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Salon software lets hair salons, beauty parlors, barbers, and independent stylists and hairdressers run their day to day operations via scheduling tools, a point of sale, and customer management. Modern salon software is web-based and focuses on offering things such as online booking, a mobile app for your business, and integration with social media accounts such as FaceBook (for advertising and email marketing) and Yelp (for business reviews).
Once a salon is able to schedule appointments via salon management software, they’ll look to manage their accounting on the back-end, stock products more efficiently, and create reports that give you insight into the financial history and success of your business.
Salon point of sale (POS) will process payments, upsell goods and services, track customer history, and manage promotions for your store. Salon POS systems will act as your primary cash register for the business, by ringing up customers based on the services you’ve provided and any additional product they may be buying to bring home.
A good salon POS will take multiple forms of payment, such as cash or credit cards. The best salon POS can also help you upsell by recommending commonly paired items based on that client’s purchasing history.
A key feature specific to salon POS is the ability to store detailed information on the client, such as how frequently they visit and the type of cuts they’ve had before.
Some salon POS solutions will allow clients to keep a balance. This can let a client prepay for services, or even “run a tab” for them, which gives them the flexibility of paying at a predetermined time each month. This type of payment flexibility can let a customer buy products more freely, or even send in a friend to try out the salon and have the payment charged to their account.
A salon that sells gift cards means that the salon is basically creating its own form of currency. If someone spends $25 on a gift card and a haircut costs $20, you know they’ll be back to spend the remaining $5 on a subsequent visit. Offering loyalty point programs to customers (such as “every 10th haircut is free” promotion) encourages them to frequent your salon, which can also encourage positive word of mouth advertising.
Online booking gives your customers the flexibility to book an appointment directly from your website or social media pages like Facebook or Instagram. Any modern salon should offer online booking, as in today’s connected world, it gives clients the ability to schedule an appointment when they see fit.
Online booking offers a number of advantages over traditional booking:
Many salon software options will have credit card processing built right in, which will let you accept multiple forms of payment. This gives plenty of options to a customer, who can choose to pay in cash, all types of credit cards (Visa, MasterCard, Discover, or AMEX), and even online payment services such as PayPal, Apple Pay via their iOS device, and more.
Depending on the setup of your business, you can even keep customer payment information on file to allow for a faster payment the next time they come in or tie it to any account sales they may be accruing. Some payment processors can even allow you to charge fees for cancellations or no shows.
Payment processing is usually an additional cost on top of any ongoing amount you agreed upon with a software vendor. Generally, a payment processor will charge a percentage of each transaction, such as 2%. Many salon software providers may have relationships with certain payment processors who can provide you a discount. They may also be able to recommend the best hardware (card readers) that will work with their software.
The size of your business will greatly impact the type of salon software your business looks for. The most important factors to consider in finding out how robust a solution you need is:
A booth renter is a single stylist who rents a chair or booth from a salon business. A stylist that operates as a booth renter will be running their own business, meaning they’ll have to manage their own schedule, stock up their own inventory, manage any taxes, and follow the rules of the salon they work for.
Booth Renters will want to find a simple low-cost software that won’t eat into their commissions since renting the chair/booth at the salon can be a large expense. A booth renter should find a solution that allows them to set their own schedule, manage your expenses (mostly for the booth rental fee and inventory), and track their earnings. Any social media integration that lets your schedule be known or let users book online will help you grow your brand and make sure your booth is never empty.
Small salons should look for a solution that provides online scheduling, automated reminders, and drag-and-drop rescheduling. A small salon (5 employees or less) will need to have all the tools necessary to ensure appointments are being scheduled, kept, and followed through. They’ll also need a point of sale to process credit card transactions, store customer data (such as hair preferences), and monitor basic income and expenses.
The best salon software for a small business will be able to scale appointment booking properly. In the modern age of iPhones and mobile devices, many people searching out local salons will want to find a strong web presence, and even better, be able to book their appointment online.
Managers and salon owners managing larger salons will likely require more advanced inventory tracking due to a higher number of product sales. Reporting will also be one of the most important things to look for in a salon software for a larger operation, which can help make key business decisions into what products sell best, which stylists hit any goals, and more.
Larger salons likely have a certain status, brand, or image they need to maintain. People may come to this salon given the name recognition and the familiarity with that salon company in another area. The most important aspect of a larger brand is the level of consistency they promise no matter what location you may be at. Because of this, larger salons will want their hairdressers and stylists to focus more on the quality of their work than back-office tasks.
Fresha, formerly Shedul, is a completely free software tool designed for salons and spas. Fresha provides many of the tools most requested by salons and spas, such as appointment scheduling, client management, and online bookings. Fresha has a main priority of eliminating no-shows to your business so time is spent earning revenue and increasing volume rather than reaching out to customers.
As a free program, Fresha does not have a payment processing feature or the ability to interface with a merchant account. A Business looking to accept credit card payments will need to find another way to handle those.
Belliata is a free salon scheduling software that provides online appointment scheduling, point of sale, and customer tracking. Its core base is to improve your scheduling and appointment process, which gives way for the online booking capability. Beyond that, it can track bookings, inventory, and revenue at your salon to provide a general overview.
Belliata’s core package “Manage” is 100% free. Additional functionality via their “Grow” package provides unlimited text message reminders and business reporting, starting at $4/month.