Do you ever find yourself so excited to get a new client inquiry, only to be quickly frustrated by all the back-and-forth emails trying to set up that important first meeting? Believe me, I’ve been there. If you’re fed up with trying to find a time that works for both of you, or you wish there was an easier way to accept payments, send your client a questionnaire, or even let her cancel and rebook her appointment, then I have a great solution for you.
Because branding encompasses your client’s entire experience with your business, it's important to make your very first interaction a positive one. Even before that first meeting, one of the easiest ways to start her off on the right foot is to use an online scheduling tool. There are lots of different schedulers available, but today I’m going to walk you through my favorite one by VIDEO! I’ll show you how to set it up, customize it, and take advantage of all its streamlined features, saving you oodles of time and hassle.
If you’re not sure what a scheduler does, or you’ve been intimidated to try it out, or you’re using one already but not to its full potential, stick with me and I’ll make a believer out of you yet.
Jump in and watch the video.
I first heard about Acuity Scheduling through Jenny Shih, a whipsmart business coach who is all about having smart systems and strategies in place. I gave it a try and haven’t looked back since. It has simplified and “professionalized” my entire client on-boarding process. Honestly, I wish I could book my coffee dates with friends this way, but I don’t think that would go over too well.
If you’re not familiar with online schedulers, they’re like having a virtual receptionist to book client appointments. You set your available office hours, and clients access your calendar via an online tool that you embed on your website or link within an email. The software then handles the follow-up and sends a confirmation email to your client, adds the appointment to your online calendar like Google, Outlook, or iCal, reminds them of the upcoming appointment, and allows them to cancel or rebook. But they're capable of doing a whole lot more than just basic scheduling. It’s like having your front desk on autopilot, and once you start using it successfully, you’ll wonder how you managed without it.
It can be frustrating and time-consuming to try to set up one more piece of software, so I'm walking you through the entire process. I'll even show you how to link Acuity directly into your Squarespace site because what good is the tool if your clients can’t find it? Acuity's in-depth startup tutorial video was over an hour long, and I realize most of you have no desire to slog through all that. So this is the condensed version that shows you just about everything you’ll want to know.
When I first started using Acuity, I used their simple free plan that was ok for what I needed but definitely lacked some useful features like accepting payments, sending reminder emails, and customizing with my logo and colors. They do still offer a free plan which you can access here. But if you really want the functionality and ease of a full scheduler, I highly recommend their basic $10/month Emerging Entrepreneur plan that has absolutely every feature I need. Seriously, you can’t hire a virtual assistant or your teenager for that price – and Acuity is definitely more reliable than my teen. The best news is that this past April they teamed up with Squarespace, so if your website is on Squarespace, you get this $10/month plan absolutely FREE forever. Yes, you read that right. Plus all their plans have a 14-day free trial, so you can try before you buy. They won’t even ask for your credit card.
If you have a Squarespace account but no Acuity account, select the Acuity block on any Squarespace page as shown in the video to get started with Acuity.
If you already have both accounts, email Acuity and they’ll switch your paid account to free.
This is also the prime place to mention how awesome their customer service is. Their friendly, funny help desk is available Monday through Friday, 7:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. EST, and they even check in on weekends and holidays. I don’t contact them often (the software is so easy, why would I need to?), but when I have, they always reply within minutes. And they make me laugh. Bonus points for customer service that can make you spit your coffee when you’re stressed and up against a deadline.
Here’s a list of some of the features I love most:
- Set up custom email messages in your brand voice.
- Embed it into your website or link it to your email signature.
- Automatically sync appointments to your digital calendar.
- Integrate payments to QuickBooks or Freshbooks.
- Automatically add new clients to your Email Service Provider.
- Use Zapier to integrate it with over 500 other apps.
- Accept payments through PayPal, Stripe, Square, and more.
- Offer coupons for special client discounts.
- Use your own logo and brand colors.
- Automatically remind your client of their upcoming appointment.
- Get quick, helpful (and often hilarious) customer support.
- Access their tutorial videos and live webinars if you’re keen to learn even more.
Acuity can’t do absolutely everything, but since it’s true that you only have one chance to make a first impression, it will ensure that yours is professional and organized, without wasting a second of your time.
So I’m curious. Do you use a tool like Acuity? How has it helped you and your business?
*This post contains affiliate links. If you click through and make a purchase, I may receive a commission at absolutely no additional cost to you.