Free Online Booking System is important for any service-based business. Trust me, IT IS!
A free online booking system will save your business from going bankrupt, AND it will also save you from having to answer numerous phone calls inquiring about your service and availability.
I’m sure all of you would agree with me, whether you are working as a self-employed Registered Acupuncturist (RAc), Traditional Chinese Medicine Practitioner (RCMP), Osteopathy Manual Practitioner (DOMP), Chiropractor, Physiotherapist, Dentist, Medical Doctor (M.D), OR you are running your own website design and online marketing agency, you would always be picking up phone calls non-stop in the beginning of your business venture, right?!
Even up until now, I have been practicing for more than two years as an Osteopathy Manual Practitioner and have been running my WordPress website development and design agency for four years, I still receive phone calls and text messages (SMS) from my clients.
I’m literally sitting on my bed in a really nice hotel at Cape Breton, Nova Scotia, typing this blog out with my cell phone and there’s literally three text messages and 2 phone calls to book appointments for next week.
Hey, don’t get me wrong there, that’s how you would pay the bills…
It’s a good thing that people are calling and texting you to ask about your services because if you’re not getting anything, you won’t even last one month before going back to the employed life.
But if I’m on my vacation, I don’t want anybody to call me, they should go straight to my website and schedule their own appointment through an online booking system.
I’ve set it all up…
From the text and voice messaging to redirect clients to my exact website URL for the booking page (https://yi-therapy.com/reserve), down to the very last thank-you email sent to them for coming to my clinic again.
It’s how I get my calendar filled up every week and today, I’ll be teaching you step-by-step on how to set up a free online booking system for your own website.
Ready? Here goes!
BREAKING NEWS! A Quick Review for my Surface Pro 2017 Edition!
Many probably have wondered about how I am able to run my own clinic AND are able to create contents to continue promoting my agency business.
Let me tell you, to be like me, you’ll need a powerful laptop that you can carry around with you at all time.
You also need to make sure it has a strong battery that will last the whole day.
Last but not the least, you need a powerful, POWERFUL computer that allows you to do all the digital marketing at the same time.
So I’m going to spill the secret today, my ultimate weapon choice – Surface Pro 2017 Edition.
I’m not gonna spill too much today, but you really gotta know that it is the most powerful tool I have ever used!
Anyways, let’s keep reading on and be sure to expect some in-depth review for Surface Pro 2017 Edition.
Step 1. Make sure your website is up and running
If you haven’t set up your website yet, I’ve talked about the how-tos in my last two recent blog posts:
- How To Set Up A WordPress Website From Scratch (FAST!)
- How To Design Clinic Website In Four Easy Steps Part 1
Make sure you follow my steps to start your own WordPress website by buying your own domain names and a server to host your WordPress site.
Like I mentioned in the first article, I suggest using WP Health Watch to do both because it’s secure system and fast SSD servers for better website loading speed.
If you’re like me and like to get everything set up properly, get your domain and hosting service here now: https://hosting.wphealthwatch.com/
Once you got all of that set up, AND you went ahead and purchased my customized Clinic Kickstarter template, you can simply change my pre-loaded booking plugin with my newly discovered and now the favorite online scheduling system – Acuity Scheduling.
*Insert video link here*
(*Disclaimer – if you use my affiliate link for Acuity Scheduling right above, you will be receiving a free 14 days trial period. And if you decide to go with the paid plan after the trial because you see how useful this system and my blog post is, I’ll be getting a little commission at no additional cost to you.)
Now that you got the website set up, it’s time to move onto the next step.
I hope you have not fallen asleep yet!
Step 2. Sign up a free 14 days trial with Acuity Scheduling
How are you doing so far? We have talked about getting your WordPress website set up in the first step, are you ready for the next one?
To begin this step, you will need to get an account in Acuity Scheduling website.
Lucky for you I was able to get a free 14 days trial set up with them, all you need to do is to go to my affiliate link here and sign up with your best email address => Acuity Scheduling
Once you have created an account with them, you will see that they provide helpers along the way to help you properly set up your online booking system.
Don’t be daunted, I’ll walk you through step-by-step like I promised!
