Industry • Best Practice
Dec.14,2021By Boulevard Staff
If you’re reading this, chances are you’re a part of the Connected Generation, (A.K.A., Gen C). But don’t be fooled — Gen C isn’t an age demographic. It represents folks of all ages who are influenced by our connected, tech-focused culture. These are tech-savvy do-it-yourself-ers with busy schedules and big dreams. And they can’t be bothered to schedule appointments via phone.
If most of your customers are scheduling their appointments digitally, you want salon booking software that is as painless as possible for the customer and as powerful as possible for you. Making the wrong choice won’t just make a dent in your bank account, it can put one in your client list, too.
As long as you know the key features to look for, you should be able to find a software solution that makes everyone’s life a little easier. Here’s your checklist of salon booking software must-haves.
The core feature of a salon booking system is exactly that — bookings. All modern digital scheduling platforms allow your clients to make appointments at their convenience, so that if they suddenly realize late one night that they need a cut, they can arrange it for the next morning.
Most booking software allows you to customize a lot about how scheduling looks and works from within the platform. It should allow the user to select what services they want, and what staff member they request, then automatically determine when that staff member is available for those options.
The software should also allow you to customize how much time your workers need between appointments, so you can keep a client cadence that works right for you — whether that’s one person getting prepped by an assistant while you wrap up with the previous guest, or 10 minutes between people so stylists have time to clean their station.
Newer and more powerful booking platforms have expanded beyond just web browsers, and now allow you to make appointments directly through social media. Plugins can make it so that someone browsing your Instagram, Facebook, or Yelp can make a booking from within the app, lowering the friction of them getting on the books.
Booking clients digitally gives you the ability to create a file on each individual customer, which is invaluable for not only managing the people who come through your door, but also for making sure they’re happy repeat customers. Basic customer management services include getting their contact information, and customer annotations — the latter of which is useful for reminders and notes, like a style they’re particularly fond of. Depending on the platform, you can also gather their birthday (great for offering them celebratory coupons), automate rebookings, and even set aside a bit more time per session than usual, if they need it.
Salon booking software won’t just help you manage your clients, it can help you manage your workers, too. Chances are the platform you opt to use will let you generate a profile for each person working at your business, and personalize it to match their needs. You can do this to establish what services each person offers, what their differential rates are (if any), and potentially even split tips between people, if needed.
You’ll probably heavily use these tools to set schedules — so that you can establish who is able to work, and when; how long their workday is; and figuring out any vacations and extended time off.
Once you have a client’s phone number and email address, most platforms can fold in powerful automatic marketing and reminder tools. At the most basic level, an automated message to the client 24 hours beforehand is a great way to remind them that they’re due in soon. But you can also send out reminders that they might want a cut soon, as well as deals for special occasions, like holidays or their birthday.
One of the best ways to prevent no-shows is to require a deposit, and have no-show and cancellation fees in place for people who ditch at the last minute. Many salon appointment booking apps can be set up to handle these fees, which is especially valuable for long sessions where a no-show could mean losing most of a day of work.
Increasingly, salon bookings are handled as part of a larger all-in-one salon management package, including point-of-sale. So it may be possible to handle all of your client’s transactions through the booking platform — which allows for contactless payments, and even paying in advance if you want.
Depending on what services you offer, you may want to have your clients signing documentation before they even step foot on premises. This could be stating that they’ll abide by your COVID-19 protocol, or making them aware of the (slight) risk of burns from hot wax. Salon booking software can help you generate these documents, and get them signed in advance so that everything’s squared away before the appointment.
All of these tools together generate a tremendous amount of data, so you need a platform that can parse this information into something you can use. A powerful analytics platform can help you establish what your customer flow is like, how quickly you’re turning around chairs, what your profit margins are, how much of a response you’re getting to automatic campaigns, and more. While this might seem more abstract than the day to day side of running a salon, it’s extremely useful in the long term to make sure you’re as efficient as possible and able to stay comfortably afloat.
Not every hair salon online appointment booking tool will give you all the features your business needs to thrive. The best will bundle the most important features into a powerful package that helps you keep your salon humming.
Boulevard was built to help your business achieve profitability at scale without losing an inch of sanity. See for yourself! Get a free demo today.