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National Clean Up Your Desk Day (January 13) may sound more like a self-reminder than an actual holiday, but those who partake could realize significant value for their salons. A study by the National Association of Professional Organizers shows that paper clutter is the number one problem for most businesses. In fact, the average person wastes 4.3 hours per week searching for papers. This inefficiency impacts more than employees’ frustration—it can amount to a major disadvantage for salons. In today’s digital age, consumers expect simple, speedy and convenient experiences. This is only possible when employees work with optimal productivity and organization.

For many small salon businesses, the idea of de-cluttering their front desk—and really, their front-end business—seems unlikely to happen in one day. However, with the right tools and processes, they can make a giant leap in the right direction. Rather than just rearranging paper clutter, salon owners should use National Clean Up Your Desk day as an opportunity to remove paper altogether and modernize their businesses. Here is the type of desk clutter that becomes avoidable and can be eliminated with the right software.

Salon Calendar

How thick is your salon’s physical calendar? How many times has your receptionist used a pen to cross out cancellations—triggering a domino effect of manual re-scheduling—or gotten a paper cut rapidly flipping through its pages to find availability? Appointment scheduling is the backbone of a salon business, so it should be easy and immediate for everyone. 

Digital calendars eliminate the need for a heavy master calendar. Instead, customers can visit a salon’s website or app to make appointments 24/7—anytime, anywhere—and employees can check their calendars from home. The schedule is always accurate, as it automatically updates based on employee availability. This requires no manual intervention from the receptionist, making the entire experience convenient for customers and employees alike. Not only can salon businesses increase appointments, but receptionists will be less shackled to their desks. Digital calendars declutter both the desk and the mind. 

Cash Register 

The cash register—in all its bulkiness—is becoming a tool of the past. It sits on the front desk, beside the credit card processor, holding cash and inviting human error as receptionists manually enter charges and reconcile bank statements with closed tickets. Integrated payment processing software does so much more than save space. By consolidating multiple physical systems, receptionists don’t have to switch between systems as the client waits. Checkout is faster, especially with the option to keep credit cards on file or prompt clients for tip selection. Plus, it eliminates the need for manual entry—so, while there is more space on the desk, there is no room for human error. 

Bookkeeping and Reporting

Savvy small salon businesses keep records of everything—sales, clients, products, services, marketing, employees, operations and schedules. In a paper-only world, those books pile up fast. Rather than accumulating a library in their desk drawers, salons can use software to run real-time reports for all those items from one system. The more data salons have—and the more accessible it is—the better organized business owners will be. What’s more, salons can use the same software to setup payroll, from adding commission profiles to printing the checks. Owners won’t have to wait until the end of the year—or the time it takes to thumb through several physical reports—to know the health of their business. 

Customer Database 

It is critical for today’s businesses to deliver highly tailored customer experiences. Yet, keeping track of customer preferences is hard when they’ve been scribbled on sticky notes and stuck on a client profile in a filing cabinet. With a CRM database, receptionists can throw away stray scraps of paper and instead keep track of detailed client information digitally. Using any device, they can quickly view customers’ first and last visit dates, total number of visits, total amount spent, past cancellations, no shows, upcoming appointments, purchased products and more. Not only is this information great for building rewards or loyalty programs, but it also helps stylists cater every experience to each client. 

Images Salon: Master Modernizers 

Struggling to envision this transition for your salon? Cynthia and Tiffany Kraft, owners of Images Salon in New Jersey, used a paper-only model to run their business for 34 years. However, as the salon industry rapidly changed, the Krafts saw that convenience was their customers’ first priority, and the paper-only model was holding the business back. To modernize their business, Images Salon invested in all-in-one software. With online booking, they added a level of convenience that helped the business retain and attract clients. Using the reporting function, Images Salon could see which clients hadn’t been to the salon in 90 days. From there, the receptionist could reach out to remind the customer they were due for an appointment. They could also gain insight into which products were selling well and which were underperforming, so they could adjust inventory and inform stylists about how to upsell clients and meet retail goals. Just three months after saying goodbye to paper, the salon nearly doubled its product sales. 

The salon of the future is here, and it looks organized and optimized. As competition grows, and consumer expectations rise, salon owners must equip employees to excel at their jobs. No more needlessly wasted time; no more paper shoved in a drawer. To achieve productivity and deliver grade A customer experiences, salons must implement the right tools and streamline the processes of the past. This may seem like a massive undertaking, but a great place to start is, yes, de-cluttering that front desk.

About the Author: Jeff Dickerson is CEO of DaySmart Software, the makers of Salon Iris, a leading salon business management software for appointment booking, staff management, payment processing, marketing and customer communications for salon professionals worldwide. He has 25+ years of experience building software companies and developing technology that empowers and drives real business results for customers.