Technology

Best Scheduling Software for Small Businesses

Paul Sharpe, CPA, CA
/
August 4, 2022

Affiliate disclosure

This article will explore some of the best scheduling applications for small businesses. The applications we reviewed offer slightly different feature sets. However, they all offer the core appointment scheduling feature.

Best Scheduling Software for Small Businesses

Business owners can benefit greatly from a well-managed calendar. This is what scheduling software aims to achieve.

The best scheduling apps help you focus on what you do best by streamlining the process of scheduling appointments. Scheduling applications help to prevent unnecessary back-and-forth emails, unsuccessful bookings, and missed appointments.

This article will explore some of the best scheduling applications for small businesses. The applications we reviewed offer slightly different feature sets. However, they all offer the core appointment scheduling feature.

Let’s get started!

How Does Scheduling Software Work?

Scheduling software integrates with your electronic calendar. You send a scheduling link to others that allows them to choose a meeting time and date based on your availability.

This is the basics of how scheduling software works, but each application has its own set of features and ways of booking appointments.

Best Scheduling Software for Small Businesses

Once you’ve signed up for the scheduling software, all you have to do is send a link by email or embed your link on a website. People can then view your availability and schedule a meeting with you.

The process looks like this:

  1. Sign up for one of the software offerings - Calendly for example
  2. Connect the software to your virtual calendar
  3. Create an event type within your dashboard (one-on-one, group, Zoom, in person, etc.)
  4. Add date and time restrictions so that people can only book meetings when you specify
  5. Send your meeting link to someone and they can book a meeting directly into your calendar.

This is pretty much how all of the platforms work. Each system that we’ve listed works well and is reasonably easy to use.

Best Scheduling Software Summary

All scheduling software we’ve listed here are great tools in their own ways. Our favourite scheduling application is Calendly because of its ease of use and reliability.  The free version even provides enough features for a solopreneur.

You can also upgrade to the paid pricing tiers that have additional features and meeting types. The advanced branding customization, options for payment collection and access to meeting metrics are worthwhile for the reasonable monthly fee.

We recommend that you check out Calendly and see if it’s a good solution for you.

Calendly

Calendly is scheduling software founded in Atlanta, Georgia in 2013. The company is now valued at $3 billion, serving 10 million users and 50 thousand companies. Calendly is Avalon’s top choice for scheduling software.

Calendly Logo

How Calendly Works

Calendly integrates with your virtual calendar (Google, Office 365 or iCloud). It allows others to book meetings directly into your calendar with a few clicks.

You can access Calendly through a web application or mobile app (Android and iOS).

Calendly allows you to create different event types such as one-on-one, group meetings, meeting polls, and a lot more. However, the free version only allows you to use one specific event type.

Once you have decided which event type to create, you can then choose where to meet. You can choose in-person, phone, or the popular video conferencing apps such as Zoom, Google Meet or MS Teams.

You may also offer a range of dates that are only available for booking or just the next number of days or weeks.

Send your Calendly event link to someone and they can use it to schedule a meeting based on your availability.

Once an appointment is booked, it will be added to your calendar and the recipient will also be able to add it to theirs as well. There are links included that allow recipients to cancel or reschedule the meeting in just a couple of clicks.

Calendly Pricing

Calendly has four pricing tiers including three paid plans ranging from $8 USD to $16 USD per month. They also have an Enterprise plan with bespoke features and pricing.

The main features of paid plans are:

  • Advanced customization of meeting types
  • Multiple event types: one-on-one, group, collective, round robin, meeting poll or one-off meeting
  • Combine calendars with your team to create multi-person events

The free version still works great for individuals or small businesses if you only need to book and sync meetings to one calendar.

