SimplyBook.me is an online appointment scheduling solution for businesses of all sizes. Founded in Iceland, it now has a worldwide reach.
InsiderApps chatted with Rut Steinsen, CEO of SimplyBook.me. She shared the history of the organization, what makes it tick, and where they are moving in the future. Featured in Financial Director’s series, Breaking the Glass Ceiling, about women in business, Rut has a background in investment banking and credit management.
RS: Well in the beginning we were running an accounting system in Iceland, called Notando.is. Then in the financial crash of 2008 we lost half of our Icelandic customers in one go so our founder had to look for a job to be able to keep his three programmers and pay them salary.
He then started to work as a CEO of a tire company in Iceland and always when the snow starts to fall in October then everybody needs to change to winter tires overnight resulting in a big chaos. So he thought it might be a good idea to have people go online to book a time slot to exchange the tires instead of having thousands of people calling in at the same time. He then asked his developers to program such a solution which was a great hit with the clients and not to mention the time it saved the tire company!!
That's where he realized he was on to something. Given his volatile experience in running a business only for Icelandic clients he thought that this time he would continue to develop the solution for international users. That is how DoReserve.com was born in 2011. Then it only received a minor traction on the market until he thought to himself that the name was not catchy enough. This was at the time when people were starting to realize that they could use other than “.com” (almost all names with .com ending were already reserved) so that is when the idea of SimplyBook.me came to life. After that bloggers starting to pick it up and describing it as a very simply and easy booking system, and that's where SimplyBook.me started to grow.
RS: Well you hit the nail on the head. It´s exactly there, we are super customisable and offer a very feature rich system. SimplyBook.me offers a booking solution for smaller service based businesses as well as enterprises with many locations.
SMBs get a beautiful customisable booking website or they can insert a booking widget to their website. They can then choose from over 60 custom features depending on their needs whether that is to accept payments, offer Instagram bookings, sell gift cards, offer loyalty points, sell products, implement waiting lists, offer client app and so much more. Since the system is built up as this simple core system and then businesses can pick and choose the custom features that fit their needs - that´s how we can cater to different sectors.
SimplyBook.me also offers a specific enterprise solution to enable larger companies to easily manage all appointments within different locations.
To sum it up - what makes us stand apart from our competitors is that we offer a beautiful booking website (you can have many pages on it, choose between 20 templates and customise/or beautiful customisable widgets for your own website) and then that we are one of the most feature rich systems on the market. And then I always want to mention that we have the best Live Chat team in the world (in my humble opinion:)) They are live 24h during the working week - so if you are setting up the system or have any questions then our average waiting time is 8 seconds and then you will be in touch with a life person answering all your questions….as long as it concerns the booking system :)
RS: Just getting traction - becoming visible online. That took a long time - and was the reason why we changed the name in the beginning. You need to start to collect some backlinks and create content so that you gradually start to gain some organic visits.
Early on people just wanted a booking system. That was new at the time and people didn´t really think that they needed more than that. This has evolved greatly now and today you can also sell products, portray images, offer service add ons, sell gift cards, offer packages, sell membership on a recurring basis.
RS: We are now a team of around 45 people located in Cyprus, Ukraine, France, UK and Taiwan and with an office in Cyprus, Taiwan and two in Ukraine. We run a very flat structured team which works well for us at the moment.
However I can truly confirm that it was a challenge going from being a small team with under 20 people to more than 25 people.. This is when people have to accept that they can no longer be included in every single decision that the company has to make….and that is more difficult for some than others:) Not necessarily for me as I came into the company a few years after it was launched but more for the core employees who had been part of the team from the beginning. SimplyBook.me is their baby and as with any child, it is always challenging to let go.
RS: We are continuing to build our product so that it can serve the different needs of running a service business. We want our clients to be able to get their website with us, accept bookings from various channels, selling products, offer coupons and promotions, send out marketing emails, collect reviews, offer loyalty system, accept onsite and online payments and so much more all through SimplyBook.me. We want to be the backbone of their service business and listed to our users so that we can continue to build a product that fits their needs.
RS: You have to test out different channels and see what works and makes sense for you. Find out where you can promote your product and which channel is ROI positive for you. Then you MUST make sure that all your content is SEO optimized and continue to create quality content to help your business to rank highly and grow organically….that's a long game, but it totally works in the end.
On top of that I think it is vital to collaborate with other tools and try to integrate with other solutions that might work well for your target audience. There are so many options available now, so try to explore where you can integrate your solutions, make sure your product is listed on marketplaces where you can.
One other thing that has worked well for us is to collect reviews on independent platforms like G2 and Capterra. Interested Saas buyers come on those platforms to compare different tools and see if others have had a positive experience.
Last but not least, affiliate marketing has worked well for a lot of saas businesses, so I always recommend young companies to explore that too.