SimplyBookMe review: to tell it sweet and short
Simplybookme is the one with the most features among generic appointment schedulers. They have a competitive pricing too. The depth and breadth of features make it the most versatile tool in the industry. The features cover the needs of the service industry
Not only are they feature-rich, they are also different from the rest of the pack in terms of their pricing structure. They follow usage based pricing.
They offer live chat support and you will get replies from their support team even on the weekends – unheard-of, and unexpected in the industry.
Simplybook me can be confusing for a user because their ways are different. Also, perhaps because of the sheer number of features, their UI can be a challenge. The product pages are packed with features, help text, interlinking, and feature options.
Where SimplyBookMe lags behind the competition is in integrations with online meeting tools, CRM, marketing and other popular SaaS tools. It may be intentional on their part as their audience might not need it. The other area where they need improvement in the product UI design. However, after seeing their mobile app and the designs they offer for booking website, we can be sure that a trendy product UI is just an update away.
SimplyBookMe review: Who is it ideal for?
Simply book me is ideal for small businesses in the service industry. This is a tool that can grow with the business in terms of staff count, expansion to new regions, international clients, multilocation, the need of dedicated servers, employee authentication among other needs.
SimplyBookMe review: Who will find it limiting?
While Simplybookme can do almost anything in scheduling, the absence of integrations with CRM, ATS, email marketing and recruitment systems will make it a second choice for sales, support and recruitment teams. Can SimplyBook me get your appointments booked? Yes. However, will it start to work smoothly with all other software like Salesforce that you have been using from day one? – Unlikely. There lies the answer to Calendly vs SimplyBook me.
The user interface is crowded. It will be overwhelming if you are not ready to invest time. That is not to say that it is hard to use.
They are good for service businesses in the health and wellness, and medical industry. However, the lack of an inventory module and a less developed POS system can make them limiting for businesses running retail sales (salons).You cannot enable Approve bookings and Client rescheduling concurrently. Instead of approve bookings being a service level feature, SBM appears to have made it an account-wide setting.
What is their business model?
Simplybookme is bootstrapped and debt-free. The major customer acquisition channel appears to be referrals, and Google search. According to the founder, they make more than a million GBP in revenues per year and is growing 50-70% year-on-year. The focus on support, feature breadth and depth might be contributing to customer retention. The founders are actively involved in supporting customers and even responding to them on public review sites. Keep the customer acquisition cost low, retain as many customers as possible, provide incredible value for money and grow organically – that appears to be their growth mantra.
Viability of the company
The company has been in existence for more than a decade. It has close to a 100 employees. They boast of revenues more than a million GBP and y-o-y growth rate greater than 50%. There are positive reviews about the company. The support is great and features keep rolling out. I did not spot bugs during my evaluation. Overall, I think you can safely place your bet on them.
SimplyBookMe review: How do they fare on the basic features of a scheduler?
- Calendar sync – SimplyBookme syncs with Google and Outlook calendar. The calendar sync is two-way with the option to make it one way. SBM’s help documentation says that sync can take up to 10 minutes to reflect. SBM allows the admin to connect calendars and map service providers to calendars. SBM’s normal behavior is to read busy events from the external calendar and block that times from getting booked. Similarly, it marks appointments as busy on the external calendar. If you want to take more than one appointment in one slot, you have to uncheck the setting that mark SBM events as busy on the external calendar. They do not sync with MS exchange calendars. It is a bit surprising that SBM has not integrated with more calendars. Read only calendars like local holidays are something that is missing and which I think might be useful for people.
- Availability – In SBM, you can set up opening hours, service schedule, and providers schedule. Each is different from the other and therefore highly flexible. You can create a service schedule and map all your regular service providers there. If you have a service provider who is on contract and works only for a few hours, you can set up his/her schedule separately and map them to a service. If the service schedule is different from this contract service provider, only the timeslot when both schedules overlap will be available for booking.
- In appointment schedulers, the usual approach is to set up a schedule and then map the service and provider to it. In some other cases, you set up the provider schedule or the service schedule first and, map the other one also. I think SBM’s approach is the best when you have regular employees and visiting consultants or contractors. If you do not follow regular schedule week on week, you can set up your schedule using ‘Special days schedule’. Pick all the dates you want to work and set the availability for those dates.
- SBM offers maximum flexibility in scheduling. You can set up a schedule that repeats every week and at the same time go and edit schedule for one of the dates that is part of that. This is possible even when you set up special days. Special days schedule is also helpful if you do not want to offer your services for a year except for a few dates. There are options to turn off a week day from your schedule or turn on just a week day. This is good for people who work only on a few days every week.
