Calendar management affects all types of businesses, but service professionals are among those who use calendars the most. If you run a service-based business like a salon, spa, or barbershop, you know how pivotal your calendar is to your business. Forget an appointment once or miss an opportunity to book someone in, and you risk losing brand credibility as well as revenue.
That’s why it’s important to manage your schedule efficiently. To help you do just that, we’ve compiled 15 calendar management tips to improve your business productivity. Let’s dive in!
1. Automate appointment scheduling
The best thing you can do for calendar management efficiency is to automate the process. Manually taking down dates and coordinating schedules eats up a lot of time and opens room for human error. But when appointments automatically sync with your calendar whenever someone books service, you can rest easy knowing that your schedule is up-to-date, and all you need to do is prepare and show up for the booking.
That’s why it’s essential to use a robust appointment scheduling system to manage your bookings. The right solution allows customers to book straight in, limiting the number of emails and phone calls you would have otherwise had to field throughout the day.
2. Integrate all your calendars
It’s not uncommon for someone to have more than one calendar. You may have one for business and then keep a separate calendar for personal use. That’s all well and good, as long as you find a way to manage your calendars from one system. In doing so, you can keep all your appointments on the same page and reduce the risk of double-bookings and overlaps.
The best way to accomplish this depends on your calendar solution. If you’re using an appointment scheduling solution for your business, check if your provider integrates with external calendars like Google or Outlook.
Genbook, for example, offers 2-way calendar sync which allows you to connect your personal calendar to your appointment scheduler. This integration lets you track of non-business appointments and events in Genbook so you can avoid conflicts and double-bookings.
3. Go mobile
You may need to create appointments on the fly, and in these situations, the last thing you want is to have to run to your computer (or worse, your paper calendar) to enter the information. Do yourself a favor and make sure that your calendar works on your mobile device.
Arm yourself and your team with a mobile-friendly appointment scheduling and calendar app so you can stay on top of your bookings on the go.
4. Color-code your calendar
Color coding can give you an at-a-glance view of your day. By assigning a color to specific tasks or services, you’ll have a better idea of how to go about your day.
If you’re a beauty salon, for instance, your color-coding system could look something like:
- Red = haircuts
- Blue = makeup
- Purple = eyebrows
When implemented properly, having a color-coded calendar will give you an immediate sense of what your schedule looks like.
Color codes can also help you make smarter decisions. Going back to the salon example, if the calendar has a lot of blue blocks, then it means that makeup sessions are really popular in your business. You can then use that insight to ensure that you have enough supplies and materials to serve clients.
5. Incorporate buffers and breaks
No one operates effectively when they are jumping from one appointment to the other with no time to process or re-boot. Depending on the environment, set 10-15 minutes between bookings to ensure that rooms can be cleaned, notes can be added, new appointments can be checked, or no one gets pushed back in the event of overtime.
Lunch breaks and other smaller breaks should also be scheduled in the calendar so that they cannot be accidentally booked over and you guarantee yourself the time to refresh.
6. Schedule downtime
For most business owners, things that aren’t in the calendar do not get done. This often goes for downtime. Scheduling in downtime for your lunchbreaks, vacation days, and the time you should get yourself offline and out the door, helps you to actually log-off and leave. Getting enough downtime is important for productivity, and getting home on time, as often as possible, does wonder for your relationships.
7. Think about lead times
Lead times are the amount of time (i.e., number of hours or days) notice you need for new bookings. Setting lead times gives you an interval for each new appointment so you can make the necessary preparations. It can also prevent having too many last-minute bookings.
Let’s say you offer facials that require products to be prepared 24 hours in advance. In this scenario, you’ll need to set your lead time to more than 24 hours, so you have enough time to get ready.
Lead times aren’t for everyone, though. Some businesses can do prep work in just a few hours and others may be fine with last-minute appointments. If this is you then you can set your lead time to a minimum (or none at all).
