Planning and Training: 2 Simple Ways to Get More out of Your Appointment Book

Lisa Starr
Salon appointment book spa appointment book

Is your salon capturing all of the business it can? When you look at your books, are you seeing red because there’s too many white spaces that mean missed revenue opportunities? The time to act is now, and we have a simple two-step plan that can help.

Before we begin, though, let’s just be clear about what we sell.  We don’t sell haircuts and brow waxes. Yes, that’s what we have on the menu, but the commodity that we really sell (which is in limited supply) is time slots. Depending on the configuration of your physical space and your hours of operation, you have a finite number of time slots per day that you need to sell. Think of your salon like an airplane.  There are only so many seats on the plane and once the plane takes off, you can’t fill the seats later. In the same way, those unfilled 10 a.m. or 7 p.m. appointments can’t be filled at any other point. Once the day passes. You’ve lost them forever – and the money that went with them. We know we’ll never hit 100% productivity, but being in the 80s or even the 90s on super-busy days is a beautiful thing. But you won’t hit those numbers by crossing your fingers. It takes planning and training. Planning – If your salon has been open for a while, you may have a number of technicians who have high retention. This combined with the practices of younger folks today may mean you have staff who are working when it’s convenient for them, rather than advantageous for the business. Here’s an example: I’m working with a salon right now that’s open 10 a.m. - 7:30 p.m. most days. Their most requested technician works from 10:30 a.m. – 6 p.m. See the problem? We’ve just lost two hours of productivity from that workstation, and that’s before we get into missed appointments and other schedule snafus. Two hours per day x 5 days per week x 52 weeks per year, that’s 520 hours. If this person does 1.3 haircuts per hour (@$55) that’s $38k+ per year! Does that get your attention? I hope so. This person needs to begin at 10 a.m., or end at 7:30 p.m., but they can’t take their workday chunk out of the middle. If they worked 10 a.m. – 4 p.m., you could hire someone else to fill the chair in the afternoon/evenings -- perhaps someone in school during the day -- and keep your productivity up. But, remember, productivity has to be measured by RESOURCE, not by staff member.

Training – Let’s say we’ve fixed the schedule, and the above-mentioned stylist now starts at 10 a.m. A client phones and asks if they can have an appointment at 10:30 a.m. The answer is, no! You may have to say: “I’m very sorry ma’am, but we don’t have a 10:30 available. We have a 10 a.m. or an 11 a.m.” (or a 10:45 a.m. depending on service time). It’s a fairly simple concept, but it requires the customer service staff to be able to quickly evaluate the impact of the request when they’re taking a booking, rather than just giving clients what they ask for. Of course, we want to try to accommodate the client, but chances are good if we can give her an appointment within a half hour of her request, she’ll be satisfied. Training the desk to preserve larger chunks of time for higher ticket services also will help optimize the book for the salon, and bring in more earnings to each technician.

So, take a fresh look at your salon schedule by resources (styling chair, treatment station) and not by staff member. Fixing the staff schedule issue is pretty straightforward. Training the desk to optimize the book may take a little bit longer. One suggestion to help you get there is measure what your average is now and bonus the front desk staff (as a group) when you start regularly hitting higher numbers. A little cash incentive will help them remember to keep up good practices. We’ll be willing to bet that within a month you’ll be hitting higher productivity numbers on a regular basis.


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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