Looking for a new software management system for your salon? Stephanie Jennings, vice president of sales for MINDBODY, offers 5 questions you should ask vendors while shopping for and comparing systems:

How do you protect credit card information?

"Clients signing up for new accounts will provide their credit card information for billing," advises Jennings. "Software without proper security puts them at risk for financial loss, tarnished credit and even identity theft."

How long have you been around?

"Newer software providers, much like any new business, are learning as they go," says Jennings. "Less established providers may not have bug tracking, software testers or network operations engineers in place, leaving their product more prone to unexpected service interruptions."

As my business grows, how does your software grow with me?

"Pay attention to the pricing model," cautions Jennings. "Some software providers charge more when your revenue or client base increases; others charge a flat rate based on the number of staff members."

What numbers can your software show me about my business?

"Software should be able to instantly report on your revenue, service and product sales, client retention over time and pre-booking rates—and offer marketing tools to act on what those numbers are telling you," says Jennings.

When questions come up, how often will you be there to answer them?

"No matter how intuitive software may seem, there inevitably will be times when you’ll need a little help," says Jennings. "Great software should be backed by great customer service, available anytime."

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