Industry News

Business: Choosing Your Spa Software

September 28, 2012 | 6:44 AM
The front desk is often the busiest area of an otherwise-tranquil spa, with clients checking in and checking out, the receptionists attending to customer service matters and the telephone ringing nonstop. But is it even more hectic than it needs to be? The better spa software programs can do more than simply schedule appointments—they can organize your entire spa and provide added benefits for clients and employees alike.

A good software system will streamline your operation, especially the scheduling of each working day. Salon Transcripts' (STX) program features a ranking system for booking, which allows the owner to determine the highest-ranking block of appointments that should be offered to clients first. "This takes out the 'Swiss cheese' book, where there are all sorts of holes in the schedule," says Tonya Moran, the company's director of sales. "What you get the staff used to doing is saying, 'Sally has a 3:30 opening for you,' rather than, 'What's good for you?'"

Moreover, your software system may even help keep your front desk staff's time on the phone to a minimum. Shortcuts Salon & Spa Software offers an SMS text messaging service, which will contact clients via text message for appointment confirmations. "Your receptionist doesn't have time to be calling clients all the time, and e-mails don't always get read. But cell phones are always with clients," notes Valorie Reavis, Shortcuts' marketing manager. "Our service is two-way so that when the client gets the message, she replies 'yes' or 'no,' and she can also request other services."

Software programs can also train the front desk staff to make more money for the salon—and themselves. "When booking experts make an appointment on our system, they are automatically shown an upsell offer," says Fred Dengler, cofounder and CEO of Mikal. "For example, a basic facial will show a script for them to offer a chair massage, an add-on to the facial, things like that. This generates thousands of dollars for the salon. Then we tie in a bonus program for the booking experts to give them a chance to make some bonus commission for upselling clients."

the total package
Your spa probably offers a variety of relaxing service packages for your guests, but without a software program that can easily accommodate them, booking a series of consecutive treatments with several therapists can be a nightmare for your front desk staff. Shortcuts' latest version, 7.2, comes complete with Advanced Appointment Assistant. "If you sell packages to be performed by different people, this will search complementary appointments with different therapists," says Reavis. "This takes the pain and stress out of complicated booking."

STX has a similar appointment builder that utilizes resource booking. "This means the program will search and find multiple providers and multiple options for the package—for example, if you want to do the pedicure first, you can change and search for whichever order you want," explains Moran. "It really allows the front desk to be in control of the appointment book."

connecting with clients
Your software program should make life easier not only for the receptionist—it should facilitate your interactions with clients as well. "With STX, if a client prepays, she doesn't even have to stop at the front desk on her way out of the spa," says Moran. "The software keeps a running track of a client's series of services, so you can tell her how many she has left and when she's running low."
Your software program should also help you track a client's past, present and future at your spa. "Harms Millennium features a client selection screen for obtaining specific sets of clients to market to," says Matthew Scudder, Harms' process manager. "This includes clients that haven't been back in X weeks, clients who have a gift certificate about to expire or clients that have been to the location at least X times and have spent at least X dollars but do not have a future appointment booked—it's very powerful for your business."

Some systems make gift-giving easier as well. Shortcuts recently partnered with Givex, a gift card system that allows the cards to be used at multiple locations—a big plus for franchises. "The card is also reloadable, so it's more flexible," adds Reavis. Mikal also offers a Hint Kit, which is designed to help the spa get clients' spouses to purchase gift certificates for the clients around the holidays. Want to get in touch with your clients? Elite Software's salon and spa management program includes a function to generate postcards, letters and e-mails for marketing to your clients, and allows for exporting of clients mailing information as well.

Whichever software your spa decides on, make sure it has enough options to fit your needs, and that the company provides ample training on the system. Above all, it should be user friendly. "With a high turnover rate at the front desk, that's vital," says Reavis.

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