Krysta Rojas, owner of Base Salon in Chicago, IL, was managing a typical busy Friday in August when her business, the one she had built from the ground up, was scammed.
“As soon as she walked in the salon, I immediately felt something was off about her,” says Rojas. “She was acting a little strange; her vibe was definitely off…I should have trusted my gut.”
Color and Dash
The young woman had come in for a high-end color service with a significant price total. Just as her stylist was almost finished, the scammer, still in her cape, asked to run out and pay her parking meter—and never returned. When staff went outside to look for her, she was nowhere to be found.
Unfortunately, this scenario can happen to anyone. Some people have no problem taking advantage of hardworking, small business owners—and some will even do so multiple times if they can get away with it.
As a matter of fact, the same thing had happened to Lisa Caputo, owner of Salon 833 and Rojas’s friend, months before.
“She told us, ‘Oh, I’m driving; can I call you back with my credit card number?’” Caputo explains. “Our booking policy is that we do need to have an active credit card on file to hold any appointment, but we’re kind, honest people, so we let that go. And that’s how she was able to get out of the whole transaction.”
Rojas also has a software system that lets her keep clients’ cards on file. However, as Rojas went into the system to charge the young woman, she also discovered that the scammer had skirted her way around providing valid card information in the same way.
“I felt lots of anger,” says Rojas. “Anger and defeat. It was disheartening.”
Caputo agrees. “It’s just really violating,” she says. “We work so hard for what we have. It’s disappointing when other people think they can take advantage of that and get away with it.”
Avoiding the Scam
It’s always a good idea to have solutions at the ready for protecting oneself and one’s business against scammers. Armed with security cameras and helpful salon software, Rojas and Caputo were sufficiently prepared in theory, but the scammer simply knew how to con the system and slip through the cracks.
“We went by the honor system with booking and payments back in the day when I started doing hair,” Caputo says, lamenting that her and her staff’s good natures were exploited. “I feel like times have really changed. Now we need to make sure everything is taken care of.”
It’s unfortunate that you have to have a level of distrust with anyone new who wants services at your salon these days, but many salon software platforms offer plenty of ways to make this easier on you. For instance, Rojas uses Meevo and Caputo uses Boulevard, and the pair applaud their respective platforms for the options to store card information and take pre-appointment deposits.
Rosy Salon Software is another easy-to-use platform that offers these capabilities not only for convenience, but protection. Any salon manager or owner’s complete needs are met when combined with Rosy’s payment processing system, RosyPay. The two integrate seamlessly to help you keep track of everything that’s important to your business, including clients and their payment methods.
Cards on File
“I'm very strict about our salon's cancellation policy, so it's huge for me to make sure that we always keep credit cards on file,” says Samantha Sharpless of Vivo Beauty Bar in Cuyahoga Falls, OH. “The RosyPay card-on-file feature is something that I'm glad is implemented into our business now.”
If you’re concerned about someone providing invalid card info to game the system, Rosy has a solution for this, too: “With RosyPay, you even get protection against bad cards because it’ll do a trial transaction of around a dollar,” explains Lori Obiedzinski, Director of Sales and Business Development for Rosy Salon Software. “That way, you know the card that is on file is valid.”
One Rosy feature that protects your business is taking deposits at the time of booking. You can lose out on thousands of dollars a month from cancellations, no-shows and, although less common, scammers. Once you have a clear cancellation policy in place, requiring non-refundable deposits is an especially great option for high-cost services or new clients.
Clients are much more likely to show up for their appointment when they’ve already partially paid for it, and with their valid payment info on file, you can still charge them full price if they decide to skip out on the bill. On the other hand, you can always choose to waive the cancellation fee or apply it to a future appointment for loyal clients that have something unavoidable come up.
Foiling the Beauty Thief
As for identifying the scammer, the owners dug around on social media and found that she’s not shy about filming and posting videos of herself. Not even in the salon chair with foils in her hair and “Salon 833” written across her cape. Needless to say, they were able to find the girl’s profile, file a police report, and warn other salons in the Chicago area. At least one other salon canceled their own upcoming appointment with the scammer after being warned.When asked what advice she would give to other salon owners and managers to avoid being scammed, Caputo advises, “Definitely have a booking system that you rely on that has the ability to take and safely store credit cards on file. There is nothing wrong with requesting a deposit to hold any appointment with any stylist, because everyone’s time is valuable. It’s our livelihood, and it’s for the protection of our business and our employees.”
“Go with your gut,” Rojas says of having uneasy feelings about new clients. “Mine was saying something was off.”
Rojas says that next time, she and her staff will ask a client to leave a personal item behind if they need to run out, and no one will be able to book without a valid card on file.
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Originally posted on Salon Today