In my 12 years of experience in this field, I’ve made all the software mistakes you possibly can with a salon. I’ve relied heavily on a paper-based system, then purchased several wrong pieces of software inappropriate to my business. I’ve even made the mistake of investing in bespoke software, which despite being ‘designed’ for my business, turned out to be created by the wrong people. I’ve been through it all; so I want to share my wisdom to help you and your business from making the same mistakes.
You can get to where I am now successfully, and much quicker.
Trust me when I say that all software companies believe the same thing: that they have you at their mercy. From how you run your operation, create your analytic reports, even down to the number of staff breaks being taken. With all this information in the hands of your software company, it’s hard to feel in control.
Fear not, this page is all about guiding you to choosing the perfect software to run your business. And running the partnership on your terms and conditions. Not theirs.
The software company you eventually partner with is going to be a central part of your business and you want to get this relationship right from the start. So, let’s go through the steps to choosing the best software company for your salon.
This is the nitty-gritty of what you want your software to achieve for your business. The software should save you time, economise your budget, help your business perform better, and, ultimately, enable you to provide better value to your customers.
So, when you speak to a potential beauty salon software company, explain how your business operates and tell them in detail what you want the software to do.
Here are just a few examples below:
Client Services Management
Appointment booking, drag and drop
calendar, text and email messages,
Add/subtract products, automatic stock
ordering, supplier information, track stock
Point of Sale
Fully functional cash drawer interface,
receipt and invoice creation, voucher
Staff scheduler, holiday booking and leave requests, staff rotas
Client data/information, treatment notes,
contraindication pop ups
Till totals, service and products sales, VAT
reports, commission reports, sales and
financial trend analysis
Integrated email marketing interface,
SMS message marketing, mail shots,
Remote support 7 days a week,
fully-trained experts on call, site
visits and training, data recovery, PC advice
This list isn’t exhaustive but it’s a good starting point for an up and coming salon.
There will be several costs involved when purchasing the right beauty salon software system for your business. These will include hardware, software, and hosting costs. It’s also important to budget for any additional expenses such as support, training, and any other little extras.
Firstly let’s dive into these technical terms.
These are items you can touch physically, such as your
computer monitor, keyboard, printers, etc.
The programs and other operating information
used by a computer.
This is a cost the software company will
charge to store your data and back up your information so it’s never lost.
Telephone, email or remote access help from the
software company itself.
This could be online, one-on-one, or over the phone
training, depending on the company.
Developing apps, online booking capabilities, electronic
forms, third party text messaging costs, etc.
A typical salon software cost; with touch screen monitor, software licence, POS system, receipt printers, barcode scanners, printer, cash drawer, including delivery and installation, will cost around £2,995 plus VAT.
Bear in mind, when budgeting, to account for ongoing costs for hosting, support, and any other additional fees. These could add up to around £50- £85 per month depending on how many staff and salons you have, plus any extra costs for your text messaging service via a third-party company.
Most software companies are cloud based which means you can access your data with any internet-enabled device: a PC, Mac, and/or mobile device/tablet. Cloud-based software does not usually require any overly technical installation or the cost of any expensive IT infrastructure.
Most good software companies handle all online and data security, up time (the amount of time your software is available to you), data backups, and any upgrades in the future.
One of the many problems with traditional self-managed hardware is that employees save data on their laptops, USB drives, or portable hard drives; significantly increasing your data security risk. Laptops can be stolen, computers are rarely backed up properly, and it’s unlikely everyone’s machines are up-to-date with the latest security patches and anti-malware protection.
A key advantage to cloud-based software is that all your data is centralized and accessible over the internet from anywhere, at any time. The data is automatically backed up daily and stored in multiple server locations around the country for additional redundancy. Redundancy here, defines your failure support.
Which leads us nicely onto our next security topic. Ask your software company (to ensure the safety of your business), “Where in the cloud is my data and how do I get access to it if you go bankrupt or out of business?”
You may get a blank look, so set these rules up below.
Support and training are going to be essential to the ongoing relationship between you, your staff and your software company. You can tell how good their support is when you call them. Can you reach their help desk easily? Or do you usually get an engaged tone?
You want to work with a software company where telephone support is 7 days a week in accordance with your opening times. Don’t deal with technical support which requires submitting an online help form, dealing with a vague online forum, or having to trawl through a FAQ page.
Pay according to the level of support you require, this is not the place to cut corners in your budget. You never know when you’ll need help and you should pay appropriately for great service and support.
When you test their free trial, ask yourself these questions. Does the software design look good? Is it aesthetically pleasing to the eye? How intuitive is the system for you and your staff to use?
When using the system, you want to reach your intended outcome in as few clicks as possible.You don’t want anything clunky or overly complicated. Make sure it is as quick and easy as possible for anyone to use; not just your receptionist.
Don’t be scared to ask the software company to take you through a demonstration. This way you can also check out how helpful their support staff are to you.
Any new software will be unfamiliar at the beginning and will take some getting used to, so persevere and don’t give up.
Though it’s tempting, please don’t ask them to put you in touch with an existing customer. They’re likely to choose someone who is biased towards their system. Search online for more impartial reviews instead.
Remember intuitive ease of use and efficiency are the keys to good software performance.
If you have the funds, it is possible to commission the design of your own bespoke software to suit your exact company needs.
I did this (once; the company I was working with) could not find a software company that matched our business operation and the ones we did find fell short on our requirements.
With the first company, we spent thousands on development and design costs only to discover we did not own the rights or source code afterwards. We felt conned by the software developer as they did would not provide us with the intellectual property rights that we had specifically commissioned, licencing and source code.
The second time around though we found a great match with another company. So it is very important to work with the right people to avoid a loss in the long run.
My advice is if you are going to commission your own bespoke software, get a software development agreement in place to cover the principal issues and most importantly, ensure you own the source code at the end of the process.
See, this is easy with the right know how!
There is a lot to think about and the right fit is just not any old program. The right beauty salon software is an integral part of your business. It’s the beating heart that ensures the day-to-day smooth running of your salon. Make sure you get the right fit, first time round to help you make the most of your business.
You can search online for beauty salon software, but I would personally recommend going straight to Capterra. It’s a great resource which lists thousands of salons and spa software companies based on reviews and monthly costs. Click here for more details www.capterra.com