Acuity Scheduling Review
If Acuity Innovation, LLC founder Gavin Zuchlinski has never been nominated for a Son-of-the-Year Award, we may live in a world without justice.
Zuchlinski, a seemingly media-shy entrepreneur and software developer, developed Acuity Scheduling to help his mother, Kim, resolve scheduling crises at her massage therapy business. Zuchlinski began working in web development and consulting in 2003, the same year he started earning a mathematics B.S. degree from Penn State. He developed Acuity Scheduling in 2006. The SaaS fulfilled a growing niche, and the company began to expand, mostly through referrals and word of mouth.
Though he later took a job as a software developer at Berico Technologies LLC in Arlington, Virginia, Zuchlinski continues to manage Acuity Scheduling with a small, slowly growing team.
Today, Acuity Scheduling serves over 500,000 businesses in over 100 countries. As one man’s labor of love, Acuity’s story is part of its charm. That’s it’s also such a great booking program is something of a marvel, and it remains one of the best values for your dollar when it comes to scheduling software.
For the individual user, Acuity Scheduling’s free plan promises an unusual degree of functionality. The two tiers of paid monthly subscriptions are equally straightforward and clearly defined. The highest plan, which still costs relatively little, offers unlimited locations and staff, an enticing combination. The plans remain mostly unchanged in 2016.
Free: Only email and password for login required
- Single schedule
- Limited customization
Emerging Entrepreneur: $10 per month
- Single location and staff
- Automated email providers
- Google synching
- Process payments
- Customization and embedding
Growing Business: $19 per month
- Up to 6 staff/locations
- SMS text reminders to clients
- SMS notifications to staff
Powerhouse Player: $34 per month
- Up to 12 staff/locations
- Add $10 per month per additional 5 calendars
- Hide “Powered by Acuity” on scheduling page
- HIPAA Compliance
Acuity offers a free, 14-day trial of its Emerging Entrepreneur plan and, thankfully, you don’t need to provide a credit card to sign-up for the trial. At the end of the trial, you’ll be kicked down to the free plan.
Ease of Use:
I enjoyed using Acuity and felt comfortable with the layout almost immediately. You can navigate to any page with only two clicks from the main calendar thanks to a streamlined header that reflects Acuity’s valuation of simplicity over complicated special features. Looking for particular settings to change or site information did not take minutes of guesswork or trial-and-error. Though the interface is beginning to show its age in terms of style and navigation, it’s still very usable.
- Setup: The initial setup involves a one-step registration process, followed by a fairly lengthy set of questions about the nature of your business. While this presumably helps to customize your setup, it feels a bit excessive, especially if you’re hoping to dive right in. Once you’ve answered all the questions, you’ll be able to jump right in to the program or take advantage of the walkthrough at the top of the page. The walkthrough consists of three parts: Set Your Availability, Offer Appointment Types, and Customize and Share. You won’t get a ton of hand-holding, but the program will remind you and/or prevent you from progressing if you’ve left out a critical piece of information.
- Graphic User Interface: The GUI is very easy to interact with. A subtly varied, primarily grayscale color scheme, simple buttons, and generous spacing make each page readily digestible. Navigation within the site is intuitive and fairly easy, relying on a sidebar with expandable headings and submenus. There is, however, quite a bit to digest for first time users. Luckily, submenus are kept to a minimum. Each page has an optional help button to link you to help articles related to the page you are currently on. Sadly, some of the wit has been removed from the site, presumably to make give the site a more professional tone. If you’re new to Acuity, you won’t miss it.
- Settings: Acuity gives you the option to set your availability and define appointment types, as well as specify group or class events. You can also set prices for events if applicable and mark the slot as private or public to determine who gets to see it. You can customize the scheduling page your clients will be using, embed it on your website, or connect it to Facebook. Classes recently received a update that will allow you to more easily tweak the maximum number of attendees in one-off classes.
- Calendar: In one of the more recent iterations, whether the calendar was visible depended on what part of the site you are on. Fans of older versions will be happy to know that the calendar is always visible again, in the upper left-hand corner of the left-sidebar. Clicking on the calendar brings up a form to create a new appointment, along with the option to set it as recurring or a one-off. The calendar in the corner won’t give you detailed information about your appointments, but uses a color-coded “heat” system that will give you an idea how busy your schedule is on a given day based on how dark the color is.
- Store: Adding products to your automatically set up business store is very simple: Name it, price it, describe it, and upload an image if you choose. There are also options to make the product hidden or save it as a gift certificate or appointment package, making it just as useful for purely-service-based businesses as for places like spas and salons that sell tangible products as well. You can also generate coupon codes.
- Customization: As a Free Account user, you are pretty limited in customization. You are able to choose https://<this part>.acuityscheduling.com of the scheduling site URL, change the name and description of your business, adjust the basic colors for and add a logo to the customer scheduling website. Changing the header and footer of the client scheduling page is possible but requires HTML code. You can also edit the appointment confirmation email, which has insufficient original content.
- Customer Use: The scheduling page is looking better, but is still a pretty minimalistic take on the features. Right after making an appointment, links for canceling or changing the appointment as well as booking a new one appear. The appointment confirmation email is somewhat too simple, with virtually no formatting or niceties. Replies to the confirmation email go straight to your address, allowing direct communication between you and the customer. You then have the option to add the appointment to your Google calendar. A recent update, if enabled, allows customers to book multiple spots in appointments.
Customer Service and Support:
Each page comes equipped with its own help button, which links to articles on common problems encountered by users. If none of them fit the bill, you can type your own parameters into the search box. It’s a simple and effective system attached to some handy resources.
