The Best Appointment Scheduling & Booking Software For Small Businesses
If you find yourself juggling too many calls, or your front-end staff is stretched thin, appointment software can be a cost-effective way to ease your burden. And the benefits of a booking system are not always just logistical. When you create an organized process for customers to book appointments and receive reminders, they are also more likely to show up.
Scheduling software isn’t just about scheduling, however. It can also give you data about your customers, keep lines of communication open, and help you get paid. This sounds like a win-win opportunity, doesn’t it?
Read more below to learn why we chose these options.
Best Scheduling Software
Finding the best scheduling software for your small business starts with knowing what’s out there. You may be surprised to find that there’s quite a bit of overlap between payment, CRM, and booking software tools. That’s why each option on our list has a specific focus so that you can find your perfect match.
1. Square Appointments
Square Appointments is best for businesses that have short sales cycles and need all-in-one payment and simple booking solutions. Square’s scheduling tool allows your clients to book the appointment slot that works for them, and it now features SMS text and email reminders, so you can reduce no-show appointments and keep lines of communication open.
As an integrated payment and booking solution, Square offers a variety of features to simplify your process. The free customer booking link lets you display all the types of services you offer, so your customers can claim the spot they want. Or, if you are active on Instagram with a healthy following, you can use booking links that allow clients to schedule directly from the app. We also like that Square allows businesses to choose whether they want to require prepayment at the time of booking or if they want to collect payment at checkout or send an invoice.
As a platform, Square earns mostly positive reviews on all major customer review platforms and has proven to be a time-tested and trusted option. Square earns 4.7 out of 5 stars on Capterra, 4.6 out of 5 stars on G2, and 4.8 out of 5 stars on Trustpilot.
- Free for individuals
- SMS texting and auto-responding included
- Easy to use
- Higher cost for multiple users
- Not suitable for all industries with a longer sales cycle
Square Appointments Pricing
Square Appointments is included for free for individuals using the Square Payments platform. For $50/month, you can add two to five employees, and for six to ten employees, you’ll pay $90/month.
Additionally, you can process payments with your clients for 2.6% + $0.10 per tap, dip, or swipe or 2.5% + $0.10 with the paid plans.
Square offers a pretty straightforward appointment tool that you can start utilizing for yourself from day one of signing up with Square Payments, with no additional hoops to jump through. Simple in design and easy to use, you’ll find the features help you reduce inbound calls and the time it takes to schedule appointments.
Here’s what you’ll find with Square Appointments:
- Your own web link, so clients can self-book
- Instagram in-app booking
- Automated Square Assistant 24/7 SMS messaging tool for clients to confirm, cancel, or reschedule appointments
- Automated text and email reminders
- Integrated payments for invoice or checkout
- Set optional prepayment requirements
- Track customer sales and appointments
- Android and iOS mobile app lets you make and manage appointments
- Save cards on file
When To Use Square Appointments
For businesses that are already using Square, Square Appointments offers a robust platform to streamline appointments and sales. While Appointments is free for individual users, the price to add two to three users may be high for a smaller salon or service business, however. That said, if Square helps clients book faster and easier and helps you establish new business and ensure payment, the cost may be well worth the monthly fee.
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HoneyBook booking software is best for companies that need an all-in-one project management, booking, and payment management tool. With CRM at its core, HoneyBook does a great job of helping small businesses manage customer relationships from the first booked meeting to closing the deal and beyond.
For the consultative or creative entrepreneur, HoneyBook can save a lot of time while keeping costs low. As an all-in-one platform, you can reduce the number of tools you utilize while you track everything you need in one place. That’s because whether your client hits your site or clicks on a Facebook ad, you can capture the lead and start tracking interaction. With the scheduling feature, you can set your availability for your clients so that they can claim the slot they need at the customer-facing, branded portal. Then, HoneyBook sends auto-replies and reminders to your client for you.
HoneyBook has earned a positive reputation across all of the major customer-review sites and maintains a 4.8 out of 5 stars on Trustpilot, 4.8 out of 5 stars on Capterra, and 4.5 out of 5 stars at G2.
- Excellent customer support
- Money-back guarantee
- Unlimited projects and clients
- Features not geared for low price point industries
- No customization of packages
- SMS reminders only available with an integration
HoneyBook pricing is extremely simple. There is one price point with two ways to pay. You can pay month to month at $40/month, or you can opt for annual billing of $400 and save $80 off your yearly costs. HoneyBook is also a payment processing solution and runs you a flat 3% for payment processing.
Either plan includes a seven-day free trial, but the company also offers a 60-day money-back guarantee that starts from your initial purchase date.
When we focus on the scheduling tool, HoneyBook provides several ways to support your organization within the feature:
- Set session details and location
- Define availability
- Set time buffers between sessions
- Real-time sync with Google Calendars
- Sessions are connected to ongoing projects so you can track details about your client
- The mobile app allows you to send a link to your client for scheduling
- Automated reminders
- Dedicated online portal for clients
- Customized branding option
- Integrations include Gmail, QuickBooks, Zapier, and Google Calendar
It’s worth mentioning that HoneyBook also allows you to combine invoices, contracts, and payment, including a proposal feature that helps you maintain the paper trail of accountability that can sometimes get lost when you don’t have dedicated account managers.
When To Use HoneyBook
Consider the HoneyBook platform as an excellent option if you are currently managing appointments and follow-up communication with your clients yourself. HoneyBook is built for freelancers, creative industries, and smaller offices that need to organize all of the touchpoints with a client in a longer sales funnel better. From tracking the first click to your site to booking the initial discovery meeting, sending the proposal or contract, and managing invoices and payment, HoneyBook offers an all-in-one tool that organizes all of those moving pieces in one easy-to-use platform.
