Frequently Asked Questions

We answer common questions we have received below.

Booking Online

Yes! PianoCal's Contact Management System allows you to enter your appointments into your work schedule as you make them by phone or otherwise. By tapping on the phone icon at the bottom of the page, you can access your list of clients to be called or emailed for appointments. PianoCal's powerful integrated feature - geocoded booking assistance - is there for you also as you enter an appointment into your calendar online. PianoCal on your mobile phone dials the number as you tap the client’s phone number. If calling from your computer PianoCal utilizes any phone dialer program you may have installed onto your computer, such as Skype.

Technicians who utilize PianoCal educate their clients about their ability to do online bookings and receive service and appointment reminders by way of emails which eliminate phone calls. Once the clients become aware of this feature they are glad to provide you with their email address. PianoCal’s emails to the client will contain a link which they can simply click and go online to schedule their service. This will then save you a lot of time that otherwise would have been spent on the phone.
This is one of PianoCal’s powerful features! PianoCal keeps track of your Client Service Status, indicating clients whose piano is “due within 30 days.” You have an option of sending an email (if the address is available) to these clients with a web link to your PianoCal online schedule where the client can book the service. PianoCal uses the most advanced geocoding and scheduling algorithms available and the program will offer the client available spots to choose from in those days and time slots that will reduce your driving time and comply with the acceptable driving distance parameters you have entered into your settings. After confirming the service details and saving the appointment into your schedule, your client receives a confirmation email (cc’ed to you) and later a reminder of the appointment. Your appointment is booked and is being followed up! This helps greatly to eliminate no shows!

PianoCal’s optimized driving routes save significant time on the road, helping greatly to eliminate late arrivals and time wasted waiting for the next appointment. Furthermore, PianoCal allows you to block out time slots/days when you are not available (such as lunch, supper, errands, vacation, etc). This will allow you to be in control of how your calendar will shape up.

PianoCal’s web interface is visually-appealing and very simple to use and is compatible with smartphones, tablets and computers. PianoCal’s Calendar is color-coded with month and day view options which display optimized slots both to the technician and to the piano client when creating an appointment.
It can happen that people are busy and emails are missed. An additional email reminder may be sent; you define in PianoCal's Settings the number of emails and the intervals on which they should be sent. In some cases, a no response situation may end up necessitating a phone call drawing attention to the missed email(s). Our research shows that your clients under the age of 50 are comfortable with and want online booking. Even most older clients now do, but may require some instruction early on to get them into the pattern of utilizing the program.
Recognizing that client online booking lowered their overhead costs by reducing phone time, drive time and consequent fuel consumption, many technicians are offering a small service discount incentive to their clients when they utilize online booking. In PianoCal's Settings, you can specify the text to display with the superoptimal and optimal timeslots, such as "10% discount" or "$5 discount."

Client Database

You will need to convert your database to CSV format, matching the headers shown in the sample CSV template (step-by-step instructions are provided here: Import my existing data). This process may necessitate some data manipulation (rearranging of your existing data) before it can be uploaded into PianoCal. This is relatively easy to do. Most every spreadsheet program (e.g. Microsoft Excel, OpenOffice Calc) allows you to save your file into various file formats by using “Save As” feature, and then select "csv" from the drop down menu, if your data is not already in CSV format. Note that this conversion step will need to be done on a computer. At a minimum, the client data should contain these fields: Street Address, City, State/Province, First Name, Last Name. Additional information, while useful and important in order to utilize all the features of the PianoCal, are optional, including Zip/Postal Code.
Yes! This was one of our first considerations when mapping out the software architecture. After using competing software for many years, we realized a fundamental flaw in the design: the inability to track one client's numerous pianos separately. Do you service a University music department with 35 studio pianos on disparate service schedules? No need to enter 35 different clients! Enter ONE client with 35 pianos - each with its own service schedule and history.
Yes! Many families have more than one last name that you'll need to know. PianoCal's database accounts for that reality. In fact, you can save as many individuals/contact persons as you need per client profile because our database is actually built around pianos, not clients.
PianoCal can handle that too. You can set up your client’s piano(s) on a recurring, regular schedule (i.e. every year, or every 6 months, or every 4 months, etc.), OR you can enter specific weeks in a year to make contact: For example, you can select the first week of December and the second week of April.
PianoCal has a process that checks the database every hour for upcoming appointments. If PianoCal finds an appointment in the interval specified by the technician in the settings (e.g. 1 week before appointment), and if this client has email address in the database, then it sends an appointment reminder. If the client does not have an email address in the database, a notification is not sent. (In this case the technician may opt to make a phone call to remind the client.) If there are multiple consecutive appointments/pianos the same day at the same address, the notification for the first appointment only is sent.

