Last summer my salon made a shift to include online booking into our business strategy. I can say without a doubt that it has been one of the best decisions we’ve ever made. The way people do business these days is changing. With so many people opting to shop online, it’s important to include online booking options if we want to stay competitive. While I can’t say that it’s solely responsible for my growth in the last year (I’d like to think I’m pretty good and fun to be around,) it has helped me reach more people than traditional pre-booking alone. It does not, however, come without its own challenges. Here are a few things to think about if you want online booking to work for you.
Make It Visible: One thing the consumer likes about online booking is that it’s convenient. I’m guilty of getting most of my work done late at night or early first thing when I wake up. And I’m able to do this because most things I can do online, without ever speaking to another person. So, of course, it makes sense that my clients would enjoy the same convenience. In order to get the most from it, you have to think about making it easy to access. No matter the scheduling software you use, you have to make it easy for people to find. Keep a link on the front page or profile of every social media platform you use for business, from Yelp to Facebook to Instagram. Make sure you are able to link out instead of posting a URL as a copy. Remember, the more work required, the less likely people will follow through with your call to action. I keep a link straight to my online booking in my Instagram profile and I almost never change it. I’ll even post screenshots of my availability a few times a week to get those last-minute types thinking about their hair. I always fill gaps in my schedule as a result!
Create Good Rebooking Habits: Most people fall into one of two categories when it comes to how they like to plan their lives. Some like the familiar human connection, which is why it should still be a part of a closing routine to have the conversation about maintenance and return visits. Some people like the freedom to plan their lives that allows them some flexibility. Even if a client chooses not to pre-book in the moment, the seed has been planted. I like to include in my dialogue, not just the recommended return date, but also how far in advanced they should book online should they go with that option. This way we can have a conversation about what services to select and how to avoid being locked out of my busy schedule. I’ve found that this either encourages more people to pre-book day of the service or develop a healthy habit of scheduling online a few weeks before.
Eliminate Surprise Services: One of the most common complaints I get from fellow stylists about online booking is about surprise services and how it affects pace and timing. Above I made mention of having a conversation about what services your client should select when booking online. While it is important to do this to minimize surprise services, it’s more important to systematize how you work. Most of the work I do falls into a 45 minute to 1-hour time frame. I’ve worked hard to systematize how I work to keep my pace true and leave no one waiting. Of course, things will happen, like a client showing up late. It’s important to have the ability to be flexible. A good place to start is to build solid education in foundations to help you to work more purposefully. There’s a big difference between working fast and working efficiently. Start paying attention to the repetitive actions you use in your work and cut them out. This way you’re able to control your pace to be swift when you’re short on time, and easy when you’ve got time to spare.
Will opting out of using online booking as a part of your strategy limit your ability to grow? In all honesty, it probably won’t, because what it takes to be successful in this business is many little good habits done well. However, the consumer demanding convenience is not going to go away and that is something in a service-focused industry we should take into consideration. I’m always happy to help with any questions! Follow me on Instagram @christianawesome
Photo: Shutterstock | Dasha Patrenko
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Proud hairdresser. Passionate educator. Follow me on insta - Christianawesome
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