Switching your book from low-tech paper and pencil to new-fangled computer form isn't just an adjustment for you, it's an adjustment for your clients too.
I made the switch in 2004 when I finally broke down and bought my beloved PDA, a Palm Pilot Tungsten C. That thing was the best computer I have ever owned and it was my faithful companion for six wonderful years before the buttons on the built-in keypad started to misbehave in a manner that convinced me that I would need to find a replacement soon.
Finding a suitable replacement for my Palm Pilot proved, indeed, to be a futile effort.
A significant number of clients suggested — rather sarcastically— that I might consider a pencil.
I kept a paper book for many years; twelve to be exact. Paper and pencil has its advantages and its disadvantages: canceling and rescheduling is a pain, canceling and rescheduling multiple appointments for standing clients, even more so. Hand writing those recurring appointments is also a time-consuming nuisance. Remembering to erase each and every one of them in the event the client stops coming altogether can easily result in disaster.
On the other hand, keeping my schedule electronically (I now use Google calendar — until something better comes along) also presents its challenges.
Today, I double-booked myself.
I have not double-booked myself in years! I do not know if the situation stemmed from one of those instances where Google refuses to save changes I make to my calendar until I re-log in to my account (why Google can't bother to TELL me that it wants me to re-log in, I will never understand) or if I simply forgot to type in the first appointment. Whatever the reason, Client #1 arrived at 2 p.m. this afternoon and found me blinking rapidly at her while my brain attempted to comprehend what she was doing here. Client #2 — the one I was expecting — walked in only steps behind.
This is exactly the reason I tell my clients to let me write out an appointment card for them: If you show up with a card, in my handwriting, there's no way I can blame it on you. And that's exactly what Client #1 had. Yup, sure enough, I had double booked myself. Naturally, I blame Google.
Nevertheless, I had to think fast and solve the problem. I will be at the Las Vegas tradeshow this weekend. I won't be back till Wednesday next week and you can bet I'm solidly booked. Client #2 has limited availability to come in for her appointments so rescheduling her wasn't a viable option.
Client #1, however, comes to get her nails done exactly once a month. (Which is how I know she's "Client #1" and the one whose appointment I screwed up.) Her schedule is more flexible, but there was no way she could last another week and a half.
I got it all worked out, everyone is happy, I kept all my clients and even stayed on schedule. Not to mention making a little more money than I'd planned on since I actually did a whole extra fill today!
But the strange, out-of-body experience I had while dealing with the issue really impressed me with myself. I got to watch my brain go into hyper-drive and assess a series of variables within nanoseconds in order to arrive at the decisions that I made to solve the problem.
I had to determine who had the greater right to the slot, who would be more angry with me if they got rescheduled, who would be most likely to stop coming altogether, who is worth the most revenue, who I like most, what each client's schedule allows them to do, when I could get each of them back in if they lose the coin toss, how long it would take for each client ... just so many tiny pegs to get fit into the right holes to make the whole fiasco come out OK.
Ultimately, Client #1 stayed, Client #2 came back one hour later (I had originally scheduled 1 1/2 hours for the service, having the extra time really helped) and a quick text to Client #3 to say "please come half an hour later" for her appointment which I had also allowed an hour and half for — along with a grim determination not to doddle and get each one of these services done in one hour — and by the time my five o'clock walked in, it was like nothing had gone wrong at all.
I'm sure I have some clients who would blame this glitch on the computerized book, insisting that if I'd been using pencil and paper, this wouldn't have happened.
Sure it wouldn't have. Cuz, before computers, no one ever accidently double-booked themselves, huh?