Now add human resources, inventory, marketing, and planning and you begin to believe that, if only there were six of you, you could manage. Or, you could let a computer do it.
Today, there are affordable computer systems and software specially designed for the spa and salon business. You can do everything from adding one computer to your reception area for appointment scheduling and check out, to putting in a network that allows your staff to quickly input information and check clients in and out of each service as they go.
How complex of a system to get depends upon your needs and your readiness to take advantage of technology. Whatever you choose, the right computers and software will make your life better and help your business grow.
There are five primary benefits to letting computers help you run your spa.
Spend weekends with your family for a change, have a personal life, or work on other aspects of your business.
Managing information is the most time consuming task spa owners do. With a computer, information is easy to record and, once entered, is always there to access. Spa management software automatically puts data in a variety of places, creating multiple records that you can use for a many purposes – but you only have to enter the information once.
Computers let you gather your information almost instantly rather than having to sort through piles of individual client index cards or months of appointment book pages. Computers keep your records current, organized and accessible, and can arrange, present, and even analyze information for you whenever you desire.
Perhaps most importantly, computers and software are designed to handle a wide range of tasks including sophisticated scheduling, sales, purchases, inventory, personnel management, client information, and nearly unlimited options for marketing to your clients to increase revenues, improve customer retention, and improve profit margins.
Even if you have a computer for keeping your books, you and your staff may still be doing the majority of these other tasks by hand, and it’s costing you a lot in both money and time.
What if you wanted to track client visits and determine which clients are coming in less frequently, discontinuing services they used to do regularly, or have disappeared altogether? What if you wanted to send out birthday cards to clients who have birthdays next week?
Great spa and salon owners have always created systems for keeping track of their clients’ services, preferences, and even personal data. They have found ways to market to their clients even if they had to spend every weekend flipping through index cards and appointment books to find the information they needed to do it.
Software can automate all of this, cutting the required time to almost nothing. Imagine if you could generate labels for birthday cards, postcard offers, or newsletter mailings for exactly the clients you want – with just one mouse click? Because all client information is kept up-to-date all the time, and because software can have the ability to gather this information, determine which clients should be included in your mailing and then format and print address labels, you can eliminate hours of work every single week on just this one task. Even better, no one gets missed and you can afford to do even more direct marketing than ever before.
Computers let you tailor your marketing to each customer individually. Say you want to increase sales of a new oil-less moisturizer product. Now imagine if you could instantly pull a list of customers who received services for oily or acne-prone skin – a group of clients who would be most likely to buy such a product – and send a special promotion just to them! You don’t waste a dime on unlikely buyers, and you give your customers a wonderful impression of your care and attention to their personal needs.
With computers, handwritten appointment books are a thing of the past. Today’s on-screen appointment schedules are more flexible and easier to use, and they do much more than the old paper books.
Customers expect to see computers in today’s businesses.
People equate computers with efficiency, with better organization, and with success. Just having a computer front and center elevates the status of your business, but the fact is: people are right – computers create efficiency, better organization, and success. Computers can also help you provide the kind of customer service you have only dreamed of in the past.
For instance, today’s scheduling software can keep track of details as specific as the amount of time required for services, rooms, or resources required, and gaps in activity for staff during a service. This means that when a service or service package is scheduled, the computer can look at the available resources and determine the best time to schedule the appointment. The computer can then block out not just the appointment time itself, but the time necessary for each room and each service provider.
Computer software can look for places to overlap services by scheduling activity into the “gap” between steps in a service protocol – making more efficient use of both resources and personnel.
This kind of streamlining and efficient client movement through your facility was next to impossible to do by hand even with tremendous amounts of time and effort. With computer software doing the scheduling, you have time to concentrate on tending to and caring for your client rather than on figuring out where to put them.
There are many, many other obvious advantages as well that clients appreciate such as speedier check in and check out and the ability to use a variety of payment methods including gift cards, credit cards, and debit cards. These options can sometimes be the difference between getting and not getting a new client; today’s young professionals rarely carry checks or cash – they charge everything. In addition, computers make it easy to institute and manage loyalty programs, offering special promotions for return visits or multiple retail purchases.
