In the past 3 years, online booking has exploded, taking it from a “nice to have” to a “must have”. We’ve offered online booking free for our salon management software customers for over 10 years, and if you’re not using it yet, rest assured we’ve figured out how to address your biggest fears.
Fear #1: “It’s too complicated to use.”
SalonBiz Online Booking is integrated with your salon software, so all the data transfer is automatic—there’s nothing you have to do. It’s real-time booking is constantly updating, so there’s never any lag in time to cause you to double book, overbook or under-book.
As far as your guests, if they’ve ever shopped online, they can book online. It’s a guess-proof system and it leaves your shop open for business 24 hours a day.
And every appointment you book online instead of on the phone means your front desk has more time to focus on your guests, to assist stylists, and to work on those retail sales.
Fear #2: “A computer doesn’t know my business, it’ll mess up all my appointment times—especially color.”
A lot of salons lean heavily on their front desk to understand the nuances of the business when booking stylists’ time. They worry about turning bookings over to a computer who doesn’t know all-over color from partial highlights.
That’s why an accurate online booking system like SalonBiz is different. It gives salons the capability to get to that level of specificity during setup, as well as to easily tweak the appointment times if you notice any hiccups.
You set everything up for your salon, with your times and your language, and when it comes time to book online, your guests easily filter their choices down by location, time period, specialty, service provider, and even by actual service to find the perfect slot for them—one that you have already approved.
And regarding color, we know many owners don’t want to rely on the guest’s knowledge of their color for booking purposes. That’s why we’ve built online booking with the option to turn off color booking, your color guests can send a request directly to the salon through online booking for those appointments. If that’s a concern, problem solved.
If your guest can’t find the exact service they need at the time they’re requesting, Online Booking also offers an electronic appointment request, so they don’t have to call the salon to work out the details. They can click a button to send a request directly to the salon detailing what they’re looking for, and the salon gets back to them.
Fear #3: “My books are going to be filled with no-shows.”
One of the most common misconceptions about online booking is that appointments booked online tend to be no-shows. Functionality like appointment confirmation text messages and email reminders are incredibly effective at preventing this. When people have several reminders and an incredibly easy way to text confirm and/or cancel the appointment, the no-show rate goes way down. SalonBiz salon management software has the option to include two-way email and text confirmations, no third-party service is required. (Additional subscription required, please contact us for more information.)
The next layer of defense against no-shows is our optional credit card deposit feature. Salons can choose to ask for partial or full payment in order to complete the booking process. This way, there’s some skin in the game, which is incentive to not cancel the appointment or to reschedule in adequate time, so as not to pay a late-cancel fee. (It’s your choice to use or not.)
Doesn’t asking for a credit card to book online discourage people from booking—or from shopping once they get to the salon?
Not at all; in fact, we’ve heard from guests that prepaying encouraged them to take home more retail, as the total in-salon checkout amount felt much smaller.
Fear #4: “What if I’m showing a book that’s not busy—won’t that make my salon look undesirable?”
With SalonBiz Online Booking, open appointments shown are limited to the outside world.
A quick availability setting helps you fill the slots that have the most space. Just select your default week to show—we recommend the current week to make sure you fill your book this week first—then determine the default time slot to show. This allows you to really put the time and day with the most availability in front of the guest first.
So if your afternoons always have a little extra space, that’s the time slot you would put in front of your online guest first, and from there they can navigate the rest of the calendar if the default time doesn’t work for them.
Fear #5: “What about my competitors? Won’t they see more than I want them to?”
We know. Some salons have friendly competition, while some have ultimate rivals. You’ve heard scary stories about another salon filling up your books with fake appointments.
To be honest, even though this is a fear we’ve heard from salon owners in the past, we’ve never heard of it actually happening, certainly not enough to shy away from the potential revenue stream that online booking provides.
Just to safeguard against your fears, not only can a competitor NOT see all your open appointments, if you’re taking a credit card deposit when booking, your competitor can’t make a bunch of fake appointments without paying a price.
Fear #6: “Will online booking take a cut of my profits?”
Due to our strategic partnerships and buying power, we offer our customers the lowest credit card processing rates in the industry—guaranteed. And we never take a share of your sales—your profits are yours to keep.*
*Yep, that goes for gift cards too—the system also comes with a free online cart for selling gift cards.
Making Online Booking Effective
So you’ve taken the leap and you’re set up with online booking, but you’re not noticing customers using it.
Time for troubleshooting.
The first question to ask: where does it live on your website?
When you add something this powerful to your site, you want to make sure it’s visible and easily accessible from every single page. Keep it in your main navigation, or put a button at the top of every page, but be sure you’re not making guests work too hard to find it.
And don’t worry—unlike online booking systems of the past, the SalonBiz Online Booking integrates with your website and can be “skinned” to match your color scheme and feel. You don’t have to ruin the website esthetic you’ve worked so hard to achieve by slapping an ugly button on the nav.
If your online booking link is properly placed on your webpage, and still isn’t taking off, it’s probably because your regular guests don’t know it’s an option.
And don’t forget about Facebook—be sure to add the Book Online button to your salon’s Facebook page so they can easily take action when they see you on social media.
Now’s the time for an information campaign.
Be sure every single stylist knows about online booking so they can talk about it to their guests. Post about it on your social media accounts using shareable visuals.
Add online booking to in-salon signage to create awareness and spark conversation with guests. In huddles, encourage a conversation starter with front desk and service providers alike. Once guests use the service the first time, they’re likely to use it every time from here on out.
Read more about overcoming your online booking fears here: