Timely

Timely online appointment scheduling Timely is a New Zealand based provider of online appointment scheduling tools for small businesses. The product came out of founders Ryan and Andrew’s first startup BookIt that was a booking engine for the domestic tourism industry. After BookIt was acquired by FairFax media in 2010, the founders set upon building a similar tool for small businesses. Timely is today used by more than 4000 businesses in 75 countries around the world with over 15 million appointments been made using the software.

Features

Timely has a pretty comprehensive list of features for a small business owner’s appointment booking and customer management needs. It has a beautiful drag and drop interface to set busy times, class timings and manage/reschedule/cancel appointments. There is two-way syncing with Google Calendar and one way integration with other products like Outlook, iCal and other calendar tools. You have other features that are today common across all products in the industry. This includes text reminders, report management, apps for iOS, Android and Windows, service packages and website/Facebook integration.

Timely is useful for brick and mortar businesses as well as services that require on-premise work (like plumbing or carpet cleaning). For the latter type of businesses, you may set map your appointments to specific addresses your staff will need traveling to. From an administrator perspective, you are provided with tools to view multiple staff side-by-side, tag customers as VIP or set appointments as no-shows for later analysis.

Advance features like payment processing through Paypal/Authorize/Stripe, invoice management, customer surveys and content management are available. The in-built CRM handles all data about customers like their name, contact details, gender, time-zone, date of birth, referral source, occupation. You may also flag them as repeat no-shows and choose to approve appointments instead of automating the process. You also have add-ons to complement your product like MailChimp for email marketing, Xero for invoicing, Vend for POS and dozens of payment gateways.

Pricing

I like the Timely model for the simple fact that no feature is restricted to a paying customer. The only restriction is in the number of staff you have on your roll. So if you are the sole staff in your operation, then you could opt for the SOLO $19/month plan. Have more staff joining in? You can just as easily scale up by paying an extra $5/month for each of your new staff. This does not scale up infinitely though. At $64/month, you can get access to as many staff as you like. The pricing is simple and effective. You may complain that there is no free tier. That’s true, but you do have a free 30 day trial like most other companies. So if you do get value for your business through the tool, there is no reason why you should not pay the monthly fee.

Plan Price Number of Staff
Solo $19 1
Team $19 + $5/staff 2-9
Unlimited $64 10+

Having said that, you may need to pay more to get access to the text reminders feature. Based on the country you need to send text messages to, you may pick SMS packs of 100, 500, 1000, 5000 and 10000 texts the costs for which start at around $10. Here is a sample price list for customers in the United States.

Pack Size Cost Price per SMS
100 $10 $0.10
500 $25 $0.05
1000 $45 $0.045
5000 $200 $0.04
10000 $350 $0.035

Reviews

Timely is incredibly popular on the reviews Capterra where users have rated it 4.5 stars out of 5. It is not hard to understand given that the product is simple to use for both users and end-customers. One thing that Timely does better than bigger rivals like MindBody and Schedulicity is its ability to handle and manage packages offerings. As a small business owner, Timely is integrated with payment processing and invoice management tools – as a result, you can avoid uncomfortable money related discussions with your customers while at the same time keep better track of your financial progress over any given period.

There are certainly things that could be done better. One user points out that their Paypal integration is not as good as other alternatives. So if you are using this to save on payment gateway fee, you may have to get ready for a few failed payments. This however, I think is either an isolated issue or something that should get fixed. Customer support is great although you may have some trouble getting someone on phone. Finally, the user also rues the lack of a waitlist feature. As she points out, this would mean you will never know how many customers choose to go elsewhere because you did not provide them an option to stay with you.

Other missing features include the lack of a ‘tip’ column for customers to leave a tip, the inability to separate various taxes like GST/PST, etc. A cool thing however is that Timely has a Feedback section on their website where customers can request and vote for new features. This is a good way to route product development through what customers want.

There aren’t many visitor posts on Timely’s Facebook page, but two of the three posts on the homepage (as well as a few others cumulatively) are from customers looking for a way to get in touch with the team over phone. Timely does have a ‘Request a phone call’ feature, but the fact that there is no number to call yourself and get help instantly may be a risky proposition especially if you have a large business with dozens of staffs and appointments. Even a few hours of downtime could hit your business hard.

Timely has a wonderful suite of features and a beautiful interface that brings a feature-packed system to a non tech-savvy customer who wants simplicity. The end result is beautiful and there is no reason why you should not give it a try.