I regularly get asked to create a website with a booking system on it, usually for a dog walker, doggy daycare centre, dog trainer or dog groomer.
Now as usual, there are a bajillion ways of doing things online, lots of different softwares and services that all integrate differently.
The below is my take on it, and my personal opinion based on many years in the industry.
Firstly, I love a booking system. As a dog walker for 12 years and owner of a large pet care company with many walkers, and now as a licensed home daycare service we have used Pet Sitter Plus since the beginning.
Pet Sitter Plus is a stand alone service for dog walkers, daycares and home boarders. It’s saved us hundreds of hours over the years. Sure, it used to be a bit clunky, but because it was built for our specific industry it did EXACTLY what we needed it to.
So, as I said, I am a big fan of booking systems that are separate services and usually run on their own platforms.
“But can YOU build a booking system into the website for me?” Potential clients ask me.
Well yes I can and I’m happy to. There are numerous generic booking systems that I can integrate fully into the website and get working for you. But you know what, it’s going to cost you a lot more money because it is a LOT more work to build into the website.
Then there’s the support to think of, if you are taking payments and holding people’s data on your website you need to be uber sure that you are looking after all the tech or having someone look after it for you.
This is why I recommend having a website built separately and then using an online service to take your bookings.
We can still integrate your booking platform into the website usually with either their own page, or a custom button in the navigation that says ‘Book here’ and clicking it takes you over to the software portal.
Some softwares can be integrated further than others, please see below for my examples of Acuity which embed directly into the website page.
Think of it like cogs all working together to help your business run as smoothly and efficiently as possible making life easier for you and your clients.
Now, what I’m not a huge fan of are the websites that many of these online booking systems offer to build as part of their service.
These are some of the issues that I’ve found with them:
A one page website – not great for SEO and getting visible in Google. I find one page websites very difficult to rank.
Crazy URLs – for some reason when you click the domain name it redirects over to a very long and weird looking URL. Again, terrible for SEO, Google will find reading your website very difficult with these.
Not even the basics of SEO included – argh, a huge bugbear of mine. So you have a new website, with your booking system on but not one jot of SEO on it. You’re not telling Google or anyone else about your business, no one can find it, no one books.
Not mobile responsive – again, you’ll get penalised by Google for this
Not professional looking – clients don’t book their precious pups in with untrustworthy looking websites.
In conclusion, I love booking systems and softwares, I think they are brilliant for giving you loads of time back and growing your business – but ideally, please get your website made by a website designer and not the booking system company.
The most important thing you can do is work out what features YOU need to make this work for you. You can then research all the options and work out the best fit for your business.
Systems I use and know:
Pet Sitter Plus – for dog walkers and doggy daycares
Acuity – mainly for dog trainers, but some groomers as well. These booking slots can be embedded into your website more easily.
Shake Your Tail – for dog groomers
123Pet – for dog groomers
If you have any questions or are looking for a knowledgeable web designer to help you make a decision and then build you a shiny new website that potential clients will love AND will rank well in Google then give me a shout 🙂