"We have to consider the address location, time of day requested, square footage of the home and how long it will likely take, what combination of services are being ordered (e.g. luxury photography, video, 3D, aerial); then filter the available photographers by who's equipped in each discipline, or if multiple photographers will be needed, and where those photographers will be on that day and at the requested time, and then determine the next optimum time slot. Imagine doing that 75 times per day. As we grew from 30 to 60, to sometimes 100+ appointments per day, we realized that hiring and training customer service representatives who are capable of this kind of puzzle solving, was unsustainable. We had to figure out a way to automate these complex variables."
"Our photographers are the best in the industry. They are often booked on 3-5+ shoots per day, including twilight appointments. Some homes take 45 minutes, and some take 5-6 hours. And the calendar is extremely fluid. With hundreds of active appointments at any one time, things can get very complicated when a client needs to cancel or reschedule. So imagine how challenging and time consuming it is when California gets that odd rainy day and everyone wants to reschedule at once."
As Steve recalls, "Manual scheduling was a nightmare! Back then, Preview First had a dedicated team of 7 operations staﬀ for scheduling. The team would refer to Google Maps to check the proximity, and write an email to confirm the appointment. Then we'd add appointments to photographers’ Google Calendars." Photographers relied heavily on their Google Calendar to see confirmed appointments on their phone while traveling from property to property.
Despite all this work, “we had no visibility as to where each appointment was. The process was entirely manual and open to errors,” Steve says.
As there was no single source of data truth, information was duplicated from Preview First’s website and Google Calendar. The team had to manually update changes on both ends and constantly manage a stream of never-ending email updates.
The most difficult part of our business model is scheduling.
Every appointment is like putting together a complex puzzle.