As more and more of the U.S. public becomes vaccinated, more and more clients are returning to the salon for regular appointments. SALON TODAY recently sat down with Zenoti CEO Sudheer Koneru for an exclusive interview on what the software manufacturer and its clients are witnessing as business begins to reture to more normal rythmns.
SALON TODAY: As you and your colleagues speak with your beauty-based customers, how is the landscape right now? Are most getting back up to their pre-pandemic sales or are they still lagging?
Koneru: The US market is beginning to recover, and the UK has just started reopening as of last week, however other markets such as India’s are lagging a bit behind.
ST: What innovative strategies are you seeing salons embrace to get their businesses back on track post-Covid?
Koneru: Minimizing time in public areas is an important measure to reduce risk. So, businesses are making sure guests don’t have to wait in crowded reception areas or have unnecessary time in closed spaces by leveraging two-way texting. Two-way texting enables the customer to text upon arrival, allowing the salon to let them know when the treatment room is available. Once they are ready for the guest, the salon can text from within Zenoti. That way the guest can feel relieved at not having to worry about avoiding crowded lobbies. They can head directly to their appointment. This also allows salons to control the number of people in their closed spaces at any given point in time. Our customers are also adopting touchless tech innovations such as digital forms or mobile payments – both of which eliminate unnecessary face-to-face interactions.
ST: How can salons encourage those clients who have been hesitant to schedule regular beauty appointments to increase their frequency?
Koneru: Using referral marketing capabilities is very helpful, so that once guests start to come back and feel safe in a positive hygienic environment, they can then share their experiences with friends. "This salon seems quite safe to get services done.” Word of mouth is the best way to get more guests to start coming back in.
Similarly, encouraging guests to post reviews/feedback right after they leave the store ensures there are more relevant or recent reviews that talk about the salon being a safe place during COVID.
We’ve been helping customers leverage Zenoti’s Smart Marketing to reach out to missing customers via highly targeted and personalized messaging campaigns to motivate booking. Getting customers in the door for that post-lockdown initial visit is crucial. Then, they can use that appointment to reconnect and tempt them back into a routine of subsequent visits.
ST: What role does technology play in ramping up sales this summer and beyond?
Koneru: Technology plays an enormous role in ramping up sales as more and more consumers receive their vaccinations and become more comfortable resuming in-person treatments. The more our customers can rely on technology to take care of the tedious tasks that software can do for them, the more time they will have to invest in their craft and make their businesses great. We are here to take the load off these business owners by enabling customers to seamlessly address heightened consumer expectations for health and safety, with touchless and mobile solutions that allow for easy appointment scheduling, self-check-ins, and automatic payments. Additional technology such as Zenoti Connect also works to help rekindle and further strengthen the provider/customer connections. The link between the customer and provider via two-way texting fosters the relationship while elevating the guest experience.
ST: Can you share more about AI and how it helps salons make data-based business decisions.
Koneru: Our AI algorithm helps businesses know how many staff members to schedule for hair, skin, body work, etc. on any given day of the week. Rather than a manager trying to coordinate employee scheduling, we find that AI algorithms can help optimize this process and improve utilization of a business.
Similarly, each month salons have to decide how much product to order from each of their vendors. Now AI algorithms can project the right amount of product to order for each SKU every month.
Many such ideas can help manage costs and ensure there is no loss of revenue due to lack of product or providers when there is customer demand.
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