7 best ways to optimize your salon scheduling to pump up business productivity
Have you ever had 2 clients come over for their appointment in the same time slot? Cause yikes someone accidentally double booked?
Or have had a client not showing up at their booked time and worse, showing up during the busiest hour with a cheeky little smile? 🙂
Think about how you managed such a situation and if you haven’t had such a situation, thank all your lucky stars because it never is a good place to be in.
What could you possibly do? Ask your client to come back later? Well, you can’t afford to do that. As they say, a bird in hand is worth two in the bush. So you cram up and hasten appointments of others to squeeze in this client, which might compromise the quality of your service. And compromised service quality is nothing less than the start of a business meltdown!!
There might have been thousands of such problems both in the client and staff front which could have been easily tackled with a little strategic planning and optimized salon scheduling.
Utilizing every working minute efficiently at your salon can be harder than you think. You could be running any kind of salon, hair, beauty, or nail, the drill to optimize a service business scheduling where all the stakeholders solely rely on appointments is more or less the same.
Having a well-functioning salon scheduling plan can take the load off your shoulders. It can allow you to focus on the real deal such as your products, your services, and things that matter the most for your business.
So, if you have not thought of optimizing your salon scheduling or want to know how to do it. Reading this blog would be a great starting point.
Here are the 7 most effective ways to optimize salon scheduling:
- Plan staff shifts and schedules well
- Take your client appointments online
- Factor in walk-in clients
- Send out appointment reminders
- Have a well-scheduled service routine
- Digitize your paperwork
- Accept payments online
1. Plan staff shifts and schedules well
Staff shortage, disproportionate shifts, daily overtime hours, and as a result unhappy staff and clients. Avoid all such situations by planning staff shifts and schedules well ahead of time.
But how to plan your team’s schedule well? Here are a few ideas:
A. Know your team well
Knowing your team is perhaps the most basic and important aspect of staff scheduling. There is no point in scheduling or allotting a staff for a service that they have no idea about. Knowing your team’s strengths, weaknesses, personality types, etc has a great impact on creating a well-functioning shift.
This is such a basic point, but most managers tend to skip it resulting in the team’s substandard performance.
So, what should you be knowing about your staff to set a perfect schedule?
Here’s a list to get you started:
- Their name (duh!!)
- Their relevant skills
- If they have any certifications
- Whether they are full time or part-time employees
- If they have any time restrictions
- Whether they are shy or outgoing or any such personality traits
- And/or any side notes that can be useful during scheduling shifts( for eg, can handle crowds well, is meticulous, is punctual, to name a few)
If you have such details handy, you can try to mix and match traits and skills and try to put together a great shift. As you learn more about your employees, keep adding to the list. And remember that no one is perfect and people do mess up sometimes. Do not base this list on just their one bad day. 😉
B. Plan shifts according to client footfall and the season
Keep in mind 2 major factors which are, time and season.
- Time: Identify the busiest hours of your salon and allocate the number of staff accordingly.
Also, keep track of the most common service and plan your resources accordingly. In the busiest hour, formulate a different staff break schedule for various times of the day for eg, 10 mins break between each appointment in the peak hours which you can ease up to 15-20 mins in the non-rush times of the day. You don’t want to overwork anyone.
- Season: If you are planning to allot all of your staff for, let’s say, waxing on a cold December day, it might not be the best idea!! People are likely to ditch waxing all winter and you would have misplanned your whole day.
So keep in mind the season and what services are the most common during a certain time of the year. All of this has a great impact on planning your staff shifts.
Make sure to communicate about busy seasons well ahead to your team so that they are well prepared for it.
C. Have routine sync with your staff
If your salon operation is a musical concert, you as the owner or manager are responsible to synchronize the orchestra which is your staff. If you and your staff are not on the same page about your day-to-day workings, it can be a disaster for your business.
You can have three types of sync meetings with your staff to be on track:
- Daily morning sync– for day-to-day activities and appointments.
