- 35% of clients want to schedule appointments during non-business hours
- 25% of millennials (those under 35 ) will only book appointments online
Assuming a salon or spa has an established website, we estimate that offering online booking should boost appointments by 5% to 25%. Unfortunately, there is no comprehensive study on the impact of introducing online booking. The available “research” is made up of individual case studies with results that are easily manipulated. However, there is overwhelming evidence that many people prefer to book online and / or want to be able to schedule appointments during non-business hours.
Common Concerns About Online Bookings
Will online booking lead to less time talking with clients and less sales as a result?
Offering online booking does not have to replace phone call appointment setting. Salon websites or apps can offer clients the choice of scheduling via the phone or online. Some clients are going to prefer the phone and others to schedule online. You can satisfy both types of clients. When a client books by phone, you enter the appointment information into the online booking system to keep everything in one place.
Your salon may be able to increase business from clients that prefer phone booking by having online booking! When the salon or spa is closed, offering only phone booking means that clients cannot book appointments when there is not someone to pick up the phone and look at the calendar. While clients can leave a message and get a call back from you, that does not work well if they want the appointment for the next day. Research from Acuity Scheduling shows that over 40% of bookings are made 1 day or less in advance, occurred during non-business hours. By not offering online booking, you’re missing out on appointments from people calling the night before, or early in the morning.
Also, online booking creates time for staff to have longer conversations with clients that call in by phone. Instead of dealing with the logistics of scheduling, salon staff will have more time (and less interruptions) when talking to new clients that want to learn about the salon, or existing clients that need help figuring out what services they want to book.
Will online booking not be able to handle the complexities of appointment setting?
Salon and spa owners know that while appointment booking may not be rocket science, it’s not as simple as sticking a person’s name on a calendar. There are several factors that go into scheduling appointments. One cannot arbitrarily assume that the average appointment will last 40 minutes. A blowout is going to take much less than cutting hair and adding highlights. Among the factors that go into scheduling are the following:
- The availability of the particular beauty professional with which the client has a relationship
- The services to be provided
- The client’s scheduling needs
Scheduling is complicated. Poor scheduling will result in underbooking (lost revenues) or double booking (creating poor client experiences). Many salon and spa owners worry that the online software just isn’t built to handle these complexities.
The good news is online booking software has become very advanced. Online platforms like Acuity Scheduling have been around since 2006, and gone through several stages of development. You can have clients book with individual beauty professionals, and with different time amounts allocated for specific services the client desires. Booker even gives salons the option of showing clients the cost of each service when booking.
The Big Benefit Of Online Booking – Less Missed Appointments
Salon booking software is designed to send out text message reminders to both the clients and beauty professionals. In a report by online scheduling firm Appointment Plus, text messages were shown to reduce no shows for medical appointments by 50%. One reason why text messages are extremely effective, is that most check their text messages several times per day. The chances of them not receiving the message is very slim.
Older ways of reminding clients that they have an appointment include phone calls and emails. Unfortunately, the number of emails people receive, and the fact that many emails don’t make it into the inbox may reduce the effectiveness of this reminder method. While clients may not be overwhelmed with incoming phone calls, this reminder method is very time consuming for salon staff to carry out, which often leads to reminder phone calls not being made. Automatic text messages have advantages over both phone calls and emails!