My most popular blog post last year was a comparison review of booking software for massage therapists, which shows how much people need this info.
In this new, updated review I revisit most of the same and included some new contenders that have come to my attention. I also review some of the best free booking software options that are now available.
Enjoy! And please leave your comments below with your own experience.
Please note: this review and comparison has proved so popular that I often get questions and comments about it. But as time moves on, software changes … so I have updated this for 2021 with a fresh review, some new contenders, and a couple of Apps that also caught my attention.
2021 updated comparison here: blog/booking-software-comparison-2021
Do I need booking software?
Taking bookings is a core activity for any massage therapist, but not everyone uses software for it straight away. Many therapists first start out using the good old paper diary and make the decision to start using something else as they get busier.
As part of what I call climbing the Massage Ladder, where we aim to do the right thing at the right time in our business, booking software is usually needed when you are seeing around 10-15 clients per week. If you are now at the stage that you’re looking for booking software – CONGRATULATIONS! The most important thing when making this decision is knowing what you want out if it.
This post is designed to take the legwork out of your decision-making process. Read my booking software reviews below, or skip to the end for a quick comparison chart showing how the most important factors stack up.
What booking software should I use?
Taking and organising bookings efficiently is integral to any massage business and needs to be streamlined and straightforward.
Significant time and money is often invested into the choice you make, and it can be hard to change down the track. So it’s important to get it right from the beginning.
I have investigated booking software for massage therapists and found 7 of the most common. Some of these I’ve used myself in the past, or do currently, and others I subscribed to in order to test them out.
Power Diary is an Australian based online diary and practice management system. We’ve helped our clients safely and securely manage over 4.5M appointments worth in excess of $500M.
Power Diary is clear, easy to use and makes sense. It has online bookings, SMS reminders, emails through MailChimp and hooks in with Xero to make accounting easier.
Your team can use and access diaries and you can control the amount of information you allow the team to see. You can also set up unlimited logins for receptionists to place bookings.
In Power Diary there seems to be at least two ways to do anything, which makes finding your way to certain tasks easier. They recently upgraded the diary viewing opting to include the week – so now you can see all appointments, across all diaries from Monday to Friday which makes booking appointments even easier.
User support is also great. I have used Power Diary for several years in my clinic and have found the support staff very helpful when we’ve needed advice.
This is a robust and organised system so there’s not much to say that’s negative. One downfall we find with Power Diary is the rostering system. They have recently also updated this so that you have more flexible diary rostering options but it’s not straight forward.
One diary is $46 per month. Up to 3 is $66 and up to 9 is $102. Power Diary offers 50% off for the first 12 months.
Cliniko is a complete practice management application used by thousands of healthcare practitioners in more than 55 countries worldwide. Manage schedules, treatment notes, invoices, payments and lots more. It works great for solo practitioners, large teams and anything in between.
Cliniko is BIG. It’s used worldwide by over 10,000 people. This means it is generally a mature, robust system with good support.
It can be good for anyone from larger clinics to a solo operator, does online bookings, SMS reminders, and hooks in to MailChimp and Xero. You can attach a PDF of scanned client history. About the only thing it doesn’t do that Power Diary does, is sync effectively with Google Calendars. They have just introduced group bookings also.
I haven’t used Cliniko at work but I did trial it for this review. It’s quite easy to use, with and intuitive dashboard and lots of big buttons that tell you what to do next. I didn’t need a video tutorial to understand it.
From most of the feedback I have read, people who use it like it.
It seems that Cliniko is large enough to have the major features sorted out, so again there isn’t much to say that’s negative. Some of the people I’ve talked to said they couldn’t import some of their data from previous systems, this is a pain the neck but is a problem not restricted to Cliniko.
1 Practitioner $45 per month. Up to 5 is $95 and 8 is $145.
Massage business software makes it easy to organise your day, spot trends in your business, and unify your efforts.
Mindbody is a good, solid system that is used across the health professional sector from Personal Trainers to Spas and Salons. It’s great for memberships and collecting client data, and allows the client to pay for the service before they arrive. The online bookings integrate with your website and Facebook, and you can also do more sophisticated campaigns like creating promo codes for special offers.
