The Tools I Wish I'd Used When I Started My Business: Book Like a Boss
How much time do you waste going back and forth with people to find a meeting time that works for both of you? How many no-shows do you have for meetings because the other person forgot about it? How many potential leads or clients are you losing because there is no simple way to book you? Book Like a Boss is so much more than just a way to book discovery calls, and it’s one of the tools I wish I’d had when I started out.
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When I started my business, setting up meetings involved the usual stream of back and forth emails - painful enough with just 1 other person but when you have a group of people involved it can be a nightmare.
If you’ve been hanging out with me for awhile, you probably also know that I occasionally struggle with people-pleasing and boundaries. Let me give you an example of a common occurrence during the first couple years of business:
Potential client asks to have a meeting
I ask what day/time works for them
They come back with a bunch of days/times that technically I *could* do, but that are really inconvenient or are outside of my business hours
Instead of saying “Sorry, none of those work, how about these” I suck it up and pick the meeting time that will cause me the least amount of hassle
In the meantime I’m slightly stressed out and resentful that I have to meet at this time I don’t want to, which is my fault, which makes me even grumpier
Repeat cycle weekly
I did come across a really neat extension called Assistant.to to automate meetings inside GMail (and still use it occasionally!) but it does require some manual set up and only works for 1:1 meetings and not groups. I use it for setting up ad hoc appointments or those that I’m consciously deciding to hold outside of business hours or for irregular dates/times.
To reduce my stress and help reinforce my boundaries I needed a way to be able to let people see my calendar and book appointments without us having to go back and forth. But I didn’t want them to be able to book time slots willy-nilly (I’ve written here and here about my avoidance of morning meetings and why they don’t work for me).
I needed to set the times and days they could choose from
I also needed to be able to have email reminders go out automatically to prevent no-shows
I needed to be able to set up meetings for different services/purposes or different meeting lengths
I needed to be able to prevent back-to-back meetings or to control how many meetings could be booked in a single day or week
And I needed to be able to prevent people from booking meetings when I already had commitments on either my business or my personal calendar
Eventually, I also got tired of chasing my coaching & consulting clients for money after we’d met. I wondered why on earth I wasn’t charging up front when they booked their appointment. You don’t go to a movie and then pay on your way out. You don’t fly to New York and pay the flight attendant as you’re deplaning. Requiring clients to pay upfront means that they are more committed, more likely to show up, and obviously able to pay. It scares off the tire-kickers, which is a blessing.
I started hunting for online booking software that also accepted payments and came across Book Like A Boss (BLAB). I’d been researching a few other options, but BLAB caught my attention because they were offering a lifetime deal and did most of what their competitors could do.
Over time they continued to grow and develop features that put them on par with those competitors - so much so that I thank my lucky stars I hit that ‘buy now’ button.
Some caveats right off the bat so you don’t feel like I’ve tricked you when I talk about all of the amazing features:
BLAB does not have a free plan, only a free trial
The 2 lowest-cost plans do not include selling, only booking appointments
I currently have the highest level plan - if I was restarting my business from scratch I’d probably start on the lowest plan and upgrade as needed - but for the purposes of this post I’m going to talk about all of the features I love
Website-like Booking Page (all plans)
If you are starting out and don’t have your website up and running, your BLAB profile page contains enough info to be able to act like a website or landing page: header image, contact info, description, appointment types, FAQ, and custom domains.
If you are going through a rebrand and your website is down, direct people to your BLAB page so that you don’t lose out on discovery calls or service bookings!
Reminders (all plans)
Both email and SMS reminders are available on all plans.
You can also customize the number and timing of reminders for each appointment or service. For example, for my coffee chats I have reminders that go out at 12hrs, 1hr, and 10mins, but for my consulting service I have a reminder that goes out 36hrs before the meeting because there is pre-work that has to be completed. Being able to customize those settings instead of having 1 global setting is really helpful.
You can specify the colours in the emails to match your branding, as well as set up some custom text to be included.
Note: one of the drawbacks is that you can’t customize the reminder content for each appointment or service - it’s the same text no matter what people have booked (so you need to keep it a bit general) - I’ve sent this in as a feature request, so fingers crossed!
Calendar Syncing (all plans)
With BLAB you can connect as many calendars as you want - this could be your business and personal calendar, your family calendar, the calendars of your staff or contractors - the possibilities are endless.
All with the goal of never getting double booked whenever you have other commitments.
BLAB can note only read those calendars to block off your time, but you can also select which calendars to “push” to - so you may have multiple calendars connected, but you only want meetings to sync back to 1 calendar. For example, I have connected my business and personal calendars to “pull” my availability from, but BLAB only pushes bookings back to my business calendar.
BLAB works with Google, Apple iCloud, Office 365, Outlook.com and Microsoft Exchange.
Embedding on Your Website (all plans)
You can embed your appointments online wherever you have access to add custom code. The great thing about BLAB is that you can customize these embeds, both in terms of how they look and what is included. Let me explain.
Branding: when you create an embed, you can specify:
Colours (in 6 different places)
Imagine if you needed to add an appointment to 2 different places but those places were branded differently (i.e. your website and a partner website). You don’t need to set up 2 different appointments - just create 2 embeds with different looks.
Content: when you create an embed, you can also specify which appointments and/or services you want to include. So if you have coaching and you offer a 1hr session and a 3hr session you can have them both appear in the embed for people to choose from.
Group Bookings (all plans)
If you already have some software that allows you to do group bookings/registrations/tickets then carefully consider if you might be better served using BLAB (maybe it’s another monthly cost you can cut out, or maybe it’s easier to have things all in one place, or maybe you just like BLAB better).
When you create an appointment or service, you can tell BLAB the max # of people who can book for the time slots for that appointment. The default is 1 for 1:1 appointments, but imagine the possibilities:
Group coaching calls
Accountability or coworking sessions
Meetings with team members, board members, planning committees, etc.
Webinars or online training
Integrations (all plans)
Payments: Stripe, PayPal, and Square
Email: Mailchimp (but using Zapier you can integrate with most other email marketing services)
I currently use Zapier to link my email service (was Activecampaign and is now Kajabi) so that I can send customized follow up emails to people who book. The best part is, this zap allows me to send different emails depending on what appointment or service they’ve booked.
Analytics: Google and Facebook Pixel
Live Chat: ConvertFox, Poptin, and Callpage
These will allow you to book appointments or services with people right from a live chat widget on your website.
Online Meetings: Zoom
Note: the Zoom integration is only available to people with a paid Zoom account.
If you have a paid Zoom account it will automatically generate a meeting with a unique link for each BLAB appointment.
If you have a free Zoom account like I used to, simply put the link for your personal meeting room in all of the confirmation/reminder emails - this link doesn’t change, so this was a pretty straightforward workaround. If you use another service this should work as well as long as you have a meeting room link that remains static.
Sell your Time or Your Stuff
Selling is only available if you are on the Cappuccino or Latte plans. However you are given the flexibility to sell your time or sell your stuff (or both!). And “stuff” includes both physical and digital products.
Got a coaching service? Sell your sessions.
Got a video training embedded on a landing page? Sell it using BLAB and then redirect purchasers to the landing page after they buy.
Got a physical book you’d like to sell? Ask for a shipping address in the purchase form and sell it using BLAB.
Potentially, you could use BLAB for your entire ecommerce system! Just think, no more giving away transaction fees to services like Amazon. No more not being able to see who actually bought your stuff. You have control.
Coupons: you can also set up coupon codes that apply globally to all of your products/services, or set up coupons that are unique to a specific product/service.
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