Q & A: iSalon’s Alice Smithson Chats Salon Tech
With over three decades of knowledge and experience in the salon software industry, iSalon Software is the partner of choice for your business. It is the complete salon management and online booking solution for hair & beauty salons, barbers, clinics, spas and colleges.
iSalon understand clients are the most important aspect to any salon business and have designed iSalon with a multitude of features to perfect clients in-salon experience and to make every visit to the salon the highlight of their day!
Here we chat with Marketing Manager, Alice Smithson about the salon and spa technology industry, how it has changed and what the future looks like.
Technology has fast become a huge focus within the hairdressing industry, why do you think this is?
Technology has changed how clients expect businesses to act, they expect convenience and to be able to book their appointments quickly and easily at any time of the day.
Offering online bookings or a booking app helps you work to client’s schedules as they can book or amend their appointments out of working hours. It also benefits client’s looking for a last-minute appointment or trying a new service they see promoted in front of them.
Looking back, technology has drastically changed, especially over the past 5 years and the hairdressing industry has experienced a lot of these changes. What do you feel has changed for the better?
Looking back over the past five years it’s been incredible to see how much has changed. Being a software company it’s essential for us to be ahead of the game and we are always researching and developing new technology that will benefit our clients and their businesses.
Things that salons cannot live without are;
1. Online bookings and mobile apps
Having a platform available for their clients to book anytime and anywhere. With over 82% of the population now owning a smartphone, having this feature available to clients is something I’d highly recommend. It benefits both the salon and the client so I would say it’s a must have.
2. Client records – more secure, informative and easier to access
Client records were originally created in paper format and were found at the front desk within the salon, spa or barbershop. As technology advanced and began taking into account environmental factors and salon security, moving client records to the software system became a relevant feature. Not only does it provide secure encrypted storage of client records, it also allows the salon to send skin test reminders, loyalty point notifications (if applicable), appointment reminders and personalised marketing campaigns.
3. Salon Management
In years gone by salon management was all in paper format. Businesses dealt with everything by hand, in files and folders and often things were misplaced or even lost. Often business owners would not be able to complete tasks on the go or access anything when working away. We have developed iSalon Command Centre, which allows the business owner to manage the salon remotely with pricebook manager, marketing, reporting and settings modules. The owner/manager can amend price lists, update team members and setups, manage marketing campaigns and stock prices and get crucial business information instantly.
What are the top three features requested by salons within their software? And why?
As mentioned above, Command Centre is one of our most requested features. It provides the business owner or manager with the key modules to ensure their business is running efficiently and as planned when they are away from the salon.
The second most requested feature is iText, a tool that allows the user to send SMS text reminders, personalised birthday messages and other promotional and marketing information to clients. Through our own research, appointment reminders can dramatically reduce no shows by 60%.
The third most requested feature is YourApp. With the use of smartphones now a daily occurrence in every day life, many salons now understand just how important having their own app is. 2018 app statistics have shown that there were 194 billion app downloads globally, with 50% of surveyed users in the UK confirming they have downloaded an app at least once per week. YourApp is a fully native, customisable app for your salon, with registration and full setup. Your clients can use the many features including booking appointments, ‘squeeze me in’, account details, history, gift vouchers and many more.
Online booking figures are constantly rising. Are telephone bookings becoming a thing of the past?
Yes. Over the past five years, telephone bookings have reduced drastically, and this is due to social media and technology. With clients constantly on the go, many prefer to book online as this suits their lifestyle and provides them with the freedom to see what is available and which appointment suits them. Many are also enticed to book via the likes of Instagram and Facebook which promote the ‘book now’ button.
However, it’s important to remember that there are still many clients who prefer to phone the salon to book in their appointments as they like engaging with the team and also like to speak with someone to confirm their appointment.
What’s next for salon software as a whole? Where do you see the industry in the next 5 years?
The software industry is ever evolving and each day we are developing new features, all to aid businesses and to make both salons and their clients lives as easy and efficient as possible. iSalon are constantly working to provide our clients with the highest standards of software and ensure they receive the best technology available within the UK market.
In the next five years, I expect to see the hairdressing, beauty and barbering industries embracing technology much more, incorporating this into their day-to-day business running and using this to their advantage. I predict that RCS messaging will really take off and I’m looking forward to seeing how the UK embraces this new style of messaging.
For more info on the brand, please visit iSalon here.