Around two thirds of consumers prefer to book online, so it is becoming more important to offer online salon booking for your business. There are numerous advantages to launching an online booking system for your salon. Firstly, it enables customers to book wherever and whenever they like, making it more convenient for them. They can book a salon session as they stand at the bus stop waiting for their ride home, or during their lunch break at work. Secondly, an online salon booking system is much easier for you to manage. No more fiddling around with scraps of paper when a phone call from a prospective client catches you off guard. Streamline all of your operations with hair salon online booking options. Implementing your online salon appointment book feature need not be a daunting task. These fifteen steps to success will ensure that you can create the best online salon booking for your customers.
1. Choose the right online salon booking software
There are several types of online salon booking software and it is crucial to find the option that works best for you. Ensure that the software is compatible with your business’s computer system. Check out the reviews of the various booking software options on your shortlist to see what previous customers have thought of them. Good customer service is an important factor to investigate: if your online salon booking system goes down, you will be thankful for 24/7 support on hand so that the platform can be back up and running in time for your valued customers to book a hair appointment by the end of the day.
2. Decide carefully which services are going to be booked online
All salon professionals know that the most expensive and complex services are best talked through between stylist and customer. As such, it is best to enable customers to book simple services like blow dries and trims online without the need for any discussion. Customers who are keen for major restyles, hair straightening and dyeing their hair a very different colour should be encouraged to call the salon for a chat when they access the online booking system.
3. Check and double check to get all of the details correct
Proofreading is essential whenever you release any new material relating to your salon, and the same goes for your appointment booking software. Go through everything on the free online booking system for salons to make sure that your customers are getting all of the right information. Are the opening hours, prices, contact details and styling options displayed correctly for your customers? At your side of the operation, ensure that staff working hours have all been inputted correctly.
4. Consider setting up email and SMS appointment reminders
Once a client has booked online, it is a good idea to send out a couple of email or SMS reminders for their appointments. These can be sent out one week and one day for the appointment. Keeping them friendly and ensuring that they contain all of the relevant information about the appointment (its date and time, the type of treatment and the name of the stylist) is a must. These messages can also contain information about your salon’s appointment cancellation policy. It is an excellent idea to encourage customers to choose which way they want to receive their reminders: by email or via SMS. Proofreading skills are important here as well – check and doublecheck every reminder message that you send to be sure that you have got the tone of voice right and all of the information is correct.
5. Provide plenty of staff training
Whenever you implement a new way of doing things in your salon, providing training for your staff will help to smooth things along. When creating a new system for salon online booking, training your staff to use the system before it is officially launched will reduce glitches and disruption later on. If staff are not well trained, this can result in double bookings, missed bookings and technical hitches that can lose your business time and money – and perhaps even customers. Though the system is designed for customers to schedule hair appointment online, it is also for staff. Ideally, staff will be able to use your online salon booking system to change bookings for customers after they have made them, to check their rotas and swap shifts if possible, and to book vacation time.
6. Decide who changes the booking: your staff or your customers
How much autonomy do you want to give your customers when it comes to changing or cancelling bookings? Do you want customers to be able to log on to the online salon booking platform and alter or remove their own bookings, or do you want your staff to be in control of this feature? Whatever you decide, ensure that it is clear to both your staff and to your customers.
7. Decide how you are going to confirm bookings: email, phonecall or SMS
Once a client has made a booking on your online salon booking platform, it is reassuring to them if you either call them or send them an email or a text message to confirm the details of the booking. Letting your customers know that they can expect a confirmation of their booking via a medium of their choice will give you an extra safety net. That way, if there is a glitch in the system and a booking made online does not register your end, the client will know that something has gone wrong when they do not receive a confirmation email, text or call.
8. Decide whether you will be taking payments via the online salon booking system too
Your customers will be using your new platform to book salon appointments online. Will you also be taking payments from them online at the same time? If so, an extra layer of security will be needed to keep your customers’ payment information safe. Incorporating PayPal or credit and debit card payment portals can make your salon booking platform even more attractive to customers. Nevertheless, ultra secure encryption software is a must in this case.
