Zenoti Whitepaper

Find the Right Spa or Salon Software for Your Spa or Salon

With a gamut of software for spas and salons available in the market today, it is hard to know which software is best for your spa or salon. In this white paper, you'll learn what to look for when evaluating and choosing the right software for your spa or salon.

Two Key Areas You Need to Consider

When choosing your spa or salon software, youíll need to consider a number of factors to determine the right software for your business. Namely, you should consider two areas to ensure you choose the right software and that it works for you today and for years to come.

The first area, and where youíll spend most of your time in evaluating software, is in determining how well the software helps you solve your business problems or reach your business goals. For example, would you like to offer smoother interactions when customers book appointments? Would you like to store guest information more easily, or run marketing programs cost effectively? Is your current inventory tracking system tedious and error prone? More than likely, you have a variety of business problems to solve and business goals to reach. In choosing the right software, youíll need to make sure that your problems are solved and business goals met.

Second, and just as importantly, you must ensure that the software you choose is adopted by your staff and organization. This refers to ensuring that staff actually uses the software and does not revert to previous methods of performing tasks, be it manually or another system. Itís too often that owners make an investment in technology, only to throw away the software because the software is too hard to use, is too unstable or buggy, or just difficult to maintain over time.

The rest of this document walks you through step-by-step how to evaluate and choose the right software for your spa or salon, and how to ensure full software adoption. By following this guide, you can ensure that your organization benefits long term from your investment.

What Do You Hope To Achieve With Software?

A significant part of your evaluation process for spa or salon software is determining what goals you hope to achieve with the software, what problems you wish to address, and then determining if the software satisfactorily achieves those goals. Before even looking at software, you should spend time to identify goals you wish to achieve with the spa or salon software. To do this, determine problem areas in the way you run your business today and how spa or salon software can help resolve these issues.

Review all areas of your business, from how you book appointments, store guest information and even run day-to-day operations like staffing, tracking inventory and so on. Create a checklist of processes that you can automate, clean-up or streamline. Think of ways to either improve on a process already used in your organization or even create a new process in an area that you may have been neglecting.

For example, a key challenge in the spa and salon industry is to schedule appointments efficiently, especially during peak days and peak hours. Scheduling appointments efficiently can best be described as the ability to:

  • Book appointments in a way that maximizes staffís time and availability
  • Easily reschedule appointments to accommodate new appointment requests
  • Confirm appointments with customers to ensure that no-shows donít bring your busy daysí revenues short
To be able to do each of these tasks right, you might need an experienced receptionist, a lot of time if done manually. When not done properly, you could risk dissatisfying customers when you canít meet requests or just in falling short of revenue simply by under utilizing your therapists.

The right software can help improve how you book appointments efficiently, save time and ensure customer satisfaction in the process. Similar to this example, spend the time to identify other processes that will help you realize higher revenue, increase customer satisfaction, increase employee retention and so on. You should also think about ways to reduce manual effort and streamline processes.

Does The Software Have The Features You Need?

After youíve identified the business goals that you wish to achieve, you should then map those goals to capabilities or features available in various software solutions. Most software has many features; the trick is to determine if they have the right set of features for your business and goals. It can be hard to distinguish irrelevant features from truly crucial ones and the considerations can be tedious. While you may not require all of the features currently, consider what features you could use in the future as you evolve your business and how fully you use the software. This is crucial as its not only painful to change software solutions at a later time, but can be expensive as well.

While you have processes and goals specific to your spa or salon, the following checklist identifies key areas and features that most spas and salons require in a software solution.

Appointment Management

Effectively booking, scheduling and following up on your appointments is at the core of a spa or salon business. At a basic level, your spa or salon software should support the following capabilities:

  • Pre-book appointments and handle walk-ins
  • Determine available times, rooms, and staff when a customer calls in to book an appointment
  • Quickly identify qualified staff for a particular service
  • Easily retrieve customer information so that your receptionist can personalize the customerís experience Ė starting with the phone call
  • Rearrange appointments quickly and on the fly. This should help you accommodate more appointments.
  • A visual reference on the status of an appointment Ė e.g., has the customer confirmed an appointment, is the customer on the premises and getting the service, has the appointment been completed and closed?
  • Send a personalized confirmation message to your customers on successful booking or a reminder about an upcoming appointment
  • Offer various methods for customers to give feedback
  • The option to offer discounts on a customerís next visit based on that customerís spending patterns.

