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The 5 Best Scheduling Apps For Small Businesses

Booking and appointment scheduling apps can help streamline your business by managing bookings and dealing with cancellations. Check out our top picks for best scheduling software.

    Kymberlin Bush
  • Last updated onUpdated

  • Matt Sherman
  • REVIEWED BY

    Matt Sherman

    Lead Staff Writer

Advertiser Disclosure: Our unbiased reviews and content are supported in part by affiliate partnerships, and we adhere to strict guidelines to preserve editorial integrity.

If your business relies on appointments, you need scheduling software, period. If you aren’t taking advantage of low-cost (or even free) scheduling apps in 2024, you’re losing out on valuable income and being beaten by your competitors before you even start.

These scheduling systems for small businesses are a cost-effective and easy way to make your business a more efficient (and much less stressful) operation.

Learn More About Our Top Picks

CompanySummaryNext StepsSummary
Square Appointments

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  • Best all-in-one solution
  • Free for individuals, SMS texting and automatic reminders included, easy-to-use and set up.
  • Pricing starts at $0 per month
  • Best all-in-one solution
  • Free for individuals, SMS texting and automatic reminders included, easy-to-use and set up.
  • Pricing starts at $0 per month

Visit Site

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Acuity Scheduling

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  • Best for niche businesses
  • Easy to use and set-up with great training resources, fresh-looking UI, and an admin and support team with a finger on the pulse
  • Pricing starts at $16 per month
  • Best for niche businesses
  • Easy to use and set-up with great training resources, fresh-looking UI, and an admin and support team with a finger on the pulse
  • Pricing starts at $16 per month

Visit Site

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Zoho

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  • Best for low budgets
  • A user-friendly scheduling software with low monthly plan prices, no long-term contracts or early termination fees, and a 15-day free trial
  • Pricing begins at $0 per month
  • Best for low budgets
  • A user-friendly scheduling software with low monthly plan prices, no long-term contracts or early termination fees, and a 15-day free trial
  • Pricing begins at $0 per month

Visit Site

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Doodle

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  • Best for scheduling meetings
  • Offers robust security measures, great integrations with popular meeting apps, and a free trial and plan
  • Pricing begins at $0 per month
  • Best for scheduling meetings
  • Offers robust security measures, great integrations with popular meeting apps, and a free trial and plan
  • Pricing begins at $0 per month

Visit Site

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10to8

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  • Best for fast-paced growing businesses
  • Many integrations available, a generous free plan option, and SMS reminders included with every plan
  • Pricing starts at $0 per month
  • Best for fast-paced growing businesses
  • Many integrations available, a generous free plan option, and SMS reminders included with every plan
  • Pricing starts at $0 per month

Visit Site

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Show Fewer Options

Read more below to learn why we chose these options.

The Best Scheduling Systems For Small Businesses

The best scheduling systems for small businesses are affordable, sync with your existing calendars, and offer helpful features like email and/or SMS reminders for your clients.

Here are our top 5 picks:

How The Best Scheduling Apps For Small Business Compare

Free Booking WebsiteMobile AppCalendar SyncEmail & SMS Reminders
Square AppointmentsiOS & AndroidGoogle Calendar
Acuity SchedulingIntegration with SquarespaceiOS & Android
ZohoEmployee appGoogle, O365, Zoho Calendars
DoodleiOS & Android
10to8iOS & Android

Square Appointments: Best All-In-One Solution

Square Appointments

Total Rating 4.8
Pricing4.8

Ease Of Use5.0

Features4.8

Customer Service4.5

User Reviews4.7

Pricing

$0-$69/month

Contract

None

Equipment Cost

$0-$799

Get a free card swiper from Square at no cost when you create a free account. Claim your card reader.

Pros

  • Free plan options
  • Built-in email & SMS reminders

Cons

  • Higher cost for multiple users
  • Not suitable for all industries

Why We Chose Square Appointments As The Best All-In-One Option

As an integrated payment and booking app for small businesses, Square offers an impressive amount of scheduling features. With integrated payment processing and hardware, Square is a great choice for businesses that conduct business online and in person.

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, but the added features may be worth the extra cost for some businesses.

Square Appointments Pricing

Square Appointments Plans Price  When To Use
Free $0/month You are a single user with basic booking needs
Plus $29/month You have multiple locations and multiple staff appointments
Premium $69/month You want added permissions and advanced reporting

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. Custom pricing is available for accounts with more than 10 users per month.

