How a free booking system is helping small business owners do more

A purple background with a group of people on it.

Guest entry from Michel Elings, founder of Vev.

I have a lot of respect for small business owners. They form the backbone of many communities. All while wearing multiple hats at the same time. A free booking system can help many streamline the way they work, and let business flow more easily. 

My name is Michel, founder and CEO of Vev. Over the last two years, the team and I have built a free booking system for small business owners. Throughout this journey, we learned that a plumber and a beautician have much more in common than you might expect. 

Ever wondered how to put your business on autopilot without sacrificing quality or customer satisfaction? It might sound like a dream, but it’s more attainable than you think. Stick around, and I’ll walk you through how a reservation or ordering system such as Vev can be your behind-the-scenes business partner.

A man happily using a free booking system at a table.

What can a free booking system give your business?

Professionalism & Credibility

Implementing a reservation or order system instantly adds a touch of professionalism to your everyday operations. Our research shows that customers perceive businesses that use such systems as more organised and reliable. This perception helps in building trust and attracting more customers.

Efficiency & Accuracy

Manual booking or ordering methods, such as taking reservations over the phone, can lead to errors. An automated system minimises the risk of overbooking, double-booking, or missing out on orders, ensuring smooth operations and happy customers. 

At Vev, we spent a lot of time with business owners from dozens of industries to better understand their needs. That’s why our system also has nifty little features, such as “clean-up time”, to have a few minutes in between each appointment. We also allow you to create a difference between the ‘customer-facing time’ and your own duration. This way, you can help the next customer, while the other is waiting anyway. 

Data Collection & Insights

Modern reservation and order systems often come with analytic capabilities. They collect data about customer preferences, peak order times, popular items, and more. Small businesses can use this data to optimize operations, marketing efforts, and inventory management. Vev provides a daily breakdown that shows if you created an order manually, scheduled via your link, placed as a repeat order by your customer, or scanned via your free QR code. 

Vev also automatically sends you a recap with a sales report every month. The easiest way to keep tabs on how things are going. 

Maximising Revenue

A free booking system can help manage demand by allowing businesses to allocate resources efficiently. For restaurants, this means efficient table turnover. For other businesses, it might mean managing appointments or bookings better to avoid downtime. We also had many businesses report increased order value, now that customers have your full offering on display. Picking up a few extra snacks, or treating themselves to a combo package at salons. 

Customer Convenience 

In today’s fast-paced world, customers appreciate the ease of making a reservation or placing an order online at their convenience, without having to call or wait in line. Recently, we discovered that, on average, 35% of orders and reservations are created outside of the opening hours of a business. 

Enhanced Customer Experience

Such systems often offer features that can enhance customer experience, such as personalised recommendations, loyalty programs, or special offers. A positive experience encourages repeat business and referrals. After each order or appointment, Vev automatically sends your customers an email the following day. This generates about 3% extra orders for businesses, without you having to lift a finger. 

Reduction in No-Shows 

With automated reminders sent via email or text, booking systems can significantly reduce the number of no-shows, which can negatively impact revenue. Vev allows you to schedule this reminder email from as little as an hour, all the way up to days in advance. You can also set your own rescheduling and cancellation policy, to offer as little or maximum flexibility to your customers.

Another great way of reducing no-shows is setting up a deposit payment. In that case, customers have to pay a percentage or a fixed amount to confirm their order or reservation.

A last trick up our sleeves is limiting the number of days people can book in advance. This way, your calendar only opens up 7, 14, or 30 days in advance. 

Scalability

As your business grows, so will the number of orders and reservations. Starting with a free booking system in place ensures you’re prepared to handle increased demand without a hitch. An organised system from the get-go, also allows you to store all your customer data in one place. It’s nice to have their name, contact info, a little note,  and full order history just a tap away.

In developing Vev, we also fought hard to make (and keep) Vev free of charge. We talked to dozens of business owners that paid a hefty monthly fee before, while only having a handful of customers per month. Removing that barrier, allows even the smallest of businesses to start working with a robust system from day one.  

Stay Competitive

As more and more businesses adopt a digital business diary, not having one could put a small business at a competitive disadvantage. Customers today, often expect the ability to reserve or order online. We see that a lot of businesses put their reservation link in their Instagram bio and on their Facebook profile. Making it as easy as possible for customers to book, and allowing them to stay ahead of the competition. 

Flexibility

Many systems now offer mobile capabilities, meaning business owners can manage bookings, view schedules, or even interact with customers on the go. Since Vev works for people in over 150 industries, we adapt the screen so that you only see what is relevant for your business. Like many systems, Vev is available in your internet browser, or you can download the app if you have an iPhone or iPad.

Conclusion

So, having a free booking system or order system isn’t just a fancy addition for a small business — it’s a strategic tool that can drive growth, improve efficiency and enhance the overall customer experience. It’s been a true joy to see many business owners who use Vev grow from just a few orders a week to being fully booked a month in advance. 

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