Industry News

Decoding Spa Software

September 28, 2012 | 6:44 AM

Skilled technicians. Soothing music. Scented candles. These are some of the elements that make your spa a sanctuary to clients, but you might be missing one key tool: spa software. Computer-savvy or not, this tech tool can make your behind-the-scenes operations seamless, while providing data that could bring more clients through the door and give your retail sales a healthy boost. Plus, software manufacturers are making it easier than ever for spa owners across the country to go high-tech, without high stress.

a juggling act

Here’s an interesting employment ad: Looking for a spa manager who’s a genius at booking appointments for multiple locations, tracking retail sales, monitoring client frequency, processing employee timecards, creating purchase orders and evaluating spa productivity simultaneously—and with a smile. Does such an uber-staff member exist? Probably not. Thankfully, though, spa software does.

Kirsten Hall, marketing director of Neill Corporation’s SpaBiz software says that the ability for spa owners to have key data at their fingertips, such as clients’ service and retail histories, and the use of comparative analysis reports, are all compelling arguments for using software to manage a spa. 

“Knowledge is everything, and our customers will attest to the fact that having accurate real-time information is key to their success,” Hall explains. “Having software that’s easy to use is important and having tangible information you need to run your business at your fingertips is vital.”

Denise Zeydel, general manager of Z Salon & Spa in Louisville, Kentucky, relies on SpaBiz to centrally manage her three locations. With seven to 10 staff members trying to simultaneously book appointments, Zeydel can only imagine the potential crises that could arise with a pre-software system.

“Keeping up with all of our stylists and paper appointment books would be crazy,” Zeydel says.

keeping tabs on clients

Bradley Mace, sales manager for Elite Software points out that their technology tracks all activity in the spa, so it’s less work for the spa owner. He says that having the ability to quickly produce data reports and analyze numbers is the number one benefit of using software in the spa. Specifically, the technology can help track clients, book appointments, close client tickets and sell packages.

“It allows you to run the business more efficiently and increase the bottom line,” Mace says. “Instead of digging through invoices, timecards, purchase orders, receipts, and so on, you can run a report, which will quickly answer all your questions.”  

Patricia Owen, who uses Millennium by Harms software to operate her FACES DaySpa on Hilton Head Island, South Carolina, agrees. She says data reports are a must in keeping her spa successful.

“This allows us to keep our finger on the pulse of the business and react to any changes—positive or negative,” Owen says. “When we notice sales are off, we research who’s not coming in or who is buying less. When we see our business picking up, we plan ahead with more staffing and hiring.”

Owen raises an important point: Spa software can be as much a selling tool as it is a management tool. For example, Zeydel uses up-to-the minute data to shift staff duties to maximize their full potential depending on the spa’s immediate needs. Also, using the data to reward employees who are product-selling superstars is an easy way to boost staff morale.

“We are able to see what products are and are not selling, which staff members have great retention records and who is productive overall,” Zeydel says.

Elite’s Mace points out that his software can also demystify the art of e-marketing by sending out targeted e-mails to customers who haven’t been in recently or those who are running low on products.

finding a custom fit

Just as massages or facials can be tailored to suit each client’s needs and preferences, there is no “one-size-fits-all” version of software. Hall explains that SpaBiz offers a range of products designed for high-volume spas to one-person operations. SalonBiz Light, for example, is designed to support smaller salons and spas just getting started. SpaBiz Standard is ideal for small-to-medium-sized spas, while SpaBiz Enterprise HA is a fully hosted software option for multi-locations. Elite offers a similar library of products.

Once you find the right software and have it installed, then what? Most spa employees don’t have a technical background, so training is essential. But both Mace and Hall insist that learning the programs is not difficult.

A subscription to Elite software includes unlimited training and technical support for both spa owners and their employees. SpaBiz has a multi-tiered education program that offers self-guided tools through the internet, on-site personal training and unlimited technical support (via phone, e-mail or live chats). Initially, though, a SpaBiz associate comes to the spa to train owners and employees in one-on-one or group sessions. Hall says that most customers are comfortable using the software in three to four weeks.

Once training is complete, you will need to transfer your paper records into the software system. Zeydel explains that this can be time consuming and needs to be planned as part of the training.

Mace from Elite agrees and says his company incorporates the daunting data-entry project into their training to make sure everything is entered accurately from the start.

“Anything new is always going to be challenging,” Zeydel says. “The more upfront information your front desk has, the better the process will go.”

management tip

Learn—and actually use—all the features of your spa software. It might take some time, but when you’ve mastered your software, you’ve taken the next giant step toward maximizing your spa’s potential. Sheila McGurk, owner of Circe Day Spa in Alexandria, Virginia is a believer. Her biggest rave? “Our reports allow us to market, track and measure the results of our weekly specials,” says McGurk. It can export client data into periodic in-house email blasts to sell last minute appointments, which has resulted in a 25 percent increase in weekly productivity. Kori Calvert, a coordinator at M J Capelli in Fargo, North Dakota, says their software’s client history feature is key. “We record everything from treatment formulas to birthdays, and whether they’re married and notes about their family.” This feature helps newer clients feel welcome when they return to the spa, and ensures they’ll get a better experience, too, adds Calvert. “The history shows which service provider they saw last and the products they bought. We print the appointment sheets every day and give them to the service providers, so they can ask clients how the last product they bought is working, or recommend another product in that line.”

by Molly Noonan

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