Calendly Pricing

Benefits of Calendly 

  • Ease of use - The user interface is simple and easy to learn. The booking page is easy to use in both desktop and mobile browsers.
  • Unlimited Bookings for Free - Calendly offers Basic users unlimited access to one event type. 
  • Custom Workflows - You can create custom workflows to automate your communication before and after an event. Workflows include email and text reminders to anyone or everyone involved in the meeting.
  • Custom Branding - You can upload your own logo and change the colour palette of the booking page. You can also remove the Calendly logo if you switch to the Professional plan or higher.
  • Collect Payments - Calendly can be integrated with Stripe and Paypal so that you can charge a fee for people to book with you. It’s a streamlined process and it allows you to collect payment prior to booking the meeting.
  • Multiple Event Types - The paid tiers offer multiple event types which gives you flexibility when trying to coordinate multiple calendars for a meeting.
Calendly Meeting Types

Drawbacks of Calendly

  • Only One Event Type in the Free Version - This can be a challenge if you need more than just the basic event type. The paid plans are fairly inexpensive, so it may make sense to upgrade if this is important for you.
  • Stripe and Paypal Only - Currently, Calendly only supports Stripe and Paypal collections in Professional and Teams plans.

Summary

Calendly is an intuitive and effective scheduling software that works great with our team. Small businesses could benefit from the ease of use and simplicity of the interface. If you aren’t using a scheduling app, be sure to check out Calendly first.

You can start with the free tier to test it out. Then, if your business needs more customization and premium features, the paid tiers are worth the cost.

Setmore Appointments

Setmore is a company founded in 2011 and headquartered in Portland, Oregon. Its parent company is AnywhereWorks which offers numerous productivity tools. 

Setmore Logo

We’ve included Setmore because it has a pricing model that offers free access to a lot of great features. The paid plans are also quite reasonably priced which makes it worth a look for any business.

How Setmore Works

Setmore is very easy to set up and use. Once you’ve signed up, you can create and customize your online booking page that customers will use to schedule appointments.

The booking page allows you to showcase your business’ services, appointment availability and pricing all in one spot.

You can also connect Setmore to Square or Stripe to receive payments directly when customers or clients book an appointment.  

Staff members can access the software to help with administration and appointment booking. You can also provide staff with varied levels of access. They can manage just their own calendars, or calendars of multiple team members.

If you’re on the go, you can also manage your appointments and booking page with Setmore’s Android or iOS app.

Setmore Pricing

Setmore’s plans are affordable and offer some great features. The Free plan can be used indefinitely and allows you to add up to four staff members. The Premium plan allows for up to two staff members and the Pro plan starts with three staff members.

The Premium and Pro plans unlock integrations with Google and Office 365 calendars, Zoom video conferencing, and more options for accepting payments.

Setmore Pricing

Benefits of Setmore

  • Feature-Packed Free Version - Setmore offers one of the best free scheduling applications. The scheduling app lets you access unlimited meetings with up to 4 staff calendars.
  • Social Media Integration - Clients can book appointments through Facebook and Instagram directly.
  • Excellent Booking Page - The booking page is a great way for businesses to showcase their various services. It allows customers to view availability and pricing for each available service.

Drawbacks of Setmore

  • Reports of Website Crashes - There are several comments in customer reviews stating occasional website crashes. We haven’t come across this issue, but it may pose an issue if crashes are prevalent.
  • Limited Video Conferencing in the Free Version - Setmore’s free plan only allows use of its own video conferencing tool. This means that others may not be familiar with it and only 25 devices can join at a time. You can upgrade to a premium plan to access the Zoom integration so this is only an issue with the free tier.

Summary

Setmore is an excellent choice for businesses offering an array of services. The booking page shows service availability information to potential clients very well.  It’s also great for businesses with multiple team members that are looking for an affordable scheduling application.

The free version offers up to 4 staff calendars and a dashboard to manage your staff reports and activities.

Setmore is our top choice for a free appointment scheduling application.

SavvyCal Scheduling

SavvyCal is a young tech company founded in 2020. The online scheduling tool is run by a small team yet offers a competitive alternative to other scheduling software. 

It was recommended to us by a consultant that we work with and we agree that it’s pretty great!

SavvyCal Logo

How SavvyCal Works

Sign up to SavvyCal with our link and receive one free month of the Basic plan.

SavvyCal is available solely as a web application. If you want to use it on your phone, you just have to access SavvyCal on your mobile phone through its web browser.

The web application is one of the most simple scheduling applications on the market. When creating a scheduling link, it gives you two options: multi-use and single-use. 

You can choose to offer multiple meeting durations for recipients to choose from. Similar to other scheduling apps, you may provide your default working hours to limit your availability, or set a custom range of hours and days.

