Perfect Match

Choosing software for your salon is about more than comparing the features each program offers. Here, a few additional things to consider.

Pricing structure. Companies like Harms Software offer set pricing on their various products, while others, such as ClienTrak! and Extended Technologies, offer subscription-based service. With set pricing, the total investment cost is more obvious and there's no monthly bill to deal with. The large up-front expense may not be affordable for some businesses, however, and upgrades and tech support may be additional costs. Subscription-based services often include upgrades and tech support, but it's important to understand how much it will cost you to use the service in the long run. Some companies, like Salon Iris, offer several payment options, such as a one-time purchase price, an installment plan and month-to-month leasing, so salons can decide what works best.


Versions. Many companies offer several levels of software that are differentiated by the features they include or the number of employees they support. For smaller businesses, ClienTrak!, for example, offers an affordable pared-down version of its program, while Extended Technologies' SalonBiz Light is free for salons with four service employees or fewer. Franchises and salons with multiple locations may prefer a sophisticated enterprise system offered by companies like Harms Software, Shortcuts Salon & Spa and Extended Technologies.


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Add-ons. Another important consideration when determining which software is best for your salon is what features are included at the standard price. Features such as online booking, gift card sales and processing and payroll functionality may require an extra fee.

Technology. Most salon software operates in a client-server environment, where the data is hosted at each salon on a server and is transmitted to other computers via a hardwired or wireless network. Web-hosted software, such as Floydware's Rosy, is maintained on the software company's server and accessed by salons over the Internet. Advantages include low networking hardware and maintenance costs and easy upgrading, but the service is dependent on reliable Internet access. —L.A.

Contact these companies for information:

ClienTrak! Spa and Salon Software: 800/397-4582;

Extended Technologies: 800/632-5527;

Floydware: 630/469-1078;

Harms Software: 888/813-2141;

Salon Iris: 888/803-4747;

Shortcuts Salon & Spa Software: 866/678-7324;