One area that is often overlooked, especially by first-time or aspiring salon owners, is choosing the right salon software. While it might not be exciting, your salon software is a crucial piece of your business. When you’ve chosen the right one, you might not even notice it’s there; but when you’ve chosen the wrong one, you’ll likely know right from the start.
Below, we take a look at what salon software is and what it does, and outline a few factors you should consider when choosing yours.
What is salon software?
Salon software is exactly what it sounds like: Software that salons use to manage various pieces of their business. This can include things like:
- Scheduling software that allows you to schedule appointments and employee shifts
- Customer relationship management (CRM) that tracks client profiles, appointment history, and other notes
- Sales software that tracks your service price menu, sales, revenue, and inventory
- Payroll management that makes it easier for you to pay your employees and track timecards or time off
- Marketing software that allows you to manage and potentially automate your email and social media marketing, as well as any ads you might choose to run
- Your salon’s website, which is so important in helping your clientele discover your business and book an appointment
Depending on your unique needs and your budget, you might opt to purchase a software specifically designed for salons, which merges together many of these functionalities. Or, if you’re like most salons, you might choose to cobble together your own solution by using multiple different softwares. Both options can be effective; it’s really just a matter of how many different systems you are willing to learn and pay for.
But because there are so many software options and each one offers so many different capabilities at a range of prices, it’s important to think carefully about what you truly need before you commit to one software over another.
One effective way of doing exactly that is to sit down and make a list of the functionality that you need and that you are certain you will use on a daily (or at least weekly) basis. You can then use this list to select the software that is right for you, and limit how much you may otherwise spend on features that you really don’t need.
Things to Look For When Choosing a Salon Software
With all of this in mind, here are four of the most commonly needed functionalities that you may want to consider when evaluating different salon software options. If you can find a single software that allows you to do all of these things in a cost-effective manner, then that can be an excellent path to follow. Otherwise, you may find that you really need to choose two or three options to create the solution you need.
1. User Friendliness
While this isn’t really a specific functionality of your software, it’s extremely important that whatever option or options you choose are user friendly. If they aren’t, then they’re liable to cause frustration and other issues. Besides, why would you want to pay for something that is too difficult to use effectively?
If a software solution is going to be used by both your internal team and clients (such as an appointment booking solution) then it’s especially important that it is easy to use not just for your employees, but also for your clients.
Managing payroll is often one of the most complicated parts of running a salon, so choosing the right software can make your life a lot easier. If you will be using different software to manage your appointments and your payroll, look for a solution that integrates easily with your payroll system. You’ll thank yourself later!
Finally, do you run a commission-based salon? If so, you’ll need a platform that can track commission payouts. Making sure your software system can easily track those commissions is important and will make running payroll a lot easier.
3. Inventory Tracking
Did you know that the average profit margin associated with selling retail product in a salon is a whopping 50 percent? That’s a huge margin, and something that no salon owner should leave on the table. If you aren’t selling retail products, you definitely should consider doing so.
Once you do start selling retail product, you’ll need to have a software that tracks your inventory so that you always know how much product you have on hand. (This functionality is also important if you don’t sell retail product, as you’ll still need to track the inventory your stylists use on a daily basis.)
Inventory software won’t just help you track your existing inventory. It can notify you when you need to make an order and even advise you on how much product you will need based on your previous sales.
4. Online Booking
Increasingly, clients want to make an appointment without having to pick up the phone and make a call. They’d much rather book an appointment through your website or even potentially your social media channels. By offering your clients an option that aligns with their preferences, you’ll be able to keep them happy and coming back.
When evaluating your booking software, you should make sure to test it not just as the salon owner or stylist, but from the perspective of the client to ensure that it is truly easy to use and intuitive.
The Bottom Line
Before you commit to a single (or multiple) software solution for your salon, it’s important to have a clear idea of the roles that you need the software to achieve. Only then can you be sure that you are making the right decision. The factors above can help you as you weigh your options.
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