So you have a salon. It might be a new venture, an expansion of a small business, or maybe you’ve decided it’s the right time to get on the automated booking wagon. Everyone else is saving time and money. Why not you? The size and origin of your salon are not important. The critical point is how you find the right salon scheduling software to support your business needs, your plans for the future, and to help you achieve your goals.
What Online Scheduling Can Do For Your Salon
If you’re still on the fence about whether or not scheduling software is the right move for your beauty business, let’s have a quick look at the potential benefits.
- Streamline your processes
- More time to focus on clients
- Eliminate scheduling errors
- Minimise cancellations and no-shows
- Manage your salon anywhere, 24/7
- Start upselling earlier
Identifying What You Need from Salon Scheduling Software
What do you want a salon scheduling system to do for you? Now it’s time to decide what your salon requires, and for this, your business origins, size and services will determine what your ideal salon scheduling software should do for you.
You can’t find the best salon scheduler if you don’t know what you want it to do.
There are so many salon scheduling providers on the market that it can be somewhat overwhelming to research them all to discover the one that’s right for your business needs. By defining your requirements and necessities from the beginning, finding the ones that provide all the tools your salon needs will be more straightforward.
Bare Minimum Requirements
The following are the absolute minimum requirements for your salon scheduling software. If you find a potential scheduling system without these, don’t even put it on your shortlist
Online Scheduling 24/7
Did you know that 40% of all online bookings are made outside regular working hours? That means you miss up to 40 % of your potential bookings without online bookings. People like online booking because they can make their appointment when they think about it.
For a salon business, that could be the last thing at night when someone brushes their hair before bed or notices a need for a facial after their shower. It might be first thing in the morning when their body creaks from stiffness, and they realise they need a massage.
You need 24/7 booking to maximise bookings when you aren’t available to accept calls or answer messages via email, text or chat. Moreover, you don’t have to keep answering the phone throughout your working day.
You don’t want to be writing or sending voice calls every spare moment to ensure your clients and staff know they have an upcoming appointment. It isn’t efficient, and you can use your time much better.
Most online salon scheduling software (at least any worth looking at) has in-built email booking confirmations for staff members, clients, and business managers. At the same time, they also include reminder notifications to help prevent forgetful clients or busy beauticians from forgetting their commitments.
Some systems will allow you to integrate Facebook Messenger, SMS text messages, and others such as Telegram, WhatsApp, and more.
I debated whether a website was a principal concern for small salon businesses. But you know what? It doesn’t matter how small your business is, you still need a web presence, and most people prefer to research a business website over Facebook or Instagram page.
A beauty website has to be beautiful, and the only way to display your ideas of beauty is to have a customisable booking website that will let you create a professional face for your business.
Social media is a fabulous channel for beauty and salon businesses worldwide. Adding imagery and visual representations of your work makes you much more credible.
A booking system that allows you to integrate some booking functionality and connection between your contact channels reduces the friction between discovery and securing a booking.
Because social media is such a valuable connection and marketing tool, you can’t afford to get left behind regarding social integration.
Ease of Use & Access
It doesn’t matter how fantastic a booking system is and the problems it can solve if it isn’t easy and intuitive to use for you, your staff, and your clients.
While one system might have an incredibly simple front-end (client side), if it is complex and difficult to use from a staff perspective, you will lose time and money on training and mistakes.
Conversely, if the back-end is super simple but the front-end results in many confused customers, you will lose bookings and clients.
Your idea salon scheduling software will have simplicity at both ends with any complexity hidden in the coding from the professionals. You might have complex requirements, but great software providers can make it simple.
Salon scheduling software can become the backbone of your business by enabling you to manage your time, resources, clients, and staff scheduling. Depending on the system being up and functional, you need to know that you have the support available from the people who provide the software.
Have a look at the reviews from clients. Those that praise customer support will tell you how well they support clients.
Value For Money
Your initial requirements for a new business or a new booking system require value for money. You do not need to spend much money on a system that won’t do everything you want.
However, given that you may need your software to do much more than save your bookings to a calendar, you might want to consider increasing your budget for greater functionality.
Taking it to the Next Level – Scaling from one stage to another
What else do you need? Are you expanding your salon business into new and better premises? Maybe you are opening a second location. Perhaps you’re doing neither of these things and merely want to improve the client experience for your business.
Whatever your reasoning for finding a new salon scheduling software provider, you need to know that it can do more than help you with bookings. It needs to step up and be part of the development process.
As your business expands, so too do your business requirements. You will need more help managing “non-appointment scheduling” details throughout your business.
How do you schedule your staff throughout the working week? But obviously, it goes further than that. Can you manage coverage over multiple sites over a year while also accounting for sickness, contractually required holidays, maternity leave, and if someone decides to quit?
When you have to manage multiple staff across your salon, you must have the tools to do so.
Payment Management & POS
You might have been a cash-only business at one point, but since 2020 not so many people are using cash these days. Payment apps and providers have become very popular, and there are always cards and bank transfers too. As your business develops, you will need more help keeping track of your online, offline, and deposits.
If you intend to take cash on site, it’s helpful to have an integrated PoS that will link directly into your salon scheduling system. That will ensure that all services provided, whether booked in advance or not, will collate into your beauty salon’s scheduling system and allow you to track them.
At the same time, if all this data filters into the same system, you will have a much easier time regarding tax season.
What resources do you need to manage? Do you need to ensure you don’t just book people in but also have the rooms, chairs, couches and nail bar space for them? Managing the resources you have becomes crucial when it comes to making large groups and multiple bookings.
