MyTime, the online scheduling and commerce platform for SMBs, is launching a new consumer-facing feature called “MyFavorites.” The intention is for this to become a single place where consumers book recurring appointments (dental cleaning, oil change, haircut, etc.). The company, which is run by RedBeacon co-founder Ethan Anderson, is offering a $10 consumer incentive to add businesses to the favorites page.
The objective is to transform MyTime from an “online store to purchase local services into something far more central in a person’s life,” says Anderson.
One of the features of MyTime that some consumers will love is the automatic import of “businesses you’ve interacted with on Facebook, FourSquare and Google Calendar.”
Currently MyTime is most heavily penetrated in the Los Angeles market. But users can find or add the name of any business across the US. The company is using the Factual local business database (which didn’t appear to have two out of the three business names I tried).
If the desired business isn’t a MyTime user (most currently are not) the company’s “concierge service” will call that business and try to make the appointment on behalf of the consumer — anywhere in the US. This clever because it functions both as customer service and SMB sales tool:
As the note above indicates, MyTime calls the local business and says it has a “warm lead” as an incentive for the merchant to sign up. Once signed up, MyTime enables online booking and payments (MyTime is the merchant of record). So a massage therapist, for example, who doesn’t normally take credit cards, can take them through MyTime. The company intends to pass the card-processing fee on to the merchant in the future.
If numerous consumers start using MyFavorites and doing credit card payments through MyTime it will become quite “sticky” as they used to say.
MyTime’s model is evolving. However Anderson told me that it will only charge for new customers (“promoted appointments”), rather than existing or repeat customer appointments. Promoted appointments are part of a largely automated digital marketing capability for SMBs, which I previously wrote about:
The site will generate and distribute ads for SMBs to search and social media sites to help fill appointments. Ads are built using the data from business profiles. MyTime is thus an automated search and social media advertising tool for SMBs.
Once in the system, MyTime will offer DemandForce style appointment reminders and alerts to consumers on behalf of business owners. It will also prompt consumers to make new appointments based on the typical service interval in specific verticals (e.g., six months for routine dental appointments) — thereby stimulating consumer demand on behalf of the SMB.
One of the other things that MyTime does following scheduled appointments is prompt consumers for reviews of the business. Indeed, as MyTime evolves it’s becoming more of a complete CRM tool for business owners — at a fraction of the cost of a DemandForce, for example.
Update: this is another example (like Swipley) of a service provider getting more directly involved with the operations of a business and becoming harder to displace accordingly.