The Software

To edit piano information, scroll down the client's profile page in PianoCal to Pianos. Tap on the blue pencil on the right side of the piano information to load the piano profile page with make, model, serial number, type, service interval and next and last service date information. To edit, simply tap on the "Edit Piano" button at the bottom of the page and edit appropriate fields.
In the client profile page, scroll down to "Pianos." Right below the piano “Service Due” line is a grey chevron labelled "History". Tap on that to expand the history list. Then "Add history note" button becomes visible. Click on it to add a date-stamped note for that piano. PianoCal copies that note into “General History” section also for easy searching by piano or chronology (which becomes very important when your client owns many pianos).
If you send postcard reminders, there's a great way to download a CSV list of clients whose pianos are due for service in approaching months which you can use to create mailing labels, or export to third-party programs, like click2mail.

Simply click the main phone icon at the bottom of the PianoCal screen. This takes you to your “Callbacks” list. Tap on the desired Service Due Month-Year items in the list, and tap "Download list." PianoCal will export a CSV for the clients whose pianos are due for service in that month. With this CSV you will be able to create the mailing labels.
Yes! Go to “Technician Settings” icon at the bottom of the PianoCal screen, tap Calendar Sync, and then tap on Calendar Feed. On a computer, it may ask into which calendar you want to import the PianoCal events, and on your mobile device it will usually sync with the device’s default calendar. We recommend you synchronize with only one calendar, ideally such as is available both on your mobile device and on your computer, unless you opt to use your mobile device only for this purpose.

From now on, your calendar will begin automatically receiving all new appointments as well as vacation and away periods from your PianoCal calendar. It will even keep old appointments for 90 days. In certain cases, you may choose to use the ICS calendar download (“Download Calendar (.ics)” under “Calendar Sync”). This is a static file that reflects the state of your PianoCal calendar at the time you download it. This will not result in your calendar being updated automatically, but you can download the ICS file as often as you want to; it recognizes and updates existing appointments in your calendar and will not duplicate appointments.
Yes! Your PianoCal data is accessible to you all the time. If you desire to download it at any time, simply tap on your main client list icon, scroll to the bottom, and select "Download Client Data." You can use the CSV file format, for example, on your phone's contact list, or simply to back up your client database.
PianoCal's calendar view is color-coded. Depending on the point-to-point driving time limit criteria you established in the PianoCal's settings, available scheduling time slots are color coded - gold for super-optimized; green for optimized; orange for possible, but not optimal; and red for not possible. Pastel blue represents already-booked appointments, charcoal is drive-time, and white is down-time. Depending on where you live and how densely-populated your area is, you will need to establish your own thresholds. In urban centers with the population of about 500,000, you could start with the following settings and adjust based on your experiece: Gold - less than 5 minute drivetime; Green - less than 12 minute drivetime; Orange – less than 20 minute drive time.
Yes. In PianoCal settings you can choose miles or km for distance measurements, and select your timezone as well.
Although English is the only available language presently, we will add more languages as demand warrants. Let us know which language you would need!
Our data model was designed from the beginning to allow for the implementation of multiple technicians and multiple users. Accessibility from multiple users (e.g. secretary, or fellow technicians) and/or multiple devices, requires cloud-based accessibility. With PianoCal, when you make changes on one device, all your other devices are updated simultaneously. Your data is also much more safe and secure in the cloud. It would be unfortunate enough if you did lose your phone, but if all your data was on your phone, imagine your business grinding to a halt, whereas with PianoCal you can access your data immediately with an alternate device. In-the- cloud set up allows PianoCal to be updated at any time across the devices and run routing calculations day and night with road information taken from online sources.
The size of PianoCal window allows you to keep the window off to one side of your screen and have a phone dialer, or email, program, for example, running next to it. However, if you wish to have PianoCal fill more of the screen space and thus make the text larger, you can simply hold down the “Ctrl” key and at the same time use the scroll wheel on the mouse and scroll down to enlarge the PianoCal window to desired size.
Yes! PianoCal works anywhere Google has collected street level routing information. Besides American and Canadian technicians, we do currently have clients also in Europe, Australia, and New Zealand using our software with success. PianoCal is currently only available in English, but we will add more languages as demand warrants. Let us know which language you would need.

