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Intro to Scheduling Software
If you own a salon, you have an appointments calendar to manage. And it’s not as easy as just slotting things in the calendar. Keeping your appointments schedule full—and running smoothly—requires consistent attention and management. Luckily, there are several tools and scheduling strategies that can make management easier. Here is a rundown of what those are, along with a playbook for keeping your schedule booked (and the sales flowing in).
Why online scheduling software makes sense
Do you spend hours each week playing phone tag with clients trying to schedule their appointments? Do you ever get frustrated trying to decipher illegible handwriting in your pen-and-paper appointments book before meeting with a client? Have you ever had a client’s services mistakenly pencilled in on your pen-and-paper appointments book and wished there was a better way?
An online appointments book can help alleviate all of these pain points. But in addition to cutting down on confusion and administrative time, there are other key benefits to using an appointments book app or software. Below, we outline how to use scheduling software to keep your schedule full and streamline its management.
Online scheduling software cuts down on administrative time and offers a better customer experience.
Implement scheduling software for a better customer experience
Convenience ranks up there as one of the most important factors in fostering a positive customer experience. And in this digital age, the ability for people to take care of their to-do lists (like booking a haircut) online is of the utmost importance. Not offering a way to book online makes for a cumbersome process for your clients—and one that’s often riddled with an annoying game of phone tag.
With scheduling software like Square Appointments, you can create an online booking site where customers can schedule a salon appointment with you whenever is most convenient for them. Think of it like a receptionist—except one you don’t have to pay by the hour and who’s available 24/7. You can even invite your clients to book appointments with you online by emailing them a link to your salon booking site. That way, if they don’t have time to book their next visit immediately following their appointment, they can find a slot later that works for them.
Add your appointments calendar to your website
You should add your online appointments calendar to your website, which is easy to do with Square Appointments. All you have to do is add a simple snippet of HTML code directly to your website. Having your appointments calendar in a visible, accessible place on your website makes it quick and easy for clients to book. This is especially true for new clients, who aren’t as likely to cold call your business to book an appointment.
Square Appointments is also optimised for mobile, meaning clients can book directly with you from their phone when they’re on the go. This is an important benefit—we’ve seen that the majority of clients book appointments this way.
Check your appointments calendar on the go
Not only is scheduling software more convenient for your clients, it’s also more streamlined for you. Implementing appointments software and an appointments app means you don’t have to be at your salon to check your availability. The ability to check your schedule from anywhere makes juggling your schedule less frenzied—and saves you a tonne of time.
The Square Appointments gives you all the information you need to run your business right at your fingertips. You can set up and edit your appointments calendar from anywhere and accept appointments automatically or manually as clients book them online. You can also complete payments everywhere—the app allows you to check clients out directly on your phone or iPad through the Square Register app.
Melissa Bergen, owner of The Lash Spa on the Gold Coast, has found the Square Appointments app extremely helpful in streamlining her day-to-day tasks. “I was always on the phone, trying to find times to squeeze clients in,” says Melissa. “And since I couldn’t see my schedule before coming in, I’d often head to the salon and sit there with no clients, knowing I could be at home with my family instead. With the Square Appointments app, it’s like my business is open 24/7. I love not having to log on to my computer to manage every appointment, and it’s great to see my calendar right on my phone.”
An appointments booking app can save you hours a week—which means you can see more clients.
Streamline your scheduling process to make more sales
Having everything in one centralised place that you and your employees can access from anywhere streamlines your operations. In fact, it could save you hours a week.
Before using Square Appointments, Lily Peddle of Henry Lee Barbershop was spending 30 to 45 minutes a day just managing her calendar at her desk. Now her clients can book their own appointments through her website, which integrates with her personalised Appointments page. Once Lily confirms the appointment, her clients receive automated text and email notifications and reminders so she doesn’t have to follow up manually.
With that time back, she sees a whopping 10 additional clients every month. We see this trend across all sellers who use Square’s online booking software. Square Appointments sellers who use software for scheduling book more than twice as many appointments as Square Appointments sellers who don’t use it. That’s a lot more sales.
Cut down on no-shows with software for scheduling
No-show appointments are a drag. Not only do they throw a wrench in your appointment calendar, they also leave you with a block of time in which you could be making a sale but are just sitting there instead. Luckily, appointment scheduling software can help immensely in reducing no-show appointments at your beauty salon. Here’s how:
Enable no-show protection features in your appointments scheduling software
Square Appointments has no-show protection baked right into the software. That means you can require clients to enter their credit card at the time they book their appointment with you online. You can also elect to apply a fee if someone misses an appointment or cancels at the last minute. Businesses using Square Appointments have found that merely instituting a policy reduces no-shows. The simple act of entering card information is often enough to keep customers from missing their appointments.
