It’s a bit of a cliché to say, but time is money. Managing your time properly doesn’t just help you run a more efficient business, it minimizes your stress and allows you to devote more attention to each task and client.
However, not everyone can afford a personal assistant to help them juggle a calendar full of client and customer appointments. Instead, an increasing number of professionals in diverse sectors are turning to technology.
There are plenty of software systems – some free, some paid and many scalable – that can help you save time and reduce stress by streamlining the appointment scheduling process for both clients and staff.
In this blog post, we take a closer look at some of the best free options on offer.
The market for free online appointment scheduling software is pretty crowded. With so many options to compare, it can be tricky to narrow it down to the best systems for your business. While your priorities will differ widely depending on the industry you’re operating in, there are some key features to look out for.
Your chosen solution shouldn’t make the process any more difficult than it already is – either from the client and customer’s end or yours. No log-ins, no account creation, no need to download additional software. All of these will just send potential customers running to a competitor with a more user-friendly system.
Some software providers expect you to switch entirely to using their system, leaving any other platforms behind, no matter how useful they might be. In 2020, that’s just not realistic. Most people and businesses require a completely integrated process using apps like Google Calendar, Outlook and iCloud if not more in order to prevent being double booked.
It’s a globalized world, and COVID-19 has made remote work even more common. This might mean working with customers across multiple time zones. It shouldn’t come as a surprise that calculating the time difference between you and your client in another region isn’t the most efficient use of your time. If possible, find a software that does this for you!
The ethos behind AppointmentThing is all about creating the simplest and most adaptable solution possible for businesses and entrepreneurs in almost any sector. Its quick and easy functionality puts the user firmly in control while relieving the pressure of emailing back-and-forth with clients.
All you need to do is define your availability in your calendar, which can then be shared with your clients via a link. Clients pick the time best suited to them and voilà! Job done. Embed your link on your website or in your email signature to keep bookings open 24/7 without having to lift another finger.
- Ideal for freelancers, contractors, consultants, small businesses, enterprises and more!
- Unlimited appointments in the FREE plan
- Date and time automatically adjusts to invitees time zone
- Automated notifications
- Integrates with Google Calendar, Outlook, iCloud…
- Paid options for use of more than one calendar, custom branding and more
SimplyBook has an impressive list of free features and is noted for its user-friendly interface. As well as Google Calendar and Outlook, it also integrates with Facebook, Instagram and Google to speed up the client booking process directly from these sources.
However, SimplyBook is tailored primarily to service-based industries, so may not be the best option for those that don’t fit this description. The free plan also caps the number of bookings at 50 per month and the majority of its big selling points – the custom features – are unavailable, with paid plans ranging from $9.90 – $59.90 per month.
- Instagram, Facebook and Google integrate as part of the booking system
- Google Calendar and Outlook calendar integrations available
- Best suited to service-based industries
- Custom features available with paid plan
Like AppointmentThing, Acuity Scheduling allows client self-scheduling using a customizable calendar, which is shared via a link. Its interface is very stylish, modern and user-friendly and the free plan includes unlimited appointments and services for as long as you like.
However, larger enterprises or those interested in scalability may find the free plan limiting. Time zone management, reminders, custom branding, calendar app integrations (including Google Calendar and Outlook) and website embedding are all paid features.
- Simple, user-friendly functionality
- Sleek, stylish design
- Unlimited appointments and services
- Lack of flexibility in the free plan
- Most features are paid, with prices starting at $14 per month
Square Appointments, part of the US financial services company behind Square Payments, boasts an impressive list of free features, including unlimited appointments, integrations and a point-of-sale system. There is, however, no mention of time zone management.
The biggest drawback with Square Appointments free plan is that it is only free for “solopreneurs”. It is therefore not suitable for businesses with more than one employee. Square Appointments paid plans start at $50 per month for 2-5 employees.
- LOTS of free features
- Point-of-sale system
- Instagram and Google integration
- Free customer booking website
- Automated text and email reminders
- No-show protection
- Free plan limited to one employee
Setmore offers a pretty comprehensive list of features as part of its free plans, including online booking with up to four staff calendars, group booking, payment processing with Square Payments, appointment reminders, website embedding and social media support. It’s particularly good for fitness professionals, as it accommodates for class bookings with attendance limits.
However, there is no integration with other calendar apps, which leaves you at risk of double-booking yourself. Reminders are also email-based, which could be unsuitable if your clients are regularly on the move. The premium subscription, starting at $25 per month, allows for more staff calendars, Stripe payments integration and more.
- Book appointments using Facebook and Instagram
- Payment processing with Square Payments
- Time zone management is built in
- Group and class activity bookings
- Free email reminders
- No integration with Google Calendar or Outlook
AppointmentThing is the easiest way to schedule and manage your remote meetings and bookings. Our solution puts you back in control of your own calendar and helps you be more effective when communicating with clients, collaborators and staff. Simply define your availability with time buffers, various meeting types and more. Share a link to your booking page with contacts and allow them to schedule meetings with you in seconds.
Get started with a 14-day Pro trial of AppointmentThing. No credit card required, super-easy set up.
Sign up for AppointmentThing’s appointment scheduling!