Choosing an online scheduling software can be very time consuming and challenging. There are so many options available and it’s hard to distinguish and differentiate between them. If you take the time to do your research, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed or confused by looking at only a few softwares. And then if you ask for help through your social media networking groups, you’ll likely get a long list of recommendations, including several for ones you’ve never heard of before. That may make you feel even more overwhelmed and confused. (That’s a vicious cycle!)
All you want is an effective, straightforward massage scheduling software- that’s easy for clients to navigate and makes your work (and life!) more simple and efficient. Right?
To avoid potential overwhelm and frustration, many practitioners decide what to purchase after considering just a few features: pricing, payment processing, and SOAP notes.
If you start deciding on a massage scheduling software by its price, that’s a good place to start. Budgeting is important and you usually have a great idea of what you can afford. If a software’s pricing is within your budget, the logical next step practitioners make is to look at the software’s features… things like payment processing, SOAP notes, text and email reminders, etc. These are all great things to consider and knowing more about the details of these features can give you a good idea whether or not you are going to like the massage scheduling software.
But instead of stopping there and deciding to invest or not, I highly suggest you do three more things before clicking on that “start your free trial” button.
First, take your massage scheduling software inquiry to a deeper level.
For pricing, look to see if the company offers tiered pricing. Tiered pricing means you get access to a certain set of features for a specific price. (Examples of tiered pricing for massage scheduling software include Massagebook, Mindbody, and Bodywork Buddy.) In most cases, it likely means that you pay more money for the use of features that are more helpful for your practice. For example, appointment reminders is a feature that some softwares give you access to once you’ve paid for a higher version (tier). It’s frustrating because appointment reminders are greatly beneficial. They reduce client no-shows significantly. It’s hard to say “okay, I’ll pay more money for that” when you know not all companies charge more to use this feature.
A note on tiered pricing- try to avoid softwares that charge this way. It will get too expensive in the long run. There are many great softwares (like Artichoke) that offer flat fees for every available feature. Flat fees are the better option because you won’t encounter unpleasant surprises. Instead, you’ll know exactly what you’re getting for the amount you pay upfront.
Understanding what’s possible with the SOAP notes feature will also be important. For SOAP notes, ask yourself if you’re okay with text-only options. You may be interested in SOAP notes features that offer visual charts so that you have the ability to look up the names of muscles. You may want to take a little time to consider what kind of SOAP notes will support you doing your best work so that you can continue to help your clients and your business thrive. This will help clarify your needs, which helps clarify the type of scheduling software that is the best fit for you.
Also, don’t make the mistake of only thinking about how the software works for you as the practitioner.
Think about (and look into) how the software works for your clients who are trying to schedule with you! You need to know that the software will be easy for your clients to use. The last thing you want to do is confuse or cause them stress when they’re trying to schedule with you online. (A client who gets confused is a client who goes somewhere else.)
If you want a really good software that’s really easy for clients to use, I highly recommend ClinicSense!
Take the time to watch demos provided by the software companies. The videos should explain how the software works for your clients too. If they don’t, then it might be a good idea to move on to the next recommendation. You don’t want to spend a lot of your valuable time setting up accounts and business profiles only to learn it will not work for your clients. With any software you choose, it will be a good idea to book a session with yourself online. You’ll learn a lot and will be able to determine how easy or difficult scheduling will be for your clients.
Finally, test the most important features.
Learn how they work. For example, I recently signed up for a free trial with a certain scheduling software. I created my user account and then visited the scheduling link. When I created a fake appointment for myself, I noticed that it took over 20 minutes for the appointment confirmation email to arrive in my email inbox. 20 minutes isn’t a long time in general but it might be too long of a wait for a client trying to get in last minute.
Testing out the features will give you more knowledge about what will and what won’t work for your business. Doing research on the front end is definitely worth your time in the long run. The time you spend testing features out will save you more time once you start using the software. This will ensure that whatever software you choose is also the one that will keep serving you years down the road.
One last tip- For deciding on an online scheduling software, I highly suggest you DO judge a book by its cover. Look into how “modern”, “fresh” and “updated” the software looks. By doing so, you create assurance for yourself because the companies who update their look, design, and software functionality are the companies who plan to stick around. Also, updated software is an indication that the company is listening to its customers’ needs and striving towards better efficiency and ease of use. By keeping their software up to date and looking modern or fresh, you can further trust that the company will still be around a long time from now.
Hopefully, these tips help you feel more empowered when choosing your massage scheduling software. Your investment of time to research things on the front end will save you money and time in the long run.
To simplify your research, I recommend limiting your search to these recommendations:
For Sole Proprietors, visit the reviews I did for Artichoke and Massagebook.
For Massage business owners (with one or more locations), read the reviews for ClinicSense and Mindbody.
Enjoy the process.