As someone who teaches craft skills in person and online, I’ve been using Acuity Scheduling, a cloud-based scheduling system, for the past four years. I spent a lot of time researching various software options that had the features I needed. Acuity Scheduling would also work well for a brick and mortar store that also provides appointments or classes, or a crafty business consultant who needs to schedule consultations. Here are the highlights of this powerful scheduling software.
This system works equally well for scheduling a one-on-one consultation or a large group class. You can set your availability for clients to sign up for appointments, or pre-scheduled private lessons or classes. For classes, you can indicate a maximum number of sign-ups, or offer multi-session classes. Appointments can be grouped by categories and rearranged as desired on your website. A new feature is an option for clients to pay what they can. I’ve also created my own “donation” category, which is set up like an appointment but allows students to make a payment for this non-existent class. And, if you have a Virtual Assistant helping you with your business, you can create another user to help manage your scheduling needs.
If you have more than one location or more than one person to schedule (for example, you have a few staff members or teachers you need to schedule at once), you can set up multiple calendars. For each calendar, you can set a schedule for available appointments per location or teacher to make sure you’re not double-booking appointments. You can set multiple durations for appointments, and indicate the time required between appointments (for a break or traveling to a different location). There’s even a “make me look busy” option, which allows you to hide a percentage of slots available to book by clients. Your customers will think you’re in high demand!
Another great feature is that you can sync your Outlook, Google, or iCal calendars with the Acuity calendars. So if you set up a doctor’s appointment on your personal calendar, Acuity will block off your availability, even if you normally have that slot available for bookings. Another way to avoid double-bookings!
Embed directly into your website
The scheduling page interface easily embeds into your website, so clients see your offerings and availability directly on your site. This interface is easily customizable, allows you to include text at the top (for instructions or location information), group appointments, and sort to your liking.
This may sound like what you fill out at your doctor’s office, but it’s really a powerful questionnaire feature that allows you to collect information from the client during checkout. You can set up as many “forms” as you’d like, and even link them to specific types of appointments. Types of questions include options for a textbox, a drop-down list, checkbox, yes/no choice, and file upload. I use this feature to ask students what project they’re working on, ask them to opt-in to my newsletter and agree to a cancellation policy.
Built-in client communication
Another great customizable feature is follow-up emails. These can be confirmation of booking (where you can also include other information such as supplies needed for class), reminder emails (you choose when they’re sent), and post-session follow-up email (I use this to ask students how they enjoyed the class and to leave me a review).
Acuity has a very flexible payment option system. You can take payments directly in the software via Paypal or major credit card. You can require full payment upfront, partial payment, or even the ability to book now and pay in person (with the option to require having a credit card on file to charge if the student is a no-show). Payments are transferred to your account via either Stripe, Square, or Paypal. It’s also easy to set up discount codes, gift certificates, and subscription plans.
There are many integration options in Acuity. I have it linked to my Mailchimp account, so I can see the last class each student attended. You can also link it to Zoom, which will create Zoom links for appointments and automatically put the link in your confirmation email. And if you have Quickbooks, you can keep track of your income without having to input it into your accounting software.
If you are frustrated with trying to keep track of your calendar, appointments, and classes, I highly recommend giving Acuity a try. There’s a free 7-day trial period, and various plans depending on your needs. There’s even a FREE plan (it has limited features, but hey, it’s free!).
If you have any questions about how you can use Acuity for your crafty business, feel free to post a question in the Craft Industry Alliance Facebook Group or email me at Lisa@LMBDesigns.com. I’m happy to help!
Lisa M. Barnes
Lisa is a nationally recognized knitting, crochet and jewelry teacher and designer. She founded LMB Designs to build a community of compassionate crafters with a focus on promoting the healing benefits of creative activities. If you need help setting up Acuity Scheduling, or any virtual assistance for your crafty business, you can contact her at Lisa@LMBDesigns.com. www.LMBDesigns.com or www.bit.ly/LMB-BIZ.