You might have six staff members able to accommodate a bride and her five bridesmaids for their nail extensions, but if you only have three spaces for nails, you will need to get creative.
Native & 3rd Party Integration with Business Tools
There are also dozens of productivity tools and business management tools that you might need to enhance your business performance. For example, you might use financial management software like QuickBooks or Xero. Maybe a CRM to manage a large amount of client data.
While it is quite impossible for all salon scheduling software to integrate directly with all available 3rd party tools, most of the better systems will have integration with the most popular apps. Additionally, many will also have integration with apps such as Zapier and Integrately that facilitate integration between their software and others.
It’s not just the management side that you want to consider when your business is expanding. You also want salon scheduling software that will help your business develop and support your growth efforts.
So if you want to grow your client base and attract a new group of clients, you need marketing tools to help you reach them. Integration with social media is one step, but there are many more methods.
Can you send group emails to clients while still respecting their stances on promotional mail? Can you customise your interactions with your clients?
Maybe you want to brand your contact with clients and have gorgeously designed emails.
Can you link your scheduling software with your Google business profile?
If at all possible, your ideal salon scheduling software should have at least half of these functions to help you grow your business
Data Collection & Reporting
Data, data, data! There is no business development without data.
Any even halfway decent salon scheduler should constantly collect data from your booking system and allow you to download and report on that data to find out how your business is performing.
You should be able to discover your most popular and most profitable services, determine staff performance and popularity, report on payment methods and providers identify serial cancellations, and so much more.
Without this data to work from, you would be expanding into the darkness without the information you need to make changes that affect your business forever.
Living the Dream -Multiple Salons and Beyond
No one says you can’t dream big for your salon’s future. What is the point if you don’t want to take your dream enterprise as far as possible?
Mobile Apps for Staff and Clients
Apps have become lifesaving tools for busy entrepreneurs and staff members. Whether you work on-site or at locations for your clients (salon/mobile hybrid businesses are an up-and-coming thing), you need quick and easy access to your bookings, schedules and updates. Even if you are in the salon all the time, if you have back-to-back clients, you don’t always have the time to keep checking the computer.
A mobile admin app allows you to manage your time, acknowledge bookings, check payment status, and be informed if a new client has booked or an existing one has cancelled.
Client apps are becoming much more popular, even for smaller businesses. They allow clients to manage their bookings, check their history, and book in directly from an app on their phone. They can also control their profile information and update it whenever they like.
Multiple Location Support
When your business starts to take off, and you have multiple salons in different areas, you need a salon scheduling system that will allow you to manage multiple locations—using administrator access to an overview of the business as well as a detailed breakdown of staffing, services, and client histories for each site.
Suppose you are truly living the dream. And your salon business has spawned branches and salons in several different areas and cities. It’s time to start thinking about a more comprehensive approach to managing your salons and their scheduling.
While managing multiple sites within a city can be pretty straightforward, when you stretch beyond that boundary, managing them all on your own could get a little challenging, so you need managers in each salon. But you don’t want to give your managers the administrator access to all the other salons in your expanded venture – they only need to see and manage their own little corner.
Creating a business cluster where only the company administrator has an overview of all salons but allowing individual salons to operate individually is the right direction for your beauty company. Let’s be fair. It’s not just a salon anymore; it’s a company. A company needs enterprise-level scheduling management.
It might not be something you want to think about at the beginning of your salon scheduling software journey, but it is something you might want to consider along the way.
When you reach the point of having a beauty company rather than a salon, you may have already concluded that your needs have reached a level of customisation that a commercial salon scheduling tool might not be able to accommodate. That’s not a problem as long as your existing scheduling system has API functionality to build directly into any system you require.
You don’t need to replace the scheduling software. Just let your developer know they can use the API to build it into your customised systems.
Choosing the Right Salon Scheduling Software
Now you have decided on the features and functionality you need, what comes next? In part, your business needs will probably align with your business’s lifecycle and where you are in your journey.
You don’t need multi-locational management if you are just opening your first salon, but what if your business plans include expanding to multiple locations? It’s not just about what works for you now; you might also want to think about what will work as your business grows and your requirements evolve.
Nothing in any rulebook says you have to stay with the same salon scheduling software; that’s just silly. However, when your business is in an expansion phase, do you really want the added work of switching to support your new needs? Another thing to consider is if your chosen scheduling software will help you to develop your business.
I can’t give you all the answers because I don’t know where you are in your salon business development. However, we can help you find the right salon scheduling software to support you from beginning to end and keep your clients happy.
In summary – How to choose the right salon scheduling software
So let’s have a quick run through what you need to do to determine the suitable salon scheduler for your business:
- Define your goals for the scheduling software – being vague or unsure will not help you choose well.
- Analyse your business requirements and where you are in its development.
- Determine your budget – but leave it flexible. Getting more value for a slightly higher price could save you more than you are paying.
- Find potential salon scheduling software – You can Google it or try the comparison sites.
- Whittle them down by comparing your requirement list to their available functions.
Here are a few tips to get you going:
Most if not all of the best salon scheduling software will give you time to test the system, usually at least 14-days. If they don’t let you try out the system and expect you to pay straight away, they are probably hiding something.
Don’t forget about data security. If you have clients who are going to trust you with their data, you will need to be sure you can trust your scheduling software with it. International accreditations and compliance agreements will help you. Most of us are pretty proud of our certification, so it will be in plain sight on the website. Things such as GDPR compliance and ISO 27001 certification are easy to spot and are helpful to know.
SimplyBook.me could be the perfect fit for your salon scheduling software