While it would be comforting if the company offered a phone number to call, a live chat option, a blog, customer forums, or even some social media visibility, the email support response time is typically measured in hours rather than days.
Negative Reviews and Complaints:
Acuity Scheduling has caught on a bit in the last few years, but there still aren’t a ton of peer reviews floating around. GetApp is a notable exception, where the software is ranked 5/5 stars out of 48 reviews. There are no files open on the company on Ripoff Report or the Better Business Bureau. There are some criticisms, however:
- Extremely limited CRM: Beyond a basic client list, appointment confirmation email, and text/email reminders (in the Professional and Premium versions), Acuity offers no connection with or meaningful insight into your business’ clientele. This is in large part due to the limitations of its email platform. Acuity suggests supplementing its use with an outside party, such as MailChimp, via CSV file exports.
- Learning Curve: While customers like the breadth of options offered by Acuity, several cited the sheer number as being overwhelming at first glance.
- Too many functions? A GetApp reviewer describes “an interface that, at times, can seem cluttered with far too many functions and tasks.” I couldn’t help noting this review in contrast with another, positive review (the first bullet below).
Positive Reviews and Testimonials:
Acuity has received good reviews from a wide range of users. Some focus on the unique time zone conversion settings and online store features, while many enjoy its low cost and ease of use.
- Easy for businesses to use: A WebDesignerAid writer describes Acuity as “wonderful” and “clutter free.” Acuity was listed fifth best free appointment scheduling apps with a 5/5 rating at AppAppeal, whose reviewers praised Acuity’s “neat, organized layout.” They promise, “Even those with minimal computer experience will have little trouble making their way around the application.”
- Easy for customers to use too: One web-savvy college professor remembers how easy it was even for computer-shy adult students to schedule appointments. A TechieApps writer agrees: “As soon as a customer opens this software he or she knows exactly what to do.”
- Cost-effective: In a PCWorld article comparing scheduling software, a reviewer concluded that Acuity Scheduling “offers the best bang for the buck” for a single user.
- Scalable: Acuity can work for sole proprietors and medium-sized businesses alike. A reviewer at BestDesignTuts believes Acuity “caters to the needs of all kinds of professionals from single individual to large organizations such as hospitals and law firms.”
While Acuity seems proudest of its “robust time zone support” and e-commerce solutions, the software offers even more useful calendar settings and promotions applicable to businesses that sell no products. The limited customer communication and management makes Acuity a poor choice for someone reliant on feedback or constant and personalized interaction with their clients, or for someone seeking scheduling software with automatic business analyses. Acuity’s features would perfectly suit small businesses with multiple locations in various time zones who sell products alongside their services. The following are some basic features and their limitations:
Promotions and Online Store
- Link to the online store from the customer scheduling page
- Easily add new products with images, prices, and descriptions
- Keep track of your order history
- Add new coupons for unlimited or single use by simply naming the codes
- Create and track gift certificates and packages through selling them in the online store
Calendar and Scheduling
- Create group/class appointments
- Two-way Google Calendar sync
- Manage time zone differences between your business and customers
- Embed the calendar directly into your website via bits of HTML code
- Advanced availability (supplementing basic business hours)
- Schedule multiple and recurring appointments in Premium and Professional accounts
- Time zone support
- Appointments max 24 hours
- Click and drag to organize appointment types
- Set appointments to admin-only scheduling
- Create unlimited, neatly formatted custom intake forms (that data can now be inserted into emails)
- Accept payment online via PayPal, Authorize.net, or Stripe
- The saved client information is limited to name, email, and phone number
- Sort the client list is only possible according to dates of appointments
- No customer reviews
Add Staff Members, Appointments, and Locations
- The Growing Business and Powerhouse Player tiers allow for addition of more users
- Additional users can have limited access, with the ability to manage the calendar and schedule but not make administrative changes to the settings
While also integrated with Authorize.net and Stripe, Acuity encourages the use of PayPal for accepting prepayment or deposit as either mandatory or optional.
You can sell gift certificates or packages through the online store. The customer receives a code that they can use to redeem services; this code is automatically tracked by the software. You can also create codes manually and easily create discounts and coupons for your customers.
Finally, payment currency is customizable for the benefit of international businesses. Taxes are not considered independently.
AcuityScheduling.com is verified with a GoDaddy.com Web Server Certificate ensuring up to 256-bit Secure Sockets Layer encryption.
To prevent system downtime, Acuity has redundant servers, redundant hard drives within server, redundant power, redundant internet connections with “continual backups on the server as well as full daily backups.
Integrations and Add-Ons:
Acuity offers a number of integrations and has vastly improved the user-friendliness of implementing them, though it’s still not for the tech-averse. By selecting Import/Export/Synching, you’ll be taken through a step-by-step process to integrate the external feature. The list of integrations has expanded to:
- Constant Contact
- Google Analytics
- Mad Mimi
Acuity offers automatic two-way sync with Google Calendar for scheduling and PayPal, Stripe, or Authorize.net for customer payments.
Acuity Scheduling remains a feature-rich and versatile program that boasts a clean interface, vigorous calendaring tools, and an online store, while introducing small but significant improvements. As mentioned above, you could easily make an argument that Acuity provides one of the best values for your dollar when it comes to scheduling software. It’s not the prettiest and even the most easy-to-use program out there if that matters to you, however.
Acuity is still a good deal for SMBs with simple needs and staff or clients who might live in different time zones. If you aren’t overwhelmed by the sheer number of options and don’t mind the email-only customer service or its no-frills email notifications, Acuity should easily meet most of your scheduling needs. I highly recommend giving the free trial a spin.