9. Ready to launch? Stop and run a test
So, you are all ready to go with your online salon booking platform? Don’t launch it just yet! You never know what can go wrong, or where the glitches are that you need to fix until you have tested it. Thus, before publicising the system to your clients, let your staff make a few pretend bookings. This will, firstly, demonstrate to you how the system feels for the customer. Is it too slow to load? Is it confusing? Time to smooth things out! Cut out superfluous extra steps in the booking process, rejig the layout of the site so it is easy to read and keep the format clear and intuitive. Secondly, this test run will give you and your staff vital practice in working with the salon booking platform. If any issues arise during the test period, so much the better. It is highly preferable to catch them now than for technical glitches and staff uncertainties to cause your salon to lose business with real clients. Remember – you and your hair stylists want to be able to hit the ground running with this salon scheduler.
10. Ease things along with a little simple data entry
Chances are you already have a few future appointments lined up via your paper, spreadsheet or telephone based booking system. Type these in to your online salon booking platform along with all of the relevant client details. It should not take to long to transfer dates and names from your old school appointment book for hairstylist businesses into your shiny new platform. This is a great way to ease the transition from your old system to the new way of doing things.
11. Don’t completely ditch the old system right away
Once the new online salon booking platform is up and running it may be tempting to never look back. Hold your horses. Do not delete those spreadsheets of appointments and client data, and do not burn that little black book of client names and details! Run both your paper based appointment book and appointment software together for a week whilst your staff are getting used to it. That way, if any staff member in your establishment feels unsure about using the online salon booking system at any point during this initial stage, they can simply fall back on the old, analogue system as a kind of safety net. Another option to consider is keeping your telephone based booking system up and running for good alongside the online system. This can make booking with you more comfortable for some customers, who prefer to book over the phone. Just have your staff take bookings over the phone as normal before inputting all of the relevant details themselves into the online booking platform. This can be a better alternative than being utterly strict about things and informing your customers that the only way to book is online.
12. Publicise your new system for salon booking online
Get customers using the online salon booking platform by adding a link to it on the homepage of your website. You do not just need to add in the one link, either. For example, you can incorporate multiple links into your price list: beside each item on the list, you might include a link to schedule hair appointment online. Remember, though, as per tip 2 above, not all salon treatments should be made available via your online salon booking platform.
13. Market the system via a digital marketing strategy
Use SMS marketing, Facebook, Twitter and other social media platforms to encourage customers to book an appointment. Add a link to your social media pages with a call to action: book hair salon online today! Details about how to create a call to action button on Facebook can be found here: https://www.facebook.com/business/help/312169205649942. Use Instagram posts to give examples of what a hair stylist at your salon can do to encourage clients to book. Send emails to your clients letting them know that you have joined the ranks of hair salons with online booking. Integrate your digital marketing strategies to make sure that they all give a consistent message.
14. Turn your staff into teachers
Get your staff and receptionists to spread the word about the new method of online booking for salon appointments. When clients come in for an appointment, or call to make a booking the receptionist should be telling them all about your new streamlined and efficient way to book hair appointment online. One fun idea is to have a dedicated tablet out in reception, which staff can use to demonstrate the salon software and how to use it.
15. Get customers interested from the start with a competition
So you have made the switch to an online booking method – now you want your customers to do the same. If a customer has been booking appointments with you over the phone or in person for many years, they may feel a little reluctant to change their ways all of a sudden. Encourage customers to use your new booking method by running a competition in the first month of the launch. Offer a gift card, special salon treatment or hair care goody bag to a randomly selected customer using your new platform in this initial month. Enticed by the prize, those customers will be flocking in – and in the process they will become accustomed to the new system.
Now you are on the route to online booking success
It is abundantly clear that online booking for hair salons is a great idea. It does not matter if you run a small salon or a larger establishment, online booking will help to streamline your operations and to make bookings easier for both yourself and your customers. Preparing, testing and launching this new platform will take some careful strategising, however. To make things simple for you during the transitional period, just run through the 15 steps outlined above. Breaking the implementation process down into these 15 steps – each of them simple to follow in its own right – will ensure that you can present you superb new platform to your customers (both present and future) without a hitch.