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Managing your Availability

Managing your Availability

In SimplePractice, you can easily indicate the times you're available, so that existing and prospective clients can request appointments online. You can also specify the services offered during these times. Any appointments already on your calendar will block those times from appearing as available to clients in order to prevent double booking. This doesn't prevent you from scheduling multiple appointments at the same time if needed.

We’ve integrated a Call-to-Request feature as well, which allows you to designate services as bookable only by phone.

Before you begin setting up your Availability, you’ll want to make sure you’ve enabled online appointment requests at Settings > Client Portal > Settings. To learn more, see Enabling online appointment requests. 

In this guide, we'll cover: 


Setting Availability

For many clinicians, setting your Availability means setting your practice hours. For others, it might mean setting a few specific blocks during which clients can request appointments online. To get started:

  • Navigate to your Calendar homepage.
  • Click Availability in the upper-right corner.
    • Note: The Availability button will only appear if you have at least one office location listed in Settings > My Practice > Locations.

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  • Click anywhere on the calendar to create a new Availability block.

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Note: Our updated Availability design is currently being rolled out in groups. The Availability flyout may appear differently in your account.

  • Check the box to Allow online appointment requests, if applicable.
  • Enter a title for your block.
  • If you're in a group practice, you can select the clinician you're creating Availability for.
  • Adjust the Day(s) & hours for your block.
  • If you'd like your Availability to recur, check the Repeat box and choose how often it repeats:
    • For example, if your practice hours are from 8:00 AM to 5:00 PM, you can create an Availability block with these times that repeats for each day of the week you’re available.
    • Set the frequency with which this Availability repeats (i.e., every week, every 2 weeks, and up to every 8 weeks).
    • From the Ends dropdown, choose when you want this repeating Availability to end. If this Availability is temporary, you can select After or On Date and specify your desired end point. Otherwise, you can select Never. You can later edit or delete your existing Availability blocks as needed.
  • Select the Location(s) where you want to offer this Availability.
  • Select Add service to choose which services you'd like to offer during this block.
    • If you'd like to create a new service code, you can do so from Settings > Billing and Services > Services. You can learn how to enable service codes for online appointment requests here: Enabling online appointment requests.

  • Click Save.

You can click anywhere on the calendar or select + Create > Add Availability to add another Availability block. If you have multiple office locations and would like to offer different services at each location (e.g., you only offer initial consultations via Telehealth), you can add overlapping Availability blocks. Follow the previous steps to create additional Availability blocks as needed.

Note: Any client appointments, Other appointments, or all-day events you have scheduled will automatically block off that time so it doesn't appear as available when clients request appointments online.


Editing Availability

To make changes to an existing Availability block:

  • Navigate to your Calendar homepage
  • Click Availability in the upper right corner
  • Select the Availability block you'd like to edit 
  • Adjust the title, Day(s) & hours, Location(s), and/or Service(s) offered
    • If you'd like to modify when or how often the Availability repeats, select Change

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  • Once you’ve made your changes, click Save

Deleting Availability

To delete an Availability block: 

  • Navigate to your Calendar homepage
  • Click Availability in the upper right corner
  • Select the Availability block you'd like to delete
  • Select the trash can icon

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  • If the Availability block is recurring, you can choose to delete:
    • Only this event 
      • This will only delete the selected Availability block
    • This and all future events
      • This will delete the selected Availability block and all future scheduled Availability blocks in this series
    • All events in the series
      • This will delete the selected Availability block, as well as all past and future Availability blocks in this series 

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  • Click Delete

Scheduling time between appointments

If your online appointment requests settings allow client to request appointments by service duration, you can automatically schedule breaks in between sessions, or add extra buffer time for paperwork between clients. For example, if you have a 50-minute appointment and would like 10 minutes after to prepare for your next session, you can include this buffer time in the service duration so that the appointment will block off 60 minutes.

Important: A service's Default Duration and buffer time must be equal to or less than the Availability block’s total duration in order for a time slot to appear for online appointment requests.

To adjust a service's duration

  • Navigate to Settings > Billing and Services > Services
  • Select the service code you'd like to edit
  • Make sure Available for online appointment requests is selected to see all Booking Options 
  • Indicate how many minutes you'd like to block off before and/or after the appointment

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  • Click Save

Note: We recommend only blocking off time before or after a service, not both. This will help keep your Availability streamlined and make troubleshooting easier if issues arise. 


Scheduling available appointments at the bottom of the hour

You have the flexibility to customize your hours of Availability as needed. This includes allowing clients to request appointments on the half hour.

Note: Before proceeding, make sure that you've created Availability blocks that begin on the half hour and include the services you'd like to offer.

