As an experienced hair stylist, you know that trimming ends and rejuvenating roots is only part of the job. An enormous amount of energy – and let's face it, undue stress – goes toward managing client scheduling. It's perhaps one of the most appointment-dependent industries, and yet the organization of customer bookings can easily become a tangled mess.
Considering your livelihood and the success of your business depends on the smooth operation of client scheduling, it's essential to have a few tricks up your sleeve. We've compiled 7 tips for keeping your appointments list in check; read on for an in-depth look at how to make the most of your scheduling system.
How Poor Client Scheduling Can Negatively Impact Your Hair Salon
Forbes reports that customer service-minded companies overtake the competition by miles – and that’s regardless of industry. Your hair salon is no exception, as clients will make their decisions based on how quickly they can be serviced and the overall quality of service received.
Source: Salon Today
As you can see in the graph above, clients rely heavily on online booking systems – and when that scheduling system lacks organization, you run the risk of losing potential customers or upsetting those already in your stable.
The modern demand for online scheduling makes sense. Customers are most likely to book after hours. Also, the phone tag associated with old-fashioned scheduling practices aren’t just obnoxious for everyone, they often create delays for customers who need beauty services within days or hours.
Despite this trend, many stylists today schedule customers manually. And this lack of convenience means that those stylists are losing clients to their competitors who offer online bookings.
But that's not all:
Failing to Meet Customer Expectations
Clients walking into hair salons naturally anticipate a well-organized and efficient experience. In this industry, being organized isn't just an added bonus; it's the bare minimum that customers expect. Failure to uphold a streamlined scheduling system can quickly lead to dissatisfaction and raised eyebrows among your clientele.
Today's customers are tech-savvy and appreciate custom, user-friendly solutions for their salon needs. They’re on the lookout for features like intuitive booking (that lets them schedule their own appointments with ease), hassle-free rescheduling, and – perhaps most importantly of all – organized, transparent consultations.
While most clients have fairly high expectations when it comes to their beauty appointments, there is usually some room for understanding when stylists run slightly behind schedule. Customers generally recognize that each appointment presents its own set of challenges and complexities, which may cause slight delays from time to time. How you and your team handle those delays makes all the difference in the world.
Not Planning for How Long Different Hair Services (Cut, Style, Color, Extensions, etc.) Take
While it's generally acceptable to run slightly behind schedule, there is a fine line between minor delays and significant waiting periods. Excessive lateness can cause immense stress for both you and your clients, leading to frustration and dissatisfaction. (And when you rush your hair appointments, you’re far more likely to make a mistake and increase your chances of losing a customer for life.)
One of the primary reasons behind such delays is a failure to accurately estimate the duration required for various hair services like cuts, styling, coloring, or extensions. Many salons tend to rely on rough guesstimates rather than taking the time to properly plan their schedules based on each service's complexity.
Planning should never be underestimated; in fact, it plays an essential role in ensuring top-quality salon management. By diligently organizing your appointment calendar according to how long different hair services take – accounting for factors such as client preferences or possible complications – you'll significantly reduce stress levels while keeping customers satisfied with timely appointments.
Miscommunication on Appointment Dates and Times
Miscommunication on appointment dates and times can really hurt your business, as it's one of the quickest ways to lose or frustrate your valuable clients. When clients take time out of their busy schedules to make an appointment at your salon, they expect you to honor that commitment. If they arrive only to find out that you've mistakenly scheduled them for another day or time, understandably, they'll feel cheated and disappointed.
The same holds true for incorrect appointment times – even if the discrepancy is just an hour or two. Such errors may be seen as a breach of trust by your clients and cause a lot of inconvenience in their lives.
That said, mistakes do happen. Clients might have not been listening when you gave them their appointment time, or they may have put it into their calendar at the wrong time. That’s why confirmations and reminders are so important. They will catch miscommunication quickly and prevent giving customers the impression that you are incompetent.
Given these potential negative outcomes from miscommunications around scheduling appointments, investing time and effort into refining your scheduling system should be a top priority for any service-oriented business.
Losing Returning Clients Due to Scheduling Mishaps
Have you ever tried to reschedule or book an appointment, only to give up after failed or botched communication attempts? Chances are, you stopped trying out of pure frustration.
Issues during the rescheduling process can be incredibly annoying, often leading clients to abandon the process entirely. As a hairstylist, it's important to remember that your clients have multiple options – if they're not satisfied with your service, they can easily explore alternatives.
That’s bad news. As you can see in the stats below, customer retention (the chunk of customers that keep coming back because they like you and your service) is very lucrative – improving it even 5% can boost your bottom line anywhere from 25% to a whopping 95%!
Source: Reve Chat
To prevent losing customers due to scheduling mishaps, focus on establishing clear communication and ensuring mutual understanding for all appointments. One vital aspect of achieving this is by enhancing your online booking platform. A poorly designed website with a cumbersome calendar system will deter potential clients from choosing your salon.
