Using a Scheduling Tool so Leads and Clients can Book a Call with You
Although many coaches and online service providers would prefer to have lengthy conversations with potential coaching clients and thoroughly vet them before we hop on a discovery call with them (hey, you want to make sure they’re in the right mindset to work with you, right?), it saves a LOT of time overall to not do that.
You could easily spend a week writing back and forth, spending between 20 minutes and several hours just trying to “get a feel” of that person. Is that really time better spent than to hop on a 15-minute call with them?
And some of us believe it’s also more personal to make an appointment via email…
Do potential clients really appreciate having to message back and forth about availability, timezones and other details before they can schedule a call with you?
There are many tools out there who can take all the hassle of scheduling calls away - both from you, and from your leads or even existing clients.
(Side note: systems like Dubsado and 17hats (see below) offer scheduling as one of their features as well. So if you’re considering signing up for CRM software for coaches, creatives and virtual service provider, you may not need a separate scheduling tool like the ones we discuss below).
How Scheduling Software Works: What do Acuity and Calendly do?
- You send someone a link - or maybe the link is on your website, in your lead magnet, anywhere you’d like really.
- When someone clicks the link, they’ll see your availability and choose a day and time that works for them
- If you wish, you can add a questionnaire to the mix. They’ll need to enter their name and email (so they can receive an email confirmation), but you can make it a full form, and make sure you’re fully prepared to hop on a call with them… or maybe you’d like a chance to ask them more questions before you do.
- You can make it a paid meeting: if someone wants to hop on a coaching call with you, the scheduling tool can allow them to pay as soon as they book the session.
- Both you and your meeting invitee will get an email confirmation. The scheduling tool will also put the appointment into your calendar, so you don’t need to worry about it.
Do you need to keep an extra calendar?
Most people seem to think using a scheduling tool means extra hassle. “I don’t want people to be able to book an appointment when it doesn’t suit me!”, “I don’t want to keep an extra calendar!”,…
First thing you’ll do, is connect Acuity or Calendly with your own digital calendar. You can integrate them with Google calendar, Office 365, Outlook, Apple/iCal/iCloud,…
Next, you’ll be able to tell your scheduling software exactly when you want your appointments. E.g. have coaching calls only on Mondays and Fridays. Allow new discovery calls only on Wednesday afternoons between 2 and 4. Group appointments together so you don’t have long gaps between meetings. And/or the opposite - make sure your calendar leaves a minimum amount of time between meetings.
From then on, it’s up to you to keep your (regular) calendar up-to-date. Taking a week off? Block it in your calendar, so Acuity or Calendly don’t accidentally allow people to book a call with you that week.
Calendly vs Acuity: Features Comparison
If all you need is a scheduling tool, both Acuity and Calendly are great at what they do. I’ve used both in the past; I switched from Calendly to Acuity a while ago, I absolutely love Acuity and I’d never go back… but I know Calendly does a fine job as well.
So let’s compare their main features here:
Connecting calendars per user
Calendly’s free plan lets you integrate one calendar - but paid plans let you connect up to 6 calendars with the scheduling tool. Which is great if you’re working with a team.
Acuity has different tiers as well - from one calendar for the free plan, to up to 36 different calendars to be integrated in their “powerhouse” plan.
Confirmation emails, reminders, follow-up etc
Calendly’s free plan offers a confirmation email - but no reminders and no possibility to add in other follow-up emails. Their free plan is still very basic though - there’s not much room to customise things.
Both scheduling software companies offer a wide range of integrations:
- Accepting payments through Stripe and Paypal (Acuity also does Square),
- Connecting with meeting software like Zoom and Google Meet (Acuity also does GoToMeetings),
- Acuity even integrates with accounting software like QuickBooks, Freshbooks and Xero (and I’m sure you can set up similar integrations with Calendly through Zapier).
Can I use my own domain name, or embed them on my website?
Both Acuity and Calendly offer the option to embed their scheduler on your website. Calendly even includes this in their free plan; however, as their free plan doesn’t offer custom branding, you may not want to embed it into your website at that point.
Both tools offer a personalised link on free and paid plans; it’s calendly.com/yourname for Calendly, and yourname.as.me for Acuity.
Instead of embedding, I’ve chosen to create custom redirects on my domain (through my SquareSpace website) that lead to different options to schedule a call with me. For instance, you can use www.sandco.nl/virtual-coffee to schedule a no-strings-attached meet and greet; or www.sandco.nl/schedule to book a discovery call and discuss working with me.
Why did I choose Acuity?
I once switched from Calendly to Acuity because their free plan offered more then one event type. In other words: in Calendly, people could only book one type of meeting (a 20-minute discovery call) with me - whereas on the free plan, Acuity allowed me to offer 20-minute discovery calls as well as 90-minute strategy sessions.
I loved Acuity’s ease of use and the way the company communicates with their users - so when it became time to upgrade my account, I did (of course) do a quick pricing comparison with Calendly, but still decided to continue with Acuity. I’ve never regretted it.
I believe Acuity’s free plan is superior to Calendly’s; and if/when you upgrade to a paid plan, there are so many more useful features on Acuity. That being said, I fully encourage you to make a list of all the features YOU need before you sign up.
Finding software that fits your needs is like picking a nice evening dress; there’s no one-size-fits all, and making the wrong decision can cost you a lot of money, make you look not-your-best, and leave you disappointed.
Calendly Pricing (2020)
Calendly has a basic plan that’s free of charge; their paid plans start at $10 per user per month. Please note you will need the “Pro” plan (at 15$ monthly) to use most integrations, or to customise your branding colours when embedding Calendly on your website.
You can find all the features and pricing plans on their website.
Acuity Pricing (2020)
Just like Calendly, Acuity offers a good free plan. All integrations, customisation, time zone conversion and features most coaches and online service providers need are available on their “Emerging” plan (it’s the plan I’m on as well).
The higher tiers offer more advanced packages which I believe are great for bigger companies; their “Powerhouse” plan offers room for up to 36 calendars.
Using a CRM like Dubsado or 17hats to schedule calls
Both Dubsado and 17hats have unrolled their own scheduling tool in the past couple of years and although neither is as robust as Calendly or Acuity, it can save hassle (and money!) to have all your tools in one package.
I’ll be writing more about using a CRM for a coaching or service-based business in a little while - keep an eye on this space for more!