Q. "John, I'm afraid of losing control if I allow clients to book online. Doesn’t letting clients self-book end up in less productivity, screwed up appointments, and worst of all, lost revenue?"
A. You definitely want an online booking system that keeps you in control. For example, you don’t want a new client to book a double process color or complex spa service that requires a consultation on their own or with just any employee. Having control over which employees are available for booking, times and days that are bookable online, services offered, and even being able to ‘block’ specific clients from booking online should all be settings within your system.
Online booking has become something that your clients expect to have, and with the instant gratification society that we live in, they want to book an appointment even if it’s 11pm when they're getting ready for bed and remember that they need a haircut. Systems that flag an appointment booked online are helpful so that you are alerted via email, along with visuals in the actual appointment book that appointments were booked online, so you can ensure they were booked correctly.
People frequently worry about no shows with online booking. Most online booking systems are hooked in to both email and SMS text confirmations; you also have the option of requiring a credit card on file to lock in an appointment that was booked online so you shouldn't lose money when a client fails to show up. Online booking is great for first-time clients who come to your salon because of Yelp reviews or a Google search, which can lead to increased revenue and new clients as well.
Hopefully you are doing a good job of rebooking at least 50% of your clients before they leave the salon. Online booking allows them to check when their next appointment is or to sign up for a last minute booking, etc. Relying only on online booking will reduce your frequency of visit because people will typically wait until the last minute when they realize they are overdue for a haircut or color. Online booking is an amazing and necessary feature but don’t let it replace the importance of a rebook culture that starts with the stylist and is reinforced at the front desk before the client leaves.
So if you’re not offering booking online, it's time to change that because your clients want it and they expect it. However, be a rebook evangelist and get those appointments booked properly to maintain the style and look that your clients want and deserve.
Millennium Systems International, Founder and CEO
About: John Harms, Founder & CEO of Millennium Systems International, creator of Millennium Software, has been designing industry leading software and educating the beauty & wellness industry since 1987. Today Millennium is utilized in thousands of businesses in over 38 countries and operating with approximately 150+ employees worldwide. Millennium currently runs its corporate headquarters out of New Jersey and its international office is based in the U.K.