Let’s face it the majority of tasks we are forced to do on any given day are counter productive to our main priorities. Most of us spend far too much time in Email and in unnecessary back and forth communication to solve simple tasks. Have you ever tried to schedule a meeting with someone and literally spend a few days and about 20 emails back and forth in the process? The time it took to set the meeting, could have been spent having the meeting. Hindsight is always 20/20 and until you realize there is a problem here, you will not be looking for a solution to fix it.
I experienced this problem about a year ago as I continued to scale up my marketing and design firm. Up until about 3 years ago I owned and operated Vinci Designs LLC and did all the production work myself (with minimal outside help). Since that time, and just being overworked and unable to scale the business up at all I had to find ways to eliminate the unnecessary, automate large chunks of the business, and simplify the processes that were time consuming and into have to be.
No matter how hard I try I have to be realistic and admit that my business could never be fully automated or systematized. There are always going to be manual components to selling online marketing to customers. A large portion of this manual process involves discussion with the client over their needs in order to find the right solution. Second, there is often an indepth discussion once we find the right solution as to how to best go about implementing it. These two steps are done via email or phone (preferably phone).
Enter, TimeTrade. I used to have one hell of time getting customers to commit or find a time that would work for them to have a meeting. As simple as it sounds its frustrating and pointless back and forth. I simply do not have the time to waste scheduling meetings but also do not want to come across as unavilable or unapproachable. TimeTrade is/was the perfect solution for me. This enables me to create a schedule of availability for as many meeting types as I like and share those links with customers. For example I have availability set up for 30 and 60 minute phone meetings, a 30 minute Skype video chat, and a 60 minute in person meeting. There are typically only about 3 hours during the day I take meetings so to explain this or try to coordinate with customers would be a nightmare. Instead, they click a link, open my calendar, choose a time that works for them and we are all set!
TimeTrade is an extremely versatile tool. Here are some of the features that I take advantage of. I’m sure there are more but this list alone makes the low cost of this service well worth it.
- Create multiple schedules of availability. As mentioned above I have created several appointment calendars for different types of meetings. TimeTrade automatically keeps them all managed properly so if someone chooses a 60 minute appointment, my availability for perhaps a 2 30 minute appointments or a Skype video chat is no longer available. What is also very cool is they allow the end user to choose their timezone and the calendar immediately adjusts. This is very useful since half of my customers are on Eastern Time, some are on Central and the others on Pacific Time.
- Integrate with CRMs, specifically Infusionsoft. Within Infusionsoft there is a paid add-on that enables appointments booked through Time Trade to automatically get added to your daily agenda in Infusionsoft. This helps those who use Infusionsoft as an everyday task tool to keep track of their day.
- Customize and Brand the look of the interface. When you upgrade to the professional version you can eliminate the TimeTrade branding and add your own. Not much can be branded however, I believe its just the logo that can be swapped out, but its nice to be able to make it more your own. Eventually I would assume you will also be able to tweak the color scheme as well.
- Easily adjust and change availability to any appointment type with a few clicks. If I have a last minute appointment outside of the office or am taking a vactation I can edit days and times of availability for just one particular instance or I can make global modifications to my meeting times. For example if I’m no longer available to meet at 8:30 on Wednesdays and now need to change it to 9:30 I can make this change once and have it duplicate across the calendar for future bookings. Or if I simply want to change the time slot on one particular day I can do that too.
- Sync Appointments to Google Calendar. Anytime an appointment is made, I instantly see it on my agenda which is a wonderful and crucial aspect of running my business since my wife and I share our Google Calendars. It is very important our calendars are accurate and up to date at all times as we check them daily to make sure there are no conflicts. At this time I do believe they only allow connection with Google Calendar but you can essentially connect a Google Calendar with many other software programs and services so you should still be able to use this feature to help sync your appointment schedule on TimeTrade and your daily agenda.
- Minimize the number of slots available. Perception is a big part of running a business. For example, if you have a bad website design and sell websites what customer would ever purchase from you? If you sell gourmet pizza that taste’s like frozen pizza why would anyone pay the premium? The same can be said for something as simple as scheduling an appointment. The appearance of “Scarcity” can ultimately make people appreciate that your time is valuable and/or sought after. Therefore I would recommend using this feature and limiting to 2 or 3 appointment slots showing at a time. No one has to know that you have availability 7 or 8 hours a day, everyday. That doesn’t exactly promote the right message for you or your business. Plus do you really want to be available for phone meetings all day? I sure don’t!
- Eliminate same-day appointments. TimeTrade gives you the option to eliminate same day appointments. I enjoy this immensely. I am a big advocate of staying efficient and on task. Breaking the routine for “last minute” things simply kills productivity. In Tim Ferriss’s book, The 4-Hour Workweek he talks about how counterproductive checking email is all day long (I agree and since reading this book now only check mail 2x per day maximum). He mentions that every time you are pulled off task to check or respond to email it takes you upwards of 45 minutes to get back on track. If you are doing this all day long just imagine how little you actually get done! So the same can be said about last minute phone calls. Not only are they counterproductive but they are often unnecessary. You have probably just fallen into the habit of letting them occur like I did. Now I force customers to use TimeTrade and choose a time slot that works for them. The advantage is I never deal with an appointment the same day. Also, TimeTrade requires them to fill out the information tell me what the meeting is about. So often I can prep a bit either mentally or by doing any research that needs to be done prior to the meeting. This allows us to have a much more productive and mutually beneficial meeting.
- Set Appointment Reminders. TimeTrade will automatically send out meeting reminders for all parties so that the meeting is top of mind. I love this and between the reminders sent from TimeTrade as well as the reminders I set in my Google Calendar I never miss a meeting, ever.
So definitely check it out. I have no affiliation with TimeTrade. It was shared with me by one of our writer’s Michele Christensen and I’ve been using it ever since! TimeTrade has several pricing structures for Individuals or Teams, Enterprise, or Retail. And within the Individual pricing models they have a free version you can try out. I use the pro version so I can brand it as my own and even that is only $50 per year. Super affordable!