Rewrite for InScheduler - Part 2: Finding Situations Ripe for a Switch

Last week I did a run-through of the current website for InScheduler.

But I took a shortcut. I evaluated the site while imagining a “typical” visitor who wasn’t feeling a real struggle.

That won’t do.

InScheduler's website is nice and friendly

That typical visitor was never going to buy. So having a website that talks to typical visitors won’t pull through like you think it will.

What we need is to find situations that are ripe for a switch (see article on Level 3 Sharpening), find some “enough is enough” moments that will predict when visitors will be ready to buy.

When would it be so bad in the life of a barbershop owner that they would reach for a way to help them schedule in appointments?

We’ll find those struggling moments, we’ll hypothesize the ones that are ripe for a switch, and in the next article we’ll judge the page against one of those circumstances.

We’re looking for situations when a barbershop owner, a hair salon manager, a spa owner would say “we gotta change things up.”

  • When I’m opening up a new a salon. The owner is bringing along only a few clients with them from the old place. There will be a lot of new faces, new referrals. We’ll need a website. “What’s a website for if it’s not to schedule appointments? There should be something I can use to get appointments.”
  • When restrictions are easing up and we can open again and all the other businesses now have online ordering. “It’s becoming a thing. Better get with the times”. FOMO.
  • When we’re getting busy all of a sudden with a lot of new people and we can’t cover the phones. This one is interesting. Sudden upsurge in demand. Maybe they’re bringing on a second or third stylist/barber/person to run the spa. The phone keeps ringing and it’s taking time away from clients.
  • When I needed to fire a staff member and I need to automate things a bit more. This one is also interesting. There’s a financial pinch, a time-in-a-day pinch, (or both), but they have to keep the clients coming in.
  • All of a sudden, we’re getting found online. Maybe there’s a change in how people find the place through Yelp or something, when “our place gets a lot of calls from people finding us on the web.” Maybe it’s time to try online appointments to see if it brings in people.
  • No-shows are becoming a problem. People putting in an appointment and don’t call to cancel. “What am I supposed to do about that? Maybe if there was a way for them to just click on an email link if they can’t make it.” This one’s likely a real problem, especially now.
  • The original owner is winding down for retirement, and now I’m running things. We’ve got to get on with the program.

We got some good starting points. But not all of them are the kinds of struggles that will get owners to say “I can’t do this the old way anymore, enough is enough.”

We need to parse the list to find the hard struggles. No hard struggle, no need to switch.

From Hardest Struggle to Not-That-Hard

Let’s try to put them in order, hardest struggle on top.

  1. No-shows are becoming a problem. This is probably the hardest problem. It’s something that happens, keeps happening, happens in the worst of times. It’s more than an annoyance. They’re losing money and it’s not their fault.
  2. When we’re getting busy all of a sudden with a lot of new people and we can’t cover the phones. This is hard, but is it really a thing that happens and stays happening? I’d rewrite this to “When we keep getting too busy to cover the phones
  3. When I needed to fire a staff member and I need to automate things a bit more. This is a pinching situation for sure. It’s a hard enough struggle.
  4. When I’m opening up a new a salon. The struggle here is about fear of not having a setup that’ll work. Online scheduling will be viewed as a way to hedge a bet, cover all the bases. That’s a hard-enough struggle.
  5. The original owner is winding down for retirement, and now I’m running things. Related to the previous one. This one is filled with aspiration, and possibly filled with layers of a collection of struggles. “Finally. I’ve got ideas to turn this place around.”

These two aren’t big-enough struggles:

  • All of a sudden, we’re getting found online. This isn’t a hard problem. It’s a curiosity. InScheduler would be considered as a bet.
  • When restrictions are easing up … all the other businesses now have online ordering. Enough to get people looking at InScheduler, not enough of a struggle to get moving on the problem. A curiosity.

Although they aren’t struggles that will cause someone to sign up for InScheduler, it’ll make people fall on the solution and be aware of its existence. Not a bad thing.

Yet Stronger than “I’ll Just”

All products compete more with non-consumption than with similar products. InScheduler is more in competition with owners saying “I’ll just” than with owners going for something else.

