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When people hear the words “double-booked” or “overbooked”, they usually think of something negative. Double booking is when someone schedules more than one appointment for the same time slot. Overbooking is when someone schedules too much work in one day or when someone accepts more reservations than what is available.

In most cases double and overbooking is something negative. Like if a dentist double-books appointments someone will end up waiting a long time. However, there are cases where double-booking appointments or overbooking is a positive thing. For example, airlines overbook most of their flights but people end up canceling or not showing up, so the flight is rarely too full. It is also common for salon workers to double book clients so that they overlap. It is a great way for salon workers to make more money in less time.

This article will discuss when double booking appointments is a good idea. It will also discuss when double booking is a bad idea and how to prevent it.

When and How Double Booking Appointments Works

There are some instances when double booking is an effective use of time to make more money. When done right it can be very beneficial. The key is to review your process to make sure that you can properly attend to double-booked clients.

Each person and scenario needs to analyze their individual situation to see if it is best to double book or not. If you decide that it is a good idea, the following information can guide you through the process of double-booking appointments. This article will use styling hair as an example but the principles apply to any situation.

When to Double Book the Same Time Slot

Start with reviewing the services you offer. Is there a service that requires a waiting period? If there is, you can book another client while you wait. You need to know which services you can overlap and which ones you cannot. Something else to think about is if you have a staff member to help or if you have to do all the work by yourself.

For example, a hairstylist knows that when they color someone’s hair they have 30 to 45 minutes of waiting for the color to set. During that time they can book another client for a haircut. If they have a staff member they can take care of washing the hair after the 45 minutes to give the stylist more time.

Another example is a tile setter. When a tile setter sets a pan or floats a shower, he has to wait for the cement to dry. During that time he could start another job. Or if he has a helper, he can send the helper to do finishing touches such as grouting while he starts another job.

The key to overlapping appointments is understanding how long your processes take and how much time it takes to do a quality job. Be realistic with the time. Plan for the services taking extra time. Know what services are flexible. Do the math, do not cut a service short, and do not compromise on quality. 

Communicate with the Client

Clients want to stay informed. One of the most important aspects of double-booking appointments is to keep the client in the know. It is not necessary to tell them that you are overlapping appointments, but let them know that the service requires some waiting time.

If the quality of the job is not affected by overlapped appointments then the client is not going to mind. However, they will mind if you do not explain what is going on.

For example, a hairstylist can explain to the client that it takes 45 minutes for the color to set, and then they will wash out their hair and cut it. Then if they see you working on another client they are not going to feel neglected.

Other things hair stylists can say are:

  • “It takes 45 minutes for your hair to process, I will check on you in 30.”
  • “I am going to attend to another client while you relax, I will set my timer to check on you later.”
  • “When you are ready, we will wash out your hair.”

These phrases are for hairstylists but the same principles apply to other services. Key communication principles include:

  • Use clear words to let the client know what to expect and what the process is
  • Use words that show you are still taking care of them and not neglecting or forgetting about them

When you explain to the client what to expect, they will not mind you overlapping appointments.

Set Boundaries

While overbooking and double booking can provide more money, it is important to set boundaries. Setting boundaries will help you not overdo it and end up hurting your business. If a company often overbooks, their employees may get exhausted and decide to quit. Or double booking may make someone rush through a service and compromise in quality resulting in fewer return customers.

Some clients are not going to like overlapping appointments and request that you do not do it to them. If that is the case, you could charge them more money. Analyze each situation to decide what boundaries to set so that double booking stays beneficial.

Issues from Over and Double Booking Appointments

In some cases, double booking can protect a person’s income such as when a client cancels. Then they would have the other appointment as a backup plan. However, if there is no cancellation, the person who double-booked is in trouble. They will look unprofessional and may have to compensate one of the clients in some way. Overbooking, again, is a good strategy for when clients cancel often. But it is risky since there is no guarantee that a client will cancel.

Overbooking and double booking appointments can also work if a company double books small jobs that only require one worker. However, clients will be angry if a job is not done on time or with the right quality. If a client is not satisfied with the work then they will not refer anyone to use that company and that could negatively affect business.

Another issue is that employees need to work harder when appointments are over or double booked. It increases demands, makes for an unhappy workforce, and could lead to burnout. Double booking appointments takes a lot of effort, good organization and should not happen all the time.

Although over and double booking work for certain services provides some advantages, it does not work for every service. Double booking often includes risks and can cause issues. The businesses that do not want appointments to be double-booked need to prevent unintentional double bookings.

Use A Scheduling Software to Prevent Double Bookings

Accidentally scheduling more than one appointment for the same time slot becomes a reality when there is not a system in place. Also, scheduling appointments becomes more difficult the bigger the business. A paper booking system works but an integrated system works better.

There are booking tools and software that help avoid scheduling issues and make the booking process smoother. The Amelia WordPress booking plugin is one such software that might be the right software for you.

How Does Amelia Prevent Double Booked Appointments?

1.Integration

One important aspect of booking software is that it updates everyone’s schedules in an instant. At times different staff members do the scheduling. Or each employee might use different devices to manage their schedules. In all these cases, the software needs to sync the appointments so that no scheduling mishaps occur. Amelia integrates across devices so when someone books an appointment it updates on all devices. This helps avoid double bookings and missed appointments.

2.Flexible Calendars

Amelia has a reservation calendar that displays all scheduled appointments and events. It organizes each appointment by service, location, and staff member. The calendar has five different view options. It displays the month, week, day, list, or timeline view.

3.Editing Appointments

Double booking can happen when a client cancels, reschedules, or changes their appointment. Amelia makes it easy to edit existing appointments. Select the edit button that appears on the right side of the appointment. After editing, save the changes and Amelia will update the appointment on all devices.

4.Rescheduling Recurring Appointments

Many clients schedule recurring appointments, but sometimes they need to reschedule. The Amelia calendar displays blocks to represent appointments. Users can drag the block of a future appointment to reschedule it. After dragging the block, the calendar asks to confirm the appointment change.

5.Cancelling Appointments

If a client wants to cancel a single appointment or a recurring appointment, they can do so with ease. Customers can cancel an appointment by logging in to the backend of the plugin. After they log in, they can go to the appointment list and press the cancel button next to the appointment.

More Features of Amelia

Amelia has many other features that make it a great scheduling plugin. They include:

  • Supports multiple staff members
  • Supports multiple services and extras

  • Custom fields
  • Custom booking forms
  • Supports recurring appointments
  • Presents a service catalog
  • Integrates with calendars like Google Calendar

  • Integrates with payment platforms
  • Has four front end views
  • Extensive administrator panel

  • Supports SMS notifications

Doubling Down on Double Booking Appointments

Double booking appointments can be beneficial to some businesses but more often than not it is a negative thing. Booking more than one appointment at the same time happens to most professionals at some point in their careers. When it does happen, professionals need to communicate the problem to the client, apologize, and provide a solution. Clients appreciate it when professionals take the initiative to fix problems.

Investing in the right software can help prevent a booking nightmare. Software can improve organization and reduce human error. The right software can help you better manage schedules and prevent double bookings.

If you enjoyed reading this article on double booking appointments, you should check out this one about the best group scheduling apps.

We also wrote about a few related subjects like important features that an appointment booking app should have, photography booking appsbest appointment scheduling software, top appointment reminder apps and team booking.