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New app helps service providers fill canceled appointments

lperl@tribune.com

Are you a doctor or a hair stylist with a sudden cancellation, or a client looking for an appointment on the fly?

There's an app for that. It's a nationwide service called Everseat and is run out of offices in Mount Washington Mill.

Owings Mills residents and longtime friends Jeff Peres, a former software company executive, and Dr. Brian Kaplan, an ear, nose and throat specialist at Greater Baltimore Medical Center, co-founded the company of the same name in October 2013 and launched it this past May, raising $800,000 from investors.

The theory behind Everseat is that "every business tends to have scheduling irregularities — cancellations," because clients or patients are running late, are stuck in traffic, or got sick," said Peres, 45, who is Everseat's chief executive officer.

That leaves service providers with holes in their schedules, but with Everseat, "they would use us to fill in," he said.

The fee for service providers starts at $39 a month for one provider ($10 additional for other providers in the same office or group), plus a $1 transaction fee. The service is free for clients. You must have a smartphone to use Everseat, which includes a free mobile application that people can download.

Providers nationwide can join at http://www.everseat.com with an email address and a password; build a profile with a business description, address, phone number and photo; buy a subscription; and customize its accounts. Then, the provider can click on "add a seat," put in a date and time, and click on "post a seat."

"They're telling the world they have an opening," Peres said. And for the client, it's as easy as clicking on "who is this seat for" and "get me in."

The provider then will get a notification that an appointment is pending. Peres said the service is useful for anyone who makes a living by making appointments, including doctors, veterinarians, physical therapists or even tutors.

Providers can announce the service to their clients by email blasts or on their websites or Facebook pages as well as with large cards provided by Everseat that can be issued in the provider's office.

Peres said that cancellations otherwise would be like "expired inventory" or "an unbooked hotel room."

And he said it is much more efficient than forcing patients or clients to call on the phone to see if an appointment is available or forcing the provider to contact customers by phone.

So far, about 350 providers have signed up for the service and about 6,000 consumers have downloaded the app, Peres said. Everseat's staff of 15 includes a chief technology officer, three customer service representatives, a marketing person and six in-house sales associates like Michael Tucker, who said he recently signed up Pikesville Animal Hospital, where a veterinarian told him, "I could have used that this morning."

Co-founder Kaplan works behind the scenes in developing business strategies, Peres said. He said the two talk as often as 10 times a day, including at night, "after our kids are asleep."

Other member providers include Soiree Salon in Lutherville, dentists Andrew Smith in Belair and Stuart Blumenthal in Greenspring Station, Salon Method in Ruxton, Katzen Eye Group in Laurel and Dr. Kevin G. Murphy and Associates, a dental practice in Lake-Falls.

Murphy's practice has been using Everseat for about a month.

"We sent an email blast to all patients so everyone will be aware of it," said Heidi Naylor, appointments coordinator. Naylor said the practice decided to try Everseat because there were more openings than usual this past summer.

No clients have taken advantage of Everseat yet because the email blast only went out about two weeks ago. Naylor said reaction among clients to the concept has been mixed.

"Some patients say it's really cool. Others say, 'I don't need another app.' I think for young business people who live off their phones, it's a good thing."

At Salon Method, receptionist Julie Albright said clients are just learning about Everseat, but a few have used it and that it seems to be useful for people who travel a lot or who have erratic schedules.

"The people who use it love it," Albright said.

One measure of Everseat's success is that the company is hiring more people and probably will have to start looking for larger digs by the end of the year.

"We're growing rapidly," Peres said. "We're out of space here."

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