Here are some “I’ll just” statements:

  • I’ll just start reminding people to call ahead if they need to cancel.
  • I’ll just continue investing in my usual clients instead of hoping to get new clients. Go for lifetime value, long-term thinking. This one is hard to compete with. These customers are principled and know the tricks for a stable business.
  • I’ll just find someone to set up a form on my website. Maybe they’re thinking a pared-down process is easy to replicate. “Anyways, I don’t think that many people visit our website.”
  • I’ll just add a chat button on my site. “I check my phone between customers anyway.”
  • I’ll just ask one of my junior staff members to take the phone calls. Maybe this isn’t an option. We’ll see.

So judging by these fine alternatives, our hard struggle really has to be extra hard. These will be good enough for most people visiting the InScheduler website, its real competition.

Anxieties that Cause People to Think “I’ll Just”

In the mental back and forth that a visitor will experience, there is:

  • the ⚬→ Struggle that brings people to start the process, then they find the InScheduler website and they experience…
  • the →⚬ Attraction force, making them think of how this could fit the problem, but then they experience…
  • the ←⚬ Anxieties force, putting the brakes on the momentum, right before they think about…
  • the ⚬← Habits of the present , their “I’ll just” alternatives popping into their minds.

Possible anxieties:

  • I don’t know how to change my website to install this thing. I’m not even sure if this will work with my website.
  • I don’t want to require my usual clients to go through this. If they ever fall on the website, they’ll feel like I’ve added an extra step for them. (This isn’t completely rational, but you can bet they’ll want to avoid risking turning off their best clients.)
  • I’ve already paid more than I wanted for a website I’m not even sure is bringing me business. I’m going to have to pay on top of my current bill, and have an extra expense on my credit card every month?
  • How’s this going to help me with no-shows?
  • I’ll get booked solid and people won’t be able to pick a time before a couple weeks, turning people away.
  • When we’re not busy, the scheduler widget will show way too many available spots. People will second guess coming here.

I suspect these anxieties are enough to cut the momentum entirely. This is bad news for InScheduler, but let’s revisit the struggling situations with those “I’ll just” and those “Anxieties”, see which situations clear the forces.

Situations That Will Clear The Forces

  • ⚬→ Struggle No-shows are becoming a problem.
  • →⚬ Attraction I’ll be able to get more people booked and they should receive confirmation emails they can use to reschedule.
  • ←⚬ Anxieties But it costs some money and I need someone to install on the site for me.
  • →⚬ Attraction I should be able to recoup the costs pretty quickly.
  • ←⚬ Anxieties But I’m not sure I have that many people visiting our website.
  • ⚬← Habits I’ll just ask people when they schedule an appointment to cancel ahead of time.

This was our top struggle, but it’s not a clear winner.

Maybe we need a combination event happening. No-shows plus a ton of new clients. Basically, a cosmic combination of the first two hardest struggles.

  • ⚬→ Struggle We’re getting a lot of new clients from the website, but a lot no-shows too.
  • →⚬ Attraction We’ll be able to reduce the amount of no-shows from this new clientele.
  • ←⚬ Anxieties But it costs some money and I need someone to install on the site for me.
  • →⚬ Attraction I should be able to recoup the costs pretty quickly.
  • ←⚬ Anxieties But that means I’ll have to move to an all-online setup. Can I pencil in people manually? Let’s say someone calls?
  • ⚬← Habits I’ll wait a bit longer.

This is a situation that’s ripe for a switch, if only the product can allow manually adding people. You can see that there’s enough of a struggle, and the “I’ll just” alternative is to wait a bit longer.

They might be back. They might consider adding a simple form. They might try the appointment feature that’s bundled with their website builder tool. A nephew might recommend a free WordPress plugin. But if all those other alternatives become complicated, InScheduler has a shot.

InScheduler has a shot, that is, so long as that combo struggle occurs frequently enough in the market. I think it does, but who knows.

In the next article, we’ll simulate a visitor to the site who is experiencing this specific situation, to see how the site holds up.

Stay Sharp!



@pascallaliberte