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Benefits of Appointment Scheduling for Small Businesses

Benefits of Appointment Scheduling for Small Businesses

Benefits of Appointment Scheduling for Small Businesses

Small business owners don’t have enough hours in the day. Full Stop. It feels like there is always too much work and not enough time, but realistically, some organization can free up time. Most owners have issues with organization and time management. That’s not to say they’re bad with organization or time management, but everyone can use a little help. One of the easiest ways to get back on a schedule is to add appointment scheduling to your website. 

Planning out your day is chaotic at best, and things pop up left and right to derail everything, but scheduling appointments and sticking to them can help bring a little calm to the storm. Streamlining your operations is vital for any small business owner. Shouldn’t that include organizing your schedule?

Are you already scheduling appointments? How? Using an integrated appointment scheduler on your website helps customers set up times to talk, and it keeps them on your site. Win-win! Stop using post-its or scrap paper to “put something on the books.” Using an online scheduling system can help with creating events on your calendar and automatically sending out reminders. 

It turns out there are a lot of benefits to appointment scheduling for small businesses.

 

They’re dependable.

Do you have that one flakey friend in your life that always says they’ll come to dinner but cancels at the last minute? The business world is no different. Customers can say “call me” and never answer. Or worse, you forget to call them! 

Appointments help to make sure everyone has a set time and place to meet. Whether you’re on a conference call or out to lunch, setting a defined appointment increases the likelihood of avoiding no-shows. Using a scheduler directly on your website makes it difficult for a customer to say “I forgot” since they pick the time and get appointment reminders. 

 

Appointments are more organized.

Everyone has meetings with no structure. Those meetings are like herding cats. Nothing gets done, and there’s an email chain cracking jokes about how inefficient it was. For a small business owner, wasting an hour on a meeting where nothing gets done is money down the drain.

Instead, schedule meetings with a clear outline of what you plan to cover. Allow time at the beginning and end for pleasantries, but make sure the discussion is substantive and valuable. Writing down topics and agendas is a good start, but using an online appointment scheduler lets you create a detailed plan that can be shared with all invitees before the meeting starts. 

Streamlining how you spend your time is difficult any day, but having structured meeting time is a massive step in the right direction. 

 

Online scheduling saves time.

Imagine every phone call that leads to an appointment. It probably takes a few minutes to actually get to set up the time, then a few more discussing the meeting’s content, and then a few more if the customer likes to talk a lot. You could be spending 10 minutes or more on the phone to schedule one appointment. Multiply that by the number of meetings you schedule, and you could spend half your day on the phone just talking to customers or vendors about spending even more time with them. 

Online scheduling gives you all of that time back. Now you can direct customers to the online appointment scheduling system and move on to more essential items on your to-do list. Streamlining operations is the best way to become more efficient as a business. The key component is time management. 

 

You make more appointments and money.

Did we mention time is critical for an efficient business? Well, with more time, you can add more business. More appointments mean more chances to interact with customers and vendors, leading to more revenue. Queuing up times on an online calendar lets your customers fill your schedule for you. Booking free consultations is an incredibly effective way to get potential customers in the door. 

An often overlooked aspect of setting appointments is taking deposits or payments directly from customers. Capture customers’ card information to hold their spots. This tactic will significantly decrease the likelihood of no-shows making your schedule more reliable. 

 

Online scheduling is popular for a reason. 

More and more businesses are employing online scheduling on their website. Most services make it straightforward to link social media pages directly to the calendar. Larger companies with multiple locations find it easier to centralize a scheduling process to avoid confusion. Customers select whichever area they need to meet and at what time. 

As small businesses grow, the process doesn’t change. You can maintain that same sense of centralization, whether you’re organizing multiple locations or multiple users. Most appointment setting software allows owners to create multiple users with individual usernames to receive notifications when a customer books an appointment without notifying everyone else. They can also control their availability, which may be different from the rest of the team. 

