There’s no denying it. We live in an ever-more digital world, and it’s going to become even more so in light of Coronavirus.
During lock down, perhaps you’ve taken an online yoga class with your instructor or had a consultation with a health practitioner? Now that lock down is easing up in many countries, small and large businesses are having to rethink how they do business.
The use of digital marketing tools are helping them to adapt, for example, many barbershops, which might have previously relied on customers simply coming in off the street, are now making appointments mandatory for their customers.
A key part of this evolution is, and continues to be, scheduling apps. So if you don’t have an online appointment booking system in place, then now is the time to get set up with one.
If you’ve made it here then you’ve already put the wheels in motion. So, let me take you through the pros and cons to using each of the top scheduling apps on the market and when to use them.
I assure you that by the end of this post you’ll have the perfect solution for your business, thus making it more resilient and successful in the digital age.
Though each industry is not equal in terms of the rate of digital transformation, generally speaking, any small to medium sized business will need to have (minimum) a website and a listing on Google Maps (Google My Business).
It’s also likely that your competition has at least those two things as well. So, in order to stay ahead of your competitors, you’ll need to find new ways to reach potential clients whilst also streamlining your customer’s journey.
A scheduling app will help you to:
All sounds pretty good, right? Now all you need is the perfect appointment scheduling software to get started.
|SetMore||SimplyBook.me||Calendly||Square||Acuity Scheduling (paid plan)||Appointlet||10to8|
Stripe (paid plan)
|Over 40 including PayPal Square Stripe||Stripe (paid plan)
PayPal (paid plan)
|Stripe (paid plan)||PayPal Stripe
Premium from $25/mo
Paid plans from$9.90/mo
Paid plans from$10/mo
Paid plans from $50/ mo
|Free (very limited)
Paid plans from $15/mo
Paid plans from $10/mo
Paid plans from $12/mo
But I imagine you’ll need a little more information in order to make your decision. I’ve dissected each of the booking tools in detail below. Jump to the reviews by clicking here.
The great thing about appointment scheduling software is that it takes care of tedious tasks like cancelling and rescheduling appointments for clients. Not only will it mean more appointments scheduled, it’ll also mean more time for you and your staff to focus on more hands-on tasks.
But, of course, you’ll need to make sure the scheduling app you choose has all the necessary features.
Here are some things to look out for:
Customization: The app should be flexible in that it allows you to customize the booking experience depending on your needs. For example, a personal trainer’s scheduling app won’t look the same as that of a freelance photographer or a sales agent.
Aside from selecting the time and place, your customers might need to specify the reason for their appointment or answer a quick survey in the case of first-time customers. A good scheduling app should allow you to do all of this and more.
Payment Processing: Having the ability to take payments online ahead of time is crucial for many businesses – especially since many customers are trying to avoid cash in times of Coronavirus. It can also mean you don’t lose out on revenue from last-minute cancellations.
Calendar Syncing: This is key. No one wants to have to put in information twice. You should be able to sync the software up your Google, iCloud or Outlook calendar so that public holidays, days off, store closures and appointment clashes are visible on both ends.
Compatibility: You’ll also want to make sure that your clients can schedule appointments from a variety of points. For example, on your Facebook page, website or via a link. The app should therefore come with a multitude of options.
Device: Depending on how you work, you might be more comfortable or find it more convenient to use a particular device. Whether you prefer using a mobile app, desktop computer or iPad, make sure that the appointment scheduling software you choose supports the devices you need.
1- SetMore – Free plan without limitations
2- SimplyBook.me – Modern design options
3- Calendly – Unlimited appointments
4- Square Appointments – No limit to what you can do
5- Acuity Scheduling – Language features
6- Appointlet – Create more than 1 booking page
7- 10to8 – All major calendars but not that intuitive
The great thing about SetMore’s scheduling software is that you don’t need to have any technical experience whatsoever, you can get setup in no time. However, that’s not to mean it’s not powerful, just the opposite.
Pros to using SetMore
This software is really easy to use. Its set-up wizard makes sure you don’t miss a step and its clean interface makes it easy to navigate.
A unique feature of this tool is the desktop app, which lets you see your appointments even if you're offline. None of the other providers offer this feature.
Thanks to its many integrations with website builders, CRMs and newsletter tools (Mailchimp and Constant Contact) it’s easy to display your booking service, manage your contacts and incorporate them into your email marketing strategy.
