This post was updated in November 2017. Please note that scheduling programs are constantly making changes and updating features. We will update this post regularly in an effort to stay current.
One of the most-asked questions we get is “What’s the best scheduling system for massage therapists?” And it warrants our most common response of, “Well…It depends.”
No system is perfect. There is no one system that will do exactly what you want it to do, in the most intuitive way possible, with the exact esthetic you prefer. The more features a system has, the glitchier it becomes. That’s just how these things work. Ease of use is in a constant battle with more features.
External integrations are even glitchier. A really popular feature is syncing with an external calendar, particularly Google calendars. There’s one-way syncing, which typically means you can view your massage work schedule in your google calendar. And there’s two-way syncing. Which means if you put an event in your Google calendar, it will appear in your massage work calendar and block off that time appropriately.
This is useful for people who use shared Google calendars with their family or other jobs and want to be sure not to book a client appointment over a personal commitment. But it can be glitchy on both ends. (And this is a common issue in most systems that support two way syncing.)
As with any other computer program, there will likely be downtime. Servers fail and stuff happens. (But if you sync to another calendar, you always have a backup.)
This is where hardcore pen and paper people like to spout, “My datebook never crashes!” Yeah. I know. But you have to carry it around in order to be prepared to book people anytime. And it can get stolen, lost, wrecked by a any kind of disaster or accident. And then it’s gone forever with no hope of retrieval. I’ll take my ‘backed-up in multiple ways’ online calendar over that any day of the week. So there.
All this to say: no system is perfect and analysis of each is mostly subjective. I’ve done my own legwork and gathered feedback from users of each system reviewed here. It’s also possible that I’ve got some of this wrong. Each system lays out their features differently, and some times specific details are hard to find. I’ve relied on user feedback, much research into each systems website and support pages, and a few phone calls to customer service at various places.
A few notes on how we compared systems
Monthly price is pretty easy to figure. Except that some systems have a discount partnership with other companies, and some features are add-on for additional fees.
A few systems have true SOAP/Treatment notes features. Most of the systems that don’t have at least some way of making notes for the client or for each session. So you can still make note of special circumstances, allergies, etc.
Embedding scheduling widgets within your website is tricky. The systems that do it often don’t look pretty, or don’t work well on mobile devices. But all systems reviewed allow for a link that routes to their scheduling page, which is often a cleaner interface than an embedded form. Some people don’t like linking outside their website. I don’t think it’s a big deal. Potato, potahto.
If you have something to add, useful information from your own experience, please feel free to add in the comments! THANK YOU to all who helped me compile this information. Enjoy!
With its great price point and extreme customizability (is that even a word?), Acuity* is my new fave for multi-practitioner offices and those who want to customize every little thing. Payment portals include Square, Stripe, Paypal and more.
Acuity can handle packages, memberships and gift certificates, and they integrate with just about every calendar, bulk email provider, accounting software, and outside service you could need. Fun fact: If you use Squarespace for your website, you can get a free Acuity account!
It’s what I use in my own practice and my very first choice.
Also a great price point with the AMTA discount, Schedulicity is a popular system. Users report great customer service and plenty of helpful tutorials to set it up and learn the system. My only beef with Schedulicity is that they don’t have an integrated gift certificate sales system. But there are plenty of third party options for that, so it’s not a huge issue.
With a 25% discount for both ABMP and AMTA members, GenBook is another popular choice. It’s affordable, and easy to use. Rumor has it they are planning to add a SOAP notes feature soon, but a current user notes that some of their add-ons require you use their credit card processing and they take a cut of some offers sold through their system.
Launched in 2013, MassageBook grew quickly after partnering with ABMP to give their members free and cheap levels of membership. I’ve used it myself (I helped a colleague set up and learn her free account) and found it fairly easy to use. They have a 15% ‘new client fee’ charge for clients who find you through their network, but you can choose to turn off that option. Users report good customer service, but some limitations in customizing. And their pricing keeps changing, so that’s annoying.
I don’t have much to say about Square, because I couldn’t find any colleagues using it. But people ask about it all the time, so I’ve included it here. It’s a decent price point and probably a solid system but I’m not sure of the benefit when there are plenty of other systems built specifically for MTs. So there’s that.
Starting at $85, Booker is a system most suited to large offices with multiple practitioners. It includes multiple practitioner capability in that base price, unlike most other large systems. I especially like that it integrates with MailChimp, and I’ve heard good things about customer service.
This is a robust system, MindBody has been around a long time. People who use it really like it, but they all attest to the steep learning curve. Considering all the intricacies, I think that’s a fair assessment. (I use it for my yoga studio, which is a separate business from my massage practice.) Clients familiar with MindBody love it, and it can be a HUGE marketing asset for people running fitness classes and such. Clients will find you within the app and give you a try.
I have two concerns with MindBody: all the add-ons make it pricey, (and they don’t grandfather yo in at old prices when they increase their base price, which just happened to me, ugh) and OMG their marketing tactics are so intense. They will call you incessantly, email you nonstop (even after multiple exchanges with a VP, it took me ages to get off their email list) and they hire ‘consultants’ who use Facebook profiles to practically stalk potential customers. Ick. Obviously, I have feelings about this. Take that into account, or not.
Update, July 2018: I want you to know that I’ve had a terrible experience using MindBody for my own yoga space. At first I was mostly happy with it. But then they jacked up the price. Meh. And when I decided it wasn’t the best system for us and cancelled, it was a customer service nightmare. They didn’t cancel me, kept charging me, and straight up lied about conversations I had with customer service. I didn’t get any resolution until I snipped at them on Twitter and filed a fraudulent charge claim with my bank. I should have known better and avoided them all along. My bad.
Vagaro is another great options for both individual practitioners and larger businesses.
The pricing is great, based at $25 and increases appropriately with each added practitioner. Here’s a major benefit, the thing that wins me over: You can set it up to pay each person out for the services they perform. Right from Vagaro, so your contractors or employees get paid faster, without having to wait for you to get their money first, then pay them out. And once you get it set up, it happens automatically.
My hair dresser and esthetician both use Vagaro, and as a client, I love it. It’s easy to use and the text and email reminders are smooth and non-annoying.
I have not used or tested SOAP Vault*. My light research shows they have most of the same features of all the other systems, and it seems pretty smooth on the user end. As a client, I just completed an intake form and it was pretty easy. I spoke with some colleagues who use it just for the SOAP notes, not for full scheduling. They like it. You can customize the intake form, and add your cancellation policy to it as well.
Again, I have not used or tested this one. But a colleagues who uses it gave me some great feedback! (Thanks, Jeri!) She loves the different SOAP note templates and the integrated intake form that automatically sends to a first-time client. Outside of that, it’s got similar features to the other systems as well.
Test it out
No matter what features you think you want, be sure to test drive at least 3 systems. Set them up, use it from the backend and as a client, and give your self some time to learn and compare how they all work.
The time you spend exploring our options will directly correlate to your comfort and happiness with your ultimate decision.