Most of us have been booking our appointments the old fashioned way for decades: You call up the secretary at the salon, the spa, the dentist, the garage, etc., identify which dates and times are still available, and wait while they enter your appointment into a calendar of some variety.
Then, you open up your own calendar before you forget the details and jot it all down. If something comes up and you need to change or cancel the appointment, you have to go through the whole ordeal again. If, as a business owner, you are still subjecting the clients at your salon to this process, you should know that there is a better way.
The fact is, traditional methods of managing appointments are sorely outdated. There are technological solutions that make our life easier, but the most important factor is that traditional tools alienate customers who have come to expect convenience above all else.
21st-century consumers expect instant gratification — their attention is pulled in a thousand different directions every day, and pausing to talk on the phone (which many younger customers avoid at all costs!) in order to set up an appointment for a haircut or a facial is enough of a barrier that they may switch salons altogether. As a result, salons are turning to online reservation systems to build their business, improve customer service, and maximize their returns.
An online reservation system “is a software solution that allows customers to book their reservations or appointments online via a company’s website or app instead of over the phone or in person. Depending on the sophistication of the platform, an online reservation system might also permit customers to pay for their appointment or reservation services ahead of time.”
Why Salons Are Implementing Tech to Create Effective Salon Appointment Booking Practices
Using an online booking system to manage salon appointments is a straightforward, savvy business move that helps businesses meet clients' needs in today's technological world. Here are the benefits salons can experience by switching to an effective salon appointment booking system:
- Streamlining the booking process - High-quality salon appointment booking software rolls a variety of helpful features into one. With all of the booking and payment needs in one place, it is easier to be efficient. With an online booking system, clients can see entire weeks of a salons' availability at a time and choose the option that works best for them. Without leaving that system, they can also book multiple services at once and pay for their services ahead of time, even from their phone. Lastly, the booking program generally syncs to the user's calendar while sending the client automatic reminders and updates — without requiring any work on the salon's part.
- No more scheduling errors — Last-minute cancellations, no-shows, double bookings, coverage gaps — these expensive occurrences stack up quickly. Salon appointment booking tools like Ombori Grid help prevent these losses by making it easier for clients to modify their appointments ahead of time whenever they'd like and by making it impossible to double book time slots. An inadvertent benefit of having an automated system that handles all these problems is that salon staff are far less preoccupied. Now, they have the time and attention to ensure guests have a positive experience and that sanitation practices are upheld.
- Increases customer base — Marketing for new customers is an expense that every business incurs; and, in many cases, can be one of the most costly expenses. By providing online booking solutions, salons can capture a new audience while reducing their associated costs. One study suggests that around 29% of first-time guests book their initial appointment online. Therefore, by utilizing an effective salon appointment booking system, salons can reach new clientele with one investment.
- Offers analytics — Taking advantage of a salon booking system's analytics capabilities help businesses more strategically schedule staff. If the program suggests that a certain window of time is typically busier than others, users can take advantage of that by scheduling one or two extra staff members to handle those walk-ins. Managers take the stress off their staff and generate more steady customers by ensuring a pleasant experience.
Technological solutions like Ombori Grid's scheduling program are becoming increasingly common among small businesses — not just big corporations. While many small businesses still don't have a website, Insight.com reports that adoption of innovative tech solutions is exploding: “Among business owners surveyed, 62% said they were already using cloud-based services because they were easier to access, more secure, and reliable. Additionally, 41% have plans to increase technology spending, with a specific concentration on the Internet of Things (IoT) and mobile payment systems." The future has arrived, and for small business owners, it means innovative tech solutions that streamline their practices.
How Tech-Based Systems Cater to a Busy Clientele
The world moves quickly these days, and one of the most critical elements of a good salon appointment booking program is its ability to meet the needs of busy people. Here's how:
- Integrates with salons and client calendars — A good scheduling program integrates automatically with the calendar of both the customer and the client, simplifying the process for clients booking online.
- Offers automatic notifications — Systems such as Ombori Grid Appointment Booking ensure customers are reminded when their appointment is approaching. Push notifications or text messages are sent to their phone automatically, and if they are running late or need to reschedule, they can let salons know immediately. As a result, fewer appointments are missed.
- Accessible Everywhere — Ombori Grid appointment booking allows customers to book or adjust an appointment at any time without waiting for the shop. This helps salons capture more clients – 50% of online bookings for salons, spas, and clinics are received outside of standard operating hours!
Overall, Technologies Improve Returns for Salons
At the end of the day, it's simple math: Investing upfront in a capable digital salon appointment booking program pays for itself by improving returns, boosting clientele, and reducing costs. It's a principle that extends well beyond the industry, too.
Deloitte recently ran an analysis of the impact that digital engagement has on the growth of small businesses, and the numbers speak for themselves. Deloitte found that “Connected Small Businesses in the United States found that, relative to businesses that have low levels of digital engagement, digitally advanced small businesses realized significant benefits." In terms of hard numbers, here's what it boils down to. Digitally engaged businesses:
- Earned two times as much revenue per employee
- Experienced revenue growth over the previous year that was nearly four times as high
- Were almost three times as likely to be creating jobs over the previous year
- Had an average employment growth rate that was more than six times as high
- Were three times as likely to have exported over the previous year
The switch to online appointment booking is one that today's salons should make if they hope to outstrip the competition and see some serious growth in the coming years. The first step is to look into which tools are available and select the one that fits the needs of your business, budget, and goals.