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Service Schedule Tutorial

This tutorial explains the use of a “service type” schedule to create an appointment calendar. SuperSaaS offers two other schedule types besides the service type, namely the “capacity type” and the “resource type”. To find out which type is most suitable for your purpose read the explanation of the different schedule types.

You can play around with a working example of a service schedule in this demo. The demo uses a therapist as an example, but it should be straightforward to see how this could apply to a dental office, a nail studio, or any other business that has a list of services to choose from.

Service schedules can use resource schedules

A service typically requires one or more “resources” to be available. For example, the service “massage” would require the resource “therapist” to be available. And the service “Meeting room with projector” would require both one meeting room and one projector to be available. When calculating availability the system ensures that all required resources are available. For this to work you need to create one or more resource type schedules that the service depends on. You can do this before creating the service schedule or afterwards. All resources can be in a single resource schedule, or you can put them in separate schedules. If you have interchangeable resources, for example you could multiple rooms and the service can be provided in any of them, then those resources should be placed in the same resource schedule.

It’s also possible for multiple service schedules to depend on the same resource schedules. This can be useful if you want to apply different constraints to different groups of end users. For example the group “members” can be allowed to see the details of what other members have booked, and pay a different price, than the non-members.

As a special case, when a service schedule uses only a single resource there is no need to create a separate resource schedule, you can just configure it to “avoid overlapping appointments”. An example is a service schedule for a single therapist: as long as she is the only one accepting appointments there is no need for a separate resource schedule with her availability if appointments cannot overlap anyway.

Creating a new service schedule using the wizard

To create a new schedule, click the link “New Schedule” in the right-hand menu on the dashboard page. Assuming you already created a SuperSaaS account and are logged in, you can find a link to the dashboard at the top of this page. This leads you to a wizard that asks a series of questions and creates a schedule with sensible default settings for your situation. The first screen of the wizard presents you with a choice of schedule types. This choice is important because, unlike all other settings, the only way to change it is to start from scratch with a new schedule. This tutorial assumes you’ve decided on a “Service” type schedule, but if you are unsure read the explanation the wizard provides.

The next screen will ask you to pick a name for your schedule and in the final step you are asked to list the services and default values for the availability of the services. In the setup wizard you only define the name and duration of each service and, if you’ve already created a resource schedule, you also see a selector next to each service that allows you to define what resources it uses. Later on you get the opportunity specify additional details for each service, such as price and a description. If you define just a single service the user interface will adapt to hide the service selector widget.

It is recommended that you partition your days into fixed starting times where people can book, for example every hour, or every 10 minutes. Although the system works correctly with arbitrary starting times it can lead to surprising results. For example, if the availability of resources differs by only a few minutes the system would indicate with tiny boxes of a few minutes long that the service booked in that instance has different resources available. This is rarely useful and might confuse your users. When starting times are constrained by hour the system will draw a grid of boxes containing the resources available for that specific hour, which looks much nicer.

Once you click the “Finish” button the system configures your schedule and puts it online right away.

Trying out the basic functionality

Menu Box

To try out the schedule click the “Use” button that you can find in the menu box such as the one pictured on the right. It’s only visible when you are logged in as administrator, regular users will not see it. You can also find your schedule via the dashboard page, which you can always get to with the link in the top right corner of your screen.

Example service schedule

Initially the schedule will be completely empty. If you have entered more than one service then the left of the screen will have a column to select a service. To create an appointment click one of the dotted boxes that indicates the places where you can make a booking.

When you click ‘Create Reservation’ the schedule updates to show the appointment and adjusts availability accordingly. Click the appointment you just created again and a window appears with ‘Update’ and ‘Delete’ buttons that allow you to edit it.

Appointments made on a service schedule show up on the resource schedules of any resources that they depend on, but they cannot be edited there. Clicking them provides a popup with a link to the schedule where they can be edited. If the same appointment shows up in multiple schedules it still only counts as a single appointment in your subscription usage.