Step 3. Create Appointment Types
When you first logged in Acuity Scheduling, by default there is an installation wizard that will guide you through setting up your system to start accepting appointments.
We will follow it and create your appointment types, which are the type of services clients can schedule with you.
Here you can see two selections: +New type of service / +New type of group class
Service is a regular one-on-one appointment whereas group class is a group event like a workshop that you can offer to multiple people at the same time.
For now, if you’re not on a paid plan, you can’t set up a group event, so let’s set up a new service.
You can set the name, duration, price and the access to your service. Make sure you save it.
If you have more than one service, you can actually create a category to retain them.
*Wait, there’s a bonus here!*
**You can add a description of your service AND message shown on the confirmation page, this will help convert the viewers into actual buyers.**
Now that you set up your service, let’s set your availability.
Step 4. Set up your calendar availability
In this page, you will see two kinds of schedules: Regular Work Weeks and Availability for Specific Days.
If you are working in the same hours week-to-week, then choose regular work weeks.
Otherwise, choose the latter selection.
In “Settings”, you can choose how many appointments you want to accept per day.
You should also be writing out your clinic address here.
Step 5. Customize Client’s Scheduling Page
Next, we want to customize the scheduling page in client’s view.
In default, it is set to view monthly, which they have suggested for clients that are looking to book more than a week in advance.
However, I’d much prefer to view the calendar daily, where the clients are always going to be able to find the earliest convenient time possible.
So move your mouse cursor over to the circle before Daily, and click on it to enable Daily view.
Make sure you fill in the rest of the info as detailed as possible.
You should be filling in your business name, upload a logo (.png, 120x600px max), scheduling instructions, week start day…all of it!
Oh, and don’t forget you can play around with the styling of the scheduling page.
Choose your favorite color and typography and make it blend in with your website.
Lastly, you can disable recurring appointments, clients log in & registration, hide duration and price of your services, and required phone numbers.
Make sure you save your settings!
Step 6. Synchronize You Calendar
Here, you have the option to instantly add your appointments on Google calendar, iCal, Outlook…etc.
This option is, however, only accessible to the paid plans.
I strongly suggest you get the paid plans as this will save you a chunk of time.
Let’s go on and click on “Sign in to Google Calendar” and get redirected to Google Account sign-in page.
Once you have signed into your Google account, you will get redirected back to the previous page.
You now have the option to do a 2-way sync with your Acuity and Google Calendar.
You can choose to block off time in Acuity from your Google Calendar, or just have Acuity to have that ability.
Set a reminder for your desired amount of minutes before your appointments.
Click “Save Settings” and you’re done!
The setup wizard only takes you to this step, however, I’m gonna throw in bonus guide for you right now!
Step 6. Setup Your Payment Gateways
It is a fairly simple process, you only need to select your currency and your preferred payment processor.
Once again, it is a paid plan feature, so upgrade it from the free one!
I normally select both PayPal and Stripe as my payment gateways, you could choose either one as you wish.
I’m sure most of you have PayPal accounts, so you can just go ahead and enter your PayPal email at below.
Let’s talk about Stripe setup.
According to their website, Stripe is the best way to accept payments online and in mobile apps.
I totally agree, so let’s sign up an account with them and connect Stripe with Acuity Scheduling with a click of a button.
Step 7. Setup Your Email Templates
Acuity Scheduling provides wonderful email templates for initial confirmation, reminders, cancellation, rescheduling, follow-up and package/gift certificate order emails.
Nothing that difficult if you follow their instructions properly.
It’s quite a long post once again and I am pretty confident that with Acuity Scheduling, you will have a much better handle at saving your time from answering phone calls of your patients.
Also, you will be able to generate better customer experiences by having excellent follow-up emails.
There’s definitely more to it than what I have described in this post from Acuity.
So I am going to write out more step-by-step tutorials in the near future.
Now it’s time to ask you, what would you do now that you have this tool to set up an online scheduling system?
Leave a comment below and we will talk about it there.
PS. If you like my tutorial, can you help me by getting your Acuity Scheduling from my partner link?
PPS. If you love my articles and find them helpful, could you leave me a review on Google? It will not just make my day but my decades!