If your small business relies on telephonic reservations as a core component, you may be familiar with some of these daily downfalls: Like bad lines leading to unclear info gathering. Deposits or upfront payments can prove tricky to manage. Not to mention the additional time and effort to effectively accommodate your caller. With this in mind it may be time to start thinking like the Millenials do, and consider an online reservation system. It seems that online booking systems are the way of the future. Meaning cloud-based booking may well become the new normal for all manners of business reservations.

Let’s consider these 5 core benefits

1. Your small business is always open for bookings

Studies prove that instant satisfaction and immediacy are key drivers of customer satisfaction. With an online reservation system, your business suddenly becomes available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Meaning your booking system is working even when you aren’t. The travel industry which has been using these types of systems for longer than general retail, recently measured that 39% of bookings are made outside of normal office hours. This means that your business could also be losing out on a large percentage of potential bookings. Especially when your competitors are using a booking system, which works outside of regular hours.

Shani Ferrer, owner of My Appointment, discussed with us how, “Six years ago we used to tell people that their clients or patients can book in the middle of the night or from an open plan office as some of these appointments need to be booked discretely. But over the years people have changed and now they just prefer to do things digitally. Even if you are sitting on your own, during office hours, people prefer booking through our app rather than make a phone call.”

2. An online booking system will reduce no-shows

By booking online, customers are making an upfront financial commitment. This means they are more likely to show up. Further to this, most online booking systems sync with calendars and email, reminding your customers that you are expecting them. This same system also makes it easy for customers to virtually amend their bookings. This kind of use can translate into happy customers and efficient operations. Add to that automated follow-ups, and you will be able to seamlessly track your customers and strategically gather customer data.

3. Online booking translates to faster payments

If a business is trusted or established, customers will be happy to pay upfront on booking online. This helps cash flow allowing you to capture revenue before you customer even comes through your door.

4. Less phone more face

More online activity means less phone time. This frees up time for staff to man the floor and provide face-to-face customer service with patrons who are physically in store at the time. Furthermore you are minimizing your establishment’s workload. This is because the disruption of taking bookings puts extra pressure on your staff. This is a factor, which can be easily removed from the equation. Which is a welcome change for any busy small business.

5. Gain valuable insight about your business

The beauty of online operations is that your booking system comes complete with an analytics dashboard. This will allow you to easily survey a range of information like which products or time slots are better sellers and when you customer is most active, for example. This empowers you to streamline your marketing and operations, boost bookings and drive even more feet into you store. In the case of the My Appointment app, there is functionality to include medical aid invoices as well as built in stock management, commission, gift vouchers, loyalty programs that can increase your turnover, reduce wastage and save time.

Check out these links for a wide range of industry-specific online booking platforms:

For beauty and hair salons, health and wellness: My Appointment
For rental companies: Booqable
For hotels, B&B’s, guesthouses and lodges: Nightsbridge
For restaurants and café’s: Dine Plan

Good service is good for small business

By using an online reservation service, you are essentially telling your customer that you are investing in their experience of your brand. An open and reliable channel is always a good thing when it comes to running a small business in South Africa.

Read our post on the How's and why's of small business growth for more information to help you grow your business.

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