Set your meeting location easily. Choose “in-person”, “phone”, or one of the popular video conferencing apps. You can even use any online meeting platform by entering a custom URL.

What is interesting with SavvyCal is its calendar overlay feature. Both parties can overlay their own calendar on top of the available time slots to find a time that works for everyone.

SavvyCal User Interface

SavvyCal Pricing

SavvyCal has a total of three plans: Free, Basic, and Premium. The free version can be used indefinitely, but it only lets you use Meeting Polls and not the other meeting types. 

Both the Basic and Premium plans unlock all meeting types.

SavvyCal Pricing

Benefits of SavvyCal

  • Calendar Overlay - SavvyCal’s calendar overlay is an excellent feature. It eliminates the need for the scheduler to switch between browser tabs to check their availability. They can see it all in one place on one browser tab.
  • Require Approval - You require that SavvyCal requests your approval before an appointment can be booked. This could be useful if there is a high demand for appointments or if you just want to have the final say about your bookings.

Drawbacks of SavvyCal

  • Limited Meeting Types in the Free Version - The free version of SavvyCal only provides the “meeting poll” type of meeting. Meeting polls allow recipients to vote on meeting times before an appointment date and time can be finalized. A paid subscription is needed to activate the other meeting types.
  • Limited Payment Integration - The payment collection feature is only available in the Premium version. Stripe is the only accepted payment provider.

SavvyCal Promotional Code - 1 Free Month

Sign up with our SavvyCal promotional link here and you will receive one free month of SavvyCal Basic.

Summary

SavvyCal is best for individuals or small teams that need to organize their schedules. The overlay feature makes it easy for your schedulers or invitees to check their availability. Plus, the user interface is easy to navigate and use.

The free version of SavvyCal is not likely the best option for professional services providers. Meeting Polls is the only meeting type accessible with the free version and Stripe payment collection is only available in the premium paid tier.

10to8 Appointment Scheduling Software

10to8 is an appointment scheduling software mainly for professionals. The software serves approximately 50,000 businesses worldwide at the time of this writing. The company is based in Cambridge, England and was founded in 2011.

10to8 Logo

How 10to8 Works

Once you’ve signed up for 10to8, you can view your dashboard on any device through a web browser. The user interface includes elements that are not usually found in other scheduling software.

Your dashboard provides a summary of your activities on a weekly basis. It shows your bookings, no-shows, messages sent, payments collected, new customers, and more.

10to8 Dashboard

A general overview of your appointments can be viewed in the calendar section. Viewing can be changed by day or by week. You can also use the agenda mode where you can see all of your appointments in one spot or use timeline mode where it displays the next 24 hours.

There is a separate page to display all of your customers and their relevant information. 10to8 has a built-in text messaging feature to send reminders and messages to appointment attendees. You can view all of the messages and booking requests on the dashboard.

10to8 Pricing

10to8 offers four plans based on the number of appointments per month. 

  • Small Business - $0 per month
  • Basic - $9.60 USD per month
  • Grow - $20 USD per month
  • Bigger Business - $40 USD per month

Here is a summary of the features that each plan offers.

10to8 Pricing

Benefits of 10to8

  • Made for Professional Services - If you offer professional services, 10to8 is specifically made for you. Offer your availability and collect payments for your bookings with ease.
  • Up to Two Staff Logins provided with the Free Version - 10to8 allows up to two staff logins per account in the free version and Basic plan. This is great if you would like your staff to handle appointment scheduling.
  • Import of Customer Information - You can easily import or download relevant customer information. This can be used for marketing purposes or for building up a customer database.

Drawbacks of 10to8

  • No Dedicated Mobile App - Dedicated mobile apps are convenient in terms of instant notifications and ease of use. However, 10to8 does not have a mobile app. You can still access 10to8 through your phone’s web browser, but the interface is not quite as usable as a dedicated mobile application.
  • 10to8 Branding in SMS - The free version includes a “10to8 Free” in messages to your appointment attendees. This can look unprofessional and may deter from using the free version.

Summary

10to8 is an excellent scheduling app if your business offers paid bookings. You can monitor your activities as well as that of your individual customers.

The main drawback is its payment integration is restricted to Paypal and Stripe. There is no dedicated mobile app but the wep app works reasonably well on your mobile web browser.

