Handling day-to-day administrative tasks simply comes with the territory when you’re a small business owner. Whether you’re managing a brick-and-mortar space or have a fully digital operation, someone still needs to communicate with customers and get new gigs on the calendar. The only problem is that doing so can be a major time-suck that takes you away from more important things—like working on big-picture goals and growing your business.
Now for a bright spot. Thanks to technology, scheduling new appointments is becoming a pretty seamless experience from start to finish. The good news for small businesses on a budget is that there are plenty of free appointment scheduling software programs that can make life a lot easier without breaking the bank. Read on for seven options that are worth exploring.
Every business’s needs are unique, so it’s important to understand how different free appointment scheduling software programs operate. Here are a few popular platforms to explore.
First up, 10to8 has different tiers of paid memberships, but the free version allows for 100 appointments per month out of one location. Two staff members are able to access the account, making it ideal for small teams. The most important part is that online booking is easy for clients. They can either visit your dedicated 10to8 booking page or schedule an appointment using a booking widget that’s embedded directly into your business website or Facebook page.
Clients can book multiple appointments at once that will automatically sync up with your calendar. To prevent no-shows, they’ll also receive a free appointment reminder text (employees are alerted via email). If something comes up and you need to modify an appointment, 10to8 is enabled with two-way client chat.
10to8 Cons: It’s a handy platform, but the free version may feel limiting to a growing business. Once you surpass 100 monthly appointments or expand to more locations, you’ll have to upgrade to one of their paid plans. These certainly have their benefits, like customizable text alerts and a higher booking capacity, but they cost anywhere from $10 to $40+ per month.
This free appointment scheduling software only allows you to manage 50 bookings per month, but it made our list because it’s ideal for some solopreneurs. Consider SimplyBook.me if you’re running a small operation with straightforward scheduling needs.
Give your customers the option of booking online through a mobile-optimized booking website. Alternatively, they can book directly on your business website or social media page, thanks to an integrated widget. They’ll receive an automatic email alert once it’s confirmed or if any details get modified.
At its core, the SimplyBook.me free plan is a relatively bare-bones option, but it does allow you to add one custom feature at no charge. Your choices include the ability to:
SimplyBook.me Cons: Depending on your needs, having to choose only one of the free custom features may feel tough. Small businesses that take off and start booking more than 50 appointments each month might also outgrow the platform. In this case, you can spend $10 to $60 on a paid plan.
Setmore stands out from the pack as far as free appointment scheduling software goes. It’s clean, easy to use, and allows you to manage up to four calendars without ever charging you. Their online calendar, which you can access from a web browser or with the mobile app, lets you tap into your appointments anywhere.
Drag-and-drop rescheduling minimizes conflicts, and as you might expect, staff and clients receive email notifications to stay in the loop. This free program is also locked and loaded to process online Square payments. Customers can book with no fuss on your Setmore booking page, which you can integrate right onto your company website.
Setmore Cons: The only real drawback is that Setmore’s premium subscription, which starts at $25 per month, delivers benefits that you miss out on with the free version. It opens the door to managing more calendars, sending customizable text message reminders, booking recurring appointments, and processing payments via Stripe.
Next on our list, Appointy does what any good free appointment scheduling software should do—it makes the customer booking experience simple and headache-free. You can lock in up to 100 appointments per month straight from your website or Facebook page using Appointy’s seamless integration. What’s more, customers can see daily, weekly and monthly availability all in one place, in real time.
Those who opt for a free account can process Square payments and enjoy automatic appointment reminders. In a nutshell, it automates the booking process from A to Z so that the customer and business owner can move on to more important things.
Appointy Cons: The free account only grants access to one staff member. You also can’t sync your Google or Outlook calendar unless you upgrade to a paid plan. These start at $20 per month, but allow you to close unlimited bookings, send customized text and email alerts, provide tailored deals to customers, and more.
There’s a reason this no-nonsense free appointment scheduling software gets consistent rave reviews. It gets the job done and offers some notable features to its free-of-charge users. It’s a platform that’s particularly well-suited for solo small business owners and self-employed folks who rely on one-on-on client interaction, whether that’s online or in person.
With Harmonizely, you can schedule unlimited meetings for free, and it syncs easily with a wide variety of calendars. You simply use the platform to allow invitees to schedule time with you. (You’re in control of how soon or how far out they can book.) From there, an email notification with all the details will go out to all parties.
Harmonizely Cons: With the free plan, you’ll only be able to manage one calendar and meeting type. Zoom integration is also off the table. The $10-per-month Pro membership widens your scope of service and makes these options possible. It also allows you to reschedule meetings and send customized email notifications, among other things.
Square is more than just a popular mobile payment processor. The cloud-based platform also offers their own form of free appointment scheduling software: Square Appointments. Individual entrepreneurs can lean on this service to make online booking a breeze.
Your available times are pulled from your synchronized Google calendar. All your customers have to do is book directly through a reserved online booking website or your Instagram account. Automated text and email notifications come standard. One other bonus—Square’s POS system is fully integrated, allowing for seamless transactions. Square Appointments also throws in no-show protection. You have the ability to charge a cancellation fee or require full prepayment, no questions asked.
Square Appointments Cons: It’s only free for individuals. If you end up growing your team to two to five employees, the price jumps to $50 per month. Businesses with six to 10 employees will shell out $90 monthly.
Rounding out our list, Fresha is specifically designed with spas and salons in mind. A big selling point is that it’s built to support unlimited calendar bookings. Fresha is fully optimized for mobile and puts no cap on how many locations you have. Clients can book to their hearts’ content, and you can invite as many of your team members as you like to use the platform. To make things even less complicated, a point of sale service is built in to support cash drawers, barcode scanners, and receipt printers.
Fresha Cons: If you’re managing a salon or spa, there aren’t many drawbacks here. Of course, opting into Fresha’s paid membership does provide additional perks. Users can list their business on the Fresha marketplace, which could potentially increase their reach. Aside from the marketing push, it also includes text alerts, no-show protection, and a more robust point of sale system.
As a small business owner, you don’t need us to remind you of how valuable your time is. Delegating tasks to others and outsourcing some of your workload can help take some weight off your shoulders and open up more time on your calendar. For many time-strapped entrepreneurs, free appointment scheduling software is a viable solution.
Think about what matters to you most, whether that’s access to a point of sale system or giving your customers the ability to book appointments straight through your social media pages. Chances are, there’s a free software program out there to meet your needs.
Marianne Hayes is a small business owner and longtime freelance writer who’s been covering personal finance for nearly a decade. She specializes in small business news, budgeting, saving, and wealth management. Marianne has written for Forbes, CNBC, LendingTree, Experian, Mint, LearnVest, The Daily Beast, HuffPost, and more. When she isn’t writing about small business and finance, she’s teaching creative writing workshops and curling up with a good book. She lives in Florida with her husband, three daughters, and miniature dachshund.