Investing in user-friendly technology for seamless appointment management is crucial for retaining loyal customers who appreciate hassle-free experiences. An intuitive booking site not only makes scheduling easier but also reflects well on the overall professionalism of your salon.
To help you improve the efficiency of your scheduling system, we'll explore seven essential tips that will set you on the right path toward better organization and happier clients! Stay tuned as we delve into these practical suggestions designed with both simplicity and effectiveness in mind.
7 Tips To Optimize Scheduling at Your Hair Salon
1. Invest in an Appointment Scheduling Tool
Living in the 21st century is a beautiful thing; we're only a few clicks away from hundreds of tools, apps, and services that make our lives just a little bit easier.
There are dozens of appointment scheduling tools available, from simple Google Calendar reminders to comprehensive software suites with customer databases and more.
Here at GoSite, we take the grunt work out of scheduling with our hassle-free scheduling app. Integrate smoothly with your pre-existing calendars and never worry about double bookings again.
Source: GoSite Booking
2. Don't Forget About Walk-In Clients
It's always best to prepare for every scenario – and that includes walk-in clients. Don't give yourself the reputation of consistently turning down walk-in customers; be prepared to accept them as part of your scheduling strategy.
Make sure you have enough staff on hand to accommodate the occasional surprise customer and keep a few slots open in case someone decides they'd like an impromptu haircut or color appointment.
Oftentimes, it’s best to specifically designate one or two stylists as the “default” for walk-ins, since it helps manage schedules. But there’s no rule saying you have to do this; you can also limit walk-in times (say, 2:00pm-4:00pm instead of all day), or only offer a small subset of services to walk-in clients (as opposed to your full suite) to help manage demand.,
3. Avoid Last Minute Cancellations With Automated Appointment Reminders
Last-minute cancellations are an inevitable part of life in a salon, but there are ways to decrease their occurrence. Appointment reminders provide an extra layer of communication between you and the client – and they make it difficult for clients to forget or ignore the date and time.
GoSite's automated appointment reminders are sent to clients via text, email, or phone call, so you can rest assured that your clients will be prepared for their appointments.
Source: GoSite Booking
4. Carve Out Time Buffers Between Appointments
Running behind schedule is an almost universal experience for hair stylists. You can't always control the length of a client's appointment (especially for your extra-picky clients), but you can give yourself some extra breathing room by carving out time buffers between appointments.
Time buffers are invaluable for preparing for last-minute emergencies, allowing ample time to sanitize tools and surfaces, and helping you stay on schedule overall.
Most importantly, buffers let you relax as you service your client, ensuring better styles/cuts and higher tips!
5. Ask Clients To Schedule Their Next Session After the Appointment Is Over
As soon as a client leaves your salon, they're likely to be feeling satisfied and content. Take advantage of this opportunity by asking them to book their next session right then and there.
And of course, once you’ve booked the next appointment, make sure you have automated reminders going out to reduce no-shows.
This approach increases your number of repeat, happy customers.
6. Take Payments Online During the Online Booking Process
Payment processing can be a time-consuming process – especially for higher end services. Simplify them with an online payment system that allows clients to pay ahead of time when they book their appointment.
Think of this like a small, upfront deposit: since higher end services often require more preparation on the salon end, ensuring that you’re compensated for the booking helps both cash flow and the expectation that the client will show.
Of course, you don’t have to force payments upfront – taking client payment information, like a credit card, is often enough. Both are popular options. What’s more, you can take a small deposit and charge for the full service once it’s completed. Either way, having the option to take payment upfront increases commitment from your customers and saves you time.
GoSite's integrated payment options make it easy to bill clients at the time of booking or to automatically send a mobile-friendly payment request once you’ve completed the appointment.
7. Set Up a Waiting List
When your hair salon turns away a client because you’re too booked up, they’re unlikely to wait around for you. Think about it: why would a client stay loyal to a salon that doesn’t accommodate their schedule when there are probably dozens of others that will?
The best way to ensure a steady flow of clients is by setting up a waiting list on particularly busy days. Your clients will feel more inclined to stick around if they know they have a spot lined up for them, and you'll be able to fill in any last-minute cancellations with ease.
Another often overlooked benefit of a waiting list is that you can use waiting lists to help you gauge when you’re ready to expand. For example, if you go a full month with more than five people per week on your waiting list, maybe it’s time to hire a new stylist. Without a waiting list system, you’d never know if there’s an opportunity to expand your business and generate more wealth.
Stay On Top of Your Schedule
By following these seven tips, you can start refining your client scheduling process and make sure that every appointment runs smoothly. Remember – a well-managed schedule is the foundation for a thriving salon and a satisfied clientele.