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Scheduling Group Sessions – Group Booking and Booking Limits

Amie Parnaby
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Scheduling Group Sessions - Group Booking and Booking Limits

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Anyone in the service industry will tell you; invariably, it is geared towards individual services. You can’t cut more than one person’s hair at once, nor can you clear up more than one garden per gardener (and sometimes it will take two). So many services struggle with expansion and growing profit margins. But what if your business can accommodate group sessions?

Would that be the next step before expanding resources and staff?

Struggling to Expand Your Service Business?

It is a well-known fact that service businesses struggle to upscale and grow without significant expense on the business side. Investing in additional resources such as space, staff, and equipment without a guaranteed revenue stream to support that investment could be a severe financial drain. At the same time, you can’t offer additional services without making that investment. It’s a Catch-22 situation. 

One way to fund your business expansion would be to raise your prices. However, that carries the risk of losing clients rather than growing your client base – not a great move when you’re trying to expand.

Another method is to expand your provision with products and service add-ons – increasing revenues without the cost falling on the business.

However, these might not afford you the opportunities for expansion you seek. So, could you add group packages to expand your reach, revenues, and client base?

The Barrier to Growth

A single barrier prevents significant expansion to service businesses, and that is the 1:1 ratio of clients to service providers. You can only see one patient at a time, cut one person’s hair, or detail one car at a time. While you might not add group sessions to all of your services, you could add separate services to make the most of your time.

However, your group bookings needn’t mean you see a group of strangers together. You might make a group booking for families, couples, friends or colleagues. You can limit your group bookings to as few as two and still reap the benefits of seeing two clients in the same period as you would see one.

Many years ago, when I still lived at home with my parents and siblings, we had a hairdresser who came to our home (she’s still my mother’s hairdresser). In the space of 2-3 hours, she would be able to use her time more effectively, fitting five cuts and (usually) three colours into the time she would only have been able to do two or maybe three in a traditional salon setting. She wouldn’t have been able to share her time with five strangers effectively, but with a family unit, cutting hair while colour is developing is just good time management.

No, this doesn’t work for everything. Still, with some creative thinking, many businesses can incorporate some form of group booking to engage a more extensive client base without spending more on additional staff.

Group Sessions for Increased Reach and Accessibility

You have a minimum amount you have to charge for each service you provide to make your business viable and preferably profitable. The ability to include more than one person in a timeslot opens up the ability to earn more money whilst engaging more clients who might want your services but can’t afford them on a 1-2-1 basis.

Think about courses on Udemy. There is almost always a sale on Udemy, and courses initially priced over €100 are routinely reduced to €12 or €15.

You might ask how the course creators make any money from this. However, the fact is that while one person in fifty can afford the initial price for the course, thirty people can afford €15. Which one makes more money for the course creator?

Take it a step further, and those people who took one course and loved it might be inclined to purchase another or at least leave a great review.

Now apply the same idea to service business with personal attention. Someone could be desperate for a personal trainer but can’t afford the session rate of €50. However, the local gym has a trainer that will take couples and friends (up to a maximum of three people) for €90.

A single person who wants or needs undivided attention might opt for the €50 rate. However, the three friends who want to train together would gain a significant discount by sharing the trainer’s attention with people they know.

It is a Win: Win for both the trainer and the clients. The trainer gets more money for their time, and the clients pay less. The business increases its client base, and there are more people to give feedback, share their experiences and act as advocates.

Group Sessions for Better Profit Margin and Business Expansion

I wouldn’t suggest changing all of your sessions to group ones. That will completely change your business model and your client base. However, introducing group sessions where possible might help you grow your profit for reinvestment in the business’ growth.

As a simplistic breakdown for a solo provider business, using arbitrary numbers:

An individual session for one client at €100/hour:

Business costs:

  • The hourly wage for provider – €30
  • One location/space rental or mortgage (aggregated) – €10
  • One set of consumable resources – €8
  • Taxes/ Business Expenses – 30% (€30)
  • Total Cost = €78
  • Profit = €22

A Group session for three clients at €200/hour (€66.66/client): 

Business costs:

  • The hourly wage for provider – €30
  • One location/space rental or mortgage (aggregated) – €10
  • Three Sets of consumable resources – €24
  • Taxes/ Business Expenses – 30% (€60)
  • Total Cost = €124
  • Profit = €76

These are entirely made up numbers for illustration purposes. However, they show how introducing group sessions can benefit the business and the clients.

For business expansion, the increased profit margin can automatically be reinvested to hire new staff members. Consequently, you can target a more extensive market section with this hybrid model.

How Group Sessions Can Improve Engagement

If your business is primarily a solo session enterprise, the introduction of group sessions could be a gateway to your services.

In most cases, people don’t want to pay a lot of money for an untested product or service. If you can use group sessions to enable potential clients to try your services at a much-reduced rate, you could open the door to a lot more business.

Group Training and Tutoring

If you’ve ever been in a group training session, there’s almost always a time for questions. Have you ever heard someone else pose a question that had never occurred to you to ask? Far from reducing the benefit of the training, group sessions can enhance the experience with cumulative input from multiple participants.

However, there is still a significant advantage to having the entirety of the tutor’s attention on an individual client.

Training and tutoring can benefit significantly from hybrid models of individual and group sessions.

The Trick to Group Sessions for the Best Outcome

There’s no point in spreading yourself too thin within a group setting that no one gets your full attention. The trick is to keep your group sessions small enough to focus on the individuals while also increasing your revenues.

If I use the trainer example again, an hour of their time might be partially wasted while their client works through a regime. However, more than two or maybe three people and the focus is spread too thin, and the clients don’t get the same degree of attention.

For clients, the trade-off is personal attention vs cost. They are willing to give up a little of the trainer’s focus for a significant discount.

Keeping group sessions smaller enables an almost identical level of service for a significant discount to the client and increased revenue for the business.

What to take away?

What are the potential benefits if you can creatively work some group sessions into your business model?

  • Increase client numbers
  • Offer competetive discounts that don’t affect your revenues
  • Broaden your reach to new target audiences
  • Increase profitability
  • Expand your business

That’s a great list of potential benefits when trying to grow your business.

The best thing about it is that you can set up Group Booking options with the SimplyBook.me scheduling system. And it’s not just a group booking feature that allows one person to book for multiple people. You can limit the number of bookings with a specified number of individual sessions, in relation to available resources, and you could even choose to incorporate group bookings as part of a promotion with a package deal or discount voucher.

You can find more information about how the Group Booking feature works as well as booking limits and packages in the help centre.

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