Often times, cutting costs in a spa comes at the expense of better products or using less effective lines. This is not cutting costs in a smart way. In trying to navigate these waters effectively, here are the top three ways you can implement new technologies into your small, medium or large business. There is never a silver bullet and time will need to be invested into inputting data. The good news is once you do, it is just about maintenance and following up with clients.
Flat Fee Customer Management Software
Even if you are just starting out, flat fee customer management software is a must. As soon as you have elapsed your tenth client, specialized software is necessary. Without it, you cannot maintain your clients, manage them, continue to communicate and follow up with them, monitor progress, or track your services to confirm they are producing desired results. Storing this information electronically means you will always have it for future reference.
For the medium to large businesses, many of these software programs have monthly fees. These are hidden costs that add up. Thankfully, the next generation of smart software is out there and it can do more than you think for a flat fee of $2,000. These systems have accounting abilities, such as payroll and online booking features like text confirmations for appointments and mass e-mails. They can help you from booking appointments to managing packages all in an intuitive manner that is easy to understand.
For the small to medium business, being cautious is important – especially with the online booking capabilities. You can lose control of your day or have huge gaps throughout your schedule. An easy way around this is to make it an online appointment request, which needs an e-mail confirmation.
A great client management feature that these programs offer is tracking the client’s history. You can tailor promotions and monitor spending history or services rendered. The great way these software programs do this is often the most infrequent section used by businesses. Typically, there are tabs, such as reports, that help with client management. These tabs have become far more robust as time has passed and some would be amazed as to the information that has been found. Some allow you to data mine and analyze your customer’s behavior. Then you can set up detailed system alerts or automatic mass e-mails. For instance, you may identify that 25 percent of your clientele only visit your spa during the summer and fall months. To ensure that you capture their business again this season, you can generate an e-mail promotion or reminder targeted to this select group. Other areas that can help with relationship management include sending out automatic e-mails for birthdays and anniversaries. This is often the best way to market to existing clients to show that they are on your mind. You can create a standard e-mail and set the system up to send automatic e-mails on special days and offer your clients a small, free service or product. As you grow you can add services and software enhancements such as online payment or gift cards. The possibilities to track behavior, purchases of product or service frequency can assist you and make all the difference between being at full capacity or half capacity.
Furthermore, these programs can become an ultimate time saver during tax time. If you have programmed all of the tax information properly from the beginning, your reports section comes back into play. You can easily generate a report that is ready for the accountant to file. The federal government allows us to take advantage as small business owners by only having to file once on our personal forms. Your business’ legal status determines this. I always advise individuals to set their business as an S-Corporation. By doing so, all the protections of an LLC still apply, but it is only necessary to file once on their personal form as a Schedule K. When filing as an LLC, a business has to file twice. Legally, there is no difference between being a S-Corporation or an LLC for protection under the law, so be sure to do your due diligence when researching which is best for you and your business – to save time
Facebook, Twitter and Instagram are critical. These social media outlets are the easiest way to reach out to potential clients and maintain relationships with your current clients. Although social media may be the first step in getting yourself out there, having a website is a must. You would be surprised at how easy this can be for you to create and have control over, while still being cost effective. For the medium to large businesses, it may be an initial thought to go with a website designer or firm. Don’t. I have yet to meet one that works on schedule or on budget. The advantages of putting a little sweat equity in is that you will always have control of your website and be able to add specials or make changes at a moment’s notice. For the small to medium firms, you should always have a specific gallery section dedicated to your actual work. For an experienced aesthetician, letting potential clients know what you can do can be the difference between getting a client or not. Many of us do better jobs at clearing cystic acne than a dermatologist who peels and prescribes medications. The only way to communicate this is by showing progress with before and after photos of actual client success stories.
My favorite web design company to go to for this is Intuit. They have everything integrated and is so simple to use, you will be up and going in no time. No matter the size of your business, one piece of advice is to keep it simple and make sure it is easily legible. Too often, I see high design websites with the smallest letters in the world that are illegible or a website has so many pop-ups, flashing lights, or other design elements that make information hard to find. Often this is because designers tend to be young adults with great eyesight. I typically click out of such websites and so will your potential clients. Remember to keep the mature eye in mind that people are visiting your website for information, so make sure your website is organized and answers to your client’s questions are easily found.
Equipment for Services
The amount of services and new technology our industry has brought about is truly breathtaking; from enhanced facials to laser hair removal to combination machines. You can spend months researching and, the next thing you know, when you are ready to commit to one, another amazing machine comes out. You must decide whether these are even services that should be offered. When you are starting out, leave these machines alone for a few years until you have honed your skills and understand your craft. Find yourself a great mentor. These machines can do much more harm than good in unskilled hands.
Once the experience is there, the assessment phase comes in. There are a few options here and the overall cost of the machine comes into play. First, make a wish list of the top three machines you want. For the sole proprietor, there are some purchasing options that are seldom spoken of. Oftentimes, these large companies have manufacturer’s refurbished machines that they sell with warranties. This option can be the best first step allowing direct communication with the manufacturer. Beyond that, for the medium to large business, the landscape should be analyzed. Keeping current is essential; developing a clear understanding of how the market is changing and how fast will assist in forming your decisions. Some facial machines can sell for as much as $15,000, while certain laser hair removal machines can be up to $60,000. If you are in a fast changing landscape, leasing options should be explored. Be careful with the math here though. A monthly cost versus revenue analysis should be done. Leasing should never be the choice if the lease payments along with the manufacturers servicing fee will equate to the approximate cost of the machine at the end of the lease term.
Technology in all the modes it covers is a great thing. Knowing and learning how to harness its power is fundamental to any successful business. Getting started will be tedious, but will soon bare fruit. Not getting overwhelmed is essential. Remember, when implementing items and technology to help you grow, always wear your marketing hat. These systems should be about organization and growth, and it does not have to come at a high price or monetarily to your time.
Nicole Flevaris is the founder and president of The Lashe, an eyelash extension products company. Flevaris graduated from the University of Illinois with a bachelor’s degree in marketing and international business and with a master’s in business administration with specialty in finance and entrepreneurship. She also has a background in biology, chemistry, medicinal chemistry and pharmacognosy. Flevaris founded The Lashe in 2007 and completed the line in 2009. The cornerstone is the much acclaimed adhesive she formulated especially for eyelash extensions. She later founded Salon Lashe in 2011, a premier salon for eyelash extensions.