Service providers who run on reservations, scheduling, or appointments have two major common problems.
- They all have to rely on the customer’s desire and ability to arrive on time.
- They all suffer in various ways when the schedule gets off course due to their own delays or inconsistent customer arrival.
When we add walk-ins and waitlists to the equation, it’s a wonder that any small business service provider makes it through a week without going insane!
Appointments, walk-ins, and waitlists are all necessary components of a profitable business for many service providers. In today’s economy, when profit margins are slim and resources are volatile, providers have to be ready to serve as many customers per day as possible in order to stay afloat.
I recently ran across a perfect example of how this plays out in the real world. I’m curious to know if it resonates with your experience as a business owner. I was driving past a shopping center that I’ve gone by many times and never noticed. This time, an advertising flag caught my eye. I scanned the area in front of the shopping center, and I realized that the barber shop located there had 5 total signs out front:
There were 2 small lawn signs and 2 tall flags. In addition, the barber’s storefront had a traditional spinning barber pole. I took note of the shop’s name and looked them up when I stopped the car later. As I suspected, this barber with 5 signs out front that screamed, “notice us, we’re here!” was also listed on a popular booking system for the beauty industry.
While the booking system allows customers to make appointments, the street signage was meant to attract walk-in business. Here was one single service provider trying to maximize daily business with appointments, walk-ins, and waitlists. I did some rough math to determine that the shop owner is paying at least $1500 per year (based on 4 barbers) for the booking system, plus a few hundred dollars for the yard signs and flags. While this is not an exorbitant cost, the return on investment may be flat.
The physical signs can only attract the people who see them (and actually want a haircut at that moment), so they have very limited market reach. The booking app is online, where technically anyone can find it and book an appointment. The catch there is that appointments are in the future. There’s no way to see from the app how busy the closest three barber shops are so that a person can get in line for a haircut on the way to the shop. Also, different shops subscribe to different booking apps, so you may need multiple accounts to find all the closest barbers.
Current Scheduling Systems are too Static
In this scenario, people who want a haircut from that particular barbershop have 3 options:
- View the next available appointments online. Most scheduling systems have an automatic online booking cutoff at least an hour prior to the next appointment, so the shop could have availability that the person cannot see from the app.
- Pick up the phone and call each shop to see if there is a wait. This only works if everyone answers the phone.
- Physically drive to the closest shop to see if they can provide immediate service. If there is a wait, the person has to make a choice to drive to another shop or sit and wait.
When I lay it all out like that, it sounds clunky and inefficient. Of course, this is reality, and we’ve all been getting our hair cut (or other similar services) like this for decades. We accept these time-sucking inconveniences without much thought because it’s just the way it is.
This all amounts to more than an inconvenience for the providers themselves. This clunkiness is actually very costly! The online booking system simply holds static appointments. There is no guarantee customers will arrive at their appointed time. If walk-ins are forced to wait next to empty chairs with appointments running late, the backlog grows. People get frustrated with the disorganization, and others leave without getting a haircut. If the shop charges no-show fees, they have to deal with the risk of charge backs and losing the customer completely. The providers accept these obstacles as a cost of doing business and do their very best to mitigate as much as possible. It’s just the way it is.
It’s not like there is technology available where someone could open an app on their phone, view every barber in a defined radius, see their real time wait for service, and get a spot in line based on a GPS-determined arrival time... yet.
EnRoute Creates Flow with ArrivalList™ that Keeps Service Moving
The barber shop example above is just one of many scenarios that helped me realize the service industry is ready for new technology. That technology should create a more seamless flow of service to reduce customer inconvenience and increase provider profits. Businesses need customers to arrive on time and at a manageable pace, while customers need businesses to engage service as soon as possible after they walk through the door.
I’ve been a software innovator for over 30 years, and my focus has always been on helping my clients become more effective, efficient, and profitable. With my newest technology, EnRoute by Floqque, I’m taking the concept of arrival-based service scheduling to a whole new level of effectiveness, efficiency, and profitability.
EnRoute is a revolutionary predictive arrival queuing platform that will integrate real people with real world conditions in real time. Using GPS and Artificial Intelligence, EnRoute integrates with your existing booking system to allow customers to engage in service with managed expectations. EnRoute creates service flow in the following ways:
- Takes the guesswork out of arrival times with GPS coordination
- Allows customers to find available services and actual wait times around them
- Allows customers to join ArrivalLists from within a geofenced radius
- Integrates appointments and ArrivalLists to reduce wait times and quickly fill the gaps created by no-shows
- Uses AI-generated communication to keep everyone updated without multiple phone calls
The goal of EnRoute is to help businesses stop leaking revenue by enhancing their visibility and allowing them to base service on actual arrival times. EnRoute will also eliminate the clunky inconvenience for customers and streamline the route from needing service to receiving service.
EnRoute Integrates with Existing Scheduling Systems
When I first set out to design this innovative proximity-based queuing platform, I knew the biggest objection would be that service providers do not have time to switch scheduling providers or learn a new system.
Here at Floqque, we are eyeball deep in technology development. We know how difficult it is for software users to deal with changing systems. Your job is to serve customers, so you can’t waste your time adapting to new platforms. Our mission is to provide flow for you, too! We are developing EnRoute to integrate seamlessly with existing platforms so that all you have is a few new simple features in your scheduling system.
We plan to work with scheduling system providers as an aggregator so that end users can join any ArrivalList with just a few taps. Are you ready to integrate a better flow of customers into your business with EnRoute technology? Just ask your current scheduling system provider for an EnRoute ArrivalList!
It’s time for a new level of functionality in online booking, reservation, waitlist, and scheduling systems. Floqque.com, the creators of EnRoute, are working with software developers to create flow in virtual queuing systems in many service-based industries. Join our mailing list to follow our development as we bring this innovative technology to market!