Maybe most important of all is the way the computer can instantly provide you and your service staff with detailed information about your client – their service history, their preferences, special needs, and expectations. The fact that you and your staff seem to know and remember necessary details will give your client the wonderful feeling that you care enough about her well-being to understand her and her needs. The fact that you can do this even with a large facility and hundreds or thousands of clients will give you a wonderful feeling, too.
All of the benefits mentioned in this article will help you make more money; but equally important is avoiding losses. If there is any part of your business that you believe you don’t pay close enough attention to, you can bet that’s where the leaks are.
Losses can come from several areas: less than efficient scheduling, poor inventory management, shrinkage (shoplifting and employee theft), as well as unprofitable products, service methods, and facility management. To avoid reduced profit margins and get the most from every client, service, and staff hour you need to keep track of all of these areas and make corrections on a regular basis. This requires accurate recordkeeping and reports that give you the data you need in a form you can use.
Today’s software programs for salons and spas are robust, offering detailed reporting on virtually every aspect of your business. You can choose to review your actual margins on every product and service you sell to see why margins go up or down.
You can look at each employee’s production, each service and its profitability, each product you carry and its popularity. You can consider each client’s activity; break down sales by sex, age, or any criteria you choose to include. Imagine trying to do that by hand!
Because you can track retail sales, service volume, and purchasing as frequently as you choose – and because your employees know this – you’ll see less waste and can be less concerned about casual use of your precious resources and inventory.
When it comes to planning, a reporting system that provides analysis as well as data can be a godsend. Current information that allows you to make changes to inventory composition, service options, resource allocation and staff assignments – practically on a daily basis – will improve your margins and help you reduce profit-killing factors. A report that shows you where the strengths and weaknesses are or projects the effects of specific changes to your operations can minimize the risk of taking the steps necessary to grow.
Prices of computers and software are at their lowest point ever and probably can’t go much lower. You can buy the latest equipment for just hundreds of dollars, rather than thousands, and a few thousand can get you a system that will do everything you can imagine. Specially designed spa and salon software has also become more affordable with some companies even offering packages by subscription: Pay a low monthly fee and get everything included – just like your phone or cable bill. Most also offer comprehensive training and technical support, so if any problems do arise, they will be solved quickly.
The rise of the Internet means you can take advantage of both the information available online and use the Internet to market your business. Marketing through e-mail is probably the easiest and least expensive way to keep in touch and promote your business to existing clients, and a well-designed web site describing your services and retail products is a great way to reach customers you might never find by other methods – and give them a wonderful first impression.
Today’s technology is so fast-changing that you may not even know all the possibilities there are until you talk to your computer or software salesperson. For instance, did you know you can back up all your daily sales data on a “hard drive” so small that you can attach it to your key chain? Bar code and credit card scanners can virtually eliminate manual entry at the point of sale and make both service and retail sales faster and more accurate.
Systems with caller I.D. can allow your computer to show you who is calling before you answer the phone. Imagine the level of customer service you can provide when you answer the phone with your client’s information at your fingertips and can schedule even complicated service appointments with a single mouse click.
You already know how reminders work to get clients to show up for their services; automated appointment reminders eliminate the time it used to take to attempt to call each and every client by requiring no staff involvement.
Maybe even more importantly, young people coming into the business today have grown up with computers and electronics. The old line about your two-year-old knowing how to make the VCR stop flashing twelve o’clock is truer today than ever before. Your new employees will need much less training and be more inclined toward a computer, which means you will get the most out of both your staff and your system.
This article has only scratched the surface of the benefits of computerizing your day spa or salon/spa business. Computers can literally handle every management and marketing task that doesn’t require your personal touch. Computers will save you thousands of staff hours and resources while providing better, more current, more accurate information so you can spend your time making good decisions for the future of your company.
The right system and software can literally change your whole attitude – giving you the freedom to worry less and enjoy more – your clients, your team, and your personal life – while you watch your business grow and succeed.