A few years ago, I decided to open up my coaching programmes to the wider world. To achieve this, I would need to shift online and use tools such as Skype and FaceTime. (Zoom was in its infancy back then, and Microsoft Teams was still in development).
One of the first problems I faced was how I was going to schedule my coaching appointments. I live on the east side of the world in North-East Asia, and most of my clients live in North America and Europe. I realized I would be working with up to seventeen hours time difference.
To overcome this difficulty, I began searching for a scheduling service that would automate my calls.
A scheduling service allows you to set the parameters for when a person can schedule an appointment with you. So, all I needed to do was set the times I would be available for a call or meeting, and the person who wanted to schedule a call with me could select a time from the times I made myself available through a link I shared with them. This avoided me having to email back and forth, trying to find a suitable time for both of us.
Scheduling services have come a long way over the last few years, becoming quite a competitive market. One of the advantages of using such a service is that once a person has scheduled a meeting with you, most of these services will add the appointment to your calendar and send out reminders to all parties about the meeting.
With many of us now working from home, the advantage of using a scheduling service is you can set up different time blocks in the day when people can arrange a meeting with you, and you can keep time in the day free of meetings, so you can embark on some quality deep work without worrying about being disturbed.
As long as you share your scheduling link with your colleagues and clients, you can be safe knowing that your carefully planned out day will not be disturbed by people trying to find a mutually convenient time for you to have a meeting.
Below I have listed out my top seven free scheduling services you can use to bring a lot more control to your day.
Square is one of the most popular free services. Square is not just a scheduling service. You can run a business through this service, too as it allows you to take payments and keep track of your clients.
If you are a personal trainer, a coach, teacher, hairdresser or any other business that requires your customers and clients to schedule appointments with you, then Square is a great option to go with.
Square integrates with Google Calendar and has a mobile app for both iOS and Android to manage your appointments wherever you are.
Possibly, the most popular scheduling service, Calendly integrates with almost all types of calendar; whether you are using Google Calendar, Outlook or Apple, Calendly will integrate with it. You can also embed Calendly right into your website.
More importantly, today, you can also integrate Zoom and Microsoft Teams with Calendly, so all you need do is click on the start meeting right from Zoom or Teams.
As with Square, this app is perfect for teachers, beauticians, personal trainers and any solopreneur as it allows you to set up your schedule, and your students and clients can pick a time and date that suits them.
You can also set scheduling limits so you don’t get any surprises. For instance, you can set it up so that people cannot book an appointment with you less than a few hours before the time.
Bookafy is another free service that has a lot of power under the hood. You can schedule unlimited appointments and types. Appointment types could be the length of the appointment (30 mins, 60 mins etc.) or, if you are a beautician, the type of service being booked.
Bookafy’s website is beautiful, which is an important consideration for your own business branding. It is intuitive for your clients and makes the whole scheduling experience a joy.
You can make sure your customer or colleagues receive all the meeting login details when they schedule the call, and you can also accept payments from your clients through the Bookafy interface.
4. SimplyBook Me
SimplyBook Me is a free service where you can customise the add-ons you require. Most of the add-ons are paid services, but if you are searching for a simple, free appointment scheduling service, then SimplyBook me is certainly worth looking at.
There is a mobile app for managing your appointments. You can also integrate SimplyBook Me with your Facebook page or Instagram account so your customers and clients can schedule appointments through it.
Reminders are customisable, so you can set a reminder of an appointment for the time you want your clients to be reminded. Most services only offer a 24-hour reminder; with SimplyBook Me, you can set your reminder schedule.
Picktime is a relatively new service with many features. Its website is both desktop and mobile-friendly and is one of the easiest services for changing or cancelling appointments.
One of my favourite features of Picktime is you can limit the number of people signing up for a specific meeting. This is an excellent way to run a fitness or yoga class, so you do not get too many participants making your job as the instructor difficult.
Picktime is quite new to the scene, so all their services are free — now. So if you want a fully-featured and growing service, Picktime might be the scheduling service for you.
6. 10 TO 8
10 To 8 is a great scheduling service that guarantees that their free service will be free forever. You are limited to 100 appointments per month, but for a small business looking for a better way to manage meetings and appointments, then 10 TO 8 will do the job for you.
Like, Picktime, you can use 10 TO 8 to schedule classes, and you can set up recurring appointments if, for example, you run the same class each day or week at the same time.
Another benefit of using 10 TO 8 is you can set up your Stripe or PayPal accounts, so you can take payments when a customer schedules an appointment with you saving you the hassle of chasing payments.
7. Google Calendar
Finally, a little known feature in Google Calendar is the ability to set up a calendar where your clients can schedule appointments. It is rather less automated than the services above, but it does work.
I used this service many years ago when I taught English. All I needed to do was set up the time blocks I was available and send the calendar link to my students. They then could pick and choose the times that would work for them.
There are no automated reminders; it would depend on whether your client or colleague has reminders set up on their calendars, but it works, and if you are looking for a service that will always be free and keeps you in control of your times, then Google Calendar will do the trick for you.
You have a lot of choice with scheduling services today. Many are free and can be integrated into your website to retain control over your branding.
Scheduling services can take the pain out of scheduling appointments, and it also allows you to stay in control of your calendar. This is one of the best features of this service for me. I can get on with my work, safe knowing I will not be getting unexpected meeting invites or phone calls. I can refer people to my scheduling service and let that do all the hard work for me.
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