How Small Businesses Can Optimize Appointment Waitlist Management

How Small Businesses Can Optimize Appointment Waitlist Management

Waiting is a fact of life. And managing waitlists is often a big part of doing business. 

You may be thinking of the waiting area at your favorite salon or those little buzzer coasters at restaurants. But there are so many more industries who have to tackle this problem. From bowling alleys, to car lots, to stylists, to sales professionals, to event organizers and exhibitors, waitlists seem to be everywhere.

And those annoying buzzers or the old-fashioned clipboard technique are a poor way to keep track of such a vital part of your business. Fortunately, today’s technology has given us a better way to manage the wait through appointment waitlist platforms.

How Small Businesses Can Optimize Appointments and Waitlist Management

Create an Appointment Waitlist

If your salon, repair shop, or other service business uses a walk-in model, you might be leaving money on the table. But moving to an appointment-only model can also have financial drawbacks. A better solution is to create an appointment waitlist — it’s the best of both worlds.

An appointment waitlist allows you to schedule clients way ahead of time — regular visits, planned service appointments, monthly appointments. And it also allows you to manage walk-in clients. So if your dog grooming business has monthly bath and cut clients and walk-in flea baths or nail trims, you can include all of these types of visits in the same system. This allows you to fill slow times or no-show appointments with walk-in clients, and also reschedule late clients or last-minute drop-ins with ease.

Confirm Appointments with Text Reminders

Many walk-in type businesses have found that setting appointments can actually hurt their bottom line when people don’t show up. They may have booked a full day of appointments and staffed their business appropriately only to find that half of the clients have gone elsewhere or forgotten the appointment. Staff is left twiddling their thumbs waiting for people who are not coming. The whole business is less busy, and consequently less profitable, than it should be. 

This is similar to the no-show problem restaurants have faced for years using reservation systems like OpenTable. Since NextME was originally designed for the restaurant industry, our platform was created with this difficulty in mind. 

With a simple text message, just before their appointment clients can let you know if they’re still planning to keep their appointment. If so, they are prompted that they’re soon to be next in line. If not, the waitlist is moved forward accordingly and the day progresses smoothly. The staff stays busy, the business stays active, and workers and clients alike don’t have to waste time waiting. 

Let Clients Control How They Wait 

By sending SMS updates estimating wait time and then notifying clients when they need to head back, you allow clients to control and manage their own time. They don't have to hover in or just outside your shop (or keep checking back). They can take off and do as they please, then only begin to return once they receive a text letting them know that they're next or almost next in line. 

Not sure how this would look? Take Apple's Genius Bar. They do an excellent job of allowing clients to schedule their appointments and then wait wherever or however they like. Since many of their locations are inside shopping malls or busy commercial areas, this means people can shop or run errands as they wait. This leads to happier clients and better customer service ratings across the board. And there’s no denying that they’ve managed to create a loyal following.

Take Advantage of Clients' Captive Attention

In today’s data-driven world, your clients are constantly bombarded by marketing messages. So finding ways to get their attention is harder than ever. What if you could get your clients to view a page with your chosen messages, voluntarily?

One of the best features of NextME’s waitlist platform is that it sends your clients to a page where they can monitor their place in line in real-time. This creates a captive audience who is already interested in your business and its services. And you get to decide what content is displayed on the page beneath the countdown. 

This means you could advertise potential upsell products or services like adding a blowout to a hair cut or offer new air filters for clients coming to your automotive shop. You could also showcase your website, give customers the option to sign up for your email list, or encourage them to follow your brand on social media. Have a customer loyalty plan? This is a great place to give them a sign-up link.

This waiting page is also a great option for event management teams. It allows event exhibitors to manage wait times for attendees visiting booths. The marketing page allows exhibitors to prep attendees while they’re waiting to experience all a booth has to offer. They can use the page to help attendees make a more meaningful connection to your brand or cause by combining mobile marketing content and one-on-one meetings with staff members. 

Want to see how an appointment waitlist can help you grow your business? Give NextME a call today!


3 Ways Restaurants Can Use NextME’s App to Increase Their Bottom Line

Running a restaurant and getting customers in the door is not easy. Even popular restaurants are seeing prospects flee towards the exit due to long wait times for a table. NextME’s digital waitlist for restaurant employees is significantly improving the customer’s experience at the front-of-house (F-O-H) and has helped restaurants increase customer retention during wait times.

What’s the secret? Communication. By leveraging mobile technology, NextME makes it easy for restaurants to seamlessly connect and relay to diners their position in line. Taking the guessing game out of waiting has helped restaurants and other businesses drive more sales over the course of three years, and we want to continue to do so by sharing some tips to help your restaurant improve your bottom line.

1. Communicate with Customers Effectively

Communication is key to getting your customers in the door and also getting them to stay. With NextME’s digital waitlist app, restaurant hosts can send guests an automated SMS text where diners can easily track their place in line using a weblink. With a simple text message, customers are engaged with their position in line and reduces their anxiety as it allows them to manage their time back to the restaurant. Two-way texting also allows customers to reply with “1” to confirm their reservation or “2” to cancel without having to call or physically return to the host stand.

2. Increase Customer Retention

Using SMS text as a tool to communicate with your patrons helps increase customer retention by up to 25% during peak hours. Compared to shouting customer’s names one by one off a clipboard, restaurant partners find that their retention rates of waiting patrons increase from 60% up to 90% when using NextME’s app. With NextME, hosts can easily manage your patrons’ expectations in real time, allowing your restaurant to retain more customers during peak hours and drive more sales.

3. Improved Marketing ROI

Using text messages for your restaurant increases the value your restaurant can bring to your customers. NextME’s text message includes a web link that will direct patrons to the restaurant’s mobile marketing page. This page will be styled and branded according to the restaurant’s preferences, such as displaying menus, drink specials and social media pages. Displaying marketing content to waiting patrons increases customer engagement and takes care of patrons when your hosts are too busy checking for table availability. On average, restaurants are getting 20–30 minutes of consistent engagement on NextME’s marketing page.

To learn more about how NextME app can help drive more sales for your restaurant and increase your bottom line, check out our page here.

Ready to introduce NextME to your business? Request a demo from us!