By Laurel Nelson, contributing writer with Salon Today
Technology is a vital part of the consumer experience in today’s world. Whether it’s ordering groceries with the click of a button, texting a take-out order or following the news on Twitter, today’s consumer has become used to the convenience and efficiency of technology.
Clients want that same convenience from a salon visit, starting with making an appointment via text messaging. Guests also want to view stylists’ profiles online, access an online look book during their consultation and more.
And speaking of stylists—they’re also eager to embrace the technology that allows them to work smarter. Whether you’re ready to give your salon a tech overhaul, or simply make small improvements to your current software, resolve to evolve in 2019.
Technology: You’re on it! You use your salon management software to track benchmarks, you’ve got a Facebook page where you communicate salon news to clients, you’re sending out an e-newsletter, and you even occasionally blog.
But can your clients text you for an appointment? Are you moving sluggish products by posting photos of them on Instagram? Are you offering clients chairside checkout? Do you offer gift card promotions online?
Technology and the consumer are evolving every day. Not sure where to start your salon’s tech evolution?
Here are five key areas where you can use technology to create a more efficient, profitable business in 2019:
Booking & Pre-booking: Adapt to Consumer Habits
Your clients are booking restaurant reservations, dentist appointments and more online.
If you’ve found yourself making excuses why not to use online booking, it’s time to ask yourself, “why not?”
While some services (like custom color) may still require a phone call, the convenience of making an appointment for a haircut on your site should be available.
Clients should also have the option to text for an appointment. If you haven’t already, integrate your SalonBiz software with Presence AI, which enables texts to come and go on your salon’s landline—a win, win.
In the salon, pre-booking no longer needs to happen during the checkout process. Instead, send a guest service representative straight to the chair with an iPad to prebook while the stylist is finishing up.
Another option for booking is to use a software app like SalonBiz’s so stylists can book clients right from their phone, anywhere at anytime.
Client Retention: Cultivate Your Connection
Your biggest opportunity to connect with clients comes before they ever walk through your salon doors.
Before booking an appointment, a client will spend time on your website and your social media pages.
Your site should be professional and easy to navigate, and your Instagram page should feature images of real clients from all your stylists.
Once a client is ready to book, they should be able to do it via phone, website, text or app.
That’s right—there’s an app for clients, too. With the Pocket Salon App from SalonBiz, clients have the ability to book appointments, message their stylist, check in, purchase product for in store pick up and more.
All this technology benefits the salon, too. Tired of coping with no-shows or late clients? Email or texted reminders go a long way to eliminate this common problem.
Productivity: Pump it Up with an App
The SalonBiz Stylist app will revolutionize your salon’s productivity. With real-time stats, built-in goals for staff, owners and managers, it provides access to key data.
Managers can send push notifications through the app to move the needle, and they can see how the business is performing that day, week to date, month to date, and year to date.
This access to information is a powerful motivator to help stylists increase their service and retail sales.
Social Media: Are You Maximizing Your Platforms?
You’ve established your brand and created accounts across various social media platforms. Now what?
First step—get your team on board. Social media involves everyone in your salon from the front desk to the master stylists.
Here are a few tips to expand your presence on social media in 2019.
- Stay Consistent: Create hashtags for your salon and use them consistently. Make sure those hashtags are also visible on stylist stations, printouts, your website, etc. so that customers are constantly reminded to use them. Every stylist should also be using these hashtags and a professional handle for a cohesive brand. Stylists should also have a professional handle on Instagram (for example: @sarahsalonbiz).
- Choose the right platform for the right audience: Let’s say you recently saw an increase in extension sales among your 45-55-year-old clients, who are looking to thicken up thinning hair. In response to the interest, you want to post before-and-after photos and pricing information on social media.
But which platform? For that age group, Facebook is the place. Know where your clients dwell online and deliver the right message to the appropriate group.
- Create content daily: This isn’t as overwhelming as it sounds. Photos of beautiful hair on Instagram, makeup how-to videos on YouTube, a Pinterest page filled with beauty tips and inspiration—ask clients what they want to see in your feed for a new source of inspiration.
- Engage with reviews: Acknowledge EVERY review. Engage the negative ones by asking what you can do to help correct the situation and follow up with a phone call. Most of the time, the problem can be easily resolved, and you’ve gained a loyal client. And don’t forget to thank kind reviewers as well. Showing you are present and paying attention to reviews shows clients you care.
- Incorporate it into your day: To produce consistent content daily, posting on social media must become second nature to your staff. The good news: most of them have had a phone in their hands practically since birth. But it’s your job to direct the type of content they’re posting. Ask clients to repost to their own social pages and share your hashtags.
- Hashtag locally: Savvy clients are searching for salons on Instagram and Facebook with hashtags like #sanantonioblondes or #bestsaloninChicago or #denverlashextensions. Choose local hashtags that fit your business and attract new clients without spending a single dime of your marketing budget.
Culture: Create an Exceptional Environment
It’s the single most important aspect of your business. And it’s intangible. Your culture attracts and retains the type of stylist you want to employ, and you can use technology to enhance it.
It all starts with the hiring process. Make your culture transparent with stylist bios on your website, online scheduling and a digital handbook, complete with your mission statement, policies and procedures.
Technology can also help strengthen culture in these areas:
- In-salon education: Is any of your curriculum available online? Do you give stylists text updates on their progress? Give new stylists online options whenever possible for a streamlined experience.
- Communication: Do you have an app to group text your entire staff? How about an internal Facebook page to post all those messages that used to sit on a bulletin board in the back room? Are there multiple computer stations and iPads throughout the salon where staff members can book clients and update information?
- Competitions: Retail and referral contests are a great way to fuel friendly competition in the salon. Keep your finger on the pulse of the contest with your SalonBiz reports. Use them to help you measure what matters and drive performance. The SalonBiz Stylist app also allows owners to see stylist ranking on different metrics and push notifications to the individuals to encourage or celebrate them.
- Client communication: Clients see your culture first hand in the salon, but what about before they visit? Use your website to tout your core values. Do you retail cruelty-free products? Have an amazing recycling/green program? Use a loyalty or referral program? Clients should see these benefits on your site, in your social media postings and in e-newsletters.
THE FUTURE IS NOW
If you’ve felt yourself hesitating to invest in new software, apps, texting technology, your website … it’s time to start your tech evolution—staying stagnant isn’t an option.
While the initial investment in technology may feel daunting, the payoff happens quickly. With the right tech tools, you can move inventory faster, book your stylists more efficiently, find better payment processing options, reduce overhead costs, increase client satisfaction, maximize productivity, and much more.
The future is now. What will be your first move to makeover your business in 2019?