I’m in awe of hairdressers. Whether you are a sole trader working from home, rent a chair in a salon, or own your own salon. You make the experience look effortless, standing on your feet all day, keeping up with the latest trends, listening to our stories and then turn us out feeling fabulous. All while running your own business.
Technology can increase your engagement with and accessibility to your clients, all the while ensuring your bookkeeping is up to date. We share some tips with you about how you can best utilise tech to enhance your customer service offering, grow your business or package it up for sale in the long term.
Dealing with changing customer booking habits.
We all lead faster, busier lives than ever before. For many of us, knowing what we’re doing tomorrow, let alone a month from now, can be tough. So it’s easy for people to miss appointments. Sometimes circumstances change and a client just can’t make it, which has an impact on the schedule and costs money in lost income.
Consider the following options:
- Ensuring you have an automated and friendly appointment reminder system. Bonus points if you can convert the appointment confirmations into a booking on their personal calendar. The most popular salon management options in Xero’s marketplace come with automated text appointment reminders.
- Take an upfront deposit or implement a cancellation fee policy that would cover the essentials of your staff time in the event of a sudden cancelation or no-show. If that feels too much for you, consider a three strike policy or have exemptions for long term clients. Trialing this with new and unknown clients, taking the time to explain why it’s an important safeguard for the survival and health of your business may be the best way to start.
- Have a process to fill available slots in the event of cancellations or slow periods, like Flossie. Using your website’s online booking system, Flossie is able to see your service list and then mirror each of your services in Flossie, selling available appointments to new prospective clients all while taking pre-paid appointments, guaranteeing payment for you.
Give clients the opportunity to book an appointment whenever they have a moment
Whilst taking appointments over the phone provides a personal, human touch to the experience, it often isn’t the most efficient customer service offering. These days, 24/7 booking systems are a great way to maximise client bookings, especially for those customers that are exceptionally busy during your working day.
Ensuring you have an online booking tool on your website (like that which Timely offers while also integrating with Xero) or allowing people to leave a message via Facebook messenger is a great way to start. It’s still advisable to provide that excellent service on top by wrapping back around and confirming the appointment by phone whenever possible.
Automating staff scheduling and rostering
Streamlining the most time-intensive tasks of your business can free you up to focus on finding and retaining a quality workforce. An online rostering management solution like Deputy, for example, can reduce the hours you might spend every week drawing up roster plans, reconfiguring timetables to suit part-time staff and adding new employees,
With Deputy’s time and attendance tracking you can install the Deputy Kiosk on an iPad located at your workplace and have your employees starting their shifts in seconds. It’s a great way to settle timesheet issues.
Knowing the profitability of each service
While some people consider it as something a designer or tradie might use to track their expenses and time against a customer quote, using a project management tool to complement your profit and loss report and to understand the profitability of each individual service you provide is a great way to track expenses.
Do you know how much money you make after time and materials for each service you provide? Consider using Xero Projects to set a quote and then track the time and expenses for the work to be completed and then assess the final profitability of each service on average with the help of your bookkeeper and accountant. This is really easy with the free mobile app available for iOS and Android phones.
What gets measured gets managed. Knowing your profit and loss on each job can empower you to smartly increase prices to achieve your financial goals, or even decrease them if you want to become more competitive in that service offering. If doing this feels a bit daunting, talk to your financial advisor at your next session about how else you could better understand and improve your profitability.
Be wary of fixed term licenses for software
Entering a fixed term license or paying for a costly upfront package for software is quite outdated. Modern software packages are usually sold on a monthly basis, commonly without any commitment. And since these tools operate online, all the necessary software updates and data backups are managed by the provider. This leaves you with more time and less worry about the administrative tasks
From cutting in homes to cutting in the hottest new salon – a path to opening your first salon location
If you are a sole trader that’s been providing services on the move there may come a time where you want to grow and expand your business by establishing some local roots in a permanent location. Securing the business loan to do so may seem like a daunting or near impossible task, but it really doesn’t have to be.
Pursuing your dream is more achievable than you may think, however, you will need a record of business that provides peace of mind to banks or lenders. Xero helps you do that, by reflecting your bank transactions, income and expenditure to produce real time reports that your lender will require.
Hopefully by using all these tips you’ll end up a bit like steampunk – a fusion of old and new customer service habits that are enhanced by technology.
Mel Morris, Head of Bookkeeping