For many small businesses a cancelled customer booking is money out the window.
Booked.IO, a Toronto-based startup, believes it can help SMBs plug this income drain by providing an easy-to-use online booking tool that helps reduce the possibilities of customers canceling their appointments.
Geoff McInnis, a member of Booked.IO said the automated booking tool the four-person firm is developing will likely be ready for beta testing in the next six months. He said the Web-based tool will be targeted at heath professionals such as therapists and chiropractors as well as shops such as beauty salons and spas.
“One of the main reasons people cancel appointments is because they were unable to book the best date to suit their schedules since they are frequently bound by the availability of the professional they want to see,” said McInnis. McInnis is an IT professional with over 10 years of experience and is now specializing in e-commerce.
The solution Booked.IO proposes is an online portal that allows consumers to “shop” for services based on the dates that suits the consumer.
Booked.IO will serve as a scheduling tool for subscribing businesses. These businesses will load their availability schedules on the Booked.IO portal. Customers can access the portal through their personal computers or smartphones.
Consumers visiting the site can navigate through the categories of services and pick out a businesses whose availability suits their schedule.
Once a customer signs up for a date and time, this information is immediately sent to the business and an appointment is booked for the person. The customer receives a confirmation on their device.
The tool will also allow users to manage their appointments. They will be able to use their smartphones or PCs to inform the business if they are cancelling on their appointment and rescheduling for another date.
McInnis said they also intend to add a cancellation filling functionality. This will be sort of a waitlist manager that will work towards filling a cancelled appointment with another customer. “This way, businesses do not lose money because of cancelled appointments,” he said.
Booked.IO is still investigating what type of pay model they will use. McInnis said the service will likely be subscription based.
There are a number of companies offering similar services in Canada.
One of them is HealthAware.ca, a free Web-based service that rolled out about a month ago.
HealthAware focuses on providing health professionals a centralized online scheduling portal. Consumers obtain the service for free, but clinics that register in the portal pay about $50 – $200 per customer that books a schedule through the portal, said co-founder Nikolai Bratkovski.
“On subsequent bookings of a patient the clinic or doctor is just charged $1 per booking,” Bratkovski said.
“There are only a few businesses trying it out and no standard payment model has yet surfaced,” he said.
There’s a lot of opportunities in the space and the company that hits on a the right payment model can really make it big, Bratkovski added.