You may or may not know that I started coaching, my consulting only consisted of helping stylists transition from paper appointment books to computerized booking systems. Seriously, that was it!
This was years ago now so apps weren't even on the table, but even just transitioning to a standard computerized system can be intimidating. Trust me I know! I've had to push many amazing salon owners and stylists out of their comfort zone to follow through with their goals of streamlining their appointment books. What I will say is that if you push yourself to make the change your business will without at doubt grow and improve because of it.
You may be saying "I'm fine the way my appointment book is" or "using a computer will just complicate things", I'm sorry to say you are dead wrong. Our world today revolves around technology and those who don't keep up will be left in the dust.
I have heard surveyed clients and overwhelmingly they will say that if they can't book an appointment online, they'll find somebody else to see. The pace of life has picked up, we live in a world where people hate talking on the phone, so if a guest can't book their appointment online, they'd rather find another service provider than pick up the phone to call somebody. Even my own doctor and dentist allow me to do all of my appointments online.
Even if you already use an online booking system, today is the day you review your options. Each year systems change and, even if you're happy with your system, you may find that you aren't getting your monies worth and it's important to compare options.
Each year I review the most popular online booking options and this year is no exception. click here to download my full review of the best systems and apps available today. This was a major labor of love, but the result is a simple to follow, detailed write up of my favorite systems which will help you determine exactly what will be best for you.
If you've selected your system and are ready to make the leap, here is your step-by-step guide for making it happen:
1. Select the system that is right for you-If you ask 10 people what system you should get you're likely to get 10 different answers. There is no perfect system and we are fortunate to have so many options. I strongly suggest you download the 2016 Salon Software & App Guide and make the choice that is right for you.
2. Determine your service timing-This step is crucial and should actually maybe be step #1. Before you can even think about truly using an online system properly, you need to develop structured service timing.
If you don't yet know exactly how long it takes to do a mini-hilight or partial hi-light or tint application or haircut, you need to spend the next 3 weeks analyzing every service you do until you know with 100% certainty how long each service takes. If you are reading this and saying "well, I customize timing for each client", you are not only doing yourself a disservice but your clients a disservice as well.
I survey clients who have left salons annually and the #1 reason they leave is because the service provider takes too much of their time or is inconsistent. I know we tell ourselves "my guests love me and they don't mind if I run late". This used to be true, but not in today's world. Your clientele will start dwindling and leaving you for stylists who are adopting online, structured booking systems. There will be times where you do color corrections and you'll need to just block off a chunk of time to plan for the unexpected but 95% of the time you should be booking on your standard timing.
3. Start building your services-Build in your service timing. Create your service blocks based on your pre-determined timing. I want you to get used to booking all clients with this system and resist the temptation to just book time off here and there under your clients name. This is a waste of time. Plus, if you ever want to double book this won't be effective. Some systems allow for double booking and some really don't, so be sure you review the guide to see what system is best for you. If you are looking to be a six-figure stylist, I strongly suggest you select a system that makes double booking easy.
4. Start building your client profiles-Here is the big task. If you use paper books right now, you'll need to look at your client contact section and input all of the names, email addresses, mailing addresses, birthdays and formulas for each client into the system. Don't have all of that information for each client? You may want to check out Thrivers Society where we talk about the easiest way to get all of the information and why this information is so critical to your business.
5. Start using email & text features-This is the piece that your guests will LOVE. This allows for email and text appointment reminders, confirmation options and marketing. Remember, we are living in a world where a lot of people don't want to talk on the phone. Email and text has become a preferred form of communication so you'll be giving the people what they want! Plus, if you're exhausted texting and doing appointment booking and reminders manually, you'll gain a TON of free time by using this system.
6. Don't give up!-This is a major business adjustment. I totally get it. Commit to doing this new system for a full year and if you decide you hate it, you can try something different. Something amazing will happen though and within a few weeks you'll completely adjust and learn to love the simplicity of online booking. This also opens the door for advanced features like automated marketing, inventory management, online appointment building, advanced reporting, the list goes on and on.
This is a completely abbreviated version of what all is involved in setting up online booking. Like I said I've spent hours upon hours helping stylists to set their systems up. It can be time consuming in the moment, but for the future of your business this is a commitment you must make.