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Doodle scheduling software is best for meeting hosts who need to simplify the process of managing multiple scheduling conflicts to get a meeting on the map with prospects or stakeholders. With a free version and low monthly fees, Doodle helps simplify scheduling in a cost-effective way.
The core pain that Doodle can solve is the disorganized, harried feeling one gets when sifting through email messages and calendars. Not only does Doodle offer a way to organize, communicate, and track changes all in one platform (and across multiple time zones), you can keep appointments confidential for you and all attendees.
Across customer review sites, Doodle earns high reviews with a 4.5-star review on G2, 3.7 at Trustpilot, and 4.7 out of 5 stars at Capterra.
- Best for organizing meetings with multiple attendees
- Offers robust security
- Integrates well with existing tools and plug-ins, including Zoom
- Not suitable for service-based industry booking
- Basic feature-set
- Some minor UI complaints
Doodle scheduling is free if you just want to set up a poll to find the best time to meet, but you’ll probably be interested in the actual booking tools, which is why you’re here. For that, you’ll need a paid plan.
Paid plans start at $4.49/month (paid annually) for one user, and Doodle lets you sync meetings to calendars, create deadlines, reminders, and more. If you have more than one user, you’ll need to jump to the Team plan, which runs $30/month (paid annually).
All of Doodle’s paid plans have a 14-day free trial with no credit card required, so you can check it out for a couple of weeks before paying the annual fee.
Doodle can certainly reduce the discord when it comes time to schedule a meeting between multiple attendees. Here are some of the features you get with the Pro plan:
- Sync meetings to calendars
- Deadlines and reminders
- Store email, phone, and address of attendees
- Track meeting invitations
- Zapier integration
- Bookable calendar
- Custom logo and branding
- Personalized scheduling URL
- Doodle one-on-one meetings
- Zoom integration
- Meeting time polls
- No ads with paid plans
When To Use Doodle
We recommend Doodle for any company that regularly schedules and organizes meetings. This tool will help you reduce the number of emails coming in and out of your inbox and help you keep meetings organized and confidential for all attendees.
Doodle is suitable for small and larger organizations, as it includes different tiers, so you can find the right fit for your needs.
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10to8 booking software is best for fast-paced businesses that need to schedule appointments and coordinate with the whole team while keeping lines of communication open. With a generous free plan and four additional pricing tiers, you can find what you need in basic scheduling without paying for what you don’t.
Across customer review sites, it’s clear that 10to8 does what it says it is going to do. At Capterra, we found a 4.6 out of 5-star average rating with mostly positive reviews. On Trustpilot, 10to8 earns a 4.7-star rating out of 5-stars, and another 4.7-star rating out of 5-stars from the G2 consumer rating site.
- Many integrations available
- Generous free option and competitive pricing
- SMS reminders included with every tier
- Limits on reminder texts
- No automated workflows
10to8 provides a very generous “free forever” plan for small businesses that includes SMS, 100 appointments a month, and two staff logins.
Paid plans start at $9.60 a month and include a free trial, so you can try before you buy. As far as the added features you get with your paid plan, it starts with customizable branding options with the first tier and then pricing scales upwards based on the number of appointments and staff logins.
Because of the user-friendly interface and features, 10to8 would work quite well for a wide variety of businesses and organizations. From helping your sales team organize a meeting to booking a professional service with a regular client at your shop, 10to8 is built to help you book, track activity, and collect payments all in one platform.
Here’s what you get with the 10to8 solution:
- Book-now button
- Client-facing scheduling and booking menu
- Take payments with PayPal, Stripe, or Sage Pay
- Automated SMS and email reminders that have read receipts
- Voice reminders
- Clients can request changes from SMS, and you can respond from the online booking calendar
- Integrates with Slack and Facebook
- Access control for staff booking
- Tracking for changes, notes, payments, and customer history
- Custom reports
When To Use 10to8
10to8 can suit a wide variety of business types and sizes due to the different price point options and the basic functionality of the service. If you don’t already have a merchant account or you are still relying on paper checks, 10to8 is a great way to simplify scheduling while being able to offer different payment options to your customers, so they can settle up with you.
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While this post focused on customer-facing booking software that helps you organize and communicate with your clients, we know some of you may be looking to improve employee scheduling as well.
We’re giving Sling employee scheduling software an honorable mention, so you can check out some of the helpful tools you may need for the back end, too.
Sling provides a lot of tools to help ease the employee scheduling burden you may be facing. One interesting feature is meant to democratize the scheduling process and allows your employees to claim available spots on a first-come-first-serve basis.
Here are some of the other noteworthy features that Sling offers for your employee scheduling:
- Color-coded shift scheduler
- Time and attendance tracking for employees
- Labor cost budgeting tool
- Labor data reporting
- PTO tracking and capping for approval
- Internal messaging platform
- Newsfeed feature to update across teams or locations
- Task management to-do lists for each employee
Sling’s pricing starts with its free plan, which has many of the core features included. To bump up to premium, you’ll pay $2 per user per month, and you’ll get the mobile time clock, overtime tracking, labor cost management, and budgeting tools.
For employee scheduling, we recommend giving Sling’s free option a try and see if it can help you organize and streamline employee communications as well.
In Summary: Best Scheduling Software
- Square Appointments: Square Appointments is best for businesses that have a short sales cycle and need an all-in-one payment and simple booking solution.
- HoneyBook: HoneyBook booking software is best for companies that need an all-in-one project management, booking, and payment management tool.
- Doodle: Doodle scheduling software is best for meeting hosts who need to manage multiple scheduling conflicts to get a meeting on the map with prospects or stakeholders.
- 10to8: 10to8 booking software is best for fast-paced businesses that need to schedule appointments and coordinate with the whole team while keeping lines of communication open.