In this blog, we’ll review methods you should adopt to ensure you are optimising your client scheduling to maximise revenue from your salon’s treatment capacity.
This is essential to ensure that, with the Covid-19 restrictions in place, you can still offer a good experience, maintain a well organised appointment diary and run a profitable salon.
Common salon scheduling conflicts
So, the phone has been ringing, your booking system is functioning but at the end of the week have you performed as many treatments as you have booked? Start by keeping a record of missed appointments as a percentage of total appointments booked. In this way you will be able to measure the effectiveness of the steps you have taken to improve your salons booking performance.
Appointments diary issues typically arise in three areas:
- Clients cancelling appointments
- No-shows, clients showing up late or worse still deciding to skip completely
- Appointments over-running and causing a backlog
Overcome these issues and you will be well on the way to improving your profitability.
Choosing the right appointment scheduling software
In today’s digitally connected world, managing with a hand-written appointment is a missed opportunity. It’s worth investing some time and money to find the right booking software for your business.
There are many choices available, each of them with different features, compile a list of the features which are needed for your business then compare the annual cost from the different suppliers you are considering. Here’s a list of some of the features you may find useful.
Integration with calendar and syncing
If you wish to give clients the option to book appointments on your website, choose a software package with an integrated calendar. Do check that any software package you are considering will also allow your clients to book add-on salon services to their initial treatment.
Do you need to keep updated with your appointments while you're on the move so you don't miss out on important new appointments or cancellations?
If your business is mobile, search for software tools that will send notifications to your phone or laptop. When a client books an appointment you’ll receive a notification which you can then choose to accept or reject.
Integration with your salon point of sale
You may require salon software which integrates your appointments and payments all from one application.
This will help to reduce complexity, save time and will help you schedule your bookings and therapists more effectively.
Maximising your appointment schedule
Once you have installed appointment software, it’s worth reviewing the ways in which you could make better use of it. Below are some tips for optimising your appointment schedule.
Find a routine for checking your schedule
Whether it’s in the morning or the evening, setting a time every day to check-in with your schedule will help to prevent the top three profit shrinkers, clients cancelling, no shows and appointments overrunning.
As well as reducing your revenue, no-shows can also demotivate your staff.
Implementing a strategy for reducing no show appointments is important. One tactic you could use to stop customers from cancelling at the last minute, or not showing up at all, is to implement a no-show charging policy.
Using client booking software, a non chargeable deposit from the client’s credit card can be taken when they make an appointment. It will not charge a client’ s card immediately but will allow you to charge a penalty fee for anyone who fails to keep their appointment without sufficient notice. Research has demonstrated this is an effective way of deterring clients from cancelling appointments at short notice.
Better still, take 100% payment upfront for bookings, whether booked online, on the phone, or face to face. A good idea is to enforce a cancellation policy of 100% if cancelled within 1 hour or no-show, and 50% if cancelled on the day.
Setting boundaries is key to reducing no shows. It’s important to make sure your clients value the services you offer and appreciate the cost to you if they don’t keep their booking. If you don't feel comfortable taking money directly from a client’s credit card, then at least consider implementing a three-strike policy. It is only a few who make it harder for the everyone, but you should work towards a cancellation/no-show rate of less than 1%.
Implement client reminder methods
Appointment reminders can be beneficial for various reasons. As mentioned previously, it can decrease missed appointments. It gives clients the opportunity to rearrange an appointment rather than cancelling.
Reminders can be sent by text, email or by phone. Communicating before an appointment also helps to build rapport and to discuss any personal matters. Do consider that if you take 100% payment upfront, the responsibility then sits on the client to turn-up, and avoids the age-old excuse that they didn’t receive the text or email. It also avoids you doing lots of work that comes across as pleading for them to show up – put yourself in control, and don’t be scared of losing those one or two clients who persistently mess you around.
Keep your client’s information up to date
Keeping your records up to date and GDPR compliant records is a legal requirement. It will also make it easier for you to contact them with appointments reminders.
Make use of a customer directory system or Customer Relationship Management (CRM) tools to keep client records. This will allow you to create client profiles with contact information and notes.
There are also CRM systems that can store payment information for regular clients. This will make the checkout process more efficient. Most software booking systems will have basic CRM systems built into them that allow emails and texts to be sent, if you wish.
Factor in walk-ins
Pre Covid-19 restrictions, walk-ins were a valuable source of income and offered a great opportunity to refresh or build a customer base.
As restrictions continue to be lifted be ready to ensure you have allocated sufficient time in your booking schedule to accommodate walk-ins.
If you haven't already invested in a salon reporting and analytics system, we would recommend doing so. This will help you to know how many walk-ins you get per month (using the ‘source’ drop down you select when you book a new client). It might be 5%, 10%, etc and you should then allow sufficient space for these clients – it’s a case of adding to your bookable hours, and trusting your data, and you should avoid trying to block space from your more loyal clients who prefer to book ahead.
By tracking your source of bookings over time you can refine the number of bookings you allocate to walk-ins throughout the month and challenge yourself to fill the space you open up in the booking diary.
Become more efficient with your services
If you're a salon owner, you'll be focused on creating a successful business with loyal and regular clients who generate a steadily increasing flow of income to your salon. It is important to remember that you are selling time, so the maxim, time is money really does apply to any salon business.
Using salon software will help to plan out how much time is needed for a service. The more specific you are the better, make sure you know how long a treatment should take and factor in the turnaround time of the treatment room especially with the added requirements of being COVID-19 secure.
The skill levels and experience of your team will also influence treatment times. If you consider some members of your team are not meeting the performance you expect, then take the time to train them internally or arrange external training to help them meet the standard you require.
Creating a schedule which works for your team and clients is vital for the success of your salon; a disorganised schedule will only lead to poor customer experience and staff demotivation.
We hope this blog on optimising your appointment schedule will help you to maximise your salon sales. You may also wish to read our 5 questions to help to grow your business for further support.