Optimizing your scheduling process could save you up to 30 hours a month. For businesses with mobile workforces, the payoff is even greater. Not only will streamlining your scheduling process make your business and your employees more efficient, but by cutting overheads, reducing no-shows, and converting more bookings into sales, you could see revenue increase anywhere from 34-125%.
If you’ve landed on this article, I’m assuming your scheduling process could use some help. Well, you’re in the right place. I’ll walk you through 6 ways to improve and optimize your mobile workforce scheduling. For each friction point in your scheduling process, I’m going to give you two possible optimizations:
Ready? Let’s dive in.
Going through physical lists of providers to match clients with someone available in their area
Create a custom Google Map with the locations and travel zones of your providers so you can search a customer's location and see providers in that area. Alternatively, you could use a spreadsheet (like this one) to input a provider’s travel zone, general availability, contact information, and virtual meeting link (if applicable). Then when a booking comes through, you can use filters (or cmd F) to search for providers who meet the criteria.
It’s still a little cumbersome, but it will speed up your response time and cause 100% fewer paper cuts!
Implementing online scheduling software built for mobile workforces eliminates the need to match clients and providers manually. It also means you don’t need to spend time creating and maintaining spreadsheets or Google Maps. Matches happen instantly, and because it requires little to no effort, you’ll have so much time back on your hands that you won’t know what to do with yourself.
How does it work? Well, with MarketBox, the booking flow filters providers based on location. Using travel zones that either you or your providers can set up, the software detects which of your providers is available to travel to the client’s specified location and shows only the providers they can book with.
If you don’t have providers in that area, it gives your clients the option to join a waitlist. You can use this data to gauge interest if you’re considering expanding or see if any of your providers are willing to make a one-time exception to service this client if desired.
MarketBox is the only scheduling software that is purpose-built for mobile workers, but you can learn more about other software options here.
Snowed under with time-off requests or schedule changes cluttering your desk
Develop a digital process for requesting time off. If you’re not ready to implement software to handle this, something like a Google Form is a good interim solution. You can customize the form to gather only the information that is necessary to help you make a decision and review all the submissions in one place, so you won't miss a request that gets buried under your other paperwork!
Many scheduling software options have a time-off feature built in. Typically this looks like one of two options
The benefits of handling time-off and vacation requests with software, is that it’s easy to track how much time your employees have taken in a given year. If you have a fixed vacation policy, this gives you one less thing to monitor when it comes to managing your mobile workforce.
Reaching out to providers individually with booking requests, appointment updates, or schedule changes
Create email and/or text templates that allow you to swap out the relevant information to speed up the process.
Use scheduling software that has inbuilt alerts or a mobile app that allows you to send updates to your team whenever they arise. Some software will even automate these updates, so if you or your clients make a change to their booking, the provider is automatically notified.
Dealing with frequent no-shows and missed appointments
Send out appointment reminders in the lead-up to bookings. My dentist calls, texts, and emails before every appointment, which is a little much, but I’ve never been late for an appointment, so make of that what you will!
Automate appointment reminders, so they’re sent out on a set schedule (ie. 48 hours before an appointment) and follow a consistent style template. Most online booking and scheduling software will have this feature, but it’s not guaranteed, so do your research before committing to software for your mobile service-based business.
Sorting through paper timesheets every two weeks for payroll
Introduce a digital time-tracking system so your providers can track and log their hours in real time. Workforce management software, like MarketBox, have this feature built-in, so you don’t need to juggle multiple software to get the job done. When it comes time to process payroll, simply export the data and drop it into your preferred payroll software.
See above — some things don’t need to be more complicated!
Taking client bookings via phone, email, or website contact forms and then manually updating provider schedules in response
Introduce online booking functions to your website and/or social media profiles. 94% of clients want to book appointments online and would consider switching to service providers that offer online booking. Ignoring your client’s preferences is a surefire way to ensure they don’t stay clients for very long.
Considering it’s so easy to implement, I don’t know that I can call it advanced optimization. Perhaps a more optimal optimization is appropriate…
MarketBox is the only software that’s purpose-built for mobile workforces, so for businesses that service clients online and in their homes, it’s the ideal solution to take care of online booking, scheduling, and payments.
The booking flow puts your clients in control and allows them to choose their provider from a filtered list of providers available in their specified location. Once the booking is made, the provider’s schedule is automatically updated, so there’s no risk of double bookings. If you want to give providers more control, you can also turn on the feature that lets them accept or decline client booking requests. (How many times can I fit “provider” into one paragraph?)
Payments can be made on the platform via a secure Stripe integration, while the additional charge feature lets you bill clients for any additional services performed before, during, or after their appointment for ultimate billing flexibility.
Now that we’ve established how scheduling software can help solve some of your more frustrating scheduling issues, let’s look at the other benefits it offers.
1. Automated time-tracking reduces payroll errors by 35%. While it’s a common feature in scheduling software, it’s not guaranteed, so do your research before committing.
2. All-in-one scheduling and booking software means less admin for your office staff. It also eliminates the risk of double bookings, ensures information is correctly recorded, and helps you capture the 40% of bookings that happen outside of business hours.
3. Communicating with your team on the road becomes much easier when you can connect with them via email, text, or mobile app alerts. You can even automate key alerts like appointment changes and cancellations to ensure they never miss an update.
4. Digital scheduling tools also make pulling reports easier. At the touch of a button, you can see data about provider performance and acceptance rates, waitlist numbers, billing, declined or expired bookings, provider ratings, and more.
In the interest of keeping this article impartial, let’s look at some of the disadvantages of using scheduling software.
1. There’s a cost to it. Depending on which software you go with and the size of your team, sometimes that cost can be quite significant. When comparing software, do your research and find one that doesn’t charge you for a bunch of features you don’t need.
Tip: Often, if you speak to their sales team, they can work something out if the price is the only factor holding you back.
It’s also worth noting that implementing software has been shown to boost revenue quite significantly (up to 125% in some cases), which more than makes up for the subscription cost in most cases.
2. There’s a learning curve for everyone in your business as they adapt to doing things digitally. Look for software that is intuitive and easy to use, and this adoption period should be minimal. New customers at MarketBox receive a free onboarding session and settings review with one of our experts to ensure each user is getting the most out of the software, so that’s something to look out for too.
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