Billing or Point of Sales

Most software allows processing of payments and a limited level of integration with other capabilities within the software. When evaluating the billing or point of sales capabilities in the software, ensure that the features support:

  • Multiple payment methods including cash, credit card, debit cards, and optionally checks
  • Process split payments Ė e.g., deduct party of the payment from a membership and pay the remaining using a credit card
  • Redeem a service from a gift card
  • Redeem a service for a package
  • Automatically deduct money or services from a membership
  • Track sales and payment methods for easy accounting and book keeping

  • Sophisticated Point of Sales will track sales and integrate with:
  • Marketing capabilities Ė to match with any promotional activities, discounts, or coupons that you may have launched
  • Inventory capabilities Ė to ensure that products and services sold map to expenditure on products procured, and hence track pilferage and wastage
  • Employee Management capabilities Ė to track and calculate commissions, bonuses and performance

Marketing Programs

Customers that come in for spa or salon treatments often consider their service a treat or luxury. The right marketing programs can be instrumental to bringing customers into your spa regularly. The software you choose should have adequate tools and features that help you design and execute marketing programs, as well as track effectiveness of your efforts. Running marketing programs through your software can be less costly and more effective than traditional marketing campaigns. If youíre interested in running marketing programs, look for features that enable you to:

  • Create promotional packages
  • Create membership programs that cover a breadth of services with discounts, offers, or free services
  • Segment your customer base based on buying patterns and demographics. This allows you to send targeted offers to customer groups
  • Send Email and SMS (texts) to a targeted set of customers
  • Offer personalized coupons to customers for their next visit; based on spending patterns. Personalized coupons are a highly effective tool to encourage customers to try new services.
  • Apply the right discount or promotional price to customers when processing payments

For tips on building effective marketing programs, check out our whitepapers Maximize Revenue with Marketing Campaigns, Guaranteed Customers For Life, and Effective Up-Selling Through Memberships

Customer Management

To have the right set of marketing programs targeted to customers, your spa or salon software should allow you to store important information about your customers. Ensure your spa or salon software supports the ability to:

  • Capture customer feedback immediately after the customerís appointment and track feedback in a meaningful way using reports.
  • Enter negative feedback and track so that your employee can follow-up on the issue through to closure.
  • Categorize customers so that the receptionist can immediately start personalizing their experience; e.g. are they a repeat customer, high spender, do they frequently cancel, are they a member, etc..
  • Create segments of customers based on spending patterns or visit history.
  • Create a loyalty points program to encourage customer loyalty.
  • Provide quick access to customer preferences, their last visit, last therapist, total spend till date, membership balance, complaints, etc. so that staff can personalize the customerís experience.
  • Report on average spend by customers, average spend by service categories, and so on.

Inventory Management

Inventory management is often a challenge for most spas and salons; and its just as challenging to apply inventory expenses to wastage and pilferage. Software can help automate aspects of inventory management and reduce the tediousness and error prone methods of a manual paper-based system. When choosing the right software, ensure that the inventory management capabilities include the ability to:

  • Track current inventory levels.
  • Automate alerts when inventory levels go down for fast moving products.
  • Automatically calculate product usage based on services.
  • Compare product consumption based on services sold against actual usage of product based on inventory checks and raise flags.
  • Automatically send alerts when specific inventory is about to expire.
  • Ability to create and raise purchase orders for products
  • Track vendor information
  • Track movement of inventory between centers, if applicable.

For tips on effectively managing inventory, check out our whitepaper Get a Handle on Inventory

Employee Management

Employees are the face of your business to your customers. Their performance is often tied directly to the success of your business. Spa or salon management software can help you motivate employees, retain the right employees and gives you insight into actual performance. With the right software youíll find that you can improve employee customer satisfaction and your business results simply be managing your staff better. Look for the following capabilities:

  • Automatically track key metrics for your employees such as punctuality, customer satisfaction, utilization, customer retention, etc..
  • Track employee salaries, commissions, vacation days, etc.
  • Easily create employee schedules, shift timings, and set weekly day offs or vacation days.
  • An automatic monthly commission report based on services delivered

Reporting Capabilities

Reporting capabilities in the software are important and help you determine how well your business is operating in specific and key areas. Meaningful reports provide you with insight into your business so you can make the right decisions. While most software provide baseline reporting on revenue and accounting, look for software that provides reporting capabilities in each area of your business. For example, look for the following reports:

  • Customer satisfaction trends over time, by therapist or stylist, and by services categories
  • Effectiveness of marketing programs by revenue and customers
  • Average revenue per customer trends
  • Conversion of new walk-in customers into regular customers
  • Reports on trends by gender
  • Evaluate which service categories are improving or decreasing in revenue trends
  • Reports to track employee performance

After you've decided on the features and capabilities that you require, you'll have broader considerations as well. Things like what technology to use and how much you're willing to invest in that technology. While this may seem overwhelming, you'll find with that its not too difficult to make an informed decision while choosing the right software.