Next, follow these steps:

  • Navigate to Settings > Client Portal
  • Select According to service duration under How do you want to display start times?

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  • Click Save Settings

Next, confirm that the appointment duration works for your setup. To do this: 

  • Navigate to Settings > Billing and Services > Services
  • Select the service you want to offer at the bottom of the hour
  • Change the Default Duration to 60 minutes

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    • If the duration is already set to 60 minutes, you don’t need to make any changes
    • If the duration is set to 50 minutes, you can block off 10 minutes before or after the appointment instead of adjusting the Default Duration, so as not to affect the billable duration
  • Click Save
  • Repeat these steps for your other services as needed

You can customize the buffer times between services if you’d like your appointments to be bookable every 1.5 hours or at other custom times.


Displaying Availability without enabling online appointment requests

You can create Availability blocks to display your availability for yourself or your team members, without making these times available for online appointment requests. To do this:

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  • Click anywhere in the calendar to create an Availability block
  • Uncheck Allow online appointment requests

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  • Enter a title for your Availability block and adjust the Day(s) & hours and Location(s) as needed
  • Click Save

Online appointment requests checklist

You can use the checklist below to make sure your Availability appears for online appointment requests as expected:

Availability blocks

  • Make sure that the Availability blocks you've created have Allow online appointment requests selected.

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No conflicting appointments

  • Review your calendar to make sure that you don’t have any conflicting appointments or all-day events blocking times from appearing as available.

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Check your online appointment requests settings

  • Double check your online appointment requests settings at Settings > Client Portal. Make sure that your appointment slots work within the parameters that you’ve set up, including when clients can request appointments and if new clients can request appointments.

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Check your services

  • Check that your Availability blocks include each service you'd like to offer. A service must be selected in an Availability block to appear available to clients.

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Review time blocked off before and after appointments

  • Navigate to Settings > Billing and Services > Services and review the time you’ve blocked before and/or after each service. Keep in mind that this buffer time is added to a service's duration, and that the total service duration (the Default Duration plus any time you've blocked off) must fit within an Availability block to appear for online appointment requests.

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Clinician blocks

  • Make sure that you have separate Availability blocks set up for each clinician in your group practice. Each block is designated for 1 clinician.

Consider using longer Availability blocks

  • Instead of having multiple, shorter Availability blocks, consider creating one full-day block. A longer block for your entire workday will allow for more seamless booking.

FAQs


How do I set up my Availability if I offer packages?

If your practice offers packages with a specific number of appointments, you can make these available for online appointment requests. Once you accept the appointment request from the client, you have the flexibility to update the services or price of each session included in the package. 

To list a package as part of your online appointment request options, first you’ll want to create a service code for packages. To do this:

  • Navigate to Settings > Billing & Services > Services
  • Click Add New Service
  • For Service, you can enter Package or your own custom service code
    • Note: This code won’t appear to clients on the online appointment request page
  • Click Add new code

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  • For Description, enter the title you’d like clients to see

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  • Set the Rate and adjust the Default Duration
    • If you charge a deposit or have variable pricing for packages, you can set the Rate to $0 
  • Check the boxes for Available for online appointment requests and Allow for New Clients
  • Click Save

Once you've created the new service code for packages, you can add it to your existing Availability blocks or create a new one. To do this:

  • Navigate to your Calendar homepage
  • Click Availability
  • Click anywhere on the calendar to create a new Availability block or select an existing Availability block to edit
  • Click Add service

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  • Select the custom service code you created
  • Click Done

Once you’ve accepted a package that a client has requested, you can edit the appointment directly from the calendar to update the service code, as well as make it a recurring appointment. To do this:

  • Navigate to Calendar homepage 
  • Click the appointment that was requested
  • Check the box for Repeat if the appointment will be recurring and select the desired frequency
  • Update the service code from the dropdown menu

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  • Click Done

Note: To learn more about billing packages, see How do I bill for a package?


How do I set up my Availability so that new clients can book an initial consultation?

Initial consultations allow you to get to know prospective clients and set expectations, and give prospective clients the chance to request an introductory consultation instead of a full appointment. To set up this initial consultation:

  • Navigate to Settings > Billing & Services > Services
  • Click Add New Service
  • Under Service, select 00000 - Initial Consultation - No Charge
    • You can customize the service code and description as needed
  • Set the Rate and adjust the Default Duration
    • Most clinicians set the Rate to $0 and the Default Duration to 15 minutes
  • Check the boxes for Available for online appointment requests and Allow for New Clients

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  • Click Save

You can find more information on how to do this here: Creating a new custom service code.