SMS reminders aren’t included in the free plan, but hopefully email notifications are enough for you.
Though you have a range of customization options in terms of booking details, the booking landing page (hosted on SetMore) doesn’t have any design customization options.
When to use SetMore
If you’re looking for a free but generous provider then SetMore is an excellent choice. You’ll find you can do practically everything you need in this booking app, plus the fact that you can access it on your desktop offline might be appealing for some.
Free for 1-4 staff logins and calendars, automated emails, unlimited bookings and you can accept payments with Square.
Paid plans start at $25/month for up to 20 user accounts, SMS reminders for your clients and 2-way calendar syncing (to combine your personal calendar with the app’s calendar).
Founded in 2008, SimplyBook.me has been around for some time. Its extensive list of features, like membership options and a website builder, secured it a place on this list of the best scheduling apps.
Pros to using SimplyBook.me
It’s plans are generous and very affordable. Even the Free plan comes with a range of really nice-looking, fully responsive booking website templates. It’s super simple to set up, all the work is virtually done for you!
SimplyBook.me’s membership feature allows you to offer both discounts and treats to your members, as well as lower recurring payments if they become members (recurring membership payments work with Stripe everywhere except within the EU).
Use the SMTP email custom feature to integrate with transactional services such as Mailjet or Sendgrid.
I had some issues with the dashboard freezing when I tried to navigate between different options.
Unfortunately, this app is only available in English. If you need multi-languages, you should take a look at Appointlet, which supports a number of languages, including Spanish, German, Dutch and Italian.
When to use SimplyBook.me
If you need a simple booking website you can customize then SimplyBook.me is a good choice. It’s also very affordable.
Free for 50 appointments, automated reminders and 1 custom feature (e.g. payment processing). Paid plans from $9.90/month for 100 appointments, 3 custom features and POS system.
Calendly, which is based in Atlanta, is a popular scheduling app, especially among startup companies. It allows for unlimited appointments and has a well-designed interface that’s really easy-to-use.
Pros to using Calendly
You can use it with Google, Outlook, Office 365 or iCloud and allow your customers to schedule directly from your website. Automated event notifications are included even on the free plan, making no-shows less likely.
The automated workflows are really helpful as you’ll no doubt save a ton of time having these set up! You can also create your own workflow if it doesn’t appear in the templates provided.
SMS notifications and direct integrations with email marketing and payment processing tools are only available on the most expensive Pro plan ($15). This means that you won’t be able to take payments through the free app – if you’re looking for a service that does allow this, check out SetMore. I'd also recommend checking out these Calendly alternatives if you have multiple users and want to avoid paying extra.
When to use Calendly
If you’re looking for a reasonably priced solution with unlimited appointments.
Basic: Free for 1 user. 1 calendar. Calendly branding
Premium: $10/month per user/month. 2 calendars/user
Pro: $15/month per user/month. 6 calendars/user
If you have an online store then you’ll no doubt have heard of Square, which allows you to accept payments securely on your site, as well as in your brick and mortar store. Square Appointments uses this same technology to facilitate paid bookings (and free ones too, of course).
Pros to using Square
With Square Appointments, you can set up an entire customer booking website for free. It’s really easy to do so due to an easy to navigate interface and step-by-step checklist.
The software really helps you to automate the whole process; you can activate automated text and email reminders, set the times you’re available, charge cancellation fees for no-shows, and accept payments all on the same platform.
It’s widget can be added to your site and social media profiles, making it super simple for customers to schedule an appointment with you.
Funds are sometimes frozen while they investigate potential fraud. This could leave you in a sticky situation if you’re relying on that money for immediate use. It’s also not the cheapest option.
When to use Square
Because Square has so many solutions – employee payment processing, apps for restaurants and retail, the ability to send and receive invoice payments – it’s a very attractive option for small to medium sized businesses who want to thrive in the twenty-first century.
In terms of industry, it isn’t limited to just one. So whatever your business, you’ll find that Square can accommodate your needs.
Free for individuals. $50 per month for 2-5 users or $90 / month for 6-10 users.
Find out about Square’s fees for all services here.
Acuity Scheduling has been part of Squarespace since 2019. It supports over 50,000 businesses and major corporations worldwide. A unique feature is the “Make me look busy” option, which automatically hides some available times so you appear in high demand.
Pros to using Acuity Scheduling
The paid plans allow you to sync with all the main calendars: Outlook.com, Exchange, Office 365, iCloud and Google Calendar.
