How an Automated Scheduling Tool Helped a Wellness Center Shape Up

How an Automated Scheduling Tool Helped a Wellness Center Shape Up
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This story appears in the July 2015 issue of Entrepreneur. Subscribe »
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Lauri Karstetter was successfully managing Therapeia, her alternative medicine and massage studio in San Francisco, when a health issue of her own forced her to go on an extended medical leave. While she was out, sales dipped dramatically, and so did staff morale. 

“The ship doesn’t sail without a captain,” Karstetter says. Upon her return, she knew she needed to make changes to boost revenue. 

The fix

A marketing pitch for MyTime caught Karstetter’s attention. MyTime resembles restaurant-reservation service OpenTable; the web-based service syncs with a small business’s calendar and allows customers to book appointments online. But instead of serving restaurants, MyTime targets spas, dog groomers, auto shops, personal trainers—any business that runs on appointments. And it lets customers pay through its app. 

MyTime also features search listings and consumer reviews, much like Yelp (though unlike Yelp, MyTime allows users to review a business only after they’ve had the appointment). For Karstetter, who says she was a victim of inaccurate and fake reviews on Yelp, this extra step was the final piece that convinced her to give MyTime a shot. It didn’t hurt that starting the service was free. 

Therapeia used MyTime to handle online bookings. Karstetter also opted for a search listing and an add-on promotion feature: On a commission basis, MyTime promoted the business with online ads and higher rankings in its search results, charging a fee only when Therapeia landed a new customer.

The results

Over a period of eight months, Karstetter’s business acquired 137 new clients and sold $30,242 worth of services through MyTime. As gaps in Therapeia’s appointment book have disappeared, team morale has risen. MyTime also reduced the amount of time Therapeia’s staff spends booking appointments over the phone, to the tune of about $6,000 in labor hours, which frees up employees to work on higher-value tasks. 

“MyTime has been very instrumental in helping us get back on the horse and ride hard,” Karstetter says.

She’s pleased with the results and is especially surprised at one unexpected benefit that came from adopting the service: Many of those 137 new clients are entry-level professionals in the high-tech field. “MyTime is bringing in a whole new market segment that we never had access to before,” she notes. 

A second opinion

“MyTime provides a low-cost way for small businesses to extend their reach with an easy-to-use online scheduling tool,” says Linda Popky, who runs a Bay Area marketing consulting firm and is the author of Marketing Above the Noise.

However, Popky wonders if Therapeia will hold onto its current strong visibility in the search results without being forced to pay more as MyTime adds businesses to its listings. “It’s never a good idea to rely on any single marketing tactic,” she says. “They can change the rules at any time. A diversified marketing strategy is the way to go.”

Edition: October 2016

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