The Right Spa or Salon Management Software: Tips on Switching and Starting from Scratch

Lisa Starr

What to look for in a spa or salon management software

One of the projects on your to-do list for early 2017 may be switching to new software to operate your salon or spa. For those of you who haven’t yet taken the plunge into cloud-based software, perhaps you’ll be taking your business digital for the first time. Here are some tips to plan ahead so that the transition goes smoothly.

Switching Salon or Spa Management Software Systems

Here are a few tips to help you seamlessly transition between your old software system and your new salon software or salon software.

Tip 1: Back up and Export Your Data

If you’re making the move from one software management system to another, ensuring you have full system backups or data exports is the first step. You should plan to export the following types of data, plus any additional metrics that you use for reporting on a regular basis:

  • Your client list, including contact information.
  • Your sales and appointment history.
  • Inventory items and counts.
  • Open gift card and appointment series balances.
  • Loyalty points accrued per client.
  • Membership enrollment and renewal information.

Installed Software Users: If you have a locally installed program, you’re likely backing up your data on a daily basis (or even more frequently). If backups have slipped off the agenda, it’s time to make sure you can access all of your data, especially client contact information and appointment and sales data. Depending on what brand of software you will be using, much of your data may be able to be imported from the old system to the new, but it would be a mistake to assume that it will all work seamlessly.

Online Software Users: Make sure to ask your customer service contact about exporting your data. You may be able to do this yourself, or you may have to have a representative do it for you. You should also confirm with your new software company what format they need your data file in—usually .csv or .xls is the preferred format, but it’s always good to check.  

Tip 2: Evaluate Your Hardware and Software Capabilities

For Installed Systems: If you’re moving to a new installed program, are your existing computers robust enough to run the program? Any computer more than two years old may need to be updated; it’s not uncommon for the latest versions to have double the processor speed or RAM capabilities of older machines. Alternate software programs put different demands on your system and use memory differently; don’t assume that because your existing system ran smoothly with the old program, it will do so with the new. Have an IT consultant evaluate the performance of the network and the demands of the new software and make any needed updates before you switch.

For Online Systems: If you’re switching to a cloud-based system, you should worry less about hardware and more about internet connection speed and reliability. Ensure that your modem and router are operating smoothly, and that you’re getting optimum internet speeds from your ISP. Otherwise, you may end up dealing with system crashes, time-outs, and slow page loads within your new system.

Tip 3: Consider Additional Integrations

Another think you should make sure to look into is integrations with additional software systems and companies. For instance, if you’re using a payroll company, confer with them ahead of time on what pieces of information they need from your business management system to execute payroll, and identify which report or combination of reports in the new system will give them the information they need. If you work with bookkeepers, accountants or spa consultants who have access to your data, you’ll want to let them know about the changes and make arrangements for data access as needed.

If you’re running an installed program, you’ll find it extremely helpful to leave at least one computer with access to the old program. There will certainly be occasions, especially in the first few weeks after the switch, where something needs to be looked up or cross-checked.

New to Beauty Business Management Software: Taking the Tech Plunge

If your salon or spa has never used a management software system before, now is a great time to get started. Systems have gotten more intuitive and easier to use over the years, so the learning curve is much shorter than it used to be. This may feel like a scary situation, but rest assured, brighter days are ahead; you’re going to know so much more about how your business operates, and makes a profit, than you ever did with pencil and paper.

Spa and salon software programs have many components, and it may make more sense for your business to ease into the digital age, than to jump with both feet. Some salons will elect to introduce a new system in stages, starting with client records and the point-of-sale database. For example, you could enter client contact information, your inventory items (both services and products) and start processing and tracking sales with your new system, but you might wait a month or two to begin booking appointments through the system, keeping your paper book and whiteout on hand for the time being. Or you may jump right in with the appointment book, but not worry about keeping track of inventory levels right off the bat. Whatever the plan, it should be carefully thought out and agreed upon with members of your management team or staff.

While we’re on the subject of staff members, be sure to communicate regularly and clearly throughout the transition process. As with any kind of change, you should anticipate some resistance from your employees, both technicians and support staff. Explaining the reasons behind the move, and supplying plenty of training so everyone is familiar with the system, will help reduce the stress. Strong leadership is the key to getting your team to coalesce around the change. Yes, things are going to be done differently, but the result will be that you will have timely data and reports on the performance of the business, which far outweigh the inconveniences involved in learning a new program.

About the Author

Lisa Starr

Lisa Starr brings over 30 years of industry-specific experience as a consultant, educator and writer to Booker through GOtalk. Lisa also works for Wynne Business, a leading spa consulting and education company. Among other things, Lisa’s expertise lies in business operations and finances, sales and marketing, inventory management, human resource development, and business process improvement. She is a well-known speaker within the trade show circuit and is a frequent contributor to industry

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