Small Business Automation Hacks: 5 Things You Can Automate When You Operate a Spa, Salon, or Barbershop
If you’re someone who runs your salon, spa, or barbershop alone, you’ll know that there are only 24 hours in a day to finish your to-do list — which, we’re willing to bet, is extensive.
You have to serve your clients. You need to manage your finances. Then there’s marketing, operations, back-office supplies, and retail inventory to look after. All those activities can eat into your time to do what you’re passionate about working with your clientele.
So, how can you “do it all” while maintaining your sanity in the process?
One key best practice to consider when you’re running solo is to automate the aspects of your business that don’t require a human touch.
And that’s exactly what we’ll discuss today.
In this article, we’ll shed light on the areas of your business that you can — and should — automate. By the end of post, you’ll have a solid idea of how to streamline your biz and free up time so you can keep doing what you love.
Table of contents
- Software is the foundation of small business automation
- 5 areas to streamline with small business automation
Software is the foundation of small business automation
Before we get into the nitty-gritty of how to automate your business, it’s worth pointing out the software is the key driver of small business automation. And in the realm of personal care businesses, you typically need the following types of solutions to effectively automate key tasks in your salon, spa, or barbershop.
Business management software. First, your beauty salon system or day spa software likely has a number of features built in to run the core tasks of your establishment (e.g., appointment scheduling, client comms, and calendar management).
Software for peripheral tasks. Then there are solutions built to automate non-core tasks. These solutions include accounting and bookkeeping apps, email marketing software and social media schedulers.
Software integrations. In some cases, you need to connect multiple apps to fully automate your processes. This is where software integration services such as Zapier, IFTTT, and Automate come in. These solutions connect two or more apps together, so data from one platform seamlessly flows to the other.
The right software and integrations can save a solopreneur hours weekly, even daily.
For this reason, it’s important to carefully consider the platforms that you’re using. In addition to being a good fit for your business, the apps and tools you decide to use must also work well together.
So, as we talk about the different areas to automate, make sure you’re also thinking about how each app or tool fits into your overall tech stack.
5 Areas to Streamline with Small Business Automation
Now that we’ve established why small business automation is important and the types of tools involved in the process, let’s look at the tasks and areas to streamline in your salon, spa, or barbershop.
1. Appointment scheduling
Automating your appointment scheduling doesn’t just free up your time — it vastly improves the client experience, as a growing segment of clients favor internet scheduling over traditional methods.
Research by Genbook found that 44% of clients prefer to book their service appointments online.
Another benefit? Using online scheduling means that your clients can book 24/7. Over 50% of reservations take place after hours or on the weekend, so going digital with your booking process means you won’t miss out on potential business.
You can use appointment scheduling software to automate your booking process. With the right solution, your business can have a booking portal and provide a self-service scheduling experience that saves you and your clients time.
The best in class solutions (like Genbook!) can even connect to third-party apps and sites, such as Google, Instagram, and Facebook, enabling clients to book an appointment on the platforms that are most convenient for them.
And if you use integrated payments and connect your booking software with your payment processor, you’ll be able to provide a more convenient checkout experience and even charge deposits prior to booking.
Self Love Spa in California provides an example of a great online scheduling experience in action.
When they land on the page, the client chooses the service category they’re interested in. All of the services for that category pop up with a description and price, so clients are fully informed about the service without having to navigate away from the page.
On the next page, Self Love provides the appointment availability, so clients can browse and find a slot that works best for them.
From there, clients can enter their personal information and payment details to secure their spot.
And the best? The whole process is automated. Having an online scheduling app eliminates the back and forth work that comes with manual appointment scheduling. There’s no need to check your calendar by hand, and once a client confirms their appointment, they’ll be automatically entered into your system, so all you (and they) have to do is show up.
2. Customer communications
Communicating with customers is a big part of any solopreneur’s job. You have to confirm appointments, reschedule bookings, provide updates, send out promotional offers, and the list goes on.
The good news? When you’re armed with solid customer comms software, you don’t have to do any manual outreach. Consider the following.
Appointment confirmations. These messages can be set up with your appointment scheduling software. Your booking system can send out a text message and/or email to your clients confirming their upcoming appointment and offering a method by which they can reach you to ask questions or reschedule.
Here’s an example of what a good appointment confirmation email looks like. In addition to having basic booking details (time, date, duration), the message also contains links that enable clients to modify or cancel their appointment.
Pro tip: Genbook automatically sends confirmation messages to your clients a minute after each successful booking. Learn how it works and how to set it up here.
Appointment reminders. In addition to appointment confirmations, you can automate your appointment reminders. Doing so will keep you and your clients on the same page and reduce no-shows.
