Apr 20 2011
You’ll never hear me say that the government of Washington, DC (the city) is a paragon of business efficiency. I know it isn’t. But during a visit to the police station a few years back, even this cynical guy was awestruck.
Basically, I wanted to get a new neighborhood parking permit. So I walked into the station and made my request, upon which they pulled out, quite literally, the Biggest Book Ever. It looked like “War and Peace” – the extended edition – with the King James Bible as the prologue and the New York City phone book as the epilogue.
I took a peek inside. As I suspected, it consisted of countless names, drivers license numbers, dates, and who knows what other sinister state secrets, written in pen. They wrote my information in page 61,324, sent me on my way, and all I could think of was, “what if they lose the Biggest Book Ever?”
Since that experience, I’ve found that this Medieval way of doing things is still prevalent – more prevalent than you’d like to think. Which is why Bookeo – a simple online appointment toolkit – will be a sigh of relief to poor folks threatened to be smothered to death by an avalanche of books, binders, and rouge papers. (It really is an awful way to go.)
Bottom line: with Bookeo, small businesses of the world can now let their customers book appointments online and on their very own web site. It saves time and money, and is great for business.
The Genesis of Bookeo was not unlike my aforementioned experience. Back in 2007, one of Bookeo’s founders went to the eye doctor, only to find no record of the appointment. Naturally, the optometrist had no way for patients to make appointments online, and there was no record of it in the cluttered datebook, which was a total eyesore (get it?) So what did this jilted patient do? They built Bookeo, a cool tool to solve the problem (unlike a certain start-up reviewer who instead did absolutely nothing about his similar experience, beyond sighing incredulously and nursing an unhealthy long-standing grudge.)
Bookeo comes in three different flavors, if you will, depending on your business: booking for 1) Tours and Activities (e.g. you provide sky-diving lessons), 2) Classes and Courses (e.g. you teach art classes and 3) Appointments (e.g. you’re an optometrist stuck in the Stone Age.) All three flavors have the same delectable ingredients: five-minute setup, no software to install, no set up fees, and a 30-day free trial.
Since all three are, in essence, of the similar “stuff,” a quick run-through of just one flavor will give you a great idea of what Bookeo’s about. I chose Classes and Courses because, after all, learning is a lifelong endeavor. The example they provided is a Yoga Center, and both “audiences” are presented: first, you’ll see the experience of a customer going to a yoga center’s site to book an appointment; and second, the perspective from the manager of said center. For the former, you’ll see a list of classes and to book one, you click on the “book button.” For the latter, you’ll see a list of appointments. So simple, so sublime, and so darn do-able for any small business who wants to make their lives – and their customers’ lives – easier.
On a side note, Bookeo also has a nifty affiliate program that’s worth checking out. They’ll pay 20% commission for all payments received by customers referred by you, for 12 months from the date the customer first signed up to a paid plan. For small businesses with legions of customers and partners – many of whom are also small businesses who could appreciate Bookeo’s service – the cash can really add up.
All in all, what Bookeo has accomplished is no small feat. Go to any small business website, whether it’s a local yoga studio, art class, or physical therapist, and odds are slim they’ll let you make an appointment online. Why is that? I have some theories.
#1 – It’s intimidating. Many of these mom-and-pop shops try to build basic, bare-bones sites themselves, and the idea of adding this additional functionality is out of their purview. After all, you, Ms. Yoga instructor, didn’t get into the business to “add functionality” to your site; you got into the business to align chakras!
#2 – It seems expensive. Of course, many small businesses outsource web development to a third-party. But they’re reluctant to spring for the extra – potentially costly – functionality. And furthermore, who’s to say they won’t be gouged? Not me, that’s for sure.
#3 – It doesn’t seem necessary. “Whatever, they can always call,” the owner may say. Until, of course, that one angry customer, who swears their massage was on Tuesday at 9 am, starts telling her friends that Dave’s Massage Parlor is an amateurish, two-bit, rogue operation. Word of mouth is important. People talk to each other. And – news flash – people really do use the Internet for all sorts of things, including making appointments. (The Internet is the future.)
Ultimately, Bookeo’s easy and intuitive platform blows all of the lies – and let’s be real here, they’re all dirty, wicked, mendacious lies – out of the water. Setting up online appointment functionality for your small business can be quick, simple, affordable, and can be a boon to business. So there.
On a parting note, I was watching CNN the other day, and they showed President Obama boarding Air Force One. Behind him were the First Family, and his national security advisor, who, as is the custom, was carrying “the black briefcase” which contains the country’s nuclear codes. But something seemed funny. I paused the screen and took a closer look.
Behind the advisor was another aide, kind of hiding in the shadows – short, male, mid-50s, frumpy, Navy blue blazer, frazzled hair, tie flapping in the wind. And then I saw what he was carrying, and my blood ran cold.
You guessed it:
The Biggest Book Ever.