Is the Technology Right for Your Business?

One of the most important decisions you need to make in order to determine if the technology is right for your business is whether to go with a local desktop solution or an online web-based solution. A local desktop solution usually requires a one-time purchase of the software with upgrades probably occurring over time. The company that sells you this software may offer you support for an added cost, but you are largely on your own to adopt the software. An online web-based solution usually implies a low, monthly subscription fee and comes with a host of benefits. With time, more and more small and medium sized businesses are choosing web-based solutions. And hereís why:

Technical Benefits

  • Hardware investment is minimal since no server or database infrastructure is locally required.
  • Software installation, maintenance and updates requires no effort from you; these are handled automatically from the company in an online solution.
  • No IT personnel is required at your end since all the update and maintenance tasks are done directly at the server by your vendor.
  • You get anywhere and anytime access to your software, as you can access reports and even monitor the operations of your business through any internet connection.
  • Access your business from multiple devices Ė computers, laptops, iPad, iPhone or other mobile devices.
  • Increased security of data from internal and external threats, with automatic daily backups of data so you never have to worry about losing data
  • Software will always be operational.

Business Benefits

  • Minimal up front investment - In a desktop solution, there is large capital expenditure to purchase and setup the software initially.
  • Real time access to your business operations and progress throughout the day.
  • Aggregate view of your business across all centers on a daily basis.
  • Shared customer database, gift card and membership information for seamless customer experience across all centers.
  • Centralized monitoring of customer satisfaction and billing for all centers.
  • Automated email or SMS alerts for customer satisfaction issues.
  • Enable customers to see their transaction history online independently.
  • Easily compare live performance across centers in a multi-center situation.
  • Avoid cheating and pilferage - Receptionists cannot delete appointments and all appointments can be monitored remotely.

How does the Software Handle Data Security and Privacy?

Security and privacy of customer data is critical for any spa or salon. It is essential that the software you choose has built in security mechanisms so that customer data cannot be manipulated or stolen by anyone external to your business as well as by your own employees.

A desktop solution requires you have an expertise on controlling and securing data; and most times is a threat to properly securing customer data. Often, itís possible in a desktop based solution for someone to manipulate or copy your customer data as all of the data physically resides in one machine.

The right online, web-based solution takes care of this challenge automatically as your customer data is never physically stored in a place that employees have access to. While your employees can use the software to make appointments and work on administration tasks, they will never have access to your customer database.

Further security options are also typically available in online, web-based software to safeguard customer data. For example, you should be able to limit access to your software for employees to specific machines located on your premises. This ensures that your employees can not access the software from their homes or anywhere else, but from the reception area in your spa or salon.

Ensure Your Staff And Organization Adopts The Software

Now that you know what your spa or salon software can do for you, you need to ensure that your business will adopt the software. Software adoption is a significant step to not only ensuring your staff benefits from the software, but that the organization as a whole benefits. To determine if a software will be adopted by staff and the organization as a whole, you should evaluate the following.

How easy is the software to learn and use?

If a staff member took the time to familiarize herself with the software, how effectively can she begin to use the software? In other words, you should ensure that staff can get up and running quickly on whatever software you choose. Spa and salon software will be used all day by your reception staff and often by managers. Itís essential then that the software is easy to use so that your staff quickly adopts all aspects of the software.

Ease of use becomes critical especially because of the high churn, or attrition rate of staff in spas and salons. Given the 30% attrition rate in the salon industry, youíll want the software to be as easy to learn and use, so your staff old and new get up and running quickly. While you can train your employees on how to use the software, youíll want to ensure that as you lose staff and gain new employees, training is quick and is neither expensive or time consuming.

Ideally, online videos and training material help new employees get trained quickly, and keep your training costs low.

Long term, this factor can be so critical, that you may even opt to choose software that is easy and intuitive, even in lieu of a few features that you rarely use. In fact, a spa or salon software with a lengthy list of features can become too complex for your employees to work on regularly and leverage fully.

How easily can you maintain the system?

A software purchase often comes with a number of unforeseen expenses and overhead to the technology newbie. For consistently smooth and efficient operation of a software you will need to back-up the software data, properly run virus checks, apply upgrades and be vigilant about privacy and security. Desktop solutions require an IT staff or contractor to maintain your software. An online solution often provides these services as part of your monthly subscription.


Evaluating the right software for your spa or salon can be daunting, but with the right approach to evaluating software you can be assured to find the right software for your business. By taking our step-by-step approach, you'll be sure to find a software that helps you increase profits and reduce costs.

Zenoti is an easy to use software for your spa or salon with many capabilities designed to help you run and grow and successful spa and salon business.

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