resource’ to a product. For instance, say you have three Math tutors. Each of them has a fixed number of days and hours they put in. The customer can go online, select who they want as a tutor, and check if they are available. The back and front end look something like this (with variations of course).
You can allow for 24/7 booking, reduce the risk of human error, reduce the need for internal coordination and communication about logistics thus avoiding confusion. An online booking system creates a cleaner more inclusive web presence and makes it efficient for customers to reach out.
The time and energy you save in managing a spreadsheet can easily be spent in strategy, training, and other more important business tasks.
Google Spreadsheets is free, yes. Microsoft Office can cost up to $20/month. The Booking & Appointment plugin for WooCommerce costs $119 per year. It ensures that you get sound support to address any queries. Don’t forget, you can also ask for a refund within a month if this does not work out for you.
There is a learning curve with anything new. Going through the documentation and setting your products up can take anywhere between one to three weeks, depending on how comfortable you are with WordPress itself. But it’s much better than facing hassles on a regular basis, making it worth the time invested.
After that, you may not require someone with a specific skill set to manage it. The earlier you adopt a booking system, the easier it becomes to scale, market, and grow your business.
An online booking system is more efficient at cost and gives you the control you have over your spreadsheet with none of the hassles that come with it. It’s time to pull your business’s online presence into 2020!