Entrepreneur
Article
By Alyssa Gregory

7 Online Scheduling Systems To Help You Manage Your Time

By Alyssa Gregory

calendarA major element of working with clients is being able to schedule phone meetings when the need arises. If you meet on an ongoing basis with clients, conduct sales calls and have subcontractors or team members you regularly meet with, you may find that you are scheduling a few meetings every week. You may be spending a lot of time managing these meetings – coordinating meeting times, confirming appointments, sending out dial-in information or other logistical details, handling cancellations and reschedule requests. It’s a lot of work!

Aside from outsourcing your scheduling duties, there are ways to make the meeting process go smoothly and take you a lot less time in the process. Using an online scheduling and calendar system is one option. You can use these tools as an internal system or even integrate them with your website so clients and colleagues can easily schedule meetings with you (without you having to handle the details). Here are a few online scheduling systems you may want to explore.

1. Appointment-plusappointment-plus

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  • Branding options
  • Appointment and customer reports
  • Automatic e-mail reminders
  • PDA access
  • Schedule templates

Appointment-plus offers additional features for an extra fee, including a point of sale module, time clock, document upload, and Outlook export.

Cost: Starting at $39 per month.

2. AppointmentQuestappointmentquest

  • Sends e-mail confirmations
  • E-mail template customization
  • Synchronizes with Outlook, Palm Desktop
  • Exports to Excel, CSV and PDF
  • Customizable schedule and availability settings

For an additional fee, AppointmentQuest also provides credit card processing capabilities through several payment gateway vendors (including PayPal and Authorize.net), allowing you to collect service fees from your customers when they make appointments.

Cost: Starting at $6.59 per month.

3. Genbookgenbook

  • Synchronizes with iCalendar, Outlook and Google Calendar
  • Customize with your logo
  • Includes a customer database
  • Integrates with your website and e-mails
  • Customizable availability settings

Genbook can be integrated on your own website, or you can create a business profile page through the service that handles scheduling requests real-time.

Cost: There is a limited-function free version; paid version starts at $19.95 per month.

4. Grace Schedules Appointment Scheduling Systemgraceschedules

  • Search functionality
  • Sends e-mail confirmations
  • Printable schedules
  • Integrates with Outlook
  • Exports to Excel
  • Customizable scheme and schedule settings

One unique feature of this service is that you can purchase the script for a flat fee to modify and install on your own server.

Cost: Starting at $9.49 per month for hosted solution.

5. Shiftboardshiftboard

  • Search functionality
  • Printable calendars
  • Exports to Excel
  • Sends automatic e-mail notifications
  • Data backup and recovery options

For an additional fee, Shiftboard offers additional features including, document upload, job board tools, timesheet functionality and SSL security.

Cost: Starting at $50 per month.

6. TimeCentertimecenter

  • Includes 128-bit SSL encryption
  • Sends notifications by e-mail and text message
  • Mass e-mail capability
  • Includes a customer database
  • Customizable appointment availability

TimeCenter also includes a journal component that allows you to enter notes and comments for your meetings so you can have a refresher for each contact.

Cost: Starts at $29 per month.

7. TimeDrivertimedriver

  • Integrates with Outlook and Google Calendar
  • 128-bit SSL encryption
  • Ability to send scheduling invitations via e-mail or incorporate on website
  • Sends automatic e-mail confirmations and reminders
  • Customizable availability rules

TimeDriver also allows you to create custom e-mail invitations for special events or teleconferences and send to directly to contacts you’ve added into the system.

Cost: $29.95 per year.

With all of these options, once you handle the initial setup, the systems run themselves. So you won’t be spending time going back and forth on e-mail, trying to find common availability or juggling your appointments to accommodate reschedule requests.

Do you use an online scheduling system? Which would you recommend?

All prices listed in USD.
Image credit: Pawel Kryj

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