- Appointment types – SBM can do various combinations in appointments. One-on-one, recurring one-on-one, group bookings by group leader and classes. There are many settings for each of these appointment types. In recurring one-on-ones, you can define the number of sessions. There is an option to give clients a chance to book another session if they miss one. This setting is ideal when you charge based on the number of sessions. Classes are similar to recurring one-on-ones with the difference that you can have more people in each session. Classes take in groups of people learning a course; recurring one-on-ones are ideal for appointments like dentist. Another example of a recurring one-on-one is a weekly car wash service. In SBM, you can make every appointment type membership-only. You can map resources to each service if there is a need.
- The add-ons are products or services having their own duration and price. You can connect them to the main service during set up.
- There are numerous settings for appointment types by which you can limit bookings, enable online meetings, issue tickets, customize notifications among other examples.
- Sharing – SimplyBookMe has all the common ways to share your booking page with clients. They have gone deep into each of them to make these customer facing pages look good.
- Booking website – They offer many themes to choose from. You can shortlist one based on your industry. After selecting the themes, you can change the images, change colors of a number of elements on the page, and choose a color palette. Within a theme, there are many settings to customize it further. The resulting booking pages look professional and you did not have to hire a developer for that. You can develop the default page into a larger website using the Custom Pages feature. If you have a domain, you can map your booking page to it. Using the widgets for Facebook and Instagram, you can collect bookings from there.
- Embed code and Plugins – If you already have a website, you can embed the SBM booking page in that. Or, you can use one of the plugins depending on the website builder that you use.
- SimplyBookMe also offers a client mobile app. Each service and service provider has a direct booking link which you can email the customers
- Online meeting – This is one area where SimplyBookMe lags behind in terms of the number of integrations. Other than MS Teams, they do not have direct integrations with popular tools like Zoom or GoToMeeting. They do have integration with Gruveo which is a European service.
SimplyBookMe review: What are the differentiating features?
Simplybookme, as I already mentioned, has the most number of features among appointment schedulers. That translates into some of the differentiating features as well. The depth of settings accompanying each feature is also impressive.
- Staff log ins with two-step authentication
- Toggle to OFF ‘Bookings by customers’ when needed – at times, you may not want customers to book by themselves. Also, there are businesses who may not want customers to book online. For those cases also, this feature is useful.
- Membership – make services exclusive to members. This is also useful for businesses who want to keep all their services gated.
- Smtp email notifications – when you want to send email notifications from your domain instead of simplybookme’s.
- Limit client bookings but with admin override – This feature is handy when a regular client calls you for an appointment after the limit is reached.
- Flexible notifications – With this feature you can adjust notifications for a service, service provider or a mix of both.
- When you are setting up the booking website for your business, you can preview for iphone, ipad and web. This is not common.
- You can switch to American Disabilities Act(ADA) compliant website
- Book Soon notifications – Set up a series of emails and trigger it on days after the appointment.
- Multiple bookings allows customers to book for more than one service in one session.
- Book for a group – this helps a leader or an organizer of a group to book a service (Ex. Museum tour)
- Appointment start times – Normally, if you set your working hours, add service duration and break times, the system sets up appointment start times. However, if you want to set those times manually, you can activate this feature.
- Add notes to calendar – suppose you want to reserve a few time slots for some regulars who will just walk in, you can block a few slots by creating a note and setting it to block time. The note will be the reason. Else, you can just add the note to a timeslot without blocking the time.
SimplyBookMe review: What are the Niche features?
Simplybookme has some feature that are unique to it. Maybe because they are a European company trying to penetrate other regions, they have gone ahead and translated into many languages. An example of their effort is the Arabic/Hebrew translation which follows a right-to-left scripting. Also, they have the widest range of payment gateway integrations covering popular ones in each country. Not just that, they also allow custom translation with built-in editors. Customers can see the content translated to their language while staff can see it in their language if both are from different regions. They have associated with localizejs.com also.
SimplyBookMe review: Mobile app
I checked the Android mobile app and liked its UI more than the web app’s. The app worked well and the UX was great. I did not see any bugs and everything functioned well. The dashboard is handy with options to manage subscriptions, view recent and filter upcoming bookings. You can also add a new appointment. The universal search bar can find any booking based on the client name or booking code. The calendar section provides you various views to see the bookings according to service, provider, day and week. You can filter the view by service, provider, client, and status of bookings. You can add new notes and bookings here. There is a notes section, clients section, and bookings section each of which allows you to filter based on criteria. The settings button allows you to turn on and off the notifications and also check details of the account. Simplybookme has iOS apps which I did not test. They offer a branded client app in their premium plan.
SimplyBookMe has APIs to work with modules like
- Intake forms
- Products/Service addons
- Notes and block time
Ease of use
This is subjective. When I saw the SBM product UI, I didn’t want to use it. It was like a bustling market and all you hear are noises and you suddenly forget your shopping list. I did not do anything for 2 weeks. Then, I signed up for a new trial, watched their help videos, reviews and then started with the product. This time, I did not find it overwhelming. I enjoyed the inline help too.
