Because of my background in web development, I knew I always wanted a beautiful and seamless online process for scheduling client appointments for my photography business. I knew I wanted to offer clients the option to schedule online. Making scheduling a simple process for your clients will leave a really good impression on them. In addition, it removes a potential roadblock in getting a potential client in the door. I like offering online scheduling because they can book an appointment anytime of the day or night! They don’t have to wait for a return call or email. I especially love using it when I host a day of mini sessions or during a busy time of the year. Many scheduling systems can also manage your calendar for you, take payments, and have clients sign contracts.
When I have a mini session day coming up I set up my calendar so that each client can book the alotted time, breaks and lunches are automatically scheduled in, and the client can pay for the session online and electronically agree to the terms of the session. This eliminates a ton of back and forth between me and clients and makes it much easier for everyone.
What is a mini session day? It is a day when I offer a very short session time with a set package of prints or digital images and I photography a lot of families. The sessions are usually 15-30 minutes long and include a digital image or two. They are priced lower than a regular session. I can also upsell the clients on additional images or products. It is a great way for new clients to get introduced to me or for busy families to update their family portraits. I often hold these during the holidays or at busy times of the year.
Finding the perfect scheduling system
I tested out a lot of systems, including online services, WordPress plugins, and PayPal email invoices. Nothing really worked until I found a service called Acuity Scheduling.
I LOVE this service. It is really easy to use. Here is what you do:
- Sign up for an account and set up your calendar preferences, appointment types, and settings.
- Copy and paste the form into a page of your website. This will work with almost any website.
- Send the link to that page to anyone you’d like to schedule.
- The client can pick their appointment type, date, time and submit payment in a few easy steps.
- The system will manage your calendar and send email reminders to your clients before their session.
Here are a few of the top features I like:
- Integrates easily and beautifully.
- Collects payment for the appointment if you wish (or a deposit).
- Sends email reminders to clients.
- Manages your calendar. For example, you can automatically add 30 minutes between each appointment time if you’d like.
- You can create “intake forms” which is basically a way to collect information about your client while they are booking an appointment. This can be used for determining how many people are in the group you will photograph and what their ages are. You can also use this to have them sign a contract while they book the appointment.
- You can customize all emails sent to your clients.
Here is a link to their website where you can check out this service and see if it works for you.
What are some ways you have made scheduling simple for your clients? What are service you have tried in the past?