Many business niches have point-of-sale (POS) solutions designed specifically for their needs. Restaurant POS software may incorporate delivery vehicle tracking capabilities, while hotel systems may facilitate the acceptance of cash in multiple currencies. So what features should you look for in your salon POS?
POS systems for hair, nails and other beauty businesses can include custom features such as storage for before-and-after photos, note-taking forms that save hair and nail color formulas, and scheduling tools that facilitate regular and walk-in appointments. In other words, they’re designed specifically to cater to the needs of busy salon owners.
Of course, the most business-critical feature of salon management software is its ability to accept client payments. Some salon point-of-sale options have built-in payment processors, others use third-party merchant providers, and some have both options. Credit card transactions require your salon to pay a fee per swipe or key-in. Many POS software solutions will calculate state and local taxes for you.
If you aspire to sell products, services, memberships, or gift cards through your website, then look for a salon POS with these capabilities. Some will even automatically calculate shipping charges. An advantage of salon-specific POS is that some seamlessly facilitate pre-pay options or discounts for series bookings.
Also, be sure to research what hardware is needed to process payments. For example, you might need to purchase a mobile chip reader, receipt printer, and cash drawer. You’ll want to be aware of the hardware costs upfront.
Salon POS can create client retention, service sales, product sales, no-show, and other reports for you. Customize date ranges to track daily, weekly, monthly, and annual trends. You can ask the software to pull up your hair color clients who haven’t had their roots done in more than six weeks, for example, so your staff can initiate contact. Most software will let you export reports to a spreadsheet on your computer desktop, and some will integrate with accounting software (which can help you keep an eye on payroll and tax data).
When your acrylic client checks out after getting a new full set, a salon POS can automatically tell you and the client on what dates a regular two-week fill appointment would fall. Or if a haircut client doesn’t want a recurring appointment on the books, you can use the calendar-jump feature available on some software platforms to easily tell her what the date is “four weeks from today.” And rescheduling is usually done easily by dragging and dropping the time block on the software’s calendar.
Salon POS systems can also take into account room bookings. For example, if you need the facial room on a Tuesday afternoon, you can add that reservation to the appointment booking — so that another esthetician doesn’t plan to use the room at that time.
And if you want to offer online appointment bookings, many hair, beauty, and nail salon software packages offer client-interface features too.
Once clients are scheduled, salon software can also help you manage them via tools such as automatic text or email confirmations and reminders. It can coordinate your email or text lists so you can notify clients of upcoming promotions or last-minute openings.
And if you’re frustrated with clients texting your personal cell phone but want them to continue to have the option of contacting you at their convenience, many salon POS software options have a centralized messaging dashboard. So your clients can message you (your software) from their phone, but you’ll only write back when you are logged into the system — which also means you’ll have access their profile and history, as well as your salon’s full schedule.
Whether you sell one SKU or 100, accurately tracking your inventory can help you keep shelves stocked with what’s selling and discontinue what is not. Some salon POS systems can automatically reorder when supplies are low, recommend products to clients at checkout, and determine what sells well in what season.
If you own or manage a large salon, then the ability to keep staff schedules organized is a must-have in a salon POS. You can input each team member’s work hours for the week, as well as any vacation days, so you only book clients when their favorite stylist is actually available. Some software lets you view the schedule by employee title, such as nail tech or esthetician, or to assign colors to service categories so that you can, say, visualize all the highlight appointments at a glance.
If you want to encourage return visits but don’t want to manually track them, here again a salon POS can be of service. Set your loyalty program parameters up in the system, then let it run in the background while you and your clients reap the rewards. Integrate it with email marketing, so clients can see when they are “one pedicure away from a free bottle of nail polish.”
Booth renters may particularly appreciate the tax help that salon POS can provide. Since you’re in charge of your own income tax, social security, and other tax obligations, salon management software may prove invaluable for doing the math on your ongoing tax liabilities.