SimplyBookMe review: Booking experience for customer
- Appearance – SimplyBookMe allows a high level of customization for your booking website. Your customer will see a beautiful website if you choose the right themes and colors. The booking website loads fast and the navigation is smooth. It is a responsive website and works well on the mobile browser also. There are more than 5 layouts for displaying your calendar and two layouts for picking the dates. The calendar layout options are cool and you will be able to find one that suits you; the theme; and what your customer will find easy and pleasing.
- The customer experience depends on how you utilize the booking website feature and its options. You can create an image gallery, expand the basic website into a bigger website using their CMS to build navigation, add more pages and content. An uncommon feature that I saw was to display working hours. This is just a display and will not affect your booking hours our appointments. So, you can display like Monday is an off day but customers can book appointments on Monday. This feature is useful if you have a physical location as well which opens for longer hours than the hours you dedicate for appointments. It will serve as general information about your business like how you display your address and map.
- Options – Customers pick a date, a service and then the service provider. Next, the customer can sign in if they already have an account or sign up and register for services. If they customer has created an account, they can see the reviews that they gave, their bookings and their shopping cart. The booking process is very straight forward for any customer.
SimplyBookMe review: Help and support
Simplybookme has decent help documentation. What was lacking in their help documentation is the search functionality. I felt that the search algorithm was not understanding the nuances of the search query and was just displaying results matching the search query. For this reason, I had to email the customer support more than I usually do. Customer service is one of their strengths. I asked a question on a Sunday and got the reply on a Sunday! I had to email them throughout a week and every time I used to get a reply within 2 hours unless I was emailing them at their sleep.
Their inline help in the product UI is a great move. Though we don’t see that much in other products so as to keep the UI clean, it turned out to be very helpful to me, maybe it is just me. The UI has detailed information about how to use a feature, one line short descriptions for custom features, embedded help videos and all. So, it is effortless to decide if the feature you are looking at is what you want. The live chat support is quick and the reps answered my questions well. SBM is ready to handhold customers when every other app is aspiring for a customer self-support model.
I didn’t spot any errors during my evaluation of the product.
SimplyBookMe review: Pricing model
SBM follows usage based pricing as opposed to per user pricing. Each of their plans allow for a fixed number of bookings. Similarly, you can turn ON/OFF a fixed number of custom features in each plan – a sort of al-a-carte approach. The usage based pricing can be unpredictable when it comes to budgeting compared to per user pricing. Some features like Domain mapping and SMS gateway have a one-time activation fee. If you fail to notice that initially, and realize that later, it will create mistrust. SBM lists all these costs clearly though. There are three pricing plans: Basic, Standard and Premium priced at $9.9, $29.9 and $59.9 respectively. There is a free plan too which allows up to 50 bookings. The Basic plan has 100 bookings, Standard has 500 bookings and Premium has 2000 bookings. They offer Booking and SMS add-ons if you cross your plan limits.
Total cost of ownership
This will be your subscription cost plus the add-ons you purchase for additional bookings; SMSes; any one-time activation fee that you pay for certain features; subscription cost for Zapier (for integration); subscription cost for any app that you want to integrate.
SimplyBookMe review: What will you get for FREE, for $15, for $50?
The usual pricing points for Appointment scheduler is around $15 per user per month. When you want to make a decision about your appointment scheduler, you might want to know what you get for $15. For ex. When you have two apps as your finalists, you want to know which gives you all that you need at the lowest pricing. It is also good to know what you will get for $50 if you have a larger budget.
|Coupons & Gift Cards||No||Yes||Yes|
|Automatic confirmation, reminder and cancellation emails||Yes||Yes||Yes|
When pitted against the segment leader – comparison page and table
SimplyBookMe’s closest competitor is Acuity Scheduling. Here is a comparison of SimplyBookMe vs Acuity Scheduling.
Summary of other SimplyBookMe reviews:
Customers love SimplyBookMe for its price/quality features. Many say that they evaluated more than 10 apps and finally found SBM to be the better one.
SBM’s UI is confusing and difficult for some, while for others it is easy. The UX of the webapp has received some negative reviews.
The users appreciate SBM for the most number of payment gateway integrations, and language translation option which makes it easy to work internationally.
SBM’s pricing is affordable but prone to misunderstanding because of the a-la-carte approach. Users might be surprised to see add-ons, activations, limits when they just read the plan pricing and jump in. SBM offers live chat support. Users thank them for that and how helpful the support team is.
Simplybookme is a the best choice if you are from the service industry and looking for an all-round tool to automate your scheduling. Packed with features and at an affordable price point.
Long term SimplyBookMe review
Often, you will find that the product that you started using with full conviction is not the one you need now, after a few years. The reasons could be that it is not able to scale, or the total cost of ownership goes enormous, the support is bad, there are no updates.
Our long term review is a way to observe how a product and the company behind it behaved in the last one year. This is an important read if you are buying the product for a longer term. Read our long term review about SimplyBookMe.