Square’s built-in payment processor will run you a fee of 2.6% + $0.10 per card-present transaction on the free plan. You’ll pay 2.5% + $0.10 per transaction on the Plus plan. You are charged a 3.5% + $0.15 fee for card-not-present transactions.

The fee for online/eCommerce transactions and invoices is 2.9% + $0.30 per transaction.

In addition to the cost of the software and payment processing, Square offers some of the easiest-to-use and most affordable hardware options on the POS market.

You can start with something as simple as a free Square magstripe reader or pay $49 for a first-generation Contactless & Chip Reader. Square’s Register is a great option if you prefer a more traditional setup that stays at your counter and has a customer-facing display.

Square Appointments Features

Screengrab of Square Appointments Booking Tool

Square offers a pretty straightforward appointment tool you can start utilizing 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 will help you reduce inbound calls and cut the time it takes to schedule appointments.

Here are some of the most important features Square Appointments offers:

  • Free booking website
  • Customizable website colors, layouts, & pages
  • iOS & Android apps
  • Automatic email & SMS reminders
  • Google Calendar sync
  • Cancellation & no-show fees

Square Appointments Contract Terms

Square offers low-commitment month-to-month contracts that allow you to come and go as you please. There are no early termination fees or long-term contract hoops to jump through if you decide to leave Square.

Another great feature of Square is the hardware warranty. If you damage your Square hardware within your hardware warranty period, even if you didn’t purchase the hardware directly from Square, the company will send you new equipment.

Choose Square Appointments If...

  • You want to save money while still managing your schedule(s) & reducing no-shows
  • You need to integrate scheduling and payment processing
  • You want a scheduling app that offers physical POS hardware

Get Started With Square Appointments

Read our in-depth review

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Acuity Scheduling: Best For Niche Businesses

Acuity Scheduling


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Pros

  • Customer friendly and accessible
  • In-the-know team/support

Cons

  • Some difficulty blocking off times
  • Inability to group edit repeating appointments

Why We Chose Acuity As The Best Option For Niche Businesses

Acuity Scheduling is owned by popular website builder Squarespace and geared toward niche businesses like medical spas, aesthetics salons, and other personal services that may require HIPAA compliance.

This scheduling software's pricing and feature set make it best for professional services and appointment-focused businesses that want to automate more of their processes.

Acuity Scheduling Pricing

Acuity Scheduling offers a 7-day free trial for all of their plan options.

  • Emerging: $20/month when paid monthly, $16/month when paid annually
  • Growing: $34/month when paid monthly, $27/month when paid annually
  • Powerhouse: $61/month when paid monthly, $49/month when paid annually

The Emerging plan includes 1 staff/location. For more, you’ll have to go with the Growing plan (6 staff/locations) or the Powerhouse plan (36 staff/locations).

All plans include unlimited services and appointments, client self-scheduling, and confirmation/reminder emails.

Acuity Scheduling Features

Screengrab of Acuity Scheduling calendar page

Acuity Scheduling offers a ton of helpful features. Here are some of the most notable:

  • Seamless booking experience for clients
  • Customize your booking page to match your brand
  • Requires clients to accept cancellation policies and terms before booking.
  • Take online payments through Stripe, Square, and PayPal
  • Accept tips, deposits, & pre-payments
  • Automated appointment follow-ups through email or text on certain plans
  • Custom intake forms
  • Store important client information in dedicated profiles
  • Build customer loyalty with coupons, discounts, & subscriptions

Acuity Scheduling integrates with popular apps like Zapier, Square, Google Analytics, and more.

Acuity Scheduling Contract Terms

It’s easy to leave your Acuity Scheduling subscription behind if you need to. You can deactivate your subscription immediately or just turn off your auto-renew to finish out your last billing cycle.

You need to use a computer to manage your Acuity subscription at this time. There are no long contracts or early termination fees that you need to worry about with Acuity Scheduling.

Choose Acuity Scheduling If...