- Weekly sync– to check whether your business and service plans are on track.
- Quarterly sync– to go over your quarterly goals and plans.
If you follow this religiously, you can steer clear of the two most common management pitfalls: communication gap and lack of clarity.
D. Give your staff the option to manage their own schedule
According to a research report, 87% of hourly workers consider having control of their work schedules to be extremely important, and 55% said they would leave their job if they lacked control over their schedules.
Also, there can be last-minute unprecedented changes in the schedule in any service-based business, which can be tackled only by on-duty staff. So, it is important to give your salon staff the flexibility to control their availability and make necessary modifications like finding their own substitutes, etc.
In the case of a bigger staff team, you can always appoint a manager to regulate daily staff availability and maintain uniformity in their schedules.
2. Take your client appointments online
Don’t you hate it when you get to know that a regular client booked their hair styling appointment with your competitor salon just because they had called a dozen times on a Sunday evening and no one answered the phone at your salon?? That’s one good customer, lost.
Did you know that according to stats by FinancesOnline, 65% of total online appointments are booked by women, and a whopping 88% of these are with beauty salons and spas?
So if you haven’t already considered taking client appointments online, this section is a major call for you to start thinking about it seriously.
A well-functioning salon booking software can be beneficial for both your clients and your salon.
A. How can it benefit your clients?
- They can book their salon appointment at any time of the day. They don’t have to wait for the salon to open just to call in and book.
- Clients can have the convenience of self-booking. They can check your salon’s real-time availability without having to call/text and can book an appointment at their preferred available slot.
- Online appointments simplify rescheduling or cancellations.
- Client information such as name, email address, phone number, etc can be pre-filled making the booking process faster.
- Clients can book recurring appointments in just a few clicks.
- And in the case of group bookings, online appointment scheduling can be easier and time-saving.
B. How can it benefit your salon?
- It will help you cut down piles of paperwork and record diaries
- You wouldn’t need someone to be by the phone 24/7 answering booking calls. The client self-booking, rescheduling, and canceling feature can save you a lot of time and resources.
- Basic client details such as their regular choice of service or product can be available in a click. This would give you time to prepare your inventory before an appointment.
If you want to take your salon client appointments online, you could go for a stand-alone software or tool but, hold up!!!! We’ve got a better solution for you. And to know what it is, keep on reading. 😉 Or skip to it right now.
3. Factor in walk-in clients
Even though you should encourage online pre-bookings, walk-ins are still a fantastic way to gain a new client.
It could be a client bringing along a friend for their appointment and the friend deciding to get their hair dyed as well or it could simply be a person walking by and deciding to get in your salon for a quick hair trim.
But accommodating walk-ins doesn’t really mean that you can’t take online appointments. You could have a QR code at the front desk and the walk-in client can quickly scan and check if there are any available slots and book their appointment on the spot.
Additionally, you can keep at least a few slots reserved in your schedule to cater to these walk-in clients.
Walk-in clients might feel a bit out of place in a well-scheduled plan, but they can be very helpful for your business if managed tactically.
4. Send out appointment reminders
Imagine a client forgets her appointment and requests you to accommodate her at the last moment. Or a staff forgets an appointment and takes a long lunch break, keeping the client waiting.
Situations like these sound familiar, right?
Your whole day’s schedule gets disrupted because of one small incident like this.
So, what’s the solution for it?
The most important key to managing time and avoiding such situations in any business is by sending out timely reminders. Send out automated reminders and notifications to clients and staff regarding their bookings and tasks.
After a client has booked their salon appointment, send out a mail and an SMS stating the time and the date of appointment to the client and the staff taking it as well.
Also, notify them 3-4 hours before the appointment. Keep a waitlist of clients who want similar appointment slots and while sending clients a notification before the appointment, request them to RSVP whether they will be able to make it or not. If they reply “No” and opt for rescheduling, you will have enough time to rebook the time slot with another client.
