Booking in the 21st Century

Booking in 21st Century

Don’t be left in the Stone Ages

If you do not have some sort of scheduling or booking software for your salon/spa, then you are already at a disadvantage to your competitors. Having your virtual doors open 24/7 is how you will stay competitive in the 21st Century. Many of your clients lead busy lifestyles, and sometimes the only downtime they have to book an appointment is when your physical doors are closed. Having a digital online presence in this digital age is no longer an option….it’s a must!

And the actual booking feature in this type of software is just a small piece of the big pie. We are going to share with you some features that most programs offer and then follow up with a few program suggestions. Let’s start with some… MYTHS:

My clients will mess up my books

Your clients will definitely be logging into your system to find the best open time slot that will work with their schedule. However, most programs have numerous controls you can set for the online booking feature, from forcing them to book out 24/36/48 hours (no last minute appointments) to only offering select availability which can be pre-set. You have control of your calendar, so make sure you have blocked off any times you know you will be unavailable.

You are also the best person to know how long it will take you to provide each service. Make sure when you are setting up your services in the system that you allow plenty of time so you can stay on schedule. You don’t want to be running late. Your clients’ time is just as valuable as yours.

Many software programs also have mobile apps or mobile access, so if you are scheduling a personal appointment, you can make sure you don’t already have a client scheduled for that time. This will eliminate having to reschedule your clients.

Ultimately, you have the option to change the appointment if there is in fact a conflict. We all know what it’s like to have gaps in your schedule. If you are just starting out and you are having a hard time clustering your clients on the same day, consider using those gaps for business/professional development. Don’t think of it as wasted time, but as opportunities for growth!

If it’s not broken, why fix it?

You say your clients prefer calling to book their appointments. You are able to make sure your books are nice and tight, without any gaps, by booking appointments over the phone. You say your clients wouldn’t know the first thing about booking online and your paper appointment book is all you need. Why spend good money on something you don’t need? Well, maybe you DO need it, you just don’t know it…

Can you look at your paper appointment book and know exactly how many no-shows you had the past month (in less than 3 seconds)? Without having to call your accountant or CPA, can you see what your retail sales have done in the past 3 months by looking at your paper appointment book? Also finding out who your top performers were? Can you send an email blast to all appointments this week reminding them of their appointment day/time/service to reduce no-shows with your paper appointment book? Can you see where these questions are going and how vital computer and online booking programs can be? It may not be broken, but it’s certainly an underperforming vehicle that could crash and burn very quickly.

It’s just too hard and complicated to learn!

New things can be scary. When I first got our scheduling software for my salon, I was completely overwhelmed with all the bells and whistles this program had. I thought I would never be able to learn it all. Guess what? I did learn it, and it became very easy to use. Every year, more and more features get released based on the needs of the stylists and technicians that work in our industry. Take these “complications” as blessings. Others have pioneered the way so your life can be easier in your business. Many programs have knowledge base areas where many questions are answered. Others offer paid training time, so you and your staff can become proficient with their program.

Here are 4 low cost platforms we found for you:

Many solopreneur stylists & technicians can not afford the “best” platforms; and many multi-chair/room businesses struggle as well. Here, we will just look at 3 low priced platforms (and 1 FREE one)!

meevo-logo

 Meevo

Think of Meevo as the little sibling to Millennium (since Millennium powers Meevo). When you first arrive at their site, you specify if you are a salon or spa; they approach the two a little differently. This program is completely cloud-based, so internet is a necessity for this program to work.

They have demo videos throughout the site explaining different features. You can customize your dashboard to display the information you want to see when you log in.

Meevo da

They have easy drag-n-drop functionality in the booking area, so your receptionist (or you) can easily create schedules. There is an easy to use staff scheduler, so you can make sure you are on top of the availability of your staff (or yourself if you operate solo). And their POS (Point of Sale) area is customizable and easily streamlined into your business. It also has the functionality to have a loyalty/points program set up for your clients.

One of the features that really stood out to me was their “Gamification Center”. This is where you can have healthy competition in your salon/spa. Whether you create a goal that everyone in the salon/spa works for (think dinner for everyone at a local restaurant if your salon/spa meets or beats the goal) or individual goals (think dinner for two when a certain level of retail sales is reach in the month), you are sure to boost overall morale.

They also have great pricing to grow as your business grows!

Meevo Pricing

**Pricing subject to change, we resourced off their website.

styleseat

Styleseat 

For years StyleSeat was the go-to platform for solo hairstylists, nail techs, estheticians, and massage therapists. Their platform was free and you could require credit card for online bookings. This past year they have gone through some big changes. Now they charge to use their platform, and they also recently bought out BeautyBooked to expand their services to salons & spas with multiple stylists and technicians.

While some long time subscribers jumped ship due to the pricing, it’s still a platform to consider for its established branding. Because individuals can sign up as either a customer or service provider, it allows for new clients to find you easily. You can consider it a part of your marketing budget, as you may not need to spend as much on advertising, thus transferring that expense over to your membership with StyleSeat.

StyleSeat Features

image source: www.styleseat.com

For a paid platform, they do offer one of the lower prices.

styleseat pricing

Their functionality may be more limited than sites like Meevo or Shortcuts, but remember, you are getting a brand that has supported the solo stylist/therapist for years.

Shortcuts

Shortcuts

Shortcuts is going to be the most expensive platform we discuss in this article. However, they provide a robust suite of services. I wanted to include this platform because it was the one I used in my salon. Back when I was researching software to use, this one was definitely not the most expensive, yet it offered just as many features as the “big dogs” did.

It allowed for online appointments to be secured with a credit card (important for getting legitimate bookings). It also had a mobile-friendly log in for my staff, so they could always see what appointments they had for the day. There was easy to see color coded appointments so you knew at a glance if you had any no-shows, online bookings, or late guests. It seamlessly integrated with my accounting software (Quickbooks) and I was able to print an endless (or at least it seemed endless) list of reports.

While I was not able to pull up their current pricing, I did find this “resumé” they created for the functionality their software has.

shortcuts-resume2

When we used Shortcuts, they had a desktop database that communicated with a cloud-based platform for mobile connection, meaning we could continue to operate without the internet if it went down. This rarely happened, so we were not affected with accessing on our mobile devices.

Shedul

Shedul

Now for the platform that can really make a difference for that stylist/technician that is just starting out, Shedul. Don’t let the funny spelling fool you. This is a really great booking tool and it’s absolutely FREE! That’s right, FREE!

You do need to go in with your eyes wide open. There is limited functionality with this platform, so you need to really weigh what features are important to you and which ones you can live without (at least until your marketing budget increases and you are able to upgrade your platform). One of the key points for me was that this platform does not require a credit card for online booking. That was an important feature for me when booking online.

However, they do offer a lot of nice features considering the non-existent price tag!

shedul info

Having access on mobile devices is also a great feature. Sometimes you simply don’t have time to walk over to a computer. Popping your phone out quickly (and always out of sight of your guests) is a quick and easy way to see who is up next, and it helps keep you on schedule throughout the day.

You can embed the scheduler on your website, create a button for them to click on, or even put a booking button on your Facebook page. The interface is really easy to use, so setting up your services and products will take no time at all.

 

Take a deep breath

We know there is so much that goes into making this decision of what type of booking software to use for your business; and if you are coming from using a paper appointment book, it can seem even scarier! Just remember that you are not the first person to go through this process, and you are not alone. Many booking software companies offer great tutorials and trainings. They want you to succeed and flourish with the help of their programs! Let us know what booking software you use in your salon or spa in the comments below.

Dianna
Loco

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