 

Conclusion

Most small business owners haven’t given online scheduling a second thought. In fact, many small businesses don’t think of a website as more than a logo and a phone number online. Integrated features like email campaigns and online calendars fly under the radar either by ignorance or not wanting to go through the trouble of setting them up. 

Maybe you have a trusty day planner where you keep all of your notes. Perhaps you prefer the organized chaos of sticky notes swamping your office. Regardless of how you do things now, this is a digital world. It’s time to go online. Drop the pen and paper, and start organizing your schedule online. The operational benefits far outweigh any added “trouble” of integrating systems. 

Shamrck is a complete website and business management suite designed to simplify sales and marketing for small businesses. Online scheduling is one of the many organizational tools at your disposal to help your business operate more efficiently. There are several benefits to appointment scheduling on your website. Maybe it’s time you started reaping the benefits for yourself. 

 

Start your free demo today to see if Shamrck is right for your business. 

 

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How to Retain Customers with Product Services

How to Retain Customers with Product Services

So many companies only focus on signing new customers. They offer special rates and sign-up discounts or spend thousands on marketing. However, the real profit comes from customer retention. Why pay more money to focus on new clients when you already have a customer base. Useful tools like product services and simply building brand loyalty go a long way to retain customers. 

Let’s look at it this way. Is it easier to ask a friend out to lunch or grab someone off the street? Obviously, you have a better chance of bringing your friend. Customers are no different. You have a much better chance of making a sale to someone you already know than qualifying a new lead.

Think of the work going into new clients. You have to market the product, generate leads, move through a sales funnel, and negotiate the sale. Each step costs time and money. Retaining current clients costs much less, and the more effort you put into retention, the more likely you are to gain referral business.

Fortunately, there are several ways to focus on customer retention without sacrificing your efforts to sign new customers. 

 

Build Loyalty

First and foremost, sell an excellent product. A good salesperson can sell almost anything, but customers jump to another company with a better offering if the product is sub-par. Selling a premier product builds trust with your brand. Loyalty is incredibly powerful for businesses. It’s what keeps customers with you even if there’s a cheaper option. 

Part of building loyalty is creating a relationship with your customers. Coupons and occasional discounts go a long way to remind your client base you care about their business. Newsletters and updates let them know what you’re up to and what they can expect in the future. 

Newsletters and coupons can only go so far. No matter how good your relationship is with your customers, they have to be happy with the product.

 

Product Services

Product services, or product service system, is a way to reshape a product and turn it into a service. Here’s an example: in the past, you could rent a movie and have to return it two days later. You paid a fee for those two days, and then you were done with the rental store. Along comes Netflix. Like with the rental store, Netflix retained ownership of the “product” but offered unlimited rentals for a monthly service fee. Sorry, Blockbuster. 

Let’s try another one. Spotify knows that selling a CD is a one-time purchase, and the seller loses ownership of the CD. Instead, Spotify provides access to the same CD any time a user wants to listen to it for one monthly fee of roughly the same price. However, users get access to that CD and millions of other songs. Which is better, 12 CDs per year or unlimited music all the time for the same price? Sorry, SamGoody.

The core idea of a product service is to retain ownership of the product while still providing the same outcome. You can mimic the same strategy. For example, you can create a database of online courses and sell a subscription allowing users to take as many as they want. Now, rather than buying the one-time class (product), customers can have unlimited access to all of your classes (service), and they’re more likely to stay with you. Turning an end product into an ongoing service can be a vital stepping stone to a successful company.

 

Customer Service

Customer service is how your clients stay happy. Provide excellent service, and your clientele will remain content and loyal. Think of all the times you’ve been frustrated with a product, so you call or email the business for help, and no one answers. Poor service is one of the top reasons customers leave. Hopefully, your customers aren’t calling in too often to complain, but if they do, have an effective system in place to handle issues.