Possible Objections

If you desire to reduce driving related expenses, like gasoline, service, depreciation, wear & tear cost, the sure way to do that is to drive less. Furthermore, extra driving takes extra time and means also fewer piano service calls. Adding all the costs together a recent report by the AAA found that it costs US$ 0.608/mile to operate an average sedan. Reports from our subscribers are claiming an average reduction of 12 miles/day utilizing PianoCal. With 5 day work week that adds up to 3,120 miles (4,992 km) less driving per year. That is equivalent to annual savings on vehicle costs alone of US$1,897. Check out AAA stats here.
There are many reasons why PianoCal’s digital online system greatly outperforms paper-based systems and even electronic versions of the Rolodex. Here are a few reasons:

1) You can book appointments and review any client or secretary made appointments, and emails, on the go. You can also effortlessly contact clients by PianoCal’s contact phone icon if needed. PianoCal is designed specifically for smartphone use with full functionality. If you have a secretary or booker, there is never any possibility for conflicts with PianoCal’s cloud-based software.
2) If you ever want to sell your business, your client list and information are less useful on a Rolodex-type system. You can drastically increase the value of your business by digitizing your client list and related information.
3) In case of fire, theft, or other catastrophe, your Rolodex data can be lost or destroyed. Even your phone, or computer, can be lost, but with PianoCal your data is safe in the cloud-based database.

TIP: Search online for a data entry service in your area. They can convert your paper file system into electronic format you can use. Today this service is quite affordable. Because PianoCal is cloud-based, they could set it up for you remotely.
The super thing about PianoCal is that you can build in as much or as little downtime as you want. Do you need a quarter hour ear break after each service call? Enter 15 minutes for buffer time in settings, and we'll give you a 15 minute break after each and every service call. Only remember, for your real rate of income, take your income for the day and divide it by the number of hours you were away from home. Consider three scenarios for a day where your average service charge to the client is $100:

# of Appointments Away from home Effective pay
4 8am to 5pm (9 hours) $400/9.0 = $44/hour
4 9am to 4pm (7 hours) $400/7.0 = $57/hour (+30%)
5 8am to 4pm (8 hours) $500/8.0 = $62/hour (+40%)
Shortening your break time after each service call has a major positive impact your income! Downtime costs an awful lot in lost revenue. Furthermore, PianoCal’s geocoded optimized driving routes likewise will increase your profits. In order to arrive at your true profit, you need to subtract your overhead including vehicle costs, phonetime, and all other costs. All these costs will also come down with more efficient scheduling. With PianoCal, you can reduce downtime and get more done in a day, or arrive home earlier to spend time with family and friends. Whether we like downtime, or not, one thing is undeniably true: downtime significantly decreases income.
Most of your clients would understand that time spent on the phone is part of your overhead and either potentially increases their costs, or cuts directly into your profits. Also, people today are comfortable with booking a lot of their appointments, or travel, online, eliminating long and aggravating voice menus and/or phonetag. Your clients can also book an appointment, or receive eBooking invitation, at anytime of the day, and often prefer to do it after their days work is done. Time on the phone decreases income when compared to online scheduling.
Extremely secure! Your data is logically segregated from the data of other clients on our servers, and your data is accessible only by entering your login username and the password. Your password is stored in an encrypted form in our database so even we cannot determine what it is. Futhermore, all data is encrypted as it travels between our server and your device.

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