According to Software Advice, a resource for computer software buyers that provides detailed reviews and research on numerous applications, 58 percent of the salon management software buyers who contact them are currently not using automated programs as key aspects of their overall management strategies. Yet, spa and salon operators are precisely the kind of business owners who stand to benefit from these types of systems, for a multitude of reasons.
“Adding an electronic scheduling, sales and inventory recording system not only eliminates a lot of errors but also creates a more secure and accurate way of tracking all areas of a business,” says Felicia Brown, owner of Spalutions and author of Creating Lifetime Clients: How to Wow Your Customers for Life (Spalutions, 2016). The industry veteran started using software to track service and sales after discovering one of her staff members was stealing. Until then, she had relied on a paper sales tracking and inventory system, which left room for human error and deliberate deception.
Now Brown believes in the value of software. “I’m certain it was a theft deterrent that prevented future losses,” she shares. “And being able to access service and retail data more easily helped me create more effective sales and promotions, which increased revenue in all areas.”
She notes that good software can help track the purchases of individual clients and create repeat customers. “Some systems even have prompts to see if it’s time for guests to repurchase products they’ve bought in the past.”
Hold the Software!
Ideally, computer programs should maximize your return on investment. If any of the following statements apply to you, carefully consider the expenditure before you make the leap, as you may end up spending more than you gain:
- Your vendors already track everything for you.
- Your existing software is incompatible with other programs.
- Your retail sales are minimal.
- Your inventory currently feels simple and easy to manage.
Is it Worth It?
“Spa owners are similar to many other retailers in that they never have enough time,” says David Potts, CEO and founder of SalesWarp, a software systems provider. Most business owners have been told that they should streamline their processes via software because sticking with manual operation methods often results in loss of money, time and—let’s face it—your mind. But does the expense of purchasing these programs outweigh those negatives? Let’s look at the benefits of incorporating software into your retail management.
Spotting buying trends. Software systems enable you to analyze purchasing patterns at your spa over periods of time. You begin to learn which products sell better during the holidays, for instance, and which SPF products fly off the shelves come summer. Running analytic reports on a regular basis allows you to follow customer purchases from a broad perspective and discover what’s hot and what’s not.
Targeting individual sales. Thanks to software, you can find out what each guest purchases. Thus staff can recommend, upsell and offer sampling from a position of knowledge. They’ll be familiar with what each client uses and is apt to spend on.
Linking service and retail. Today’s programs provide the ability to calculate a “retail attach rate,” meaning you can connect a targeted product to a specific service. Is a client getting a massage? Tack an aromatherapy oil onto the service. “Margins in running a spa are so narrow that the ability to attach retail, which obviously yields a higher profit margin, is critical for success,” says Dan Chandre, senior vice president of strategic partnerships for Booker, which partners with third-party technology providers to off er a cloud-based, all-in-one ecommerce platform. “That said, it doesn’t happen on its own. If the owner or manager doesn’t have a fully integrated platform, managing to a specific attach rate would be a nightmare.”
Preventing shrinkage and theft. The inventory monitoring functions of software enable you to track the whereabouts of each retail item and note any missing, unaccounted-for products.
Adjusting order frequencies and amounts. When you receive reports at regular intervals of your choosing to monitor retail shelves, you can then “see where you’re over-indexed and track expiring inventory,” says Chandre.
Generating automated selling. Some software encourages repeat retail business by giving you the ability to send automated emails and texts to customers just when they may need to restock their home supplies. For example, you can set up an email to send to a customer a month after they purchase a face serum. You can even off er a discount or special in the email as an incentive.
–by Jennifer Purdie