Customer service is more than just reacting to issues, however. Businesses who can be proactive with their customers tend to build more loyalty and create more long-lasting relationships. Rather than waiting on a problem to come up, companies can reach out and offer new products and services at an intimate level.

Excellent service starts with taking the time to put a plan in place and find the right people to work with your customers. Strategies on proactive customer service include things like personal phone calls or weekly newsletters. Luckily, you can automate these strategies, so you get to set up shop and go back to progressing your business.

 

Relationship Equals Retention

From building loyalty to providing customer service to utilizing technical tools, retention requires hard work. Retention strategies come in many different shapes, and each business needs a different plan. You know your business better than anyone, so figure out how best to build your relationships. Do your customers expect a friendly, personal phone call? Does your enterprise rely on online communication to touch as many customers as possible? What strategy makes the most financial sense for you (keep labor costs in mind!)? 

There is no single right answer, but you can get some help. A significant part of utilizing a business and marketing suite is creating a strategy to generate contact lists and reach your current customers. Their professional expertise helps map out strategies that work in your industry, and as a team, they can build your solution for you. 

Building relationships with your customers is crucial to your company’s success, but it doesn’t have to be a full-time job. Understand the strategies and tools in front of you, so you can become more productive without sacrificing your need to generate new customers.

 

Hang on to your customers.

Product services and brand loyalty are incredibly effective ways to retain customers, but you need to take the care and effort to make them quality aspects of your business. Anyone can make a sale, but it doesn’t mean anything if you can’t get repeat customers. 

Your website can handle everything for you. Staying in touch with customers is vital, but email marketing services on your site can help by sending coupons or newsletters. Automated appointment features let your customers pick times to meet, so you never have scheduling conflicts. build a database of online courses establishing your expertise in the market and creating a new subscription-based product.

Shamrck lets you do it all in one place. It’s a complete website and business management suite to give you everything you need to retain customers, create new products, and work new leads. Maintaining a successful business goes well beyond making sales. You need to keep current customers, but you don’t have to do it alone. Use Shamrck to help make your company succeed. 

 

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How to Maximize Your First Time with Facebook Ads

How to Maximize Your First Time with Facebook Ads

How to Maximize Your First Time with Facebook Ads

 

Advertising as a small business is daunting. Where do you start? Do you have a budget? Who is your target market, and how are you targeting them? Massive corporations like Nike or Verizon can spend millions of dollars on TV and web ads, but you don’t need all of that to be successful. Marketing for your business is challenging, but you have options for any budget.

Marketing has changed over the past decades. Billboards were the end all be all of advertising once upon a time. While they still dot the interstates, advertising opened to new mediums like TV and radio. The problem was marketing on these mediums was still prohibitively expensive. Relying on word of mouth recommendations and storefront signs only go so far. 

Fast forward to the social media boom. Now small businesses have a diverse collection of options for advertising. Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, LinkedIn, YouTube…you name it, you can pay money to promote your product on it. Social media is more budget-friendly for small businesses. 

The new challenge is learning how to target your market surgically. Trying to attack the whole market is an excellent way to waste money. Identify who you want to reach, and strategize from there.

While there are several platforms to try, here are some ways to maximize your first time using Facebook ads. 

 

Strategize

“By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail” – Benjamin Franklin.

Just like starting a business, you need a plan. Marketing is challenging, and trying to “make it up as you go” can be devastating. Start to form a strategy focusing your message on your target audience. What is your goal? Are you trying to drive customers to your website? Or maybe you want to build an email list. 

Build a timeline for your strategy. Decide when to launch or if you want multiple launches based on your campaign. Knowing the browsing habits of your demographic can make or break your plan as much as anything else. Luckily, there are plenty of tools available that can help define browsing activity.

 

Know Your Market

Who are you targeting? This should be the first question you answer when you start. The next question should be ‘why?’ We talked about not trying to attack the entire market. Market researchers exist specifically to give you data on various demographics. Whatever you need to know, chances are they have the data. You know your product better than anyone. You also know who is buying it. 

