Stylists, have you ever taken a hard look at your salon appointment books and thought about why you use it?
Other than the fact that it’s the way things have always been done, there are better ways to book and manage appointments than by pen and paper.
Too many salons continue to rely on these to manage their entire calendar. It’s not just inefficient, but it can actually create huge problems and may be costing you hundreds of thousands of dollars each year.
It’s not just that there is better calendar technology or that you can track appointments online. It’s way more than that. With technology, there are tools purpose-built to handle booking appointments and managing multiple clients for multiple stylists.
Apptoto can integrate all of this into a single experience for all your customers — and an all-in-one dashboard for your business.
Here are just five reasons to ditch your appointment book for good and go all digital.
1. It doesn’t integrate
Let’s first start with the imperative on online booking. Many salons are probably aware, but 35 percent of customers prefer to book outside of normal business hours and 25 percent of Millennials will only book online. So, not having this offering can be costing you big time.
But online booking ultimately needs to be simple for you and your staff to manage. It needs to integrate seamlessly into your workflow. Unfortunately, if you’re booking with paper and pencil, this isn’t likely to happen.
Your booking system should integrate appointments made online, by phone, or in person. Managing all these by hand can create confusion and conflicts. Times get double-booked, appointments don’t get reserved, or things just get lost.
Apptoto makes it super simple to manage all your appointments in one place and through almost any calendar software you already use. Appointments booked online get automatically added into your calendar, and those you add manually are immediately updated to reflect online.
2. It’s not doing any of the hard work
Booking appointments is easy. You jot down a name and a time in a calendar and close the book. Done, right?
Anyone who has worked for a salon knows that’s far from true.
Booking the appointment is just the first step. Then, you have to follow up with clients, make sure they have all the information they need, relay their needs to the stylist, and confirm that they’re actually going to show up on the day and time you have written down.
This takes a ton of time and effort — it’s easy to spend hours each day just calling for reminders and confirmation.
Again, Apptoto makes this simple. The app offers customizable alerts and reminders, letting you contact customers by phone, email, or text message at intervals that make sense. You can tweak these settings to dial in the perfect combination of messages to drive down no-shows and keep everything running smoothly.
This is definitely something your appointment book can’t do on its own. And it can save hundreds of hours (read: thousands of dollars) every year.
3. It can’t help you improve loyalty
An article featuring five different salon owners showed that the average new-customer retention rate hovered at just about 30 percent. That means more than two-thirds of customers who walk through your door for the first time won’t be coming back again in the next three months.
This represents a huge opportunity for any salon owner and stylist — there’s a lot of room for growth in those numbers.
Unfortunately, many salons don’t do much to keep customers engaged or improve their loyalty and retention rates. This is largely due to inefficient booking systems that make it complex and time consuming to follow up with individual clients.
But, of course, this is simple with technology. Apptoto can be set up to send automatic follow-up messages and even book the next appointment, without any effort on behalf of you or your staff.
Not only does this provide a higher quality of service and care (which will make customers want to come back in the first place), but it often provides the gentle nudge or reminder that customers need to keep coming back. Regular (non-standing) appointments make up 49 percent of business, according to a study of nail salons. So, even a modest increase in the number of rebookings can have a major impact on your overall revenue.
4. It’s too time consuming
Taking down a bit of information into a calendar doesn’t take a ton of time. But that’s not what’s really holding you and your team back; it’s all of the other things that go along with the manual process.
You also have to consider all the time spent managing those pen-and-paper appointments.
There’s time spent:
- Collecting details and contact information.
- Transferring appointments from other sources into centralized book/calendar.
- Coordinating reminder and confirmation messages and calls.
- Making follow-up calls and setting follow-up appointments.
- Briefing/coordinating with individual stylists.
- Reconciling scheduling conflicts caused by a fragmented system.
And all that eats into the time your team could be using more productively to create value for your clients.
By automating most of these tasks, it makes your entire operation more efficient and effective. This means everyone on your team can focus on what matters most: serving your customer.
5. It doesn’t scale well
Despite its many downsides, manual appointment setting may still work for small shops. If you only have one or two stylists and an admin who handles things, perhaps it’s simple enough to stay on top of everything that’s going on.
But if you’re striving for more — if you’re shooting for world domination — then this system simply won’t scale.
Imagine your salon with eight, 10, or even 20 stylists all sharing a space. Scheduling becomes a major bottleneck if it’s still in a slow, time-consuming, and labor-intensive way. And this is one of the reasons that many salons struggle to see growth, because they don’t have the systems and processes in place to facilitate growth and scale.
Don’t limit your salon’s growth by relying on outdated processes that won’t grow with your organization.
With all these reasons, it seems pretty clear: appointment books should be a thing of the past.
Although we often stick with what we know — and what’s working right now — it’s important to look forward and consider our goals and our vision for the future. This often leads us to considering what pieces and systems we need in place now in order to realize the business that we want to achieve tomorrow.
In this case, it’s much easier to invest now in technology that will help your business grow, rather than waiting until you can’t live without it.