Keep the scope for rescheduling for free before 6 hours of the appointment and after that, if the client decides to reschedule or cancel the appointment, keep a small rescheduling or cancelation fee. This will reduce no-show appointments drastically and will be a big bonus for your salon’s time management routine.
You could use an automated communication tool, but hey!! You know the jam by now. Trust me, I have a better solution in the end. 😉 Or hop to the end now.
5. Have a well-scheduled service routine
“Salons actually don’t sell haircuts, they sell time…and finding 15 minutes in your appointment book could make you $23,000”-Larissa Macleman (Salon Owners Collective Founder)
Here are a few points to make the best out of your working hours and manage your salon scheduling.
A. Start and finish on time
Time is the most valuable asset you can have for your salon business and it starts by making a time schedule and sticking to it as much as possible. Here are a few tips to ensure that:
- Timeboxing can be easier said than done. Have a system to ensure you don’t overshoot consistently.
- Have dry runs to calculate the tentative time taken to complete each service.
- Set a silent alarm to notify how much time is left.
Use such tricks, but do not make it completely robotic that you shift your focus from client satisfaction to just staying on the time track.
- Cut down on unproductive gaps in your schedule. You could keep fixed time slots for different appointments such as 1 hr for hair spa and haircut, 45 mins dye application, etc, but this creates random and unfruitful 15 mins gaps in your day’s schedule.
The best way to solve this issue is by having a 1 hour or half an hour time packet. For eg, a short haircut can be half an hour, the medium could be 2*(half an hour), and so on.
- Take a few minutes at the start of the day to find gaps between appointments. If the gap is huge, call and check up with your following client if they are fine moving their appointment ahead by say, 15 mins.
B. Factor in equipment check and salon tidying up
Most of the salon managers skip incorporating time for equipment check and salon tidying up which leads to further appointments getting delayed.
Jump through such situations by thinking of a solution well ahead.
- At the start of the day, set out 15-30 mins to run all the equipment and check whether they are in working order.
- Schedule at least 10 mins sanitization breaks between each appointment and keep your salon clean as a whistle.
C. Plan an agile client communication method
Staff-client bonding is important in any service business, but when short and sweet client feedback stretches into a full-fledged gossip session, it can get nasty for your schedule.
Surpass these awkward situations of having to shoo away a client because they stayed over their time slot and now all the subsequent appointments are getting hampered because of it.
Let’s get down to how you can take feedback efficiently and yet stay on time track:
- Use a feedback form. Print out a sweet and short feedback sheet for your client to fill in. The client can fill it in while your staff preps for the next appointment.
- Take in feedback via google forms. After an appointment, you could send a well-curated feedback form to the client’s email address and they could fill it up at their convenient time.
- Or, have a review/rating system up on your website or the salon appointment software which the clients can fill in after an appointment.
With these points in mind, you can stay on the scheduled time track and cut down on several hours of overtime, customer service agitation, and much more resulting in you staying on top of your business game.
6. Digitize your paperwork
Gone are the days where you could manage countries with just folders and paper clips. In any business today, you have to stay agile and utilize all your customer data points to move forward and have a competitive edge over your competitors.
It really has come down to maintaining records for client nicknames and I bet, you can throw away your day’s schedule in the garbage if you want to be searching for nicknames through piles of paperwork just before an appointment.
Keeping a pile of records of client details, finances, business plans, etc, in the corner of your salon is, to be honest, quite useless. It is both space and time-consuming and in the long run, won’t be of much use.
Why fall into this swarm of papers, when you can do it all digitally for a fraction of the cost. And guess what? Is more effective.
To you, as the salon owner or manager, client data is one of the most important assets. Don’t let it go to waste just because you didn’t look into it properly.
Client data including their behaviors, purchase records, change in booking patterns, trends based on demography, and much more can give you a better insight into your business or can forewarn you of any future business tumble.