  • Your need niche features like multi-staff appointments or prepayments for certain services
  • You want to manage clients & customer loyalty
  • You need popular software integrations

Get Started With Acuity Scheduling

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Zoho: Best For Tight Budgets

Zoho


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Pros

  • Low pricing
  • No long-term contracts or termination fees

Cons

  • Limited options for app design
  • Glitches with calendar integrations

Why We Chose Zoho Bookings As The Most Budget-Friendly Option

As a "freemium" platform, you can access many Zoho Bookings features using its free plan. The basic plan starts at $6, and the premium plan starts at $9 per month when paid annually. Fortunately, you won't have to sacrifice cost for features since Zoho Bookings has a solid scheduling feature suite for business owners looking to manage their calendars.

Zoho Bookings Pricing

Zoho Bookings makes pricing easy with its Forever Free, Basic, and Premium plans. Rates start at $6 per month for the Basic plan (when paid annually) and $8 when paid monthly. The premium plan starts at $9 (when paid annually) and $12 when paid monthly.

Each plan can begin with a 15-day free trial. If you have more specific needs and require a tailored plan, Zoho Bookings offers a FLEX plan made just for your business. Contact Zoho Bookings directly for quotes.

Zoho Bookings Features

Screengrab of Zoho Booking CRM

Zoho’s features are geared toward sale calls, consultation, interviews, or general calendar management. It is not set up for client-heavy bookings like salons, especially since there is no customizable web design option.

Some of Zoho Bookings’ best features include:

  • Calendar sync
  • Protect meeting schedule with buffer time
  • Employee mobile app
  • Meeting app integrations
  • Collect deposits & partial payments
  • Reporting
  • Push notifications & reminders

You can also take advantage of the Zoho Bookings custom workflow functions like periodic emails (newsletters, coupons, etc.) and APIs that help you build a custom scheduling interface on top of Zoho Bookings or bring Zoho Bookings inside your personalized app.

While Zoho doesn’t provide a designated hardware option, you can use any hardware that is compatible with your payment processor when using Zoho Bookings. All that is required for the software is a device that connects to the internet.

Zoho Bookings Contract Terms

Like Square and Acuity, Zoho Bookings allows you to cancel your plan at any time with no penalties or charges for the next month.

Choose Zoho Bookings If...

  • You want cheap, no frills scheduling software that gets the job done and is easy to use
  • You want to manage sales calls, consultations, and/or interviews
  • You need a scheduling app focused on protecting your calendar

Get Started With Zoho

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Doodle: Best For Meeting Hosts

Doodle


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Pros

  • Offers robust security
  • Free trial and plan

Cons

  • Not suitable for service-based industry booking
  • Minor UI complaints

Why We Chose Doodle Professional As The Best Option For Meeting Hosts

Doodle is suitable for organizations of all sizes that frequently schedule meetings. Doodle not only offers you a way to book appointments and meetings, and organize, communicate, and track changes all in one platform (and across multiple time zones), but it also helps you keep appointments confidential for you and all attendees.

Doodle Professional Pricing

Doodle scheduling is free if you just want to set up a poll to find the best time to meet, but you need a paid plan to take advantage of any of the booking features.

Doodle offers four different plan options:

  • Free: 1 user, unlimited polls, one booking page, one 1:1, Google Meet and Zoom integration
  • Pro: $14.95/month when billed monthly, $6.95/month when billed annually. 1 user, unlimited booking pages, unlimited 1:1s, Microsoft Teams and Webex integrations.
  • Team: $19.95/month when billed monthly, $8.95/month when billed annually. 5 users, custom roles and permissions, Admin Console, activity reports.
  • Enterprise: Custom pricing. Priority support, single sign-on, and personalized onboarding/training.

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 first monthly or annual fee.

Doodle Professional Features

Screengrab of a Doodle Booking Software calendar page

If you have a large group you want to coordinate with, Doodle is a great and easy-to-use software that will make it simple to find a good time to meet.

Here are some of the features Doodle offers that make your life as a meeting host easier:

  • Booking pages for your whole team
  • Schedule across time zones
  • Set preferred meeting times
  • One-on-one meetings
  • Group polls
  • Automatic deadlines & reminders
  • Integrations with Zapier to use payment processors like Stripe, Square, PayPal, & more
  • Compatible with any POS hardware with an internet connection

Doodle Professional Contract Terms

Doodle Professional is renewed automatically each year or month, depending on which subscription you choose.

If you want to cancel your Doodle plan, you just need to disable the automatic renewal of your subscription. This will cancel your current plan once it expires, and there are no early termination fees to worry about.

