May 24, 2024

The Ultimate Guide to Choosing a Salon Software

The Ultimate Guide to Choosing a Salon Software

Making a final choice about the software you use in your salon can mean the difference between growth and standing still. When your salon software works well with your team, you can deliver incredible results for your customers. But if they struggle to make the most of it, or if there are key features missing, you might find that your salon software does more harm than good.

So, how do you choose the right salon software for your business? In this guide, we’re exploring the role of salon software in the modern salon and how you can ensure you make the right choice to help your business flourish.

What is salon software

What is salon software?

Salon software can mean many different things for different salons. In some cases, salon software is merely used to book appointments. In this case, it’s simply a digital version of an old-fashioned appointment book. In other cases, salon software is the central brain that controls everything from stock levels to marketing activity.

The type of salon software you choose will depend on a number of factors:

  • How many people are on your team? The bigger the team, the more useful you will find features like schedule management and task assignments.
  • Do you handle your own marketing? If you have outsourced your marketing already, you won’t need to worry about automated marketing tools. But if you would like to bring it all in-house and manage it for yourself, this could offer considerable benefits.
  • Do you stock products for sale? Stock management is a key feature in many salon software packages, but not everyone needs this feature.
  • What is your budget? Ultimately, your final choice will come down to what you can afford. Smaller salons might not be willing to part with large sums of money if they cannot see how the investment will deliver a return.

As you can see, there is a lot to consider before making a final decision. If you’re not sure what features you should be looking for, continue to the next section. If you already have a pretty good idea of what you want from your salon software, you can skip to the selection process.

What features are commonly offered by salon software

What features are commonly offered by salon software?

If you’re new to the world of salon software, you might not be aware of the features available to you. A comprehensive software package could be a big step up from your current booking system, so you should educate yourself on the features available before you make a final decision. These are just some of the features you can expect from a quality salon software package. These are all included with the Salon Iris package.

  • Appointment booking and online booking integration
  • Client information and purchase history
  • Reputation management with online review requests
  • Employee schedule management
  • Messaging service for appointment reminders and marketing
  • Sales reports
  • Wait list management
  • Employee reminder system
  • Product sales and inventory tracking
  • Gift card management
  • Remote access and cloud storage
  • Resource management, including rooms and equipment 
  • Website integration
  • Facebook booking
  • Connection to accounting software

If you’re not sure how to choose salon software for your business, try these steps to help you to land on a decision with ease.

Consider your current setup

Consider your current setup

The first step in choosing salon software is to think about your current setup. Are you using basic appointment booking with no added features? Or would you be switching from another salon software package because you’re unhappy with the service?

Think about what works about your current setup and what is missing. Being practical about what you could achieve if your salon software was just a little more effective can make a huge difference to the final decision.

Ask your team for feedback

Remember that everyone on your team will need to be comfortable with the final decision. It makes sense to get their feedback early on so you can involve them in the decision-making process. 

You might find that some members of the team struggle to use the software and they would like a more intuitive setup. In this case, you need to determine if the software is the problem or if a lack of training is to blame.

You could also brainstorm together what is currently working and what is missing. It could be that your team isn’t aware of the potential options available by upgrading the software package, so now would be a good time to introduce the available options so they can do independent research.

Review customer feedback

Review customer feedback

One of the biggest ways that your salon software will make an impact on your business is through the booking process. If your customers find the booking process annoying, you might find that you are losing customers.

Look through customer feedback to see if there are any comments about the booking process. Do they say that it’s easy or do they have complaints? You could also ask customers what they thought of the booking process when they arrive at the salon, as it will still be fresh in their minds.

Make a list of needs and wants

By now you should have a clearer idea of what you need from your salon software. Work together with your team to make a list of needs and wants. Keep this process open for a few weeks so the team can really think about what would make their lives easier. 

Needs are the core functionality that you cannot do without. This could include things like a seamless booking process and appointment reminders. 

Wants are extra features that would be beneficial, but only if your budget allows. You might find that your final selection only includes a few of your wants, but you can keep these in mind for the future as you might be able to upgrade your package.

