Google Calendar is the obvious choice for many small businesses, but is it the best solution to handle the scheduling demands of your business?
No matter whether you’re running a health and wellness studio, coaching consultancy, freelance tutoring business, or a household services company, running an appointment-based business comes with its own unique set of challenges.
And, let’s face it, scheduling is at the crux of those challenges. Not only are you responsible for managing your organization’s internal business calendar and your personal responsibilities, but also scheduling new and existing clients for the services that you offer.
- Google Calendar Was Never Really Intended for Business Use
- Your Business Isn’t Really Open 24/7 With Google Calendar
- Acuity Scheduling Controls Your Availability
- Acuity Scheduling Organizes Your Schedule and Client Info
- Google Calendar Can’t Automate
- Privacy, HIPAA Compliance, and Data Security Not Included
- Google Calendar Can Be Your Entire Calendar
- The Bottom Line on the Google Calendar App
If you’re running an appointment-based business, your appointments ARE your revenue, and your client relationships are heavily dependent on your first impression. You need an accurate, affordable, up-to-date scheduling system that gives your clients and potential clients the seamless experience they expect from any professional they’re booking an appointment with.
Google Calendar is a common and obvious choice for many small businesses, but is it the best solution to handle the scheduling demands of your business? Let’s take a look.
Google Calendar Was Never Really Intended for Business Use
For the most part, we all love our Google Account, Google Workspace, Gmail, Google Maps, and therein Google Calendar for its ease of use and how well it integrates with the default calendar app on our PCs, Macs, and mobile devices. While Google Workspace and all of its features are incredibly robust and not to mention free, it lacks the features required to manage your appointments effectively.
And there’s a good reason why. Google Calendar and the Google Calendar App weren’t built for business scheduling purposes. Long story short, Google Calendar was originally designed to make it easy for you and your team to stay on schedule, but not your clients or customers.
While Google Calendar has evolved dramatically since launching in 2006, it doesn’t offer any of the key workflows and automation processes that online scheduling platforms, like Acuity Scheduling, offer.
Need to send automated appointment reminders to your customers? Google Calendar won’t be able to help you with that. Looking for an easy-to-manage, all-in-one system where your clients can go to book time with you online? You also won’t find that with Google Calendar or the Google Calendar App either.
Your Business Isn’t Really Open 24/7 With Google Calendar
One of the biggest shortfalls of Google Calendar as a business solution is that it doesn’t allow your existing and potential customers to get a clear, on-demand view of when you’re available, or what products and services that you offer.
As we become more and more connected, the vast majority of customers note that they prefer to book online (vs. making an appointment on the phone or via text message), and actually want to book an appointment outside of business hours, simply because they’re typically working or otherwise busy during your business hours.
If you’ve got a basic website, and have set up a public Google Calendar where your new and existing clients can view your availability, the process of “booking online” probably looks something like this:
- It’s midnight and you’re in bed, but a potential customer navigates to your website and finds a link to your Google Calendar, linked to your Google Account.
- This potential customer reviews your schedule and wants to book a service with you. However, the user only requests half an hour of service time vs. the hour and a half that the service actually lasts (including prep time).
- A potential customer never receives a confirmation that the appointment has been booked and sends you a follow-up email around 1:00 am. You’re still sleeping.
- You wake up the next day, see the Google Calendar request, but you need to clarify the service time as well as have the potential customer complete an intake form before their appointment.
- Then you send a hurried, long email to your potential customer before you’ve finished your morning coffee because you know that time is money.
- You never hear back from said potential customer as he or she went to another provider with a much smoother online booking process.
- The customer was lost because they got a broken experience using the Google Calendar App.
Getting set up with an online scheduling platform like Acuity ensures that your business is truly open 24/7 to meet the growing needs of a changing consumer audience.
What takes a frustrating six steps (or more) and lost revenue with the Google Calendar App is finished seamlessly in seconds with Acuity:
A potential customer navigated to your website and sees your customized Acuity scheduling page already embedded.
A potential customer can easily view your real-time availability see all of your products and services at a glance, and correctly self-schedule or book the hour and a half time slot they need.
Acuity automatically sends an appointment confirmation via email or SMS, and will also send intake forms, new client inquiry forms, and more. The time is also automatically blocked off in your online scheduler to prevent another customer from booking that same time slot.
Acuity Scheduling Controls Your Availability
If you’ve got multiple employees working at different locations on multiple calendars then you know how tough it can be to sync everyone up. It’s essential to be able to manage and track everything seamlessly. The last thing you want is for customers to lose appointments, have incorrect times sent to them, or to show up and discover that you don’t know who they are.
