Benchmark when you’re likely to need to upgrade your job scheduling process and system.
Scheduling is one of those tasks that is very easy when we start our companies. It doesn’t seem as though it will ever really be much of a problem. This is at least partially because there are so many options for every size company.  

Starting Simple
As a start-up, the easiest choices will most likely be either a paper day planner or an electronic version of a basic calendar. We used paper until we had about 25 clients. Paper seems very simple until you get enough clients that you start running into a lot of changes. It is very time consuming and you must be disciplined or you may find yourself dropping jobs or going to the wrong home on the wrong day. It happened to me, and it was not my best day!

To keep good records, it is best to keep at least four weeks of calendars going at a time. This means that every Monday you will fill in an entire week’s schedule a month in the future. While I do know a company that generates over a million dollars per year and continues to use a paper system, the vast majority of companies will find the burden too large to bear after getting 20-50 clients.

[EasyDNNnewsToken:Left Justify Embed 300 x 250]G Calendars and Outlook

Google Calendars became my best friend when we changed from paper. Where I had despised doing the scheduling in the past, it was a breeze with G Calendars! Many people will use Outlook at this stage in their businesses with similar results. The ability to schedule a client one time and set up a recurring appointment to fill in their permanent schedule forever was a marked improvement over our previous system. So much so that we didn’t mind at all the additional work of creating what we called “Priority Cards” – our homemade version of a work order. Priority Cards became the new way to spend large amounts of time.

Even though there was a large outlay of time, it was very nice having everything in the computer and organized. But again, we began having problems – at about 100 clients. Because the schedule and the work orders were not synced, there were lots of opportunities for error, and we seemed to want to take advantage of them all!  

Full Scheduling Programs
Finding the right scheduling software option for our company wasn’t as easy as it should have been because we were technologically disadvantaged and we were also stuck in a rut of over-working. This caused us not to have a lot of time to implement a new system well. In hindsight, we would have been better off to adopt a full scheduling program earlier, if for no other reason than there would have been a lot less information to transition to the new system.  

Trials and Looking Ahead
As you’re growing and looking at these decisions, take some time to try out the full scheduling options available. Most of them have a 15- to 30-day free trial. I recommend taking full advantage of this trial with multiple companies. Find what works for you. What makes sense? Determine not only your needs today, but your needs in the future. Fewer changes would have been great for us! Remember to think about who will be doing your scheduling and where. The new cloud and mobile options have opened up the software space even more in the last few years. With so many options available it can seem overwhelming. Evaluate and compare based on your specific needs today as well as your anticipated needs in the future for that perfect fit!

Liz Trotter is founder of American Maid Cleaning as well as an entrepreneur and leadership trainer based in Olympia, Washington.  She is also a former ARCSI baord member, a partner in Cleaning Business Builders, creator of the HiPEP employee development system and a charter member of Cleaning For A Reason.