Following our philosophy that websites should not only look nice but do useful work, we’ve been extending our capabilities into on-line appointment and scheduling systems. It’s a growing opportunity for salons, chiropractors and countless other small enterprises than need to better plan their work and client appointments.
It all adds a level of business efficiency, customer service and marketing options that can be the making of any small business selling their time and skills.
But booking systems can get confusing and quite costly. Providers that specialise in this market like ezybook, shortcuts and kitomba, are typically charging $100-400 per month. And it’s assumed you’ll already have your own website too. For home businesses or small salons, all these items and costs can be a big hurdle, especially when you seldom need or use all the fancy services they push.
Booking Systems – Keep it simple & affordable
Fortunately there are other better value options for those starting out. One we love is Timely which is a cloud service developed here is NZ, starting at just $19/mth. Unlike systems like Kitomba, there’s no clunky software to install. The really nice thing with Timely is their WordPress integration, allowing booknow buttons or calendars to be quickly added to a WordPress page or sidebar.
or Self-hosted WordPress Appointment & Booking Plugins
If you’re already a WordPress fanatic, there are WordPress plugins that can do appointments, rather than linking to an external service like Timely. But selecting the right plugin takes time and expertise. A Google search reveals 100+ variations from free to $300/yr. We’ve tried many. Once you install the plugin you then need to set aside time to learn and configure it to your specific needs.
In spite of these challenges, a good quality WordPress plugin offers some unique features. Those few that work alongside the powerful WooCommerce plugin are best. Any booking is then set up as a virtual product that may or may not have a price assigned to it.
WooCommerce also makes it easier if the salon wants to sell other virtual, digital or physical items online. Everything is done within the same cart selling your time as well as products. But there’s no reason you can’t run both, Timely for all bookings and WooCommerce for other items you need to sell online.
Which option, which design?
Both the external (Timely) and built-in (WooCommerce) booking plugins work well, each with their own unique benefits. Timely is probably the preferred for most when starting out, especially when connected to a fast, SEO-optimised WordPress site. We’ve a dozen suitable, industry-optimised designs available too (3 examples below) for that really professional look, raising your credibility and bottom line.
The best part? These affordable combos can normally be set up within a week if you’ve some website copy, logo and photos available. For a quotation, or to view a demo site, complete the form below