One of the biggest time sucks in business can be all the to-ing and fro-ing that you get when you’re trying to organise a meeting with someone. You start by saying you’re available on Mondays and Tuesdays, they then suggest a Tuesday, but you have a dentist appointment that day so can they make it the following Tuesday? No, they are on holiday that week – and so it goes on and on, until you finally find a date and time that suits you both. What a waste of time!
We are huge fans of calendar apps which allow you to easily schedule meetings, because they increase productivity, and create pockets of time that you can use to do something more interesting!
Keen to find out more? You’re in the right place!
What are calendar apps?
Calendar apps are cloud-based software applications which offer a multitude of features which include the ability for people to book appointment slots with you.
You can configure your availability, so decide which days of the week you’re available for appointments, and when your working day starts and ends. You can configure holidays, and some will synchronise with your external calendars, such as Office 365 or Google Calendar, so that any events on there are taken into consideration when deciding if you’re available or not. This is so convenient, because it can be time-consuming trying to keep your scheduler up to date with all the other stuff going on in your life.
You can usually configure how long a meeting or appointment will be, and whether you’ll have a gap between meetings so that people can’t book back-to-back slots. It’s nice to have some time to take a breather after one meeting before launching into the next!
Some calendar apps allow recurring appointments to be scheduled if someone wants to book a regular weekly or monthly meeting with you.
Once you’ve set it all up you can link to the scheduler from your website, or from emails or social media, for people to set up a session with you. With some apps you can embed the calendar within your website so that you don’t need to leave it to go to a third-party website. This can look really slick and there are different ways of doing this such as embedding it directly on your site or using a pop-up window for the scheduler.
Are the free calendar apps any good?
Many calendar apps offer free versions, with extra features being available on a premium plan. Many businesses can operate successfully using just the free plan, so we would recommend trying that first to test out the app and see if it works for you.
Examples of free calendar apps include:
An appointment scheduler has just been added to Google Calendar too, but it’s only available (and ‘free’) for Google Workspace individual accounts and work/school accounts.
The free versions of the apps listed above are often sufficient for you to build a powerful appointment-scheduling solution. What’s really cool though is that if there are features which you would otherwise have to pay for, you can often use Zapier to bridge the gap. For example, the free versions may have limited reminder functionality, to send emails to your meeting attendees. If that’s the case then you can harness the power of Zapier to send notifications instead, which saves you from forking out for the premium version of the app.
How can calendar apps help you be more productive when booking meetings?
At Solvaa we are passionate about improving productivity, and calendar apps can save a heap of time in your day when booking meetings.
Firstly, they eliminate the time spent to-ing and fro-ing via email trying to find a day and time which is convenient for you and the attendees.
The apps usually integrate video conferencing such as Zoom or Google Meet. This means that once an appointment is confirmed, the video conference is set up automatically and links are sent to all attendees. This saves more time, as you won’t need to do this separately.
Depending on which app you’re using, they may offer email reminders within their free plan. You don’t want your attendees to be a no-show, so sending an email 24 hours before the appointment, and maybe another one an hour before will help them remember. Not only does this save you time from having to send out manual reminders, but if you get a no-show then you’ll waste even more time at a meeting with just yourself!
Using Zapier to fill the gaps
If your calendar app doesn’t offer some of the premium features then Zapier can be used to bridge the gap. This can be done even if a Zapier integration is a premium feature of the app. This is because you don’t necessarily need to trigger a Zap workflow from the calendar app itself…
Yes, we have a cunning plan for triggering workflows outside of the scheduler, if you can’t directly link it to Zapier.
Using this trigger you could set up Zaps to:
- Add a new task to your task management apps such as Asana or ClickUp.
- Send reminders before the event, maybe one day before, or another an hour before, using an integration with Gmail or Microsoft Outlook.
- Send yourself an SMS just before the meeting is due to start.
- Alert your team about the meeting, via Slack.
- Create a Zoom meeting if the calendar app doesn’t include this functionality in the free version.
- Add a new subscriber to your email platforms such as Mailchimp or ActiveCampaign.
You can also configure automations if an appointment is cancelled. Again, if your calendar app doesn’t integrate with Zapier for free then you can trigger the workflow when the event in your Google Calendar or Outlook 365 is cancelled.
As Zapier connects over 6,000 apps the possibilities are huge, and for each automation you configure you can be confident that it’s helping you be more productive, reduce boring manual tasks and streamline your business.
We hope these ideas have fired your imagination and inspired you to check out the different calendar apps if you don’t already use one in your business.
If you’re just starting out on your automation journey then we have plenty of free resources to help you become an automation superhero!
If you’d like to find out more about business process automation then we offer some free resources to help you get started. Our free Introduction To Zapier e-book explains the benefits of business process automation, how Zapier fits in and examples of automations for each department within your business.
We also have a free cheat sheet with a checklist of Zapier’s inbuilt functions which can supercharge your automations.
Where can I learn more about Zapier?
Our free articles are great for finding out how to get started with automation, but if you really want to dig deeper then our chief problem solver, Kelly Goss, has written a book called ‘Automate It with Zapier’, which is available on Amazon. It takes you through everything step-by-step and includes some ready-made templates for various examples so you can get started really quickly.
Check out our automation training programme
And finally, if you’re really keen to transform your business using automation, then visit the Solvaa Automation Academy. Our signature training programme, ‘Simple Automation Blueprint: Zero to Hero’ is aimed at anyone who wants to learn the fundamentals of business process automation from the experts – a sure-fire way to recession-proof your business.
It’s an 8-week blended learning course with on-demand videos, templates, resources and weekly group coaching sessions. And it’s more than just a Zapier course (although we do show you how to use Zapier like a pro) as you’ll learn about Process Mapping, Business Process Improvement and Business Process Management too – principles that can be applied to other areas of business too!
Whether you are a complete novice or have been using Zapier for a while, our programme is for you. It’s perfect for individuals and teams in micro, small and medium-sized businesses, including solopreneurs, consultants and freelancers. You’ll have access to our experts and can participate in live calls where you can ask all your burning questions, as well as hands-on workshops to keep you on track with implementing your new skills. We run regular cohorts so there will be an opportunity for everyone to participate.
Our head trainer, Kelly Goss, is a specialist in business systems, process improvement and automation, and one of less than 100 Zapier Certified Experts in the world. Kelly has many years’ experience in optimising systems and processes, and implementing automations for clients and is now passing on her knowledge to students through our trademarked ‘4-Step Solvaa Automation Methodology®‘.
Find out more via our dedicated Solvaa Automation Academy website.
Solvaa is a process and automation consultancy specialising in improving sales, operations and financial administration workflows. We help you to simplify and streamline existing processes, integrate your business tools to make data transfer more efficient and automate manual tasks to increase productivity. We are Zapier Certified Experts, Pipedrive Certified Experts and Xero Certified Advisors.
Contact us today to discuss how Solvaa can help you simplify, improve and automate all aspects of your business with Zapier to save you time, reduce costs and keep you agile as you grow.