Square Appointments

Square Appointments is an application that is integrated with the Square point-of-sale system. The booking app is a product of Square (now named, Block, Inc.) which provides physical point-of-sale tools and online payment solutions.

Square Appointments Logo

We’ve discussed Square as one of the best payment methods for small businesses in Canada. Now they are offering more features with integrated appointment scheduling software.

How Square Appointments Works

Square Appointments is a powerful scheduling app that is integrated to Square’s point-of-sale system. It is useful for both online services and for services offered in-person.

The software will ask you to create your business profile, location, and business hours to get started. You also need to verify your identity to activate payment collections.

Square Appointments Pricing

Square Appointments offers three pricing tiers: Free, Plus and Premium. 

  • Free - $0 per month
  • Plus - $29 USD per month
  • Premium - $69 USD per month

The pricing table below only shows the main features of each plan. There are other differences related to payment collection that were not mentioned here.

The free tier lets you access the asic appointment scheduling features. 

The Plus plan unlocks additional features such as automated messaging and the ability to manage multiple team member calendars. 

The Premium plan is best suited for businesses that need advanced management of large staff.

Square Appointments Pricing

Benefits of Square Appointments

  • Online Invoices and Payments - Square Appointments allows you to send professional invoices and use the intuitive dashboard to track invoices and payments. The software also accepts credit cards or debit cards through Square’s point-of-sale system.
  • Integration with Square POS - Square point of sales systems are excellent. The ability to integrate with Square POS is a huge benefit of this software.

Drawbacks of Square Appointments

  • Google Calendar Sync Only - Square Appointments does not currently support syncing with other calendar providers.
  • Limited Customization Options - Square offers integration with its powerful point-of-sale system. However, the scheduling workflows and appearance have few customization options. 
  • Pricey Compared with Other Software - The free version is quite limited compared to other scheduling applications. Square’s paid plans are also more expensive when compared to some of the other applications.

Summary

Square Appointments is worthwhile to check out if you love Square’s point-of-sale system like we do.

You can use it to charge a fee for clients and customers to book a meeting or service with you.  The transactions are then automatically integrated with the Square point of sale. You can monitor and track all transactions and invoices in a simple dashboard with the Square POS system. 

The main downside is that it only integrates with the Google Calendar. If you use another provider, you would need to switch to Google or use another scheduling application.

Additionally, Square Appointments has a higher cost and fewer customization options when compared to other applications. 

Even with those drawbacks, it’s still a great choice if you already use Square POS and want to charge a fee for clients and customers to book appointments.

Acuity Scheduling / Squarespace Scheduling

Acuity Scheduling is an online appointment scheduling software acquired by Squarespace in 2019. The company was founded in 2006 and can also be found as Squarespace Scheduling.

Acuity Scheduling Logo

How Acuity Scheduling Works

Login to Acuity Scheduling through the web and you’ll be presented with an interface that allows you to build out your events and calendar. There’s also a mobile app available on Android and iOS. 

You can then sync your third-party calendars such as Google Calendar and iCloud Calendar. 

Acuity has two-way calendar sync. Appointments will be synced to your third-party calendars. The event events in your third-part calendars will then block off your availability in your Acuity account.

Acuity Scheduling lets you customize your calendar and booking page appearance. You can customize email reminders as well and activate up to three reminders. If you activate any paid plan, Acuity allows you to create different reminder templates for future use.

Cancellation, reschedule, and follow-up emails are available for you to customize.

You can set up Zoom, Google Meet, and other video conferencing apps for your meetings. Acuity Scheduling integrates with many different applications from CRMs to Google Analytics.  Connect it to Zapier to unlock tons of integration possibilities.

If you’re subscribed to a paid plan, you can integrate your Paypal, Stripe, and Square accounts to activate payment collection in bookings.

Acuity Scheduling Pricing

Acuity Scheduling has three paid plans but does not have a permanent free version. The software has a 7-day free trial instead that lets you access core features included in the Emerging plan.

  • Emerging Plan - $14 USD per Month
  • Growing Plan - $23 USD per Month
  • Powerhouse Plan - $45 USD per Month

Here’s a list of what is included at each pricing tier.

