All tax professionals deal with no-shows or last-minute appointment cancellations. Forbes reports that tax preparers make between $37 and $400 per hour, meaning no-shows can be costly for your business. Missed appointments aren’t a deduction; you’re losing billable hours. You spend more time calling or leaving messages to reschedule. Are they swamped at work or ghosting you because they decided to go to someone else?
Thankfully, there is a solution that will cut down your percentage of no-shows and stress this tax season. An automated appointment scheduler for small businesses may be the best software you ever purchased.
How It Works
- You feed your available hours to meet with clients into the scheduler.
- Clients schedule their own appointments with you in a client management system.
- A reminder goes out to your entire client list, reminding them that tax time is approaching. It’s time to schedule their appointment.
- Your available hours show on the client scheduler, and the client chooses the date and time that best fits their schedule.
- A couple of days before the appointment, they get another reminder requiring them to confirm or cancel it.
- If they cancel, they get another message or a phone call from your office to reschedule.
- The scheduler should also integrate and sync with your preferred calendar app so you can see schedule changes in real time without having to log in to a separate tool.
It’s a simple yet spectacular tool for optimizing your billable hours. Here are the top seven benefits of an automated appointment scheduler for your business:
1. Less No Shows
By sending a reminder through an automated text messaging system and asking them for confirmation, you cut down on no-shows and late appointments. People are more likely to show up after acknowledging the time. Most who can’t attend will cancel a few days before. This will reopen that appointment slot on the calendar so another client can book an appointment.
2. Better Client Preparation
When you create the reminder templates, you can include a checklist of necessary documents so clients come prepared. Client preparation checklists help prevent follow-up appointments. They help clients organize their papers and thoughts. If they have questions about the documentation, they can call the office or email ahead of time for clarification.
3. Less Confusion
By using a shared calendar in the office that communicates with Outlook and other digital planners, you can see changes to your schedule quickly, avoid double bookings, and give you breathing room. You can include staff training and meetings in the calendar so those time slots are unavailable for appointments.
4. Better Productivity
It’s helpful for some people to schedule blocks so they’re doing similar activities. They get in a groove, and interruptions can cause mistakes or slow them down. They may take a day to prepare all the files ahead of time and then handle appointments for the rest of the week. Others want to schedule time before meetings to prepare. Whatever works for you, let the appointment software work for you.
5. Improved Open Rates
Automated reminders can be sent any time of day or night. You can set them so they go out to clients after work when they are most likely to open the message. If they open the email in the morning, they may forget to transfer the appointment to their calendar.
6. Easy Follow-Up
Anyone not responding to the confirm/cancel email can get a second message. You can send it through the automated system. You could also contact clients by phone if they have a landline or aren’t tech-savvy. Some clients, especially those unaccustomed to self-scheduling, may need a more personal touch.
Follow-ups limit no-shows even further, and tell your clients their appointment time slot is important. Offer to reschedule.
7. Better Client Retention
If your clients had a good experience with you last year, there’s no reason why they shouldn’t go with you this year. However, any office might do if you haven’t contacted them all year because you don’t have a relationship with them.
By sending out appointment reminders early, you’re more likely to retain their business before they shop around. Sending a document checklist and other helpful information also proves your office provides more service for their money.
To further cement your relationship, send a newsletter quarterly with relevant information. You could have one for personal tax clients and another for business clients or a mix of the two.
By sending them quarterly, you stay in their thoughts without annoying them by overloading their email. The timing also makes keeping the newsletter updated with new articles and current events manageable.
Make newsletters one or two pages so clients with busy schedules will likely read them. Use a title, brief description, and link to articles rather than the whole article in the email. They will open the links that interest them most. You can also include a reminder of your client referral program.
The Key Takeaway
Don’t let technology scare you. Automating mundane tasks allows your team to focus on money-producing activities while keeping the appointment schedule full. Appointment automation is worth it.