Narrow down your list of options

Narrow down your list of options

By this stage, you should have an idea of which salon software packages make the cut. The decision is likely now going to be down to usability, budget and features. At this stage, you can ask your team to start looking at each package and share their thoughts on which one will work best.

It’s no use having lots of features if your team isn’t aware of them or isn’t comfortable using them. This is one reason that it’s helpful to get everyone involved, and to then provide ongoing training so that everyone can make the most of the package.

Setup a trial

Once you have narrowed it down to a single package, you can then set up a trial or request a demo. This will enable you to try out the features before you make a commitment to a single software package.

Changing your software package can be a stressful process, and you want to make sure you only have to do it once. This is why a trial is essential to ensure you’re happy with the features and how they work before you make a commitment.

When you’re ready to take the plunge, be prepared for some road bumps along the way. Before making the switch and moving over any customer data, make a physical backup of future appointments so you don’t lose this information in the switch.

You can also inform patients of the new booking process in an email. Encourage them to check that their information is up to date and that future appointments are still visible. If there are any issues in the change over, you can quickly put them right without upsetting any customers by double booking appointments.

Plan a training session

Plan a training session

Your staff need to feel confident using the new software, and they need to be able to show confidence in front of customers. Plan a few training sessions a few weeks apart so you can introduce everyone to the basics and then let them get to grips with the new processes in their own time.

After a few weeks, you can arrange a more advanced skills workshop and introduce more of the features available. Regularly review how your staff feel about the software to ensure everyone is maximising the functions available. There is nothing more frustrating as a business owner than paying for features that your team doesn't feel confident using.

Salon Iris includes training documentation and support, so members of your team can reach out to us directly if they are struggling with any part of the process.

Review the changes

Review the changes

After 3-6 months of using the software, take time to reflect on how it has changed your business. You can use the sales reports feature to see if this has had a positive impact on your business by making it easier for customers to access appointments.

Some of the ways that you might notice a positive change in your business could include:

  • Easier booking process. When customers can book online without having to call the salon, you can remove a big barrier that might turn some people away. Lots of people don’t like to call, or they like to be able to book their appointment outside of business hours due to their own schedule. By streamlining the booking process, you might find your customer numbers increase.
  • Increase in repeat customers. Salon software can automate the process of following up with customers to encourage them to repeat their booking. This takes the guesswork out of reaching out to customers and can help to put your sales pipeline on autopilot.
  • Reducing no-shows. It’s no secret that no-shows cost salons tens of thousands of pounds every year. By implementing appointment reminders, you can minimise the impact of no-shows on your business and improve relationships with your customers.
  • Improve stock management. Do you often have to sell reduced price stock because it has reached the end of its shelf life? Or do you find that you sell out of stock and can’t meet customer demands? This is one way in which better stock management using salon software can help.
  • Better reputation management. You could experience a positive uptick in bookings if you take the time to automate review requests. These are sent to customers after their appointment to encourage them to leave a positive review. This information can be used to inform your customer service plans and will also help to encourage new customers to book.
  • Improve staff morale. Staff can quickly become frustrated with inconsistency in their schedules. By using automated staff scheduling and reminders, you can empower them to take control of their working day. This often results in an uptick in staff morale as a result.

Adjust and refine

Adjust and refine

Once you’ve had a chance to reflect, you can determine if your choice of salon software simply isn’t working for you, or if your team is failing to make the most of the tools. If the latter is your problem, you can look for the pain points that are preventing your staff from making the most of the tools available to them.

If things are going well, you can look for ways you can further improve processes. Perhaps there are more steps you could automate to help maximise your customer list and how you market to them.

Final thoughts

Choosing your salon software is not a step that should be rushed. It can be tempting to go full speed ahead once you’ve got the idea that you want to update how you manage your salon, but this is one step that rewards patience and consideration.

Changing salon software is a stressful process, with the ongoing fear that your business will be interrupted in some way, or that you might lose vital customer information. This is why it is vital to make the right choice for your business so you only have to make the change once.

Involve everyone in your business in the decision making process so that you can be confident the change will be a positive one. Everyone needs to be on board with the new system or you might find that your team doesn’t maximise the new features available to them.

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