Four Major Scheduling Software Providers for Local BusinessFor businesses that depend on appointment scheduling, such as hair salons, massage therapists, or health and dental professionals, online scheduling software can save a lot of time and money, free up your administrative personnel (or you), and reduce loss of revenue and clientele due to appointment mix-ups. If you’re considering enrolling in a scheduling software service, here are four good ones to consider: BookFresh, Genbook, Schedulicity, and Full Slate.

Accept Appointments on Your Website

With any of these software programs, you can accept appointments directly on your website by pasting their widget code directly into your HTML. Then you can post services, prices, staff members, and hours of operation. Customers can see who’s available for which services and instantly book a time that works for them without having to call. Additionally, you can accept appointments on Facebook, WordPress, and Twitter with BookFresh, and on Facebook with Genbook, Schedulicity, and Full Slate.

While Genbook, Schedulicity, and Full Slate each give you a dedicated scheduling page, BookFresh gives you an actual website that you can load up with your unique content. It’s easy to set up, and shows your hours, services, location, and staff bio. Even if you already have a website, you can use this freebie to generate additional web traffic.

Accept Online Payments

No complicated banking system is required with BookFresh’s online payment tool. You can accept Visa, MasterCard, Amex, debit cards, PayPal, and bank transfers after a quick, hassle-free set-up that works with any bank account.

Full Slate offers you options to choose either Stripe, Authorize.net, or PayPal as your merchant payment services processor for accepting payments online.

Genbook’s credit card capture feature allows you to capture and store credit card details in order to hold appointments; it does not, however, have the ability to take actual payments.

Schedulicity does not feature any type of online monetary services.

Multiple Staff Calendars

All four services allow you to set up multiple staff calendars and profiles so that your employees can individually manage their schedules, breaks, and vacations. They can also receive appointment reminders, confirmations, and reviews. Staff calendars can all be reviewed on your master calendar so that you can keep track of the overall schedule.

Mobile Dashboard

BookFresh, Genbook, Schedulicity, and Full Slate offer mobile-friendly dashboards so that business owners on the go can manage their schedule from practically anywhere. Confirm, deny, or change bookings right from your smartphone or tablet, without having to get on your computer.

Customer Review System

Each of the services offer a customer review system that allows you to collect and publish reviews on your website and/or scheduling page. Clients can use simple forms to submit reviews and ratings of services and staff, and you can also send automated emails requesting reviews – that you can view and approve before it’s published.

BookFresh

Officially launched in 2008 as HourTown, BookFresh was renamed in 2009 in order to reflect its mission to be “a simple and cost-effective way for small businesses to sell their perishable time while attracting and engaging new customers online,” according to CEO Ryan Donahue. BookFresh is easy to set up and pays extra attention to staff members, making provisions for a photo and short bio of each one on the scheduling page. Earlier this year BookFresh has been acquired by Square.

Genbook

Genbook debuted in 2008 and currently serves more than 5000 small businesses in the U.S. and Canada, with over 11 million appointments booked using the software. GenBook offers an analytics tool that shows revenue along with appointments, sorted by staff member or service, to help the user identify trends and forecast performance. Staff members, however, won’t see the analytics when logging in to manage their schedules.

Schedulicity

Since its 2010 launch, some 15,000-plus Schedulicity subscribers have booked more than 10 million appointments across the U.S. and Canada. Schedulicity features strong customer-relationship management tools as well as customizable deals and promotional tools. Users can send mass email messages to clients based on various templates, including industry-specific newsletters, artwork, seasonal promotions, and invitations to book or connect online. Schedulicity won’t track money, however, and businesses that require online deposits or payments might want to consider another program.

Full Slate

Created by a team of entrepreneurs in Seattle in 2008, Full Slate has received over 1,700 likes on Facebook, along with virtually all 5-star reviews on Google Apps Marketplace. Customers tout the software’s excellent customer service, constant improvements, lack of system downtime, ease of use, and low price.

What’s the Bottom Line?

After a free 30-day trial, BookFresh charges $19.95 a month for the basic Business plan, including unlimited staff members and online payments and deposits. For smaller businesses, there’s a free plan which allows for one staff member and up to three bookings per month, and for larger businesses, an upgraded Enterprise plan (price unknown) which offers complete phone support. All fees are month-to-month with no cancellation fees.

Genbook also has a free starter plan that gives you everything you need to start taking appointments. Upgrade to GenBook Standard to get all the bells and whistles for $39.95 a month, which includes credit card capture, text message notifications, and customer management.

After Schedulicity’s 30-day free trial, single-user plans are $19 per month, and $39 per month for 2 to 20 users. Personalized business plans are available for larger numbers of users.

Full Slate also offers a free trial, after which the basic service is $29.95 a month, $49.95 for up to five staff members, and $79.95 a month for up to ten staff members. All Full Slate subscriptions are month-to-month with no cancellation fees or credit card required for the trial. Rather than a time-limited trial, Full Slate extends your free trial until online clients book 10 appointments or staff book 100 new events in the system.

All four systems are economical, simple to set up and use, and provide convenient and professional-looking online appointment setting features to free up your phone line while saving you time and money!