brindle booking review

Introduction

Brindle Booking is a timeslot management plugin where you can create an availability calendar and accept bookings. It is not a SaaS solution, everything resides on your WordPress site. Brindle Booking has some nice features, but there are currently some limitations. Fortunately, most of the limitations I noticed are listed on their roadmap, so I’d say that Brindle Booking is fully functional now for specific use cases, and has a lot of potential based on the roadmap. In this post I’ll do a walk-through of a simple use case, provide an overview of the features, and some conclusions. Please see the video version for a more complete walk-through.

Video Version

General Information

brindle home page

The plugin is available from the Brindle website. There is no free version in the WordPress plugin directory, though there is a 14 day free trial. The free trial requires that you provide a credit card, but you are not charged if you cancel. The cancelation option is available on the user dashboard and does not require contacting sales or support,

I have a new testing site using the free Kadence theme.

new testing site

The zip download and license keys are available from the user dashboard on the Brindle site.

Simple Setup Walk-Through

After you upload and activate the plugin you get a new menu area in the admin.

new admin section

On the left, if you click on the “Booking” menu item then you go to this settings screen. If you click on the “Appointments” menu item then you see a list of appointments.

On the Services screen you can add a category if desired. If you do this, then on the front-end there will be a dropdown for the visitor to pick from. Categories allow you to group services. I’ll come back and do a test with categories, but first. I want to do a simple test, so I add a Service, which shows as a popup.

add service

I type in “Consultation” for the Service Title and put in “65” for the price. Don’t add a currency symbol as I found it will do that automatically.

On the Design screen there are three colors that you can set: Main Color, Accent Color, and Titles Color. I noticed an oddity when I entered a color. The opacity slider should I been horizontal, I think. I checked and there was no JavaScript error in the browser console and I changed themes to make sure there wasn’t a conflict.

change colors screen

The Settings screen is pretty long, but is divided into 3 parts. The first part is for payment options. You can allow online payments, pay in person, or pay by invoice. Invoicing is a manual process and is not included in the plugin. Then you can enter your Stripe account keys. Stripe is the only payment option, which might be an issue for some people. Note that if you don’t add the Stripe keys then there is no option on the front-end to pay, even if that option is enabled here, which makes sense.

settings payment details

There are 11 currencies supported.

supported currencies

You can add a Location Address and have the option to have a link to directions on the front-end form and an option to display the website time also, so the visitor knows what time is being used. I added the address to the White House in Washington, D.C.

location settings

Then there are the settings for the front-end form. You can select the parameters for the booking, the type of appointment, and the details the visitor will need to provide. There is no way to customize the labels, like “In Store” or “Online Consultations (video). For example, you might prefer to say “Office” and “Skype”. You can create a terms of service statement, and provide options for the confirmation page. You can also set your Google calendar credentials. Linking up a Google calendar will require going through the Google app authorization process. There is also an option for setting a redirect after booking.

settings front end settings

The Schedule screen allows you to use a 12 hour clock or a 24 hour clock. There is a “Use global schedule” checkbox. I found in the docs that you should check that if there is just one staff member, but leave it unchecked if you need a schedule for more than one person.

schedule screen

You can setup timeslots in 12, 30, one hour, 2 hour, or 4 hour blocks. You cannot have slots for the same person that are different lengths.

timslot options

On the Notifications screen you can customize the emails that are sent to the staff person and to the visitor. One thing to note is that if there is only one person taking bookings then it is a good idea to substitute a hard coded name for the [staff member] magic tag as that seems to only get filled out when not using a global calendar. Also, there is a [details] tag in the notification to the visitor that you would probably want to add to the one to the staff member, so you can see the person’s name in the email received.

notifications screen

The Help screen gives some information about including a button for the booking popup or adding a class to a menu item that does the same thing. I copied that CSS class code and added it to a menu item.

help screen

Here I add that class to a custom menu item.

creating the menu item

And here is what the menu looks like on the front.

menu item on front end

When you click on the button you get a full screen overlay with the booking widget in the middle. There is a wizard with 4 screens. On the Service & Date screen you pick the service, the Appointment Method, and a date. You can select a slot for the current day.

online form service and date

You select the timeslot on the next screen. Unfortunately, a timeslot showed for a time that had passed.

online form time slot

On Your Details screen you fill out the fields that were marked required when going through the settings. It shows the Appointment Details, which is nice.

online form your details

The plugin automatically queued up the Goggle Map link, which I saw when I clicked on the Directions link.

google map integration

On the Confirmations screen you have all of the details and the options you selected for the screen, in this case to print the confirmation or set a reminder on Google Calendar. If you had setup a redirect then that would be triggered when you clicked the “Close This Window” button.

online form confirmation

Appointment Management

Back in the WordPress admin here is what shows on the Appointments page. Honestly, I expected to see a calendar here. In any event, it would be nice if the timeslot information also showed.

appointments list

You can go in and edit all of the appointment settings, which is nice.

appointment settings

You can also see and edit the payment information.

appointment payment

Back on the Appointments page, there is a button to Add New and there you can manually add a booking. I tried this and found that manually added bookings don’t show up in the front-end, which is a real limitation (or bug).

Overall, the appointment management abilities are very limited and would be problematic should there be a large number of appointments scheduled or extensive history of appointments.

Team Use

Brindle Booking allows you to create a separate calendar for each team member. You need to create the other staff as users on the site and assign them the Staff role. You click to include that staff member on the front-end, so that people signing up can select them and their service.

schedules with multiple staff

This works well when the services being offered are the same or very similar. However, the Settings options apply to all services and staff, which means that if you are scheduling deliveries, for instance, you would want to require the physical address. However, for video calls requiring the address doesn’t make sense. With Brindle Books currently it is all one way or the other. This is also true for payments. You cannot require payment upfront for some services but not others.

Other Considerations

Brindle Dashboard

I noticed on the account dashboard that localhost installs are counted against the license and although you can delete them, the common practice is to not count them so that people can test and develop the sites before making them live.

brindle dashboard

Roadmap

There is a pretty extensive roadmap for Brindle Booking. It covers all of the limitations I’ve noticed and then some. The common wisdom is to “don’t buy the roadmap” because there is no guarantee that features will be implemented or when.

Discussion and Conclusions.

Pros and Cons

Brindle Booking currently has a lot of limitations:

  • Only 1 set of settings for all services
  • Time slots only usable for one on one appointments
  • Limited payment options
  • No tools for the management of appointments
  • Cannot block out time slots when needed
  • Bugs and glitches

Despite the long list of limitations it is usable.

  • It is easy to setup and understand
  • Currently works best for one person or team offering the same services

Conclusions

While the extensive roadmap covers the limitation I’ve mentioned, it also highlights how much is missing. Brindle Booking is a minimum viable product. My conclusion is that getting the first working version launched and on AppSumo was done in order to get user feedback, which they’ve done.

The general advice is not not buy a roadmap. I think that the AppSumo deal is currently very inexpensive because the company is silently acknowledging that they recognize the limitations. If the current user case doesn’t meet your needs then I’d suggest passing on the deal, unless you believe in the team and are willing to wait and see if they will deliver on their roadmap.

Some of the links in the post above are “affiliate links.” This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission. You will still pay the same amount so there is no extra cost to you. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

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