Up until recently, online appointment scheduling was primarily available only through hosted software solutions, like Appointlet, Appointy, and many others. These services are excellent except for the fact that you're giving up full control of all of your customer data to another business. You also typically have to pay a monthly fee for these services which may not be in the budget for your small business.
Enter Bookly, the appointment booking and scheduling plugin for WordPress.
With Bookly, for a small one time fee, you can have appointments fully integrated into your WordPress website, allowing you complete control over your customer data, the style and design of the form to match your brand, and the choice of which payment solution to use.
Let's explore more of what the Bookly WordPress plugin has to offer.
Bookly’s welcome page suggests that you jump straight to adding your staff members and services, so let’s do that first.
Adding Staff Members to Bookly
Adding a new staff member is simple. First, choose a WordPress user from the dropdown menu and add their full name.
Not all staff members have to be registered as WordPress users but if they are not, then they will not be able to access the personal calendar that’s built into Bookly’s back end of WordPress
Once you save the staff member’s name, you will be able to add more personal details for that staff member, such as a profile photo, an email address, a phone number, and a bio or other info related to them.
You also have the option to make this staff member private if you do not want them to be visible to your customers and if you choose to integrate Bookly with Google calendar, you can choose whether or not you want to have this staff member’s data synchronized.
After you’ve filled out the Details section, you can add which services this staff member is responsible for (but we will add this from the main Services section and show you below), their schedule, and their days off.
Adding Services to Bookly
Ok, now let’s add a service.
You can organize your services into categories, and adding a category is as simple as typing in the category name and clicking save.
Now to add a service, you add the name of the service in the title field and then fill out the rest of the details.
You can also color code each service to the right of the title which can come in handy for calendar organization.
- Duration, which is how much time is required to perform this service.
- Padding time, which allows you extra time before and after each appointment if needed.
- Price (add the price of your service)
- Capacity, which is the maximum number of customers for each duration.
- Category (which category this service falls under.)
- Providers, here who choose which staff members are responsible for this service.
- More info about the service, if needed
- Public/Private, whether or not you want this to be service to be visible to your customers on the front end of your website.
That’s it! Now that we have staff members and services added, let’s see what the actual booking page looks like for your customers!
Adding the Bookly Appointments and Booking Form to a WordPress Page
In order for us to see the booking form, we’ll have to add it to a WordPress page (or a post) with a shortcode.
Once you've chosen or created a new new page or post that you will add your Bookly form to, you will need to insert a shortcode.
You will see a pop up menu of options to further customize how you want your Bookly form to appear, mostly whether or not to hide or show specific aspects of your booking form.
Once you've inserted the shortcode and saved or page or post, you can take a look at it on the front end of your website to see what your customers will see.
The Bookly Appointment and Booking Form (Front-End View)
Customizing the Bookly Appointment and Booking Form
If you go back to the dashboard under Bookly menu, and choose Appearance, you’re able to highly customize this form to suit your needs.
It’s amazingly simple to change the color of the form elements.
You can change the headings to whatever you want on every step
You can also change the text output, including the ability to add shortcodes that will pull different types of data into your form’s text during each step.
Bookly Settings Overview
Once the form is set up and running, there are still many additional options in the main settings area where you can add payment options, business hours, and other customizations.
- Under the General tab, you mostly have a list of URL options if you want to create custom pages for specific interactions with customers.
- The Company tab is where you’d fill out your company’s profile information.
- If you want to sync your appoitnments with Google Calendar, this is where you’d do that.
- You also have the option to integrate WooCommerce which is a very popular shopping cart plugin. This would be helpful if you wanted your customers to be able to book several services at once.
- Then you have the Payments tab where you have many options including PayPal, Authorize.net, Stripe, and others.
- You can set specific business hours and holidays.
- And then on the very end this is where you’d put your purchase code that you received when you bought Bookly. Don’t forget to add this!
Bookly still has many more customization sections as well!
The calendar view allows you to see all appointments by choosing an individual staff member, or all of staff together.
You can view Today’s appointments OR you can toggle the view by choosing month, week, or day.
Here, you can see a list view of all appointments and and specify which ones with many options.
You can add an appointment manually AND you can export a spreadsheet of your appointments..
You also can view a searchable list of customers.
in this section, you can customize the emails that are automatically sent to customers AND staff regarding new appointments and cancellations. You can even setup reminder emails.
And if email is not enough for you, you can register to use “Bookly SMS” and send customers and staff text messages as well.
You can view a customized list of payments made through Bookly.
If you need your customers to include extra information with their orders, Bookly allows you to add extra custom fields including text areas, checkbox and radio button lists, drop down choices, and even a captcha!
And finally, now that your services are all ready for your customers, you can help promote your business by adding a coupon code that will give a discount to anyone who uses it.
Without a doubt, Bookly is an awesome booking and scheduling solution for your business. Not only is it super easy to set up and customize, even for a beginner WordPress user, but it integrates seamlessly to provide your customers with an extremely fast and clear booking process.