Congratulations! You’ve taken the next step towards simplifying your life and growing your business — you have scheduling software. But now what? Many trainers ask us here at Click and Repeat “How do I link my new fancy scheduling software with my website? What does that even look like?”
And our answer? Like this…
Step 1: What would you like to do today?
Firstly, ask yourself what action you’d like your site visitors to take. The answer to that question will probably depend on the services you offer — but if you’re trying to smooth out your admin process, you’ll probably want existing or returning clients to be able to book themselves into group classes or schedule training with you.
The easiest way to do that is to ask them to create an account in your scheduling software and then let ‘em at it!
Setting up new site visitors with scheduling software
But what about new inquiries? What do you want them to do?
That will depend on the services you offer and what your intake process looks like. You may be very happy for them to sign up for group classes themselves — but what you probably don’t want them doing is signing up for private training programs without having at least a sales call or initial session with you first.
So for new clients you have 3 options:
1: Let them sign up directly for group classes
When they click on a link for a group class, they can smoothly go through your scheduling software sign-up and payment process with no human intervention.
2: Ask them to email you or fill out a contact form
This option gives you more control over how you process new inquiries. If your scheduling software doesn’t allow you to set different appointment types, this option will allow you control how you fit your sales calls or initial consults into your week rather than allowing the client to dictate that themselves.
In this process you’re the one who sets up the client account in your scheduling software. Once you’ve established their suitability for your classes or programs just email them the sign-up link so they can book and purchase their training sessions.
3: Allow them to book a sales call or initial session
You can also allow new inquiries to book their own sales calls or initial consults. Depending on your scheduling software they may or may not have to create an account to do this, but they’ll be in your system for future reference.
Step 2: What should it look like?
Once you know what it is you want site visitors to do, then you can design your site to facilitate that — and prevent people doing the wrong thing. This comes down to making sure you use very clear wording, buttons, and calls to action. Depending on how you’re structuring your site you might have two buttons, for example:
“Existing clients click here” vs “Click here to Get Started”
Those buttons then link to whatever it is you want the visitor to do: choose and book their class, fill out a contact form, schedule a call, etc..
For this to work, it’s very important that your visitors can’t make mistakes! You don’t want existing clients making new accounts or new clients being able to book themselves into programs that might not be suitable for them. How you set up the back end of your scheduling software should let you choose whether to display links such as ‘create an account here’ or ‘login’ on different pages for different services.
Depending on your scheduling software, you may also be able to filter people based on how you require booking to proceed.
For example, if you have services that need pre-approval (day care, board ‘n’ train, private programs, etc.) a good idea is to set these appointments to need existing clients to login before booking. That way, you can provide established clients with their login details allowing them to book that service, but casual visitors are blocked.
If you provide “drop in”-type services (group training classes, grooming, etc.) set your booking process to not require the client to login before booking.
Embed or link out?
The final bit of the puzzle is: how do you want your scheduling page to appear? Do you want to embed the booking form so a pop-up appears and clients don’t leave your site? Or are you happy for your booking link to send them to your scheduling software’s site?
Here are the pros and cons:
Embedded within your own site
Technically this may be slightly more complicated than just linking to your scheduling software’s site. However, if you can do it, it’s considered best practice. When the client clicks your link to book, a pop-up appears and from there they can book and complete their purchase. When they close the pop-up, they’re still on the same page of your website and can easily explore further. It’s a seamless experience and they can’t accidentally get lost — a common problem when linking to outside booking sites.
Link out to scheduling site
In this case, after clicking your booking link, the user LEAVES your website to go to your scheduling software’s site. The URL changes, and that can be a problem for some users — they can be alarmed if they’re not expecting to be relocated.
To avoid startling visitors like this, it’s worth making sure you clearly state that they’ll be sent to a different website to make their booking. That way they won’t think they’re being scammed or have accidentally fallen into some sort of phishing trap!
You can also make the process feel more seamless by how you set up your scheduling software’s booking pages. Try to have as many ‘familiarity’ cues as possible. Include your logo, and use your brand colors and fonts if you can.
If you’re going to link off your site it’s important that the link opens in a new tab so your visitor can easily get back to your site if they close the booking tab. You don’t want someone deciding they’ve made a mistake with the class they’ve chosen, closing the booking form, and then not being able to find your website again.
Step 3: Relax
Once you’ve planned your process and linked your buttons, you can finally relax. Time to let that scheduling wizardry do its job so you can sit back and enjoy your freed up schedule. Now where did I put that TV remote…