Acuity Scheduling helps manage multiple locations and employees, only shows your clients the calendar you want them to see, and makes it easy to adjust your schedule as needed.
Acuity Scheduling Organizes Your Schedule and Client Info
Acuity Scheduling does simple things that the Google Calendar App doesn’t. It auto-adjusts for time zones, lets clients easily cancel & reschedule themselves, updates your calendar automatically, and sends automated reminders to keep clients prompt and on time.
There’s also the option to collect all the pertinent information from clients upfront. Acuity Scheduling can ask clients to fill out intake forms at the point of booking, so you’ll have all the relevant details and information you need to know about them in one place.
Google Calendar Can’t Automate
Small business success, especially for micro-teams and solo practitioners, is minimizing your admin time and focusing your energy on the things that you love. The best way to do that is through automation.
Calendar events need calendar reminders. The reason calendar reminders are so important is that they’ve proven to decrease no-show appointments by upwards of 80%. Smart, automated appointment reminders are absolutely critical to keeping a healthy, growing appointment-based business going. Every minute of the day that you spend manually reminding customers about an upcoming appointment via phone, email or SMS, is valuable time you could be investing in the other aspects of your growing business.
While you may need to invest a few hours into getting everything set up, online scheduling platforms like Acuity are designed to save you countless hours of time by automating administrative processes and integrating them into other apps that you already use and love.
Here are just a few of the features, and processes you can automate with Acuity:
- Sync your calendars and get notified about new bookings
- Accept online payments via integrations with Stripe, Square, or PayPal
- Offer more than just appointments like gift certificates, packages, memberships, or group classes
- Feel confident knowing client information is private, as part of HIPAA
- Reduce no-shows by sending customized reminder emails and texts to clients
- Meet clients anywhere in a virtual meeting room through video conferencing integrations
- Easily share your calendar via Facebook, Instagram, email, or your website
- Customize everything to match your brand experience
- Appointment reminders via email or SMS
- Automated birthday and anniversary messages
- Book appointments with clients listed in your FreshBooks account, making client data management faster and easier. FreshBooks also provides you with profitability data about each of your clients with the Project Profitability feature.
Privacy, HIPAA Compliance, and Data Security Not Included
We live in a world ever-concerned with data security and privacy. Between HIPAA compliance and the evolving world of privacy standards, the security of customer data should always be a priority.
Despite a number of new features, functionality, and a brand new UI, the standard (free) version of Google Calendar does not include HIPAA compliance or data security features.
If you’re looking to keep your customer data secure while also using Google Calendar, you’ll need to first upgrade to G Suite by Google Cloud.
Acuity takes the privacy of our users and their customers very seriously, which is why we constantly invest in developing an all-in-one solution that’s not only easy-to-use but also backed by rock-solid security (including HIPAA compliance).
Google Calendar Can Be Your Entire Calendar
Many business owners that use Google Calendar for work also use it for their personal lives. They use it for creating events, adding a doctor’s appointment, birthdays, to schedule time with other family members, etc. For work, its use is much different. The obvious things like meetings, lunch dates, and notifications are regular events, so how do you keep track of both things?
Of course, there is going to be overlap from one calendar to another, and if events are taking place in a different time zone the layers can be complicated. Luckily, Google Calendar has easy functionality built in to allow other calendars to be brought in and listed overtop of your work calendar. It’s easy to add and can be toggled on and off, so you can get a quick perspective of work/life conflicts and then get back to work without distraction.
Adding other Google Calendars to your work calendar allows you to do all the same things you’d do normally, like look at a single day view or weekly view, create events, and also transfer to your iPhone or Android device.
The Bottom Line on the Google Calendar App
Google Calendar is a robust, free tool that most busy business owners rely on to keep their daily schedules organized. It’s got a lot of new features, is connected to your Google Account, lets you manage things like event creation, has different calendar view options, even integrates with Google Hangouts, but as a scheduling solution for any appointment-based business, it fails miserably.
There’s good news, too…you don’t actually have to ditch your trusty Google Calendar. Acuity seamlessly integrates with Google Calendar to make it easy to continue to view your schedule in your favorite calendar app, all without sacrificing customer happiness when it comes to booking time with you.
about the author
Lisa is passionate about small business success, having managed funding programs for hundreds of Canadian start-ups and entrepreneurs. She is presently Senior Content Marketing Manager at FreshBooks.