After asking around for advice and suggestions on online appointment scheduling programs, I narrowed my options down to two. Both will ultimately cost me about $20 a month, but I think it's a fair price and certainly cheaper than a real live receptionist.
So two weeks ago I signed up with Option A and started my 30-day free trial of the software.
I worked on setting up my new appointment book through the company for a couple of hours. I entered in all my information, then I entered my hours of operation. Initially I listed my "closing" time as the last time I wanted clients to be able to book an appointment. I figured that would allow enough time to get out of here at a reasonable hour.
Then I had to enter in my entire service menu. I had to list each service, write a brief description, list the price, and then list the amount of time it would take. This got difficult when I started wondering how to allow for add-on services such as nail art, but I figured out some workable methods and got this done too.
THEN I realized that the software has no option to import my existing appointments. This seems like a huge oversight and incredibly inconvenient. This means that I have to manually enter each existing appointment from my current calendar. Which is how I found out that the software already accounts for my "closing" time.
Since 6:30 p.m. is when I book my last appointment for the day (well — that's what I say), the software will not let me schedule any services starting at 6:30 if I have 6:30 listed as the time I close.
Ok. Not too big a problem. I just go back and change my closing time to 8 — which is when I'm supposed to be closing.
So then I start manually transferring all my current appointments, which has to be done before I can go live with this feature and add it to my websites.
Except, the software will not allow me, the owner of the schedule, to override my stated operating hours. So when I have a client scheduled for 6:30 p.m. who gets her nails and toes done at the same time and I schedule 2 1/2 hours for her, the software crosses its arms and shakes its head at me sternly. And this doesn't even begin to address the issues of all those times I book appointments at 8 or 9 p.m.
Hey! If I choose to work overtime, that's my choice! But I'm not going to make it possible for clients to book their own appointments at 9 p.m.! Seems like another grand oversight on the part of the software writers not to consider this; just give me the option to control the hours that clients can book appointments while allowing me full control of my calendar! Besides, if this is going to serve as my primary calendar, I want to be able to "jot down" things like "dinner with BF" or "birthday party" or whatever little notes I make in my schedule.
At the point where I realized the only way around this was to go back, yet again, and change my operating hours to something like midnight, then go in and manually block out the extra hours in half-hour blocks so I can override the time that has been blocked out ...
Well. That's when I ran out of time and consequently lost interest. Seriously, by the time I'm done setting the thing up, my 30-day trial will be over.
I might as well just hire an old-fashioned real live receptionist. If I can find someone who'll work my crazy hours for $20 a month.