Once you've created this service, you’ll want to add it to your existing Availability blocks or create new Availability blocks specifically for initial consultations. To do this:

  • Navigate to your Calendar homepage
  • Click Availability
  • Select an existing Availability block to edit, or click anywhere on the calendar to create a new Availability block
  • Adjust the Availability title, Day(s) & hours, and Location(s) as needed
  • Click Add service and select the new initial consultation service

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  • Click Save

For detailed steps on creating a phone screening service, see: How to set up a phone screening service for prospective clients.


I offer appointments across multiple locations (e.g., Telehealth, in-home, in-office). How can I make sure my clients choose the correct location?

If your practice offers appointments across multiple locations (Telehealth, in-home, in-office, and/or mobile sessions), you’ll want to add each location at Settings > My Practice > Locations. Then, you’ll want to add each location to existing Availability blocks, or create new ones. 

To create additional locations:

  • Navigate to Settings > My Practice > Locations 
  • Click Add a location

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  • Enter an Office Name
    • Note: Clients will see this when requesting appointments via the Client Portal.
  • Enter the location details
      • Note: If you provide in-home or mobile appointments, you can enter In-home/mobile appointments for the Street. While this field is required to save a location, you can choose to Hide Address from prospective clients.

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  • Click Save

Once you've created each location, you can set up your Availability for each location. To do this:

  • Navigate to your Calendar homepage
  • Click Availability
  • Click anywhere on the calendar to create a new Availability block or select an existing Availability block to edit
  • Select the Location(s) this Availability is for from the dropdown menu

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  • Click Save

After clients select a service in the Client Portal, they’ll have the option to choose an office location:

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If a client requests an appointment for the incorrect location, you can update this from your Calendar homepage. To do this:

  • Accept the appointment request
  • Click the appointment
  • Update the location from the dropdown menu
  • Click Done

How can I limit the number of appointment requests I receive each day?

You can set a maximum number of appointments that clients can request each day. To do this: 

  • Navigate to your Calendar homepage
  • Click Availability
  • If you’re in a group practice, use the Clinician dropdown menu to select the clinician you’d like to set an appointment limit for

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  • Click + Appt limit for the day in question
    • You can only set appointment limits from the Day or Week calendar view

Note: When setting an appointment limit for a day of the week, such as Monday, keep in mind that this limit will apply to all Mondays.

  • Select the maximum number of appointments you’d like to allow that day of the week
    • You can choose between 1 and 20

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  • Repeat for each day of the week you’d like to set a limit for

Note: Th appointment limit defaults to No appt limit. If you don’t set a maximum appointment limit, clients will be able to request appointments regardless of how many appointments you already have scheduled for that day. You can accept or decline these requests as needed. 

Pending appointment requests are included in the appointment limit. For example, if your appointment limit per day is 6 and you have 5 confirmed appointments and 1 pending appointment, clients won’t see any available time slots for that day when requesting appointments online. 

On your end, you can schedule as many appointments as you’d like per day, regardless of the set limit. When creating a new appointment, you’ll see a notification if that appointment exceeds the limit for that day. To continue, click Done.

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Note: If you’re scheduling a recurring appointment, you’ll only see this notification for the first appointment in the series. This notification will appear for all team members who can schedule on behalf of a clinician. See Team member roles and access levels to learn more.


I’m part of a group practice, but only some of our clinicians are available for online appointment requests. Why?

Each clinician will need to establish their own Availability blocks for online appointment requests. You can follow the instructions in Setting Availability to create Availability blocks for the clinician(s) in question. 


I have an Other appointment scheduled. Will this affect my available times for online appointment requests?

If you schedule a non-client Other appointment on your calendar, that time will no longer appear as available for online appointment requests. 

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Note: If a client reports that they're not seeing any available times on a certain day, be sure to review your calendar for any conflicting appointments or all-day Other events. 


Why aren't my available times showing up for clients trying to schedule through the Appointment-request widget?

To allow prospective clients to request appointments through the Appointment-request widget on your external website, you’ll need to have Availability blocks set up for services that you’ve set as bookable by new clients. To make a service available for new clients:

  • Navigate to Settings > Billing and Services > Services 
  • Click the service code you’d like to make available to new clients
  • Check the box next to Allow for New Clients

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  • Click Save
  • Navigate to your Calendar homepage
  • Click Availability
  • Select the Availability block you'd like to add this service to
  • Click Add service

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  • Select the service you'd like to add
  • Click Save

Note: The Appointment-request widget is intended for new clients. Only services that are available to new clients will appear in the widget. Existing clients should log into their Client Portal to request appointments. For detailed steps you can share with your existing clients, see Getting started guides for clients: How to request appointments.

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