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Online Booking: 5 FAQs Answered

Savvy_LeadIn

Salon owners have been embracing new technology over the past decade in droves. Getting automated, purchasing advanced software systems, engaging in social media platforms—they’re doing it all.

However, every salon moves at its own pace. While some owners like to be on the cutting edge of technology, others prefer to sit back, watch, and wait before committing to something new.

But every owner has the same goals—to run a more efficient business and make their salon one clients recommend and remain loyal to.

Online booking helps achieve both those goals. Clients can book appointments whenever, wherever they want and the salon’s front desk staff has more time to focus on the guest in front of them.

Here, we’ve addressed some commonly asked questions and concerns about online booking. Read on to learn why there’s nothing to fear in this new technology.

1. I’m afraid of gaps in my books. The computer doesn’t understand nuances like my staff does.

Savvy Owner Pat Helmandollar

Savvy’s Owner Pat Helmandollar implemented online booking after 20 years – and says it was seamless.

Pat Helmandollar, owner of Savvy Salon and Day Spa in Cornelius, North Carolina, started using online booking about eight months ago and found it to be much more seamless than she originally anticipated.

“I was skeptical about the online booking process as I could not see how on earth a non-professional could possibly know how to make an appointment efficiently,” she says. “It takes months to train our guest care team to do this very thing.”

But her online booking connects directly from Savvy’s website to SpaBiz, her software, and the process has been smooth. Each time someone books an appointment online, Savvy gets an e-mail with the client’s information and the scheduled appointment. It goes to an address which connects with about eight people, so there’s no way it’s slipping through the cracks.

Each morning, the Savvy guest care team reviews the appointments for the day, easily recognizing online booked appointments, as they show up in a different color.

“If there’s a gap or it’s a new guest who requires registration and a tour, we call and ask them to come in 15 minutes earlier,” Helmandollar says. “Honestly, it hasn’t been a problem for us. I don’t think our business could be without online booking as it has saved us a lot of time in making appointments ourselves.”

Many software online booking systems feature real-time, so clients are immediately booking an appointment, not just requesting it. This also ensures accurate books and make it easier for front desk staffers to fill gaps if necessary.

2. What if it creates a lot of no-shows, or competitors or disgruntled employees fill my books with fake appointments?

“To my knowledge, we have not had this happen,” Helmandollar says. “Should it begin to occur, it will become evident quickly enough to begin calling appointments booked online immediately to confirm,” she adds. “But I think truly, this is an unrealistic concern.”

Requiring payment typically reduces no-shows by a substantial percentage.

Many online booking systems allow the salon to charge for the appointment in advance, require no payment at all or require partial payment (flat rate or percentage of service booked).

3. What about booking hair color? Don’t we need a consultation?

Real time online booking

Look for a software with real time online booking – so appointments show up immediately.

Tony Gigliotti, owner of Euphoria Salon & Spas in Buffalo and Rochester, New York, initially had an issue with guests booking color services. They would not book their shampoo and style, therefore not having enough time for the appointment.

But he quickly resolved the problem by adding a note in the booking to add in the extra time. As with a lot of technology, sometimes you need to just get in there and use it before you know what needs to be tweaked or revised.

“Some owners may fear the technology,” says Gigliotti. “But it reduces the work load with a reduction in booking and confirmation calls.”

At Savvy, Helmandollar does not allow for booking color appointments online yet. Instead, clients can “request” it online or call the salon.

“The request is simply an e-mail that comes through to us with the name, contact information and service request from the guest,” she says. “We then reply via e-mail with questions and options. If it’s a new guest we recommend a complimentary consultation prior to reserving time.”

Some salons allow only returning guests with established color services to book color appointments online. Other salons have embraced online booking whole hog and let clients book any service online.

There are lots of options for booking color online, don’t be afraid to try something for a month or two, and then change/adapt to fit your salon’s clientele and their needs. Talk to your software company about your choices.

4. My clients prefer speaking to the front desk and giving details over the phone about what they want.

Shelby Caldwell photography

Automation means more time for creativity- Photography is Savvy Stylist Shelby Caldwell’s creative outlet.

Just because you have online booking doesn’t mean your front desk staff is going to disappear. They’ll still be there for all the non-tech-savvy clients who still want to call the salon. And they’ll have extra time to assist guests in the salon.

However, there’s a large component of guests who want to book their appointments when they feel like it—not necessarily during salon hours.

Online booking allows our guests to book at their leisure,” Gigliotti says. “It also ensures we’re keeping up with the newer generation and their love of technology.”

Helmandollar knows the convenience factor is huge, too. “When I think about it, I do a lot of shopping online and it’s purely for convenience,” she says. “We want to ensure every experience a person has with our business is one that best suits them from the time they make the appointment until well past the time they have had their service.”

5. Will my front desk staff feel like they are being replaced?

The short answer is “no.” Think about all the tasks you would like your front desk staff to perform—greeting guests, assisting with retail, administrative duties, checking guests out and pre-booking appointments, etc. Now, how would you feel if they had even more time to perform—and perfect—these responsibilities?

These days, technology equals efficiency.

And let’s face it, you can’t answer every call that comes through—especially when your business is closed. But online booking is up and running all the time—when the front desk is helping a client check out, when they’re selling retail, and even when the salon is closed.

“Booking online allows us to take appointments we may have otherwise lost had the guest not been offered the service,” says Gigliotti. “People want to do things on their time and on their terms. You have to evolve and adapt—just jump in and then find out what works for you and your guests.”

And often, the front desk staff are happy to be freed from the phone so they can interact more with in-salon guests.

“What do you have to lose?” Helmandollar asks. “You can always unring the bell in this situation. If, for some reason, you do not like online booking, have the tech department remove it.

“However, once you have truly experienced the time you save and frustrations you eliminate for your guest care team, you’ll be singing praises of gratitude for this remarkable piece of technology,” she says. “Remember how scary it was to have your appointments computerized? This is no different. Do it, and do it now!”

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