If you’ve considered adding online booking to your website, now’s the time to take the plunge. Your clients are experiencing the convenience of technology in every other aspect of their lives—from making a doctor’s appointment, to ordering laundry detergent, or booking a table—and they expect it in the salon now as well.
So what’s holding you back from incorporating this must-have feature? If it’s one of these common myths, read on for the truth behind them.
1. MYTH: Online booking is too difficult to install on our website.
TRUTH: It’s actually quite simple. Talk to your software company and you’ll be surprised how little effort is required. STX Cloud provides its software customers with a link unique to each business that can simply be added to your website, Facebook or other social media accounts.
The STX Cloud online booking page is unique in that the background image or color is yours to customize and the user interface is extremely simple. The online booking link will pull data from the salon’s system on hours, services, stylists, etc., to provide clients with all the information they need. The interface only shows availability based on the times and dates you setup; it would never show a client the whole schedule. Clients each create a username and password, and they’re off and running.
Whether you’re an owner of multiple locations, a boutique salon or an independent contractor, offering online booking is simple and a necessity—clients expect it.
2. MYTH: Clients can’t book color online.
TRUTH: During the set-up phase of your online booking, you can input the amount of time it takes to do various color services, tailoring the appointment times to your salon. Then the main difference between using online booking and manually inputting a color appointment becomes human error.
STX Cloud uses an appointment builder that works off a client’s previous history. So if a client has been in before and the system knows it takes an hour to do her half head of highlights, that information is applied automatically the next time she books online. The system even takes double-booking for overlapping color appointments into consideration for availability.
The only exception to the rule is color correction, which has too many unknown variables. In your list of available services, you’ll need to say “please call the salon” for corrective color.
If you’re still concerned about color appointments or departmentalized services getting booked right—simply offer blow-outs, men’s haircuts, women’s haircuts, manicures and wax appointments online. These types of services are more commonly requested last-minute and it allows a current or new guest to get on your schedule with ease. This solution is a compromise that allows you to be in control of longer appointments, but still caters to your mobile-friendly guests.
The STX Cloud software also allows for plenty of options and flexibility when setting up online booking. You can require new clients to be authenticated before their appointment requests go through to prevent any fake or spam appointments on your book.
Booking online also allows you to maximize your stylists’ time. Want to eliminate 15-minute gaps in a stylist’s schedule? The online booking software can be easily programmed to only offer intervals that keep stylists booked back-to-back with no gaps. But that’s just one of many options—it’s up to you to decide what works best for your business.
3. MYTH: It’s an additional expense we can’t afford every month.
TRUTH: Most software programs are cloud-based, and offer different tiers. For STX Cloud, online booking is available for every account regardless of price, with even the most cost-effective level offering online scheduling with appointment reminders and booking options. You may not have some of the marketing bells and whistles, but you will be offering your clients the convenience of booking online.
And it pays for itself. STX Cloud has reports built-in that will show you how much revenue you bring in through online booking. The expense is offset by being open 24/7 for scheduling. What would it cost you to pay someone to take calls all day and night—even on holidays? That’s what your software is doing for you. You can go to bed and wake up in the morning with new appointments on the book—without a single phone call. Your front desk representatives will thank you when they don’t return Tuesday morning with 10 voicemails to book 10 men’s haircuts.
And now with apps, stylists can book appointments wherever they are at any time. If they meet a new client at a party, they can give her a consultation and book her right then and there. Run into an old client on the street? They can tell her they miss her and book them instantly. It’s ultimately a more efficient and effective way to do business.
4. MYTH: It will be confusing for clients to make the transition from calling to booking online.
TRUTH: Quite the opposite! Calling a business is becoming more and more frustrating for consumers who don’t have time to be put on hold. Clicking on a drop-down menu is a much more attractive option, even for the least tech-savvy client.
Clicking through a site to make an appointment or place an order is what consumers are accustomed to, and it’s just going to become more mainstream. In the circumstances where a client has specific needs or isn’t quite sure how to book—they will likely call. Keep in mind: They want to book the correct appointment just as much as you want them to.
5. MYTH: Online booking is unreliable.
TRUTH: Put technology up against a human, and technology is going to win every time. Even the best front desk person can be guilty of distractions like laundry or forgetting about someone on hold while they are dealing with the client in front of them.
But online booking is accurate every time, and so are the text and/or email reminders sent out to confirm the appointment. Eliminating human error makes the whole process virtually mistake proof.
There are a variety of tools in place for you to protect your business while also growing and offering tech solutions to your clients. Here are some simple adjustments that can be made:
- Client is a regular no-show? You can take away her online booking privileges.
- Would you rather not offer 9am or Saturday time slots? No problem, there’s a separate calendar for online booking.
- Worried someone will book with no notice? Set a booking window for as soon as one day or four hours—the choice is yours.
- Concerned about managing the online appointments? Flag the front desk to get copied on the booking confirmation to verify the appointment. You’re in total control.
Although our industry is unique in managing multiple worker calendars and service offerings, the intelligence behind these booking systems is impressive. Once you embrace technology in your salon, you may discover it’s a tool as irreplaceable as your favorite shears.