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Challenges Small Service Businesses Face In Managing Bookings

Daena Skinner
14/05/2024
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Challenges Small Businesses face in managing bookings

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Bookings are at the heart of every business in the service sector. That is why, in today’s busy world, small businesses like salons, tutoring centers, or dental clinics must manage bookings well to be successful. But truth be told, handling bookings comes with challenges. That is true even in today’s age of technology. Imagine learning a new technology while ensuring your customers can use it easily. 

This article discusses these challenges and some smart ways to address them. We will also dip into other solutions for long-term success like further education and improving customer service. We share how some small businesses have improved at managing their bookings and keeping their customers happy.

Challenge 1: Adapting to Digital Booking Systems 

The days of manual bookings are long gone. With the digital transformation, more customers now prefer to book online. However, McKinsey highlights a digital gap: 77% of organizations have launched digital platforms, yet only 10% see full scaling or adoption, and 20% manage unassisted digital contacts. Unfortunately, being hard to find or reach turns off customers. McKinsey thus recommends prioritizing digitalization. 

But let’s face it, the shift towards using computers and smartphones for booking, while truly a wise move, is not as easy as pie. That is especially true for those business people who are not tech-savvy or whose customers are not familiar with technology. Besides, there are too many digital booking systems, and checking them out could be daunting. But we all know this change has to happen sooner or later. 

The Solution

The best way to handle the shift to digital booking is to choose a simple system for managing bookings for the business and its customers. It should be easy to use on phones and link well with social media, where many customers come from. For example, you can send reminders to customers about their appointments on WhatsApp by using any WhatsApp CRM. According to Zippia’s stats, the feature of sending reminders can lower the number of missed appointments by 29%.

To pick the best digital booking system without having to look at all of them, you should:

  • Read reviews or ask other businesses what they use.
  • List the ones you like and talk to their customer service.
  • Try them out with free trials.

The Case of a Successful Shift to Digital Booking Systems

The Modellbauwerkstatt Braunschweig at the Technical University faced a challenge: their old way of booking student equipment was too complicated. They needed a system that was easy for staff and students. 

After trying one that didn’t meet their needs, they finally found one that met their needs. This new platform allowed students to book online equipment like 3D printers and lasers. A key feature they introduced was QR codes, making it even easier for students to book by simply scanning a code. 

Challenge 2: Managing Customer Expectations and Experience 

Nowadays, people want booking appointments or services to be super easy and quick, and they prefer using their phones or computers for managing bookings.

Salesforce even found that 8 out of 10 people think how a company treats them is as important as the service or product they are getting. This also means they want the booking process to feel smooth and personal. But how do you do this?

The Solution

To better meet customer expectations when implementing a booking system,

  • Train your team on using the technology (e.g. Helpdesk systems) to deliver exceptional service. 
  • Implement features like appointment reminders to enhance the customer experience
  • Make feedback forms available after services to help you understand client satisfaction and identify areas for improvement. 
  • Encourage online reviews to build trust with new clients. 
  • Use customer data to personalize communications and offers because this makes each customer feel valued.
  • For those interested in venturing into e-commerce, consider exploring methods such as learning how to sell on Amazon without inventory. This approach allows you to focus on customer relations and marketing while logistics and stock management are handled by others. 

The Case of an Efficient Service Provider and Happy Customers 

Kathleen Birch, a skincare expert with years of experience, found it hard to keep up with all her bookings because she did it all by phone or email. This was taking up too much of her time. She decided to use a booking system to make her work more efficient. 

With this new system, her clients could book their appointments online anywhere and anytime they wanted, even at night. This made things much easier for Kathleen, and her clients loved it, too. Now, she spends less time on the phone and rarely has to deal with missed appointments. 

Challenge 3: Staff Training and System Integration 

Implementing a new system is always challenging, especially when managing bookings, as you must teach everyone how to use the system wellThen there’s the possible disruption of the process that you have been used to in your business. Transitioning to a new system is tricky because everyone needs to get used to using the new technology without causing any problems for your operations and your customers’ experiences. 

The Solution

Change is never easy, so when choosing a booking system, look for a user-friendly and highly customizable one. For a smooth transition into using the system for your business,

  • Involve your team in the selection process of your new system to ensure it meets everyone’s needs; this also helps you determine if the new system integrates well into your existing process. 
  • Train your staff with hands-on practice and regular refreshers. 
  • Set up a central knowledge base where your staff can find answers to common questions. 
  • Monitor system usage and gather feedback from staff to make necessary adjustments. 

The Case of Successful Website Integration

Smile Pop, a dental clinic in New York, needed a better way to handle appointments because they were getting a lot of patients. They needed a system that could handle appointments better and fit seamlessly with their website. So they chose SimplyBook.me because it lets them do more things their way and is easier to use.

Dr. Courtney Barry, who runs the clinic, liked that the system could be customized a lot without knowing computer coding. This meant they could make the booking system look and feel like part of their website, which was important for keeping their brand consistent. 

They integrated the system into their website, creating a direct link for patients to book appointments. So booking became easier and more accessible. Their online bookings now make up 90% of new patient appointments.

Challenge 4: Financial Planning and Investment in Growth 

Every business, big or small, needs to think about how to spend money wisely, especially when it wants to grow. Their considerations include spending on new technology.  Implementing a new system to help make your booking management efficient means an additional cost. The question then is, should you get one or not? Consulting with a financial coach can provide guidance on these investments.

The Solution

Well, a booking system is one you cannot avoid having when you are providing services. Therefore, the better question is how you make that spending worthwhile. Here’s how:

  • Look at what money you have and decide on your big goals. Ask yourself why you need the system and how much you will spend on it. 
  • Compare prices and features when exploring booking systems.  You will have to work within your budget without sacrificing the necessary features. 
  • Test the systems before rolling it out completely for your business

Learning more about managing money and planning for your business’s future is another way to ensure you manage your finances well. For instance, taking online courses that do not cost a lot could get you the right know-how. You could go for the cheapest online masters, especially an MBA or one in finance, to advance your skills and knowledge while still running your business. Such programs cover topics that can directly help you do better in business.

The Case of Finding a Cost-Effective Booking System

Mandel Dermatology, a New York-based skincare clinic, had issues with its previous appointment booking service, which cost a lot but lacked essential features. They looked for a new system, and that’s when they came across SimplyBook.me. 

Their new system could save monthly money and get more people to book appointments online. It also became easier to talk to clients through emails and messages—personalizing email and notification settings to suit their needs. More importantly, they gathered more valuable insights into their marketing strategies. 

Overcome Booking Management Challenges

Managing bookings can be a big task for small businesses with services that rely heavily on efficiently scheduling clients. They must deal with new technology, determine their customers’ needs, and find ways to grow their business. But there are solutions out there. 

Using a simple online booking system can make a huge difference. It makes things easier for both the business and the customers. Plus, investing time in learning more about financial planning and business growth can help, too. You can even take affordable online courses to manage your business better. 

With the right tools and knowledge, small businesses can handle their bookings much better and keep their customers happy.

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