Choose Doodle Professional If...

  • Your business relies on recurring virtual appointments or meetings
  • You want to easily schedule across multiple time zones
  • You want the ability to send group polls

Get Started With Doodle

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10to8: Best For Growing Businesses

10to8


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Pros

  • Generous free option and competitive pricing
  • SMS reminders included with every tier

Cons

  • Limits on reminder texts
  • No automated workflows

Why We Chose Sign In Scheduling As The Best Option For Growing Businesses

Sign In Scheduling can be a good appointment scheduling app for a wide variety of business types and sizes which makes it a smart choice for businesses that are growing or plan to expand soon. With a generous free plan and four additional pricing tiers, Sign In Scheduling delivers what you need in basic scheduling, while giving you plenty of room to scale up as your business grows.

Sign In Scheduling Pricing

Sign In Scheduling has recently changed its pricing structure.

  • Standard: $460/year. Includes 200 appointments/month, a single booking page, customizable branding, automated reminders, bulk emails, in-house integrations, and GDPR compliance.
  • Pro: $612/year. Includes 200 appointments/month, multiple booking pages, customizable themes, automated reminders, bulk emails and SMS, in-house integrations and Zapier, and GDPR and HIPAA compliance tools.

Sign In Scheduling offers a 14-day free trial with no credit card required that can be upgraded at any time. It’s also currently running a 15-minute “Sneak-Peek Demo” which is described as an automated interactive webinar with live chat.

Sign In Scheduling Features

Sign In Scheduling calendar page

Sign In Scheduling is built to help you book, track activity, and collect payments all in one platform.

Here are some of the most notable Sign In Scheduling features:

  • Visitor management
  • iPad kiosks allows for contactless check-in via QR code
  • Pre-visit check-ins completed via SMS allow easy check-in for non-smartphone users
  • Online booking pages
  • Create pages based on location or providers
  • Centralized calendar
  • Track no-shows
  • Take payments online via Stripe and PayPal integrations
  • Integrates with popular apps like Zoom, Facebook, Xero, Mailchimp, Zapier, Microsoft Flow, and more

Sign In Scheduling Contract Terms

Sign In Scheduling doesn’t provide a lot of information about its contracts or the process of canceling your plan subscription. We can assume, based on its pricing model, that contracts are yearly with an automatic renewal. This might mean running into early termination fees if you decide that Sign In Scheduling isn’t right for you.

If you need to close your Sign In Scheduling account, you have to contact the customer support team, which also leads us to believe that there will be some sort of fee for ending your contract early.

Choose Sign In Scheduling If...

  • Your business is experiencing some growth or an influx in different types of clients
  • Your business is in a healthcare industry like a doctor’s office, dentist office, or other beauty and wellness facility
  • You need a pre-check-in option for clients

Get Started With 10to8

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Scheduling App Benefits

The main benefit of scheduling software (of any kind) is saving time.

These systems can save you time in several ways. With a scheduling app or software, you will:

  • Have fewer missed appointments (by you or your client)
  • Get paid faster
  • Learn more about your customers and sales trends
  • Potentially increase your customer retention

All of these lead to more time to focus on more important tasks and less time spent doing after-hours administrative work.

The Bottom Line On Choosing The Best Scheduling System For Your Business

With so many options out there, finding the right booking software can seem overwhelming. The good news is that most booking software specializes in specific industries or feature sets, making your decision much easier.

We recommend analyzing what your booking needs and wants are. Also consider what price range you’d like to stay in (remember, software like booking apps are a tax write-off). Then use this information to find the best scheduling app that meets your business’s needs.

A great place to start is with this list of booking software, which all hit a slightly different industry and business use case.

If you want to explore more options, we have information on the best POS integrations for salons if you’re looking for more ways to improve your service-based business operations. You can also check out our top picks for the best POS systems for small businesses. Some of them are on this list (Square), and many integrate with the scheduling software options we’ve mentioned in this post.

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Kymberlin Bush

Kymberlin Bush

Staff Writer
Kymberlin started contributing to Merchant Maverick as a freelancer in 2022 and joined the team as the full-time small business health insurance expert in 2023. She earned her Bachelor of Arts in Creative Writing from Pacific University in 2020 and continues to reside in Portland, Oregon.
Kymberlin Bush
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