Square Appointments VS BookingBug
One of the big things to consider when you’re looking at booking software is whether you want to use the program as a platform for other, tangentially related tasks – stuff like inventory control, point of sale, and maybe even some CRM and marketing. There’s a definite appeal to the idea of not having to log into five different programs to run your business.
At the same time, however, extra features tend to come at a premium, and you don’t want to waste your precious capital on things you aren’t likely to use.
Despite being quite large, robust platforms, BookingBug (see our review) and Square Appointments (see our review) are both scalable programs that can give your business room to grow into their full feature sets. Determining which one is the better fit, however, requires a closer look at what each of the programs offers, and a sense of where your business is headed.
Until you get to the high, custom/enterprise levels, there’s not much of a contest here when it comes to price. BookingBug begins at $19.95/month for its solo plan, whereas you’ll need to shell out at least $30/month hop onto Square Appointments.
The big caveat here is that BookingBug puts a cap on the number of bookings you can make per month, so if you have a particularly busy solo account, it’s not hard to imagine a scenario in which you might get bumped up to a higher tier to accommodate your heavy usage. You don’t have to worry about that with Square Appointments, which is only concerned with the number of staff members who will be using the program.
At first glance, Square Appointments makes better decisions in terms of color and layout. It’s a bit crisper, cleaner and more modern-looking. There are also fewer steps involved in setting up your calendar and getting started.
On the other hand, Square Appointments has a few annoying quirks that come with being part of Square’s larger, integrated platform: some of the features you see on the sidebar aren’t actually available, because they fall under a different product heading (like Square Payments, for example).
BookingBug has recently taken some steps toward making their product more user-friendly; for example, the site now displays better on mobile devices. The company has also added tabs that help cut down on some of the convoluted navigation issues that once plagued the program.
While the setup process for BookingBug is still a bit long, what you’re getting in return is a highly customized booking experience optimized for your type of business. In comparison, Square Appointments is a bit rigid. So while there are points in both their favors, I give BookingBug a small edge.
Winner: Square Appointments
This is where the comparison gets a little trickier, depending on whether you evaluate Square Appointments on its own or as part of the larger (and more expensive) Square family. It’s safe to say that Square is capable of bearing the bulk of your business’s digital infrastructure, from scheduling, to analytics, to payment processing (chances are, you’ve interacted with Square’s POS software as a customer already).
This is not to say BookingBug is a slouch in the feature department. For smaller, cash-strapped businesses, it probably provides more bang for the buck as it can perform most of the same functions you get with Square (albeit on a more modest scale).
Still, if we’re talking about pure feature potential, Square is playing in a different league entirely.
I touched on BookingBug’s extensive start-up process earlier, but I want to underscore just how thorough it is. You’re going to be asked about the type of business you have, the kinds of resources BookingBug should be tracking for you, staff settings, price settings, and more. While you might not appreciate the number of steps between the time you sign up for an account and booking your first appointment, all of this is done in the name of customizing your experience.
Winner: Square Appointments
It’s a bit of a cliche in the world of SaaS, but many developers save on overhead by restricting the avenues customers have for contacting customer service. BookingBug, unfortunately, is one of them. You’ll need to select a mid-tier or higher plan if you want to be able to reach a human being by phone, otherwise you’ll be stuck with email/ticketing or online references.
Square leverages its size here by offering phone support to all its users, making it a far less frustrating experience when you encounter an unexpected problem.
Businesses looking for feature-rich booking software that gives them room to grow can safely choose between either BookingBug or Square Appointments; both are well-designed services from reputable companies.
I would, however, direct the majority of small-to-medium businesses toward BookingBug over Square Appointments, unless they are otherwise heavily invested in Square’s infrastructure (or plan to be). In most cases it’s a better value and easier to bend toward your particular needs.