Business Tech: Your virtual salon support

You need to be multi-skilled to run a successful business. Take a look at the benefits of using the latest platforms and apps to help ease the load.   

You need to be multi-skilled to run a successful business. Take a look at the benefits of using the latest platforms and apps to help ease the load.   

Organisation is a key part of running a successful beauty or hair business. Effective administration including secure record keeping, staying on top of appointment bookings, understanding your business' financial status and stock management can be the difference between success and failure. This is where working with technology can be a real bonus and if you can download an app or visit a website, then you, and your clients, can use a salon management platform successfully.

“Beauty and personal care businesses are losing over a full day each week to administrative tasks alone, as highlighted by Square's research,” says Samina Hussain-Letch, Head of Industry Relations and Operations UK at Square.

“Having management software in a salon's tech stack simplifies daily routines for business owners as it cuts down on admin, putting time back in employees' hands. It gives them more time to spend with customers during the appointment to foster loyal relationships and bring in more revenue to the business.”

“Having management software in a salon's tech stack simplifies daily routines for business owners as it cuts down on admin, putting time back in employees' hands," says Samina Hussain-Letch, Head of Industry Relations and Operations UK at Square.
Salon management technology is nothing new and many businesses have embraced the concept for years. Over the last decade the growth in the number of platforms and apps has been huge, with an increase in competition driving technology development and functionality as well making the option to streamline operations more affordable than ever. 

Systems now run via an online cloud which means that all client and business data is stored securely rather than on the hard drive of your PC or laptop. You can still access platforms via a PC or laptop if you prefer but a real bonus is that you can use a tablet or phone too, meaning you can effectively run the administration of your business via an app whilst on the go.

A greater use of technology in our day to day lives means that adapting a business to operate via a management system will be second nature to most. 

So if you're yet to convert, what can salon management tech help with?

Storing clients' data securely

Securely managing your clients' and your staff members' personal data is a legal requirement. GDPR (General Data Protection Regulation) means that when personal information is passed to you, for example during a consultation, you need to keep this secure. In addition, in line with insurance requirements, client record cards including details of any patch tests carried out, should be kept for a minimum period of seven years following the last occasion on which treatment was given. 

Storing this kind of data via a salon management system means is far more secure than paper records, can be accessed easily when required and quickly updated. 

“Data is crucial to every business, and depending on its size, there can be a nearly overwhelming amount of it. Technology's constant growth has allowed for the development of software for a more streamlined and efficient form of data management,” explains Caroline Gleeson, software expert and CEO of Occupop. “And when you have a lot of sensitive data, keeping it secure is crucial. Data technology has evolved so considerably that protecting information from cyber attacks is made even easier than before, reducing the amount of downtime that businesses face.”

There are also dedicated platforms for storing data specifics such as patch testing such as Colourstart which is now officially integrated into Phorest Salon Software.

Managing client bookings & reducing no shows

These days we expect to be able to organise our lives using online tools and booking a hair or beauty appointment is no different. Consumers expect to be able to do this 24 hours a day, seven days a week but you shouldn't be answering clients' Whatsapp messages on your day off! A salon management system means your diary is always open online, showing availability, taking deposits and confirming appointments for you. 

“It is critical to have salon management software that allows customers to book appointments after the salon has closed for the day, as 42% of customers want to book appointments on the weekend or after hours,” says Samina Hussain-Letch of Square. “This could be offered through the salon's website or social media pages, providing a seamless customer journey and maximising bookings.”

Áine Lavery, Owner of Skin Future in Hillsborough, Co. Down, uses the Square Appointments system which even allows clients to book through Instagram. “With all bookings happening online, it removes the manual process of making reservations and frees up time for the team to manage other aspects of growing the business,” she explains. 

It's true that you may have clients who will not want to book online, and there's no reason why you can't still take phone and/or in person bookings however transitioning bookings online will make running your business smoother.  
In addition, these systems also enable you to issue SMS and email confirmations and reminders to help reduce client no shows and late cancellations. Áine explains why this is useful, saying:

“Before we used Square Appointments, we'd lose time if clients didn't show up for appointments or cancelled at the last minute. Using the system to manage confirmation messages and reminders helped mitigate this, and we also built in a cancellation policy with Square to protect our time.”

Insights to make data-driven decisions

Being able to gather vital information about your business's performance such as sales revenue and customer retention rates easily and quickly, rather than relying on gut feeling, is a key bonus of a management system. “Analysing reporting data helps in identifying trends and patterns within the salon's operations,” says Mike Waldon, General Manager at brand new software system Salon Manager. “This could include popular services, peak hours, seasonal fluctuations in demand, and customer preferences. Understanding these trends helps in better resource allocation and planning.”