Pro tip: Genbook lets you set up automatic appointment reminders in minutes. These messages — which can be sent via email, SMS, or both — contain the client’s appointment details along with a link to manage their booking.
Review requests. Consider asking for reviews automatically. Use your booking software to create an email that sends within a day or two after the client’s service requesting their feedback. Be sure to include a link to the site on which they can leave the review.
Pro tip: Genbook enables you to collect, publish, and share reviews with ease. Streamline your business’ feedback gathering process and ensure that your clients’ glowing reviews are displayed on your booking portal. Learn more.
Company updates. You can also send mass updates about your business using automation. Rather than painstakingly reaching out to each of your clients to let them know your hours have changed or some other update about your operations, use software to send your messages out en masse. Genbook’s smart marketing capabilities, for example allow you to do this using ready to use templates.
Marketing messages. Promotional offers can be automated in a similar fashion to updates. You can use automation and evencreate SMS messages to send along with emails. Here’s an example from Hand & Stone Massage and Facial Spa in Virginia:
Pro tip: The right integrations can make marketing automation for small businesses a breeze.
Some solutions have native integrations and can connect with each other directly, but you could also use a third party integration service to keep your systems in sync.
3. Inventory management
Services may be your bread and butter, but retail products can also add to your bottom line. If you stock more than just a few items at a time, automating your inventory management process will save you time and effort.
Inventory management can sometimes be run by your salon management software, but there are also specialized solutions for those that have sophisticated stock management needs.
Here are some examples of what inventory management tasks can be automated:
Reordering your most popular items. Inventory management software can be set to reorder any product at a threshold you choose. For instance, every time that staple body scrub gets down to three left in stock, the software will alert you that stock levels are running low or even place another order for you.
Tracking the items you have in stock. Inventory management software’s fundamental job is to track the products that are currently in stock, as well as products that are on their way to you. That way, you always know what you have on hand and how much you need.
Providing analytics on your retail performance. Inventory management software is great for telling you which products are popular and which aren’t. Software can give you data on how popular a product really is and highlight items that may not be selling as expected. These insights help you make restock decisions. Best of all? Your software can surface the right info automatically, so you don’t have to dig around for data or make manual calculations.
4. Financial management
Managing the financial aspects of your business manually leaves a lot of room for human error (not to mention the time it takes!). Most salon management software have point-of-sale capabilities built-in. POS software can automate quite a bit of financial management for you. A POS can:
- Record and track sales histories and appointments
- Generate receipts for print or email
- Streamline the checkout experience by syncing with your payment processor
Once again, you can use an app integration service like Zapier, IFTTT, or Automate to connect your salon management software with your accounting software like Quickbooks or Xero. These solutions can then automate other tasks for you such as:
- Entering your salon customers into your accounting software.
- Send an invoice from your accounting software to your client.
- Track your time spent on a service in your accounting software.
5. Social media management
Another component for marketing automation for small businesses is social media.
Having a social media presence is critical for solopreneurs and freelancers in the salon, spa, or barbershop world. Sharing photos of your work on networks like Instagram helps you get new clients.
Hair by Eddie (@hairbyeddie) offers a great example of a barber with a strong Instagram game. Eddie posts content consistently — at least twice a week. This practice enables him to stay on the radar of his followers on a regular basis.
Being consistent is key, as social network algorithms tend to favor consistency in posting. That is, your account is likely to get more eyeballs if you post at least a few times each week, generally around the same day and time. For this reason, you need to establish a posting cadence and stick to it.
In order to achieve that kind of consistency while running a full-time business, you have to automate your posting routine. A tool like Buffer or Hootsuite enables you to schedule out posts in advance. Once a week or month, you can sit down with all the photos you want to share, write up the content, and schedule them out. Then all you have to do in real-time is respond to comments.
A tool like Hootsuite even makes commenting easier. In Hootsuite, you can create specific feeds to follow different hashtags or words. For instance, you can have a feed that pulls in all posts on Instagram that have your business name in the caption. With all these posts identified, you can then comment right from the software.
You can get an idea of what this looks like from this image on Hootsuite’s website:
Social scheduling tools also provide analytics so you can easily see which of your posts do best. This data can help you determine what days of the week and what time of day get the most engagement. Sometimes they’ll even tell you which hashtags perform best for you.
Level up your small business automation game
Being a solopreneur can be difficult. The good news? There’s a lot of fantastic software out there that can do many of the tasks eating up the time you could be spending with clients. When you utilize the tools available today, you’ll save yourself hours of work.
Want more advice on how to run a successful business? Subscribe to Genbook’s newsletter. And if you’re on the lookout for an all in one appointment booking and scheduling software that comes with in-built automation, look no further than Genbook. Try it for free for 30-days!