When it comes to running a small business, your time is money—and most of us won’t think twice about squeezing in one more job when the opportunity strikes. But when all of those piecemeal hours stack up, the result can be a real headache.
To make scheduling more manageable, Thumbtack has created a calendar tool that helps you sync your schedule with customer’s needs—so you can set yourself up for the right jobs without missing out on new opportunities. Here are three pro tips for mastering your schedule.
Tip 1: Get Ahead—and Stay Ahead
Avoid overbooking by stacking your appointments fit like tetris blocks. Carpet cleaning pro Cody DeLaBarre of Innovative Carpet Restoration in Castle Rock, Colorado used the scheduling tool to make the most of his downtime. Now those open hours on his calendar are available for Thumbtack customers to book. “My days are totally full now because I’m catching all of the quotes that I otherwise missed.”
Setting your schedule ahead of time does more than help you get jobs. When customers see your completed calendar, they start thinking about their own timeline with more commitment. We’ve all been in situations with shifting schedules—no matter which side the change is coming from it’s, moving appointments around is no fun.
Keep on top of customers’ requests by defining your schedule in advance. Especially when it comes to major projects like renovations, moving or weddings, staying on top of your schedule gives your customers confidence in your professionalism and urges them to likewise think their project through. Do the best you can to set your Thumbtack calendar as far out as possible (we suggest 3-4 weeks at the least), and always know that making a change is just an easy click away.
Tip 2: Make Your Calendar Your Own
Every pros’ calendar is different. Is your schedule flexible? Pros with open schedules or large teams might choose to leave their calendar open, only blocking out a few hours here and there. As Carl Robinson of Epic4 Carpet and Vent Cleaning Services in Loganville, Georgia explains, “I leave my calendar very open because I have a very large crew to do the work and I always want to leave some room for new customers.”
For pros who are just getting started an open calendar can be like a an experiment—as your customers respond to open blocks of time, you can analyze their choices and taper your schedule to fit their preferences. You might even consider leaving weekends and evenings open to gauge your customers’ interest. “It’s a great way for customers to book by seeing what’s open. You learn as they choose,” says Carl.
Tip 3: Remind Yourself to Update
If you’re working on a more limited schedule—you’re a business of one or have regular appointments that don’t change—updating your calendar regularly can save you a lot of time. When customers look at your calendar, they see when you’re available and when you’re already booked. They can then request to book you directly by scheduling an appointment within a block of time marked free.
For Kathryn, owner of PDX Premier College Movers in Beaverton, Oregon, blocking out busy times does more than just save time. It cuts down on unnecessary costs. “Every once in awhile I will block out a full Saturday because I know I’m very full. When I block that time off, I know that I won’t be wasting money quoting on jobs that I’ll never be able to take,” she says.
Updating your schedule takes only a few seconds, especially if you use the Thumbtack app. We recommend that all pros update their schedule at least once a month. If you’re forgetful, set an alarm on your phone for the first day of the month to remind you. And the busier you are, the more you should update your schedule. “I update my schedule every day. It’s part of my process. In the evening I look at what I’ll be doing in the next few days and ready my schedule accordingly,” Carl explains.
Have any additional scheduling questions? Learn more about setting your calendar for success with this scheduling setup guide.