Guest Blog Written By Reid Peterson, MA, CMT
For many Massage Therapists there’s a point in our career when we ask ourselves “What can make my work easier?” It's natural to think this way. As business owners, we strive for convenience, ways to save time, and reduce stress in our lives.
For Massage Therapists, a common strategy to make work easier is to start using an online scheduling software (also referred to as an online booking system). Online scheduling helps you save time by reducing unnecessary communication and eliminating all the back-and-forth of calling, texting, or emailing to schedule/reschedule with clients.
What I’ve seen as a common problem for Massage Therapists is not knowing which online scheduling software to use. It’s easy to get recommendations from colleagues and friends but they are often limited to a few vague reasons why you should use a certain recommended software (“I use _______ software, you should too”).
Knowing which online scheduling software to use can be tricky because your practice may have specific needs that are very different from other Massage Therapists. For example, you may mix outcall appointments with sessions held at your office and you want to make sure the calendar accommodates for the time it takes to travel. For this reason and others, it’s hard to know if the recommendations from colleagues are actually the best fit for your practice.
To determine the best online scheduling software for your practice, think about these four things: Pricing, How easy or difficult it is to set up, If the software is responsive, and how it captures payment information. For the remainder of this article, I’m going to expand on each of these four topics.
The best online scheduling software for your practice is reasonably priced. It’s neither cheap or expensive, but rather, priced at an amount that makes you think “this is worth it”. There are good free softwares, and there are ones that are too expensive, but the best software is priced somewhere in between.
After doing extensive research about costs of software, I’ve concluded that the amount of $25/month is a reasonable price for a software that is used by Sole Proprietors. If you run a clinic and there are multiple therapists and/or locations, $75/month is considered a reasonable price.
*Note* The AMTA offers a variety of software discounts for members. These discounts are very helpful to bring any type of costs down from original price.
The best online scheduling software for Massage Therapists is also easy to set up. It’s simple, intuitive, and clean. You can quickly assess these qualities of unfamiliar softwares by asking yourself “Am I confused?” when you first login. If the answer is yes, move on. There are better softwares out there. But if you think no at first and then change your mind as you navigate further, that’s also an indication that the software isn’t meant for you and a better fit is available.
Many software companies create “Universities” and/or “Help Desks” to make their software easier to navigate. They document and categorize the most commonly asked questions and set up databases to provide answers to these questions. This can be a helpful resource to use. If your questions remain unanswered, expect the company to have an available and helpful customer service or support department. You’ll know if you have great customer service when the agent “invites” you to video conference so they can see your screen and guide you through any troubleshooting or other problems you may be experiencing.
The best online scheduling software for your practice is also responsive. This means you can use it on a computer, a tablet, or a phone and no matter what the size of the screen, everything is easy to see and navigate. Links are easy to click. Images fit the size of the screen, etc. As you navigate throughout the software, things continue to look sharp and clean, no matter how big or small the screen is.
The best online scheduling software for Massage Therapists captures payment information. When a client schedules, they enter a credit card number to reserve their session. The credit card information is encrypted (stored) in the software but it is not visible to you. This ensures that you can charge a client if they don’t show up for the session and didn’t give you proper notice that complied with your cancellation policy.
The point of scheduling online is to provide convenience- to you and your clients. Some online scheduling softwares do not provide payment processing. You would need to invest in a separate payment processing software. This may not be a huge inconvenience, however, it’s easier for you if you only log into one software to manage all your needs. In today’s technology craze, there are several companies that provide enough features to accommodate.
Now that you’ve got the fundamentals of what to look for, use this information to ask some specific questions to your colleagues who have recommendations. For example, asking a question like “How many of your clients schedule online each week with your software?” or “What do your clients say about the process of online scheduling?” are two very helpful questions to help you move forward in choosing a software to use.
Remember that there isn’t one specific software that is the best fit for every Massage Therapist because people run their practices in different ways. You will want to do your research. Be sure to ask specific questions so you will get specific answers, which will help you narrow the scope of your search. Clarity, research, and being smart will help you find a great software to use.
Reid Peterson is the founder of Bodywork Business Pro, a company that helps Massage & Bodyworkers promote and manage their practice more efficiently. More tips and resources for online scheduling softwares can be found at bodyworkbusinesspro.com