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Monday, 06 April 2015 16:02

Run Your Business Better with Online Booking

Written by Tanisha Foster

It is likely as a practicing skin care professional that you are working hard to grow your clientele and fill your book. Maybe you are seeing upwards of eight to 15 clients a day. Whether you rent space or own a spa, the busier you become, the harder it is to balance everything. The better part of the day is spent providing facials, hair removal services, body wraps, massages, manicures, and pedicures. But as clientele grows, so does the complexities of managing your calendar.

Maybe it is time to consider an online booking solution. It will be convenient for you and your clients. As a consumer, you probably use online booking tools and like the ease and speed they offer. You are not alone. Studies have shown that people are turning to online and mobile for more and more daily tasks. For example, did you know that more than 50 percent of all e-mails are opened on a mobile device and more than 50 percent of all people who receive invitations would prefer an online option to register?
Well, your clients are part of that 50 percent. This is exactly why you need to offer online booking for your spa. Understandably, introducing new technology at your spa can be intimidating so it is important to do your research about technology before making it an integral part of your
spa operations.
Online booking, unlike computers or a cash register, does not come with a lot of upfront costs or high monthly fees. In fact, software companies offer several affordable solutions to fit the needs of spas of all sizes and provide more than just online booking but other management tools, all for one price. Consider shopping around to find the solution that meets your business needs and budget. Also, by purchasing a solution with online booking, everything is set up for you. A web developer is not needed to add online booking to your business.
Despite any reservations you may have, it pays to consider that with all the recent advances in smartphone and e-commerce technology, consumers are accustomed to conducting business 24/7. Online bookings are a great way to use this trend to your advantage. If your spa offers online bookings, clients can book their appointments anytime, anywhere. They will not need to worry about making a call when your spa is open. They can also pre-pay for the appointments or put their payment information on file to expedite the check-in/check-out process.
The first step is to make it easy for clients to find you online. Start with your website. Does your homepage have a booking button on it that existing and prospective clients can click to make an appointment? If not, it should be the first step. You can customize your website to include the descriptions of each service. If you include detailed descriptions and pricing for each service and offer availability for booking, you will be able to guide clients to book what is best for them without requiring them to pick up the phone.
A full treatment menu should be posted online, with descriptions and pricing prominently displayed. Educate clients when they are in the spa on what treatments are best for them, so that they know what to book online for their next appointment.
Facebook is another tool to utilize. Many people have a personal Facebook page. More than 1.28 billion people use this powerful social media outlet. In fact, recent studies show that 57 percent of American adults use Facebook. And of users between the ages of 18 to 44, 61 percent check Facebook nearly 14 times a day. These numbers show that you could be taking advantage of tremendous opportunity if clients were able to book appointments through your business’ Facebook page.
Consider going mobile. For instance, when was the last time you spent a day away from your cell phone? For most of us, for better or worse, it has been years. With people checking their phones between 100 to 150 times each day, mobile devices have become the one item that never leaves a client’s side and the tool they increasingly use to get everything done.
A mobile application – customized to your business – can display essential information for your clients such as a location map, hours of operation, and click-to-call. Most importantly, an application gives clients the ability to view schedules and book appointments in real time.
Now that your clients can find you, let us talk more about how online booking can help you run your business better.
Customize your calendar. Set it up the way you like it. Online booking tools give you the option to customize what days, times, and even portions of the day are visible during the online booking process. For example, if you want to keep people from booking during the first 30 minutes your spa is open, you can restrict booking during this time period. Taking it one step further, you can control who and what services are available for booking.
Reduce no-shows. Just as receptionists call clients the day before their appointments to confirm and reduce no-shows, your online booking tool is also going to do this, but without taking any extra time from receptionists. It is done automatically with e-mails.
In addition to helping confirm appointments through e-mails, there is an option to create a cancellation policy that is visible during the online booking process that requires a credit card at the time of booking, so you can charge cancellation fees if a client does not show up. Online booking solutions have spas covered when it comes to making sure all money is collected for appointments booked, whether the client keeps the appointment or not. E-mail reminders can also be used to jog your clients’ memories when they are running out of any retail products they have purchased. This will help keep your spa top-of-mind and prompt the client to make another appointment.
Improve day-to-day efficiency. Online bookings can help relieve much of the pressure on you and your staff by reducing call volume, simplifying the check-in/check-out process, and making it easy to take payments in advance and onsite.
Ease customer rebooking. Online booking takes the guesswork out of booking for clients. The system is designed to allow clients to rebook past appointments. A client can directly select a past appointment (same service and aesthetician) to rebook automatically.
Online booking can transform your business and practice. It can be a revenue generator for spas by giving your clients more options to book appointments 24/7, reducing the stress of day-to-day operations, and ultimately giving skin care professionals more time and money to focus on doing the thing they love most!

Tanisha Foster-2015Tanisha Foster has more than a decade of experience in salon operations, luxury brand management, and customer experience. As the director of vertical markets at Booker Software, Inc., she conducts market and consumer research; plans and manages cross-functional implementations and feature launches, and leads business development partnerships that differentiate Booker in the market. Foster previously has held positions at high-profile luxury salons, such as Proctor & Gamble – Frederic Fekkai and Eva Scrivo Salons. She has contributed to publications, such as American Spa and Salon Today, and has presented at America’s Beauty Show, IBS & IECSC, and Premiere Orlando.

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