It appears that once Mindbody is set up right (and it is strongly recommend taking the time to get it right, from the reviews) it works really well.
There’s also the Mindbody Connect app, which your clients can use to rebook and see their transaction history etc, which seems like an interesting retention tool.
This is one system I couldn’t test as they don’t offer free trials – instead you must request a demo. There are videos available which look good but I missed being able to actually try it for myself. I also think that lots of body workers are kinaesthetic so we want to experience before we make a decision.
However, from all accounts this is a great system with a lot of features. The main negative appears to be price.
Pricing starts at $40 per month for one therapist and it’s a sliding scale up to $205 (plus a $6 per month statement fee) for all the extra features like automated retention and win-back client emails.
Timely is Smart Booking Software system for service businesses, trusted with millions of bookings around the world.
Timely looks and feels a bit like Cliniko, but smaller.
It has online bookings and offers a free mini website for you if you need it. It hooks in with Xero but you can write client history notes. I like the dashboard feature which lets you see all your reports and appointments at a glance.
Timely offers a lot of support for small business, with a page of resources to help you along, and Google Analytics, booking widgets etc are quite easy to add.
Timeley makes you do your account set up as soon as your trial starts, including all the clinic info and your diary times staff and rosters. There is an option to select what staff can perform what treatments, which is useful – separating Bowen or Craniosacral etc.
For one therapist the cost is $19, then $9 per extra therapist.
If you’re sending SMS reminders you buy them as a pack of 100 for 13 cents per message, and the more you by the cheaper they are.
Free booking software options
The Easiest Way To Accept And Manage Your Bookings Online, Send SMS Reminders And Finally Get Rid Of The Paper Diary.
Booking run is a very simple system that works fine, it looks good and has a neat set of core features. But the main reason I’m putting it here is because it’s free.
This system was created by an Osteopathic clinic in Melbourne to meet their own needs, and they now make it available to others to use. For nothing! Good on you guys.
Development of this software is not the main business of the people that created it – they have their own clinic to run. So although it seems to work pretty well, any support you need might take a little longer that you’d expect from a paid system. This is also software that has a very thin set of features, but if it does what you need it to you might want to give it a try.
HealthKit integrates all aspects of patient care into one, easy-to-use software. From bookings and reminders, through to patient records, invoicing and new patient referrals – everything is automatically managed by HealthKit.
HealthKit is complete practice and patient management software, so it connects your patient records, invoices, diary, bookings, finances, financial reports and Medicare claims into one place.
This means you can run your whole business through it, saving money on other software and also saving the time it takes to work multiple systems.
Being full practice management software HealthKit does a lot, and although it is fairly easy to use it can seem like overkill if you’re running a very small business and simply want to take bookings. It’s also designed with general health practitioners in mind so it has a quite formal approach.
All you pay for is payments and rebates processed through their system (like you’d pay your bank) and for sending SMS reminders. That’s it.
Booking Apps for iPhone and Android
Although they have a slightly different role to your main booking software, these smart phone apps may also help your business.
The idea with both these apps is that by becoming part of the network of providers listed within the app, you can attract more bookings by people who are using the app to search for their local therapists.
Massage Me Now
Massage Me Now is a new iPhone app built by a therapist in Queensland designed to connect clients with their ideal massage therapist.
Someone who wants a massage can use the app to search for you by location, place a booking and then share and review the experience with their friends.
As a therapist you can use it to organise appointments and automatically follow up clients after they’ve been in.
Get Angels Now
Get Angels Now is an app available on iPhone and Android that covers the whole booking process: finding therapists, comparing, booking and paying.
Users can search for local massage therapists that are part of the Get Angels Now network, and then use social features to compare and review.
When I was first looking at booking software to use in my own clinic, I considered a number of different options and even thought of customising it ourselves.
In the end I wrote a list of what we wanted and how important each feature was, and then set off to research all the options I could find. To help you on the same journey I’ve prepared this handy table that looks at the options above with some of the most common criteria:
Booking software is important, but no software is going to be perfect. There are always strengths and weaknesses and updates that we want to see.
The examples above are just the handful that I have selected to look at, and there are certainly many more available. What software do you use? What do you love about it?
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