Mobile Small Business Customer and Worker Scheduling
Whether it’s reducing the need for customers to wait on hold to speak to someone to book an appointment, or managers trying to balance worker shifts and time-off requests, scheduling can be a frustrating headache for many small businesses.
A variety of self-service tools are increasing the efficiency and profitability of small businesses by allowing customers and workers to manage their own scheduling and reduce the amount of time that managers have to devote to schedule- and timesheet-related tasks.
Allowing customers to book their own appointments, either through scheduling apps or websites, offers a number of benefits for service providers and their customers alike. From the company’s standpoint, these tools reduce the cost and effort of having people answer phones to schedule appointments manually.
Even something as simple as scheduling a dental appointment can take five minutes before the receptionist answers the phone, looks for available appointments and the customer checks his or her calendar before the appointment is booked.
With a mobile app, the customer can look for available slots and make a reservation. They’re able to look for an appointment, at their convenience, instead of waiting for a business to open. In addition, they won’t have to wait to speak to sometime to book that appointment, saving them time and potential frustration.
The customer’s new appointment is then integrated into the company’s calendar, reducing the risk of double-booking. Customers can request reminder texts or emails as their appointment nears.
Customers tend to appreciate this convenience and flexibility, especially since many people would rather use an app than make a phone call.
Depending on the service that’s being booked, some scheduling tools allow customers to pre-pay for their service. This feature offers additional convenience for the service provider and the customer.
Similarly, scheduling tools dedicated to managing employee shifts and timesheets can help small business owners manage not only worker schedules but also labor costs more efficiently.
If your workforce involves employees who work a variety of shifts, these tools can help manage every worker’s preferences to create a schedule that you can save as a template and adjust as needed. When a schedule is created, the appropriate workers are notified.
As workers show up for their shifts, they use the app to punch in and out via their mobile devices. This not only reduces the need for a physical timeclock and cards, it also reduces costs associated with workers punching in or out early or late, or workers punching in colleagues who haven’t shown up yet. Because the app can verify the phone’s location, you know each punch-in or out took place where and when it was scheduled.
The workers’ time data can then be exported automatically to your payroll service or downloaded for manual processing.
If a worker calls out for a scheduled shift, it’s easy for a manager to pull up a list of available workers and start contacting potential replacements.
If a worker wants fewer or additional hours, they can make those requests via the app. Or, if you allow workers to trade shifts, many apps allow them to make trades on their platform.
In addition to increasing the efficiency of worker scheduling, these apps can help reduce administrative time and labor-related costs. For instance, if a worker is approaching an overtime trigger or other established limit, the system can notify a manager who can either send that worker home, reschedule a shift or approve their OT.
For restaurants, linking a scheduling tool to your point-of-sale system can help you optimize staffing levels so you have a full contingent when you expect a busy night and fewer workers if you expect slower orders.
Scheduling tools customized for companies with service workers in the field can include dispatch, route planning and geolocation features to help a company keep track of its field workers and help them complete their service calls efficiently.