Acuity Scheduling can translate your scheduling page to French, German, Brazilian Portuguese or Spanish. Or you can translate it yourself using its handy tool. It’s also very easy to set up intake forms for new clients.
Aside from allowing for unlimited appointments, its Free plan is very limited in that you can’t send any kind of reminders, or even display your brand’s logo. You also can’t accept any payments or sync with your calendar. If you’re looking for a free plan, you’d be better off with SetMore.
When to use Acuity Scheduling
Acuity is a very decent scheduling app with a multitude of features. If you have customers in different countries then you find its translation feature useful. The only time I wouldn’t recommend it is if you’re in need of a free plan, as the features are too limited compared to other apps.
Acuity Scheduling Pricing
Free for unlimited services and appointments but no reminder emails/texts and you can’t feature your logo. Paid plans from $15/month for calendar syncing and email marketing integrations.
Using Appointlet is a simple affair due to its clean interface. It has enough customization options to satisfy even the most complicated of workplaces, for example, it comes in several languages and comes with unlimited form fields.
Pros to using Appointlet
Its forever free plan includes unlimited bookings, meeting types, and form fields, making it one of the most generous free appointment scheduling software. If you need booking reminders and want to remove the Appointlet branding, the paid plan is very affordable at $10/month per user.
Appointlet lets you create more than one booking page, where you can customize all the details such as location, price, etc. This is really useful if you have a number of very different services. In terms of integrations you can connect Appointlet to Zapier, which supports pretty much any newsletter service or CRM.
Appointlet sadly doesn’t currently have a mobile app available, which some users will miss.
You are required to sync with either Google Calendar or Office 365 calendar, so if you’re not currently using either of these calendars and don’t want to switch over then this isn’t the tool for you.
You’re also not able to take payments online on the free plan.
When to use Appointlet
If you have a lot of appointments coming in but can do without automated reminders and online payment processing then the Free plan is really worth checking out!
Free with unlimited bookings. $10/month per user for automated and customizable booking reminders, Zoom and Stripe integrations.
10to8 is a UK company which has been around since 2014. It serves businesses of all kinds, including private surgeons, financial consultants, complementary health therapists, beauty therapists, tutors and music teachers.
Pros to using 10to8
10to8 makes it possible to two-way sync with Google, iCal, Office 365 and OutlookExchange – a wider variety than most of the other solutions on this list.
Color coding for different appointment types makes it easy to get an idea of your schedule at a glance.
The Free plan boasts a native Zoom integration. If you want to integrate with your email service provider you can do so via Zapier.
The Free and Basic plan ($12/month) both limit you to 100 appointments so if you’ll be generating more than that a month then you’ll be looking at paying $25/month for 300 appointments.
The interface isn’t quite as clean as SetMore or Square, for example.
When to use 10to8
10to8 is perfect for coaches, counselors, massage therapists, etc. who have fewer than 100 appointments a month as they won’t have to pay anything. 10to8’s Bigger Business plan ($50/month) complies with HIPAA Privacy regulations, making it a good solution for healthcare institutions.
Free for 2 staff login and 100 appointments. Paid plans start from $12/month.
All of the scheduling apps mentioned have a free plan, but as you’ve seen, some are more generous than others.
SetMore is by far the best one to go for if you don’t want to spend a penny nor miss out on features. For absolutely nothing, you’ll get up to 4 staff logins, automated emails, unlimited bookings and you can accept payments with Square!
Though SetMore is an excellent scheduling app, once you move onto the Premium plan things can get quite pricey ($25/month). As a small business, I’m sure you’re interested in keeping costs low, which is why you should take a look at SimplyBook.me ($9.90/month).
You can set up a simple, but attractive website with them, accept payments from a wide range of payment processors and book up to 100 appointments.
To be honest, any of the apps listed in this article would work well for salons. Though I imagine you wouldn’t want to limit yourself to under 100 appointments a month and you’d want to take online payments ahead of time to avoid losses. I’d recommend you take a look at SetMore, its Free plan is the best deal for sure.
So, there you have it, the best appointment scheduling software for your business. As you’ve probably already worked out, SetMore’s Free plan is my top choice! But that isn’t to say that the other apps on this list don’t deserve a look in. In fact, I found all of the tools really easy to use, which is a breath of fresh air, and great news for non-techy small business owners.
I hope that you’ve found this article helpful. Let me know how you get on using your chosen app!
07 Sept 2020 – Added Calendly