Today, most of a salon’s clients will be carrying smartphones with them; some may even bring their tablets to an appointment. Many owners, particularly of upscale salons, have discovered consumers believe a wireless connection is a 21st century unalienable right.
“Several years ago, we started seeing that if we didn’t have a strong WiFi connection in the building, it starting showing up as negative comments on reviews,” says Alan Kossof, co-owner of the Teddie Kossof Salon Spa in Northfield, Illinois.
But, before salons jump on the wireless bandwagon, they need to do their digital homework, cautions Kossof. “If salons jump the gun and go out and buy tablets and iTouches, but don’t have the technological architecture to support it, there will be problems,” he says. “If you are relying on a consumer/residential-based networking system—even if it’s password protected—it’s not offering a lot of protection. Anyone could ‘peer’ into your business and access sensitive client and employee information. In addition, if you don’t have the proper bandwidth, you could find yourself in the situation where a colorist is downloading an educational video in the backroom, and you don’t have enough bandwidth to run a credit card transaction.”
It’s critical that salons have a plan on how they will represent their business with technology, then develop a system for implementing it, stresses Kossof. “If you have a network or a cloud-based system, then do you have a firewall? There’s a lot to research and understand and you have to be careful because you can get taken,” he warns. “We’re lucky to have invested in a great IT guy, but there are a lot of issues in the industry with finding credible resources for support who understand the unique needs of our business.”
Once Kossof built a secure and reliable infrastructure, he found that stocking iPads offered a nice touch to the salon’s concierge service. The salon and spa now stocks a library of iPads that guests can check out and use during their down time in the salon. And how does he keep the iPads from walking out the door? Easy. “Clients can check them out, but we ask to hold the keys to their car,” he says.