Skin Future's Áine Lavery finds the detailed insights generated by the Square system priceless in making key decisions. “These reports have been vital in efficiently running Skin Future and ultimately have changed the way we work to help generate 100% more appointments. They've allowed us to grow our offering to include tailored services during days and times that had traditionally been slower,” she says.

“We're also using the reports to see what days are bringing in the most revenue to help manage client bookings and schedule in-house to maximise productivity and revenue, which we'll continue to do in 2024.” 

Specifically designed to provide accurate insights for hair salons, the Vish colour management software enables colourists to record clients' colour formulas, with reports generated to assist in addressing colour wastage, ambiguous pricing and profit margins. The latest version of Vish has recently gone live with a new Plan Ahead™ feature. 

Tom Bentley-Taylor, Vish's Managing Director EMEA, explains: “Stylists will have the ability to log in on their mobile phone and look ahead at their day's appointments, saving formulas before or during the consultation.” According to Vish, in 2022 alone, the system captured more than £1,988,427 in additional revenue for salons with businesses seeing an average decrease in their cost per service by 40-50%.

The Vish colour management software enables colourists to record clients' colour formulas and assists in addressing colour wastage and profit margins.
If you work mobile or freelance and are struggling to price your treatments and arrange your working day profitably, The Freelance Suite could help. Developed by stylist Ruth Lundstrom, in-app functions allow you to create a detailed working structure, with target annual profits and expenses before calculating the suggested pricing for each service. “As an industry I know why we struggle to charge correctly, and it isn't just about the maths. It's a much deeper problem that I am hoping to help fix by empowering young people, and especially women, to start realising how much they are worth to the world and to our industry,” Ruth explains. 

Taking payments in a way that suits you

Of course without being able to take payment for your services and sales, your business is nothing! Choosing a management system that enables you to do this easily and securely, for both you and your clients, is vital. 

Integrating payments alongside bookings, product sales and deposits means you can be confident that your financial reports are accurate without risk of errors in manual inputting. 

You can take payment online or in person via your chosen methods (card, mobile payments, Paypal or similar or cash), apply discounts, edit treatment prices and process refunds all via these platforms with sensitive data such as card details securely protected. 

Effective & efficient marketing

The ability to automate marketing can be a huge timesaver, especially for those who find promoting their services a challenge. Integrated functionality means you can easily target your database of clients / potential clients with special offers, newsletters and information on new treatments and services specific to their likes, wants and needs. 

“Email marketing is a cost-effective marketing tool compared to traditional advertising. It allows salons to reach a large audience without significant expenses on printing or distribution,” says Salon Manager's Mike Waldon. “Email marketing provides detailed analytics and tracking metrics. Salon owners can measure the success of their email campaigns, including open rates, click-through rates and conversion rates. This data helps in refining future marketing strategies.”

In addition, technology now enables you to market directly through your social media accounts. For example, Phorest's latest update includes the ability to run social media ads via your Facebook and Instagram accounts all through the Phorest platform. “Whether salons are looking to attract new customers, target existing clients or target those who haven't visited the salon in the last six months, the Phorest Ads Manager is an extra layer in a salon's marketing strategy,” say the company.

Phorest's latest update includes the ability to run social media ads via your Facebook and Instagram accounts all through the Phorest platform.
Use tech to motivate your team
By enabling each member of your salon team to access the appropriate functions of each platform, you can motivate them to reach targets and goals set by yourself. This could be in relation to rebookings, retail sales, time management etc with tailored individual and/or team targets. 

For example, iSalon's miSalon team member engagement app helps staff track their individual targets from their own device as well as view bookings and access the salon's social media feed and in-salon chat. 

In addition, the recently upgraded PhorestGo 2.0 app enables team members to manage their portfolio and upload before and after images that you can access as content for your social channels as well view their targets and schedules.

Open an online shop & increase your retail income

According to research from Phorest Salon Software, a massive 71% of British people want to buy retail products from their beauty salon but only 28% said that they frequently do. The same study found that only 50% of UK hair and beauty salons operate an online store, missing out on key retail revenue. Verna Wall, Lead Researcher at Phorest Salon Software, says:

“Are you missing out on sales, simply because you don't have an online store or product refill service? If you're eager to boost retail sales, having great products isn't enough. It's time to open an online store, start offering a subscription service, and give your customers multiple ways to purchase their favourite products from you, instead of the retail giants.”

Salon management platforms enable you to make product recommendations, complete a transaction and keep track of stock levels. If you don't have a retail area in your salon, or work mobile, operating an online store is a must.

In summary, salon management technology is here to stay and however it continues to evolve, is leading the way in how salon businesses grow and succeed; embrace this to stay at the forefront of the sector. 

You may not need the full functionality of every system (there are a host of features available that we've just not the space to cover in this feature), so do some research online and at trade shows, ask for recommendations from other salon owners, watch online demonstrations and take free trial opportunities. See what works for you and you won't go back to pen and paper!