8. Batch administrative tasks
While the bulk of your time will be spent administering services to your clients, you likely devote time and energy on admin work — such as managing your books, keeping customer files, etc.
For these tasks, consider implementing “batching” — which is the practice of doing similar tasks together. For example, tasks like accounting and filing work could all be tackled on one particular day each week, and service appointments can be taken on other days.
Why is this effective? One reason is that our brains often have to switch gears between one task to the next. The process of reorienting yourself when you move from different jobs takes time and energy. When you batch similar tasks, your brain doesn’t have to switch gears as much, so you save both time and energy.
As a result, you’ll get more hours back and your day and your calendar will look a whole lot cleaner!
9. Take note of the most optimal times to book
Every business will have different times of the day that are best for particular activities. When you get the hang of following your calendar to optimizing your schedule, you can begin to plan ahead proactively.
For example, if there are certain tasks that should be done in the morning but can sometimes get left behind if clients book in, make sure that these tasks are in the calendar and at least one member of staff is left free to ensure this task does not get left behind.
If you tend to have before-work, lunch, and after-work-peaks, make sure these times are always left available for clients to book in, and other tasks are scheduled in quieter periods – including staff lunch breaks.
10. Use reminders
Set reminders that will alert you about your next appointment. This way, you can ensure that you are sticking to your schedule without needing to be continually checking your calendar.
It also helps to enable reminders for your clients. A Genbook survey found that the top reason that customers miss their service appointments is that they forgot. By enabling reminders (either via SMS, email, or both) you can ensure that your bookings never slip through the cracks.
11. Enable a waitlist
If your appointment scheduling software has a waitlist feature, be sure to put it to good use! This tool can automatically notify waiting customers when a cancelation occurs, giving whoever responds the fastest, the newly available time slot. This also works for times that you may decide to extend hours and want to notify your waitlist before opening it up to everyone else.
When you have a waitlist, you can ensure that your slots are always filled even if some bookings fall through.
12. Share the calendar responsibility
If you have staff in your business, sharing calendar responsibilities can be a big boost to productivity. By letting your employees manage their own schedules (instead of doing it for them), you free up time to focus on other areas of your business.
This can be done by giving your staff their own calendar or appointment log-in information so they can view and manage their own bookings with ease.
13. Conduct performance reviews regularly
At the end of each week, it is worth sitting down to consider how your calendar planner worked for you and if there is anything you would need to change next week to make it more efficient.
When using an online calendar tool, you will have access to performance analytics that can help you to make data-driven decisions about how your weeks should be planned to give you the greatest productivity.
If you ran overtime on a few occasions, do you need to schedule more time for these tasks or simply learn to be more disciplined to cut things off on time? Keeping conscious of how your calendar management is impacting your workdays and overall performance is the way to get the optimal level of value from this process.
14. Optimize your own habits
Improving your time management and implementing scheduling software is one thing, but becoming the most productive version of yourself means understanding and optimizing your own habits.
Consider when you have the most energy, and keep these times open for appointments. If your energy levels flatten out at certain hours of the day, then can schedule lower-level tasks during those hours.
Everyone is different and it’s important to analyze yourself, as well as your calendar management practices, to get the most out of your weeks.
15. Optimize your staffing practices
If you have staff in your business, you must factor in their optimal times as well as your own. Perhaps they will be the same, or maybe they will be completely opposite. Either way, learning the periods that your staff are most alert and scheduling their tasks and appointments around these times, helps you to get the most from them, and them to give the most to their work.
While fifteen steps may seem like a lot, each of these tips can be easily implemented and generate powerful results on its own. Implemented all together, these tips can transform the productivity of your business; helping you to get the most out of yourself, your staff, and your busy periods. With improved productivity, you can free up time to invest back into growing your business or in some well-deserved rest and recuperation.
Manage your calendar with ease and enjoy a free 30-day trial of Genbook’s online scheduling software when you sign your business up! Download the Genbook Manager app for businesses, and Genbook app for clients. Both available on iPhone and Android.