5 Key Questions to Ask When Choosing Salon or Spa Software
Salon management software programs have become such a big hit over the last 5 years, and for many good reasons. If you are trying out this technology for the first time, there is no doubt that you will be amazed by the endless possibilities it offers to a modern salon business. Increased online bookings, more convenient resources management, effective scheduling, and automation of big data management- you name it! Salon or spa software has everything any salon manager could ever wish for.
However, all software programs are not created equal. Some are more effective than others, some are more affordable, and others are, well, not worth the hype. You need to pick the right software because the success of your business depends on it. And because there are too many options in the market today, picking the right program can be really confusing and frustrating for a new user like you. You probably knew that already and that’s why you are here. Lucky for you, this is not another one of those confusing user rating websites or overly promotional software companies’ websites. This article intends to help you pull it all together on your own by shining a light on the five key questions that you ought to ask when choosing salon or spa software that’s right for you.
1. How much automation does the software support?
The single most important benefit of investing in management software is automation. Some software offer more automation possibilities than others, but there are 7 absolutely must-have features:
i. Inventory management. You need a program that helps you automate the retail part of your business.
ii. Payroll, employees’ schedule management, performance assessment, and everything related to staff management.
iii. Communication. Your software should be able to send customized emails and text messages to both clients and employees.
iv. Appointment management. Confirm that the program allows clients to make and edit their appointments from their smartphones.
v. Customer relationships management (CRM). The program should be able to collect, analyze, and organize big data. After all, your clients leave you with a piece of new data every time they contact your business. You need a program that combines those shreds of information and presents you with comprehensive reports.
vi. It should integrate seamlessly with your social media profiles. It should make it possible for your social media followers to book your services right from their social media hangout joints.
vii. Tracking and reporting of daily revenue generation and average expenses.
2. What are the software company’s levels of data security?
For as long as you are collecting and storing customer data, data security will always be critical. That’s for two reasons. First, if your databases are hacked, your salon’s reputation will be in the gutters. Second, you are obligated to keep safe the data your clients entrust you with, both morally and legally. That’s why you must insist on a software program that protects your client databases from unauthorized access.
There are 3 core elements of data security that a good salon management program should have:
- Confidentiality. The software should give you the power to give or deny access to sensitive information.
- Integrity. The software should give reliable and accurate data analysis. It should be able to password-protect the data it stores from any unwarranted tampering.
- Availability. You should be able to safely access your client databases at any time.
3. Does the software offer unlimited usage?
This is where the rubber meets the road. A software company may promise all the automation features in the world, but the real deal is how limitless the features are. So, make sure that the software that you choose for your hair or spa salon offers:
· Multi-device support and unlimited calendar bookings. It should allow clients to book from any device, be it phone, desktop/laptop, or tablet. It should also not limit the number of client profiles you can create.
· Unlimited staff members’ profiles. Whether you are the only staff member in your salon or you have a team, the software should allow everyone to join your account. More members may sometimes mean higher fees, but the pricing should be reasonably fair.
· Unlimited multi-venue management for when your business grows into a chain of spas or salons.
· Unlimited POS (point of sale) use. The software should support and process multiple modes of payments. It should come with cash drawers, barcode scanners, receipt printers, and everything you need for seamless online transactions.
· Unlimited, comprehensive, and real-time analytics and reporting.
4. What is the software’s relative ease of use?
A good software program should be extremely user-friendly. The booking platform should have an eye-catching and self-explanatory interface. Clients should not need prior computer experience to make online orders or manage appointments. Note that clients, in most cases, associate the user-friendliness of a booking platform with its visual appeal. Also, note that visual appeal changes with time. The design that was appealing to clients in 2020 isn’t necessarily appealing in 2021. You should, therefore, confirm from the software company how often they improve their product.
Ease of use also means excellent customer support. Creating client or employee profiles should be easy on your part, but the company should have an accessible and helpful tech team to assist you whenever you need help. The company should also offer a variety of online resources that you and your staff can turn to for help. Their “Get Started Guide” should also be detailed and easy to follow for new users. Most importantly, cases of malfunctions should be few, mild, and far between.
Bonus: The software’s customization tools should make it easy for you to tweak the features to your tastes and preferences.
5. Are the software company’s fees and pricing pocket-friendly?
As important as a management program is to your salon operations, you shouldn’t drain all your profits just to buy or maintain your software. Look for a program that suits your budget without limiting your usage. And with companies such as Fresha offering subscription-free software with top-of-the-line features, there is no reason for you to be extravagant.
To ensure that your software budget doesn’t harm your profitability, ask these questions:
· How many service tiers (basic, medium, premium, etc.) does a software company offer, and how do their pricing vary with the increase in the number of service providers in the salon?
· For free subscriptions, which are their paid features, and how friendly is their pricing per transaction?
· How friendly are their new client fees? Is the client fee a one-off or will you keep paying renewal fees for clients that are already saved in the system?
There you have it! Now go out there and look for the software that answers the 5 questions satisfactorily. Remember: Quality doesn’t have to be expensive and affordable doesn’t have to be cheap. Keep that in mind when creating a budget for your software.