With Facebook, you can create highly targeted ads focused solely on your market. Be as broad or as surgical as you want. Pick through different keywords and age groups to narrow the crowd, and tailor your content accordingly.

 

Set a Budget

A few months ago, we sat down (virtually, of course) with Social by Steph’s Stephanie Smith to go into a little more detail about Facebook ads. She let us in on a few trade secrets like never hitting the “boost” button. It’s designed to convince you that spending $5 more will help reach more people, but really, $5 won’t do much either way. 

Why? 

Nickel and dining your way through a marketing campaign is a waste of money. Thinking that reaching tens of thousands of people by spending $15 on Facebook couldn’t be more incorrect. Don’t get us wrong, traffic is traffic, but you want the right people. You can expect to spend at least $30-$50 per day. You’ll have a much better chance of reaching the right audience. 

The moral of the story is if this is out of your budget right now, you need to save until you can contribute between $500-$700 per month. Otherwise, you are spending money and not accomplishing much. 

 

Set a Timeline

Setting a timeline can be tricky since you are trying to balance your budget with your marketing goals. Your marketing plan should consider campaign duration, but you need to set a distinct timeline to keep yourself from overreaching. When you start to see success with an ad campaign, the temptation to keep rolling forward is intense, but remember, you have a budget. Stick to it!

 

A/B Testing

No one is perfect. Your first ad campaign won’t be perfect either. However, you can do something called A/B Testing. A/B Testing is a process of showing two variants of an ad to different audiences and seeing which drives more clicks or conversions. In your case, different variants might be writing other text or using a different image. If you’re making a video, you could try different voiceover scripts or narration. 

The goal is to create two different ads with the exact same narrative. A/B Testing is invaluable as you begin a marketing campaign because you can try out different versions before committing your whole budget. The good news is that you don’t need an enormous sample size to figure out which ad tests better, so don’t worry about blowing your money on an ineffective ad. Start small with each version, see which performs better, and then put everything behind the more successful 

 

Learn

Learning from what works is essential. Learning from what doesn’t work is vital. Try using key performance indicators (KPIs) to monitor your success (or lack thereof). KPIs are invaluable and used across every industry. When starting your campaign, have a clear picture of what you want to accomplish. Do you want 30k more page visits? Create benchmarks at specific times for 5k, 10k, and so on to monitor your progress. If you’re not hitting your KPIs, learn from your opportunities, and improve. 

Your first time using a Facebook ad may be discouraging if you go in shooting for the moon. It’s ok to be ambitious, but set realistic expectations. Sit back and watch your campaign unfold, and most importantly, learn everything you can about where it’s useful and where it’s not.

 

Commit

Nothing ventured, nothing gained. Many first, second, or even third attempts with a marketing campaign can fail miserably, but don’t be discouraged! Learn from what went wrong, and go into your next shot with a better plan. You need to commit, though. We talked about the pitfalls of trying to nickel and dime the system, so go all-in when you go in. 

It feels risky to sink a large amount of money into advertising, but remember, advertising exists on nearly all platforms because it produces results. Commit to your strategy and your timeline. Commit to your budget, and commit to making a successful campaign. That’s the only way to be successful. 

 

Marketing on Facebook

Facebook is one of the most budget-friendly advertising platforms available. We recommend it due to the pinpoint market segments you can target and the ease of use. Ad campaigns are challenging, so choosing a platform that’s easy to use will help immensely. 

Luckily, Facebook provides some guidance as you go about creating your ad(s), so you’re not lost in the weeds. But at the same time, you need to create an engaging ad or watch your money disappear. Do your research, make a plan, set a budget, monitor your KPIs, and commit to the process. Facebook can help to a point, but being successful is up to you.

 

You’re not alone, though. Small businesses need help all over the place, not just marketing. Shamrck is a complete website and business management suite with everything you need to be successful. Start your free trial to see why Shamrck is right for your business.

 

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