How I Cured My Salon Booking System Headache
My team’s faces all looked a little unsure when I suggested we drag our booking system into the digital age.
We’d been operating 6 years at the time and had always run everything from a diary that sat upon the desk.
Something that could be picked up, something physical.
Something that was dependable.
“But the book works for us”, they said. “It can be carried around, and taken home if need be. Its quick and easy and we understand it”.
And they were right – these things are true.
But technology moves at such a fast rate now, that our competition were jumping ahead of us, and we were getting left behind.
I’d had a friend open a skin clinic – and he asked me what booking systems I used. “A book“, I replied. He looked at me, rather surprised. “Really?!”
Because we were behind the times, and it was my mission to drag us into the 21st century.
If you haven’t tried to look at an online booking system yet, let me tell you, it’s a headache.
There are a million and one options out there – all proclaiming to be the beauty industry’s number one!
One even offered to throw in an iPad as a sweetener if I signed on the £7,000 line! (Which I didn’t, by the way).
As my frazzled brain sat and trawled through site after site. I almost gave up.
“We shall keep the book”, I almost proclaimed to my team.
And then, I happened upon Timely.
Someone I knew had started using it and said it was great.
Simple to use, effective and fairly priced.
Now I appreciate this sounds like an advert. It isn’t! My job as a beauty business coach is to share my experiences – and this was quite a prominent one.
It is, however, an endorsement as I love it!
As I half-heartedly clicked on to the Timely website to have a nose, I realised it ticked my boxes.
Yes, my customers could book online.
Yes, I could log on from anywhere.
Yes, I can take a booking fee upfront.
Yes, It would run the reports I needed and, best of all, it was paid monthly and it wasn’t ridiculously priced!
HALLELUJAH! I thought…. But it wasn’t just me that needed to be convinced….
Getting The Team’s Approval
Whilst I run my business and will generally make the decisions – I totally depend on my team to help make those decisions. My two managers are brutally honest – and have no qualms in telling me that I’m distracting them, when I pop in, and could I please leave so they can get some work done.
So I knew they’d give me their ‘honest’ opinion about this.
Fortunately, Timely offer a 30 day free trial so we could go in and nose around and work out IF it would suit us all.
Of course, it did, or I wouldn’t be writing this!
It did take 6 months of dual bookings on the Timely system and in a book before the girls were finally ready to say goodbye to their physical diary – but, much like an ex boyfriend, when you realise it’s holding you back, the ceremonious farewell is a proud moment!
More than anything, being online has meant we are more organised as a business.
There is no need for endless streams of paper with client’s details, we can mass communicate at the click of a button with them, we even run open nights through it and allow people to reserve spaces using the class functions (one of the keys to our best Christmas EVER).
Best of all, our clients book online now.
We run a huge spa where the phone rings hot all day every day – so undoubtedly, we lose a few clients to dropped calls.
This way, they can still reserve their space through our website – and one booking a month covers our costs. Can’t say fairer than that!
It’s a funky little system with a pleasant little price.
It’s also so much more than just a booking system.
It keeps a database of all my clients to I can keep in contact with them.
I can send text message reminders to everyone.
It can do my invoicing.
It can run more reports than you’ll ever need.
It’s really easy to use.
AND they can even import all of your data over for you if you’re currently using a different system!
It should not be overlooked also that perhaps what makes it really stand out from its competitors – especially the free solutions available – is that it allows you to take a booking fee when your clients book with you.
Once you put this in place you can watch your no-show and cancellations rates drop through the floor!
Tie this is with a firm cancellation policy (after all, you should be valuing your time or others won’t) and you’ll be well away.
This is one of the key factors which makes Timely stand out from the crowd.
Of course, its not the only option out there.
Like I said, there are hundreds and its down to you to choose which is right for you and your business.
But, from just £15 a month (it goes up by £15 per therapist column so is very affordable) it really is a good option. It’s even cheaper if you pay annually, too.
And another great thing about working with Timely – they actually help you when you have a problem!
They respond to emails, call you when you sign up and are really very nice!
That, to me, is worth its weight in gold and they get a MASSIVE Beauty Business Superstars seal of approval as the best booking system that I found for my needs.
If you are still using a paper diary then it’s time to at least consider the alternatives – even if you’re not technologically minded (I’m not either). Click here and try Timely for FREE for 30 days. I think you’ll be pleased you did.
If We Were To Start Again
We’re often asked what we’d do if we started again and when it comes to booking software we’d certainly still use one of the paid solutions. It’s too important an area to worry about the cost and will pay itself back over and over.
We’d now certainly consider Phorest too.
It offers even more advanced marketing features and is certainly one for anyone to consider. You can click here to arrange a chat with one of their team which is certainly worthwhile.
What put us off Phorest originally was the £7,000 set up fee. That doesn’t exist anymore. In fact, I don’t believe there is one.
Is there a product, service or website which has revolutionised your business? If so, I’d love to hear about it in the comments below.
Small print: In the interests of full disclosure and honesty I must let you know that if you do choose to take a paid account with Timely then they will thank me. This doesn’t effect the price you pay, nor will I be able to retire from it. I recommend them as they’ve genuinely moved my beauty business to a better place and not for any other reason. I think that they’ll do the same for you, which is why I’m sharing this with you.