By 2020, it’s estimated that 80% of small businesses in the U.S. will have fully adopted cloud-based computing into their business practices. Working in the cloud has many advantages over locally installed software and is something the beauty industry is effectively embracing for salon and spa scheduling and management software.
Before diving into how the technology can work for you and your salon or spa, let’s first take a look at what the cloud is all about.
The Cloud, Defined
The term “the cloud” is short for cloud-based computing and it involves computing and data storage resources that are offered over the internet as a utility. When the cloud is utilized for business applications, access to programs and data storage are no longer done on the hard drive of your computer at your business location.
Why Go Cloud Based?
There are many advantages that the cloud can bring to your business but the most important ones start with 24/7 access to your data and software applications from anywhere with an internet connection.
With cloud-based software you also don’t have to worry about the risk, frustration, inconvenience or cost of installing software, patches or updates on your computer. Maintenance and all updates happen completely behind the scenes and are done in the cloud by the software provider. There is also no need to install intricate and or costly networks or computer systems, let alone hire a third party vendor to tie them all together.
Also, there are no more compatibility issues between locally installed software and your computer’s operating system. Instead of being overrun by IT issues, you can focus on your customers and the business of doing hair, nails, spa services, etc… The real reason that you went into business in the first place!
Features to Consider
Now that you have a better understanding as to what cloud computing is about and how it can benefit you, here are the top 10 things to consider when shopping for cloud-based salon and spa management software:
- It’s important that the software is designed with the unique workflow of a salon or spa in mind. Data should be quickly and easily available to front desk staff when needed and the salon or spa workflow should be simplified.
- You should have easy access to your account at any time and on any device with an internet connection. That way you can check your schedule, add or update a booking, set up automated confirmations and reminders, run a report, or even check inventory from almost any location.
- You should never have to install software, pay for or install updates or worry about software compatibility with your computer.
- Effective salon and spa software will provide granular permissions to your access data. That way you can keep certain aspects of your business private while allowing your staff to view their schedules and other specific data that is particularly important to them. In addition, your clients should have the ability to schedule appointments on any device by accessing a link on your salon website or Facebook page, or through a mobile app.
- If you operate a rental salon or spa, make sure that your software is specifically designed to comply with this unique way of doing business. In this case, it’s important that both owners and renters can set their permissions, and that the front desk can be authorized to schedule appointments and check clients in for everyone, while the renter’s financials and client information remain private.
- Look for software that offers unlimited training and technical support that comes with the cost of the service.
- If possible, find software that provides a free trial, that way you can try it on to make sure that it’s a good fit for you and your business needs.
- A good cloud-based management system will not require a long-term contract, offering instead a month-to-month, pay-as-you-go agreement.
- It’s important that the software allow you to maintain ownership of your information, including clients, and will let you take all of your data with you should you decide to leave.
- Avoid salon and spa management services that want to “own” the client. Be sure that you read the terms and conditions carefully. In many cases by simply signing up you are effectively handing over your client list so that others, possibly even your competition, can market to them. You have worked hard to build your clientele and the last thing you want is to allow other businesses to solicit them!
With its many advantages, the cloud has become an in-demand service and a valuable tool for doing business. Now that you know what it’s all about, and have a better idea of what to look for in salon software, why aren’t you doing business in the cloud?
Jim Bower is the founder of Floydware, LLC and Rosy Salon Software. He is a former salon and spa owner with over 30 years of experience in the industry.