Last week in my Salon Success post, I outlined a basic “order of events” to follow before opening a salon.
Many of these steps pertained to the physical construction and creation of the space, which is extremely important. But once you’ve got the design and branding decided, you need to quickly move onto deciding which tools will help you efficiently manage the nuts and bolts of your business.
In order to be able to operate your salon successfully and profitably, you’re going to need to be able to answer a lot of questions about the salon’s performance. How many new clients came in last week? What is the average ticket of your styling team? What is your retail-to-service sales ratio? This data, and more, is gleaned from your business management software.
Most salon businesses today use salon software only to a certain extent. For instance, it’s commonly used for point of sale, ringing out of clients and retail purchases, and creating a transactional database. Many salons also enter their clients’ contact information to build a contact list. Inexplicably, however, many salons do not use their software to the fullest. Some salons use the appointment booking function, but I still walk into salons where they’re using an old-fashioned paper book in spite of having digital options.
Sometimes the old ways die hard.
Interestingly, few salons exploit more than 50% of the capabilities of their software. Few plan ahead when creating their business and look for opportunities to leverage the knowledge they’ll glean from fully employing a software package. Whether this avoidance of technology is ingrained in beauty culture or the issue is just a more general fear of the unknown, is irrelevant. The point is it’s not serving the needs of the business when you underutilize – or don’t use -- your software.
Software programs are an integral part of operating any business in today’s world, and the salon is no exception. Prior to opening a salon, do some research to determine your options. Whether you go with a cloud-based solution like SalonBooker, or an installed system, you should complete a thorough evaluation of your options and their capabilities. Talk to other users. You can typically see all of the major players at a trade show, and compare notes. Technology also accommodates demonstrations on your home PC at any time, if that suits you.
Some of the features you should consider are ease of use, amount of training required, and understanding exactly what data can be collected. All systems book appointments and ring up retail sales. There is nothing unusual about that. And it’s obviously crucial that you can review past performance and understand how that translates into sales per square foot or gross margin performance.
What’s more important is what you do with the information you collect. That will ultimately be a defining factor in your business’s success. Your data should enable you to spot trends and forecast what might happen in the future, not just review what has already occurred. Your ability to look ahead and adjust staffing and/or inventory levels for an especially fast or slow period can mean more dollars in your pocket. Using your data and knowledge to create and implement effective marketing plans, bring in new clients and retain existing ones, will help your business immeasurably in the long run. The more repeat clients you have, the less money you need to spend on external marketing and advertising resources. So, it’s worth your time to make sure that your software is functioning as another important tool in your business’s success.
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