|Dave Pelland has extensive experience covering the business use of technology, networking and communications tools by companies of all sizes. Dave's editorial and corporate experience includes more than 10 years editing an electronic technology and communications industry newsletter for a global professional services firm.|
Small Business Calendar Management
As a small business owner, your time and attention are being pulled in different directions almost every day. An important part in maintaining productivity is managing your time and energy efficiently, which means you have to invest time in using your calendar effectively and choosing the best scheduling tools.
A wide range of calendar apps and services go beyond merely tracking where you need to be and help you schedule events, book meetings, allow customers to set appointments, and manage your tasks through the same screen. These apps take away some of the manual effort involved in setting and tracking events, which frees up time and energy for more important tasks in building and running your small business.
One of the most powerful features of these apps is the ability to consolidate multiple calendars on the same screen. This can represent obvious categories such as work and personal events, but also lets you fine-tune these categories with much more detail.
For instance, you can create color-coded calendars for clients, networking or community organizations you belong to, or you can separate business development time from administrative tasks you perform routinely. You have the flexibility to set up whatever categories or characteristics that are important for you, so you can see at a glance what events are coming up and how valuable they may be to complete.
You should also look for the ability to share your calendar with work colleagues, family members or other people you interact with regularly. See whether your calendar app lets you set different access levels for specific people and calendars. You may want someone at work to see you’re unavailable at a given time, for instance, while your spouse can see the details of that event.
Other popular features to consider is integration with a mobile device, so you can access your calendars remotely, and the ability to manage your task lists through your calendar app. This lets you manage events and tasks without having to switch screens.
Another powerful way to manage your schedule more effectively is to enlist an automated booking app that allows customers to create meetings and appointments with you directly online.
While different apps offer varying features, their common characteristic is that customers are able to choose available slots through a website or a mobile app. The service scans your calendar to identify time where you don’t have anything booked, and presents those slots as available.
You can customize the slots to fit your needs. If, for instance, your most common service takes about 45 minutes, you can create time slots of that length and allow customers to book accordingly.
Direct online booking offers a number of advantages over phone-based manual scheduling. There is no need for you to stop what you’re doing to answer the phone and to check your calendar manually.
In addition, most booking apps include emailing customer reminders about upcoming appointments, complete with links that allow people to reschedule appointments easily if their plans have changed.
These services also give customers the flexibility to schedule appointments outside of your working hours, when it is often more convenient for them.
Some booking apps can integrate with your Google business listing, a feature that lets people find you and schedule an appointment directly within their search engine results.
Popular booking apps include Calendly, ScheduleOnce, Assistant.to, Doodle, and others.
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