Steel N Ink — Expanding From a Single Studio to 15 Locations With the Square Ecosystem

Expanding From a Single Studio to 15 Locations With the Square Ecosystem
How a single-location tattoo and body piercing studio has expanded to 15 locations — and is still growing — with Square.
by Square Mar 14, 2024 — 4 min read
Expanding From a Single Studio to 15 Locations With the Square Ecosystem

About this business

Business Type

Tattoo and Body Piercing Studio Locations: 15


Ontario and Winnipeg
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Steel N Ink is one of the premier tattoo and body piercing studios in Ontario and Winnipeg, Canada. Their stores can be found primarily in higher-trafficked areas, such as malls, for a safe and modern experience. 

The business started as a seasonal piercing location, where owner Jamie Randolph worked. He bought and rebranded the business in 2005, adding tattoos to their offerings. Today, Steel N Ink has 15 locations and offers upscale piercings and tattoos as well as retail items, including body jewelry, tattoo care products, and clothing. Steel N Ink has grown to 120 employees, including tattoo artists, body piercers, front desk staff, and back office staff. There’s also a corporate office with marketing, inventory, and HR teams. 

The challenge: Finding integrated technology to centralize business needs

In the early years of the business, Steel N Ink did things the old fashioned way. Employees used basic cash registers for transactions and pen and paper to take bookings. Over time, Steel N Ink added retail along with piercing and tattoo services, so they needed a modern POS solution that centralized all their business needs into one integrated system. 


The increase in bookings through Steel N Ink’s online booking site with Square

As they grew, Randolph continued to hire staff and feature new artists at Steel N Ink locations. But that presented more challenges. All bookings were taken over the phone or in person, which was highly manual and not scalable. Randolph realized he needed to digitize his workflow to save time and to give his staff visibility into schedules across all locations. He also wanted a website that could showcase all that they had to offer across artist profiles, merch and retail sales, and piercing and tattoo services. 

Then COVID hit in 2020, and Randolph needed even more control over Steel N Ink client bookings and staff schedules. Walk-ins decreased, and prebooked appointments became a requirement. Steel N Ink needed a way to send clients forms and contracts before services. They also needed a way to send automated notifications to hold clients accountable for their appointments and to ensure they showed up or rescheduled as needed. 

As the business opened more locations over time, they needed a POS that reflected their high-end brand and that could grow alongside them. 

The solution: Using the Square ecosystem for booking, payment, marketing, and staff management 

Randolph was an early adopter of Square, starting with Square Point of Sale in 2012. He later added more Square tools as they were released to solve his business needs. Each Steel N Ink store has either Square Stand or Square Register, depending on the size of the store, which makes it easy to take payments and report on sales and staff earnings. Steel N Ink uses Square to track employee commissions, which can be earned on both item and service sales. 

We use Square Register because it is a very sexy piece of equipment. The customer-facing display is beautiful, and especially now with the ability to use our own branding. ”

Jamie Randolph owner, Steel N Ink

Seamlessly managing bookings and appointments

Booking software was uncommon in the tattooing industry at the time, as most appointments were made by contacting the artist directly. As an early adopter of Square Appointments, Randolph has seen how the solution has grown over time to meet the needs of more complex businesses. With a click of a button, Randolph was able to go from logging appointments with pen and paper to seeing the schedule for every single store. This also gave his team visibility into their own schedules, no matter where they were, and empowered them to manage their own clients and appointments. Randolph now relies on Square Appointments as a centralized system to view and manage all bookings and staff scheduling across all 15 locations for Steel N Ink. 


The decrease in no-shows due to their online booking site cancellation policy and fee

In 2020, Steel N Ink required appointments to be booked only online due to the pandemic. With their free Square online booking site, Steel N Ink saw a direct increase in body piercing appointments and a 25% increase in overall online bookings, as clients appreciated being able to self-schedule. 

Now, when a client books an appointment, they will be sent a contract through Square Contracts to fill out intake information. Randolph can customize when contracts are sent based on the customer and the service. Once completed, contracts are saved to the client profile in their Square Customer Directory, removing one more manual step in the intake process. 

Once we added Square Appointments, it was like night and day. We went from pen and paper to digital bookings. Artists had access to their schedule, they could check it remotely and look ahead at their week. Especially with multiple locations, and as we were growing, I couldn’t see all those paper appointment books at the same time. Now here I am, with a click of a button, I can see every store, every schedule. ”

Jamie Randolph owner, Steel N Ink

Powering communications, marketing, and customer loyalty

All Steel N Ink appointments and client communications run through Square. Randolph has automatic notifications turned on through Square Appointments, which sends clients text or email notifications so they never miss an appointment. Steel N Ink also leverages Square Assistant, which allows clients to confirm, cancel, or reschedule their appointments on their own if something comes up. This keeps the staff off the phones, which used to take hours at each location.

Using Square Messages, Steel N Ink staff have a two-way line of communication with their clients if they ever need to review message or transaction histories. These automated messages have saved approximately two hours per day, per employee, per location, or over 20,000 hours total for the business since 2020.

Steel N Ink relies on Square Marketing for newsletters and promotional campaigns to find new clients and keep existing ones coming through the door. This has helped drive an extremely loyal customer base with many repeat customers, which makes the Square Loyalty program incredibly popular. Nearly 60% of Steel N Ink clients sign up for the program and flex their points with every new item or service purchase. In 2023, Square Loyalty members spent 91% more per visit than in previous years. As Randolph grows Steel N Ink and adds more stores and offerings to the business, he knows he can rely on Square to scale and grow alongside it. 


of Steel N Ink clients signed up for their loyalty program

The results: Increased bookings, employee time saved, and  loyal customers

Steel N Ink uses integrated Square tools to power almost all aspects of their business. As a result, they’ve expanded to 15 locations, hired 120 employees, seen a 25% increase in bookings through their online booking site, reduced no-shows by 10%, optimized employee time, and enhanced customer loyalty.

“We used to actually call people to confirm appointments,” said Randolph. “Believe it or not, it would take hours. So, the email confirmations save hours alone.”

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Products mentioned

Square Appointments

Square Appointments

Book more clients with free scheduling software.

Learn more -/^
Square Loyalty

Square Loyalty

Turn first-time customers into regulars.

See how -/^
Square Marketing

Square Marketing

Reach more customers through email and text.

Learn more -/^
Square Register

Square Register

Take payments with an integrated POS register.

See how -/^
Square Stand

Square Stand

Turn your iPad into a point of sale.

See how -/^

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