Changing the configuration

The wizard sets up the schedule with reasonable defaults but it is likely that you will want to change the configuration to better match your needs. Click the “Configure” button to go to the Configuration Overview page where you find a summary of all the available options. This Overview page also lets you delete the schedule or block it temporarily. The first tab, “Services”, is explained in detail on this page. The other tabs each have their own chapter.

The “Services” tab

Services Tab

The Services tab lists the services available and how they relate to resources. If you don’t see a “Services” tab you may be looking at a different schedule type: the other schedule types have a “Resources” tab instead of a Services tab.

The top half of the screen allows you to create and update your services. You can click and drag the rows to change the order in which the services are listed. When you click the “New Service” button, or click the edit icon of an existing service, a popup appears which allows you to change the details. To change the color, click the colored box in the top right corner of the popup. You can enter a fixed price for each service, but if you want more flexibility you can create price rules that can specify something like “this service is 20% cheaper on the weekend”. For more information on creating price rules see the payment tutorial.

The radio button “Hidden” allows you to create a service that is only available to the administrator and the super users. Hidden services do not appear in the service list that clients see. If you want the ability to use a different length for a service there is an easier way to achieve that: on the “Access” tab is a check box “Allow superusers and the administrator to ignore all time constraints”, this allows you to enter an arbitrary finish time right on the schedule instead of creating a separate service for it.

In the large box at the bottom you can enter a description of the service that appears when the service is selected. It can contain formatting and pictures but note that you can only link to pictures that are available somewhere on the internet so you may need to upload them to a website first.

If your account contains any resource schedules the window will also contain a section marked “Resources” that allows you to indicate which resources need to be available when making a booking. For example, you could specify that a treatments needs a specific therapist and a treatment room to be booked at the same time. To add new resources go the dashboard page, click “New Schedule”, and select the “Resource” type schedule. You can also add additional resources on the “Resources” tab of an existing resource schedule.

The bottom half of the Services tab contains general settings that describe the services. In the section ‘Term used to describe an entry’ you can pick an appropriate label instead of ‘reservation’. For instance, in the case of a therapist ‘session’ or ‘treatment’ might be preferable. This term will then be used in all dialog boxes, help text and email confirmations. You can also change the term used for a ‘user’, for example to change it into ‘patient, that setting is on the general Layout Settings page. If you use a custom term for a reservation then enter the singular form and the system will convert it to plural where appropriate. For irregular plurals you can enter “singular,plural” and the system will pick the appropriate one.

Under the heading “Limit per user” you can set a maximum number of appointments that a regular client can make. After the maximum is reached he can only change appointments or delete them. If a service depends on one or more resource schedules any limits set there apply as well.

If the checkbox “Multiple reservations can take place at the same time” is not selected the schedule will essentially behave as if there is a single shared resource needed for each appointment. This is useful if there is a single practitioner using the schedule, as no additional resource schedule would be needed to track her availability.

The box start “Constrain start times” allows you to divide the availability into a grid with boxes of available times. This allows the client to pick a time by simply clicking a box and typically provides a better user experience than leaving the time unconstrained.

If you have a service that depends on an interchangeable resource then the system can optionally show the client a drop down to specify which of the resources is preferred. This can be used to allow the client to select a specific hairdresser for his haircut, for example. Finally, if you have more than one service there will be an option to indicate whether a visitor should first see a list of available services, without a calendar, or whether the first service on the list should be preselected.

How schedules interact

When the system checks availability it takes into account if there are conflicting appointments for any of the requested resources, of course. However there are many other scheduling constraints that you can configure:

A time period is only available if it complies with all those constraints including the constraints for each resource that the service depends on.

The “Opening Hours” tab for each schedule, on the “Supervise” screen, has a section at the bottom that determines how the availability information is applied and a check box to allow the administrator to ignore all time constraints for the schedule. If you switch off a constraint there, it is also ignored in dependent services.

All other settings on the schedule only apply to bookings made on that particular schedule. In particular, only one email confirmation and one email reminder is sent, as defined by the confirmation setting on the schedule where the user created the booking. Email settings for the dependent resources are ignored. Also, only the price and payment settings apply of the schedule where the appointment was made.

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