Require client prepayments in your scheduling software
Square Appointments’ Client Prepayments feature gives you the ability to require people to prepay at the time they book online—which makes them a lot more likely to show up.
And beyond helping you cut down on no-shows, Client Prepayments has two more key benefits. First, it helps with cash flow. If you need to purchase supplies or materials in advance of your service, requiring clients to pay upfront means you don’t have to fund those purchases out of pocket. Second, prepayment makes for a much more seamless customer experience. If clients have already paid, they can simply enjoy your services during their appointment.
Cut down on no-show appointments with client prepayments in your scheduling software.
Send well-timed reminders through your booking software
Printed-out appointment reminders are a thing of the past. To make sure your customers remember their appointments—and show up for them—start sending email and text reminders. This is easy to do in Square Appointments. You can send clients appointment reminders straight from the software—and set how far in advance you want them to go out – generally, one to three days before the appointment is the most effective.
Communicate any schedule changes to your clients
Things happen, and sometimes, it’s you who’s running late or needs to reschedule. Rather than calling your clients to explain (more phone tag), you can communicate any schedule changes right from your appointments booking software. Square Appointments has a Client Notifications feature that lets you send personalised communication to alert customers of any changes to their appointment. You can select how you want to notify people, whether it’s via text, email, or both. You can add a personal message for the client, too, a small touch that goes a long way. “So sorry, running 20 minutes late, but we have wine!” lands a lot better than a stiff message that looks like it’s coming from an automated system.
Streamline your appointments and do more business.
The right online appointment software can help you book more appointments, accept payments, and attract more clients.
How to use your online channels to get more appointments
Integrating online scheduling software and adding it to your website is a great first step toward filling up your appointments schedule. Beyond that, there are several things you can do to bring in new clients—and keep your regulars coming back.
Soup up your website
Straighten up your website so that it looks as visually appealing and professional as possible. That means including details about your business, your logo, and photos of yourself and your staff. And make sure to clearly outline all the services you provide so customers can make an informed choice when booking. If you’re just getting started, leverage tools like the “Fake It Filter” to make your calendar appear a little busy. That way, prospective clients can feel more confident that this isn’t your first rodeo.
Pay attention to online feedback
It’s crucial to consistently monitor social reviews sites like Yelp to keep a pulse on your business’s online reputation. And it’s equally crucial to respond. Make sure you’re giving attention to both the positive and negative comments, responding to each and every one. If you happen to get a subpar review, always lead by thanking the customer for his or her business and feedback. Then stay positive in the rest of your response. Steer clear of excuses and instead be open and honest about how you’re going to correct things going forward. That way, if prospective customers look at your Yelp review and see a flag, they know you’re addressing the issue.
Keep in mind that feedback can also come in a more private forum. With Square Feedback, people can comment about their experience from within their digital receipt and choose whether or not they’d like a response from you. Make sure to read each of these carefully and, if you’re able, respond with a personalised message. Maintaining a good relationship and connection with your clients makes them more likely to come back.
Establish a social media presence
Building a strong social following for your salon helps more people discover you—and establishes your business as an expert in the space. For an image-driven industry like beauty, photos say more than words ever could. Focus your social media efforts on the photo-heavy platforms like Facebook, Pinterest, and Instagram. Get on the hashtag bandwagon and do regular posts under things like #MakeoverMonday to show off before-and-after photos of clients. Throwback Thursday (#tbt) and Flashback Friday (#fbf) are great for recapping some of your salon’s best looks for the week.
Social media is also a great place to keep tabs on what customers are saying about you. If someone mentions you in a social post, respond in a timely manner to let them know you’re listening.
Market to repeat clients—they spend roughly 67% more than first-time customers.
Do some email marketing
Stay top of mind with your clients by sending a targeted email with Square’s email marketing tools. The software (which allows you to collect customer information right at your register) automatically sorts your lists by loyal, casual, or lapsed. So you could let your regular clients know about a new service you’re offering, for example, or offer an incentive to those you haven’t seen in a while, like a free treatment if they book a service within a specified time window.
Offer a rewards program
A study by Bain & Company found that when customers come back in, they spend roughly 67% more than first-time customers. So it’s worth trying to get repeat customers. A great (and simple) way to do this is with a rewards program. Square offers Square Loyalty, a punch-card program that automatically tracks and rewards customers based on how many times they’ve come in and bought something (like a hair product, perhaps).
You can select how often you want to reward your customers (by the number of punches) and how much they get as a reward, either as a percentage or dollar amount off. You can also choose how much your customers need to spend to get a punch.
Here are some additional appointment scheduling tips that can help elevate your business and increase efficiency.