Acuity Scheduling Pricing

Benefits of Acuity/Squarespace Scheduling

  • Ease of use - Acuity Scheduling offers a streamlined approach to scheduling. Both the sender and the recipient will find scheduling convenient.
  • Dedicated Mobile Apps - The dedicated mobile app allows you to make changes on the fly.
  • Use Stripe, Paypal, and Square - Acuity integrates with Stripe, Paypal, and Square to provide a wide range of payment options.

Drawbacks of Acuity/Squarespace Scheduling

  • No Permanent Free Version - After the 7-day free trial, your Squarespace Scheduling account will expire. You will not be able to modify your calendar and clients will not be able to book an appointment unless you switch to a paid plan.

Summary

Small businesses providing professional services could benefit from using Acuity Scheduling. The software’s accessibility in both desktop and mobile and its payment integrations make it easy to use for everyone.

The drawback with Acuity is that it has no permanent free version and its free trial only lasts for 7 days. Its user interface is also a bit more cluttered than some of the others - I do find that Calendly is a bit easier to use.

Use Cases for Scheduling Software

Setting up a meeting can be a bit complicated. Whether it is between you and your clients or within your team, you have to make sure that all parties are available on a set date and time. 

User Cases for Scheduling Software

Thanks to scheduling applications, booking meetings and appointments has never been easier.

Here are a few common use cases of scheduling software for your business.

Sales Appointments

Timing can be crucial when closing a deal. A little inconvenience might discourage a prospect from moving forward in your sales process. With scheduling software, you can make it as easy as possible to book a call with you.

Offer Specific Dates and Times

Online appointment applications let you offer custom dates and times so you can limit your availability as needed. Take control of your schedule while also allowing others to book meetings at their convenience.

Decrease No-Show rate with Easy Rescheduling

One of the best ways to rebook a missed or cancelled appointment is through an easy rescheduling process. With one-click rescheduling, you can decrease your no-show rates and rebook those missed meetings.

Booking Online Meetings

Booking meetings within your business or outside of your organisation is made much easier for you and your invitees. Instead of sending emails back-and-forth, you simply send your scheduling link to set an appointment.

Let your Invitees Choose a Time

The main challenge to the traditional way of booking a meeting requires back and forth communication. This makes it difficult to find a time that both parties agree on. 

Scheduling applications let you offer all of your available times so that your invitees decide what works best for them.

Prevents Schedule Mix-ups

Manual bookings through email or chat can easily get missed. This is where appointment scheduling applications shine.  

Appointment scheduling applications automatically add appointments to everyone’s online calendars. They can even send reminders by text and email which drastically reduces no-show rates. 

Professional Service Providers

Scheduling applications are not only for organizing schedules but can also be used to manage your business. They can help you receive payments, manage staff, track customers, and build a client database.

Receive Payments Online

An excellent feature is the ability to accept payment when an appointment is booked.  The applications integrate with payment providers such as Paypal, Square, and Stripe.

Manage Staff

Some scheduling applications have a team management feature. This lets you see everyone’s bookings, activities, payments, and reviews. This is super handy for professional service providers where paid appointments are scheduled.

Build Customer Database

Businesses can collect data from their scheduling software to help build a customer database.  This can help with marketing efforts and also show which clients and services are most profitable.

HR Recruitment

We use scheduling software in our recruiting process all of the time. It’s way easier to send a booking link than to go back and forth by email to schedule an interview.  

This speeds up the recruiting process significantly. And in our case, it also provides some feedback on which applicants are tech savvy and which applicants are not.

Reliable Coordination

Coordinating schedules is much easier with a scheduling app. Create a meeting type with your specific interview dates and times. Then the applicants can book their interview based on your availability. So speedy!

Video Conferencing Integrations

Many businesses hold early interviews via video call instead of in person. This helps to make the recruiting process more efficient. 

Automate the process by integrating your scheduling software with video conferencing applications. Use Zoom, Google Meet, Microsoft Teams or any number of video conferencing apps. 

Once the interview is successfully booked, a video meeting link will automatically be sent to the participants’ email.  You can add custom instructions as well to make sure that everyone joins on-time!

Article by
Paul Sharpe, CPA, CA
.
Originally published
August 4, 2022
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