Doing all this in a simple spreadsheet is possible, but is extremely time-consuming. You don’t really want to be worrying about filling in one data at a time in your excel spreadsheet when you have a whole business to run.
An online client database management system can help you with all of the heavy lifting.
- Maintain data and records of clients with just a click.
- Draw insights and patterns from customer data and present them to you in a comprehensive dashboard.
- Save you tonnes of money, time, and space which would have been wasted in maintaining paper records.
Aghh!! Are we suggesting another software to help you save time, managing your customer database?
The solution that’s in store for you at the end of this blog not only helps with client database management but also staff data management. Just imagine the extra insights you could gain that could help grow your team and business as a whole.
Keep reading to know what solution I have in store for you. 😉 Or jump to it right away.
7. Accept payments online
It is 2021, people have more important things to worry about than not having the exact change after getting a haircut. Why go through all the trouble of expecting the client to get the exact change or risking your front desk’s safety by keeping a stash of dollar bills?
And c’mon!! You can’t be running around asking for change if you want to be on schedule at work.
Quit worrying about not staying on schedule after an appointment just to take payments.
So what can you do about it?
Go cashless to the maximum and start taking payments digitally and even better, accept prepayments at the time of booking.
Online payments are quick, hassle-free, time saving, both for you and your clients. Accept pre-payments via online platforms such as Stripe, PayPal, Square at the time of client booking. Be on your feet without having to dilly-dally after each session. The added advantage of pre-payments is that they help you enforce stronger cancellation policies.
Keep a record of every transaction digitally or you can automate it all with the help of the perfect solution I’ve been holding from you. 😉
The wait ends here!!!.
Drum roll, please!
Appointy: Your one-stop salon online scheduling software
The perfect solution for all of your salon scheduling glitches.
So, here’s the deal. You can opt for different software or tools individually to take client appointments, keep client records, maintain staff schedules, send out appointment reminders, take online payments, etc.
But why do that when you can have a single salon software taking care of it all and more?
Still not convinced? Okay! Let’s break down and look at what Appointy exactly helps with:
- Helps you view your entire salon schedule for a day/week/month at a glance. Create, edit in a click and reschedule appointments with a simple drag and drop feature.
- Enables you to access your business from anywhere with an Android and iOS app and manage appointments, salon calendars, and reports on the go in a cloud-based environment.
- Automates client appointment scheduling with intelligent staff allocation for repeat customers.
- Sends out appointment reminders and notifications to clients and concerned staff and helps you make the most of your client emailing list.
- Takes care of staff scheduling and reports.
- If you have multiple branches of your salon, it also assists in managing your business and staff at different locations.
- Appointy helps take pre-payments via Stripe, Paypal, and Square.
- Appointy also has a Square POS integration that’ll allow smooth debit/ credit card transactions from your salon’s front desk. To know more about how Appointy integrates online payments with scheduling, read here.
But wait, there’s more!!
Appointy not only helps you optimize your salon scheduling but also keeps track of your customers’ digital forms, visit history, activity log, notes, and yes, even nicknames with its customer relationship management tool.
It also helps you stay on top of the game by tracking important metrics like client satisfaction, sales, and staff performance in real-time.
Now, how can you beat that?
Appointy precisely is the one salon software that you’ll be needing to grow and manage your business. 🙂
“ Success is the sum of small efforts, repeated day in and day out ”– Robert Collier, best selling author and publisher of The Secret of the Ages.
Wanting to get a perfectly optimized salon schedule on day 1 can be a bit overwhelming. The key is to get every day better than the previous. 🙂
Keep learning and growing.
Here’s a cookie for staying till the end of this blog.
We at Appointy, help business owners grow and run their businesses with our online scheduling software. This blog was a part of our ‘Manage your Business’ category, where we provide expert tips, resources, or simply talk about the challenges that small and medium businesses face every day.
If you have any thoughts on this blog, or would like to chat about your business struggles and achievements, let us know in the comments below.
We love a good talk!