A young woman stands in a salon or spa and looks down at the electronic tablet in her hands. The woman has bobbede, wavy hair and wears a black-and-white striped shirt. In the background, another woman sits in an elevated chair and looks down at her smartphone. Further away is a check-in area.
Salon software helps automate and simplify time-consuming tasks like booking appointments and managing inventory, leaving you and your employees more time for styling customers. — Getty Images/DragonImages

The future looks bright for the personal care service sector, with the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics estimating that “overall employment of barbers, hairstylists, and cosmetologists is projected to grow 8% from 2022 to 2032, faster than the average for all occupations.” Yet, it’s a competitive industry, and salon owners need the right tools to differentiate their brands.

Salon software combines online booking systems, client management features, and marketing tools in a single platform. Salon owners can improve customer experiences and reduce no-shows by adding cloud-based technologies. Learn how salon management systems can help your business and explore solutions for your shop.

What is salon management software?

Salon management software is an all-in-one system for managing day-to-day operations. You can handle daily tasks from one platform instead of using multiple tools for payment processing, appointment scheduling, and marketing. Salon software integrates with point-of-sale (POS) hardware like card readers and helps business owners track inventory.

Many salon software solutions offer the following tools and features:

  • Online appointment booking: Use smart scheduling tools to create seamless online client experiences. Or book appointments in person, and your salon scheduling software syncs automatically with the online system.
  • Built-in payment processing: Accept any payment type in person or require a deposit for online appointments. Salon payment tools calculate taxes, discounts, and gratuities. Some services let you keep cards on file and offer no-show protection.
  • Client profile management: Keep tabs on clients and build better relationships with native customer relationship management (CRM) tools. Salon software shows client visits and purchase history. Some also allow stylists to enter notes.
  • Appointment confirmations and reminders: Reduce no-shows or allow clients to reschedule with automated notifications. You can send customizable alerts via email or text before and after salon appointments.
  • Staff calendar and management: Ensure stylists stay fully booked and on top of appointments with color-coded calendars and accessible apps. Owners and stylists can view working hours, availability, and sales.
  • Reports and analytics: Save time crunching numbers with pre-built reports and salon-specific metrics. Many salon management programs provide analytics that show your client's rebooking rate, average ticket value, and more.
  • Marketing capabilities: Several salon software systems have native text, social media, and email marketing tools. These may include templates and automated services.
  • Inventory management: Salon software tracks purchases at your POS and automatically updates stock quantities. Built-in inventory management tools let you see stock levels from any internet-connected device and always know when to reorder.
  • Loyalty programs and gift cards: Increase repeat visits and make gift giving easy with native loyalty and gift card features.

In addition, salon owners can customize their software packages with various add-ons. Vendors may offer online stores, text marketing tools, or livestreaming services for an additional fee.

[Read more: Celebrity Hairstylist Ted Gibson on the Highs and Lows of Growing a Multimillion-Dollar Beauty Business]

How does salon software help stylists and salon owners?

Clients expect flawless salon experiences in your shop and when booking or rescheduling appointments online. Likewise, they want to be the first to hear about your latest promotion or the newest products. And salon owners need to stay on top of key metrics like top-selling items and inventory costs.

Salon management systems help you build client relationships, increase sales, and manage back-office tasks. Moreover, you can view schedules and stock levels from your phone using cloud-based platforms. This flexibility allows you to create marketing emails from home or update availability if a stylist calls in at the last minute.

With a unified platform, salon owners can manage most business tasks from one application. Switching to salon management software saves time and increases productivity. For busy establishments in competitive markets, the convenient features for clients, stylists, and salon owners can be a game-changer.

Salon software combines online booking systems, client management features, and marketing tools in a single platform.

Fresha: free software for wellness and beauty professionals

Fresha is a free beauty and wellness platform used by over 450,000 stylists and professionals. It’s compatible with all devices and offers mobile apps for clients, business owners, and stylists. Fresha has no monthly subscription fee and allows unlimited team members, appointment bookings, and locations.

You can track client history and keep notes. The salon software records product inventory levels and has advanced POS capabilities. It comes with unlimited automated emails and in-app notifications. After using the 20 free monthly texts, it costs $0.01 per message.

Fresha sells POS card terminals for contactless, chip, and PIN payments from all major credit cards, Apple Pay, and Google Pay. The processing fee is 2.19% plus $0.20.

GlossGenius: all-in-one salon management platform

More than 40,000 beauty and wellness entrepreneurs use GlossGenius to manage and grow their businesses. It provides a customizable website with stunning templates and 24/7 online booking tools. Your clients don’t need to log in or create an account.

GlossGenius offers two subscriptions: Standard ($24 monthly) and Gold ($48 monthly). Both plans include the following features:

  • Scheduling and calendar management.
  • Unlimited appointment confirmations and reminders.
  • Email and text marketing.
  • Client profiles, notes, and management.
  • Social media templates.
  • Client reviews.
  • Built-in POS system.
  • Card-on-file and deposits at booking.
  • Product sales and inventory management.
  • Expense tracking and receipt capture.
  • Reports and analytics.

The Gold plan adds advanced tools like waitlist and staff management capabilities. GlossGenius offers a 14-day free trial. Payment processing costs 2.6% regardless of payment method, and you can accept all major credit cards, Google Pay, and Apple Pay.

[Read more: Tech Hack: How Sally Beauty Maximized Worker Productivity and Modernized Its Store Operations]

DaySmart Salon: scalable salon software

DaySmart Salon is a software solution for independent salon owner-stylists that scales to multi-service operations with advanced payroll and sliding scale commissions. The company has offered business management solutions for over 20 years, including industry-specific tools for spas and body tattoo artists. It provides five subscriptions, starting at $29 monthly.

All plans come with online booking, Instagram and Facebook scheduling, and integrated payment processing. DaySmart Salon allows 500 to 5,000 text messages and 1,000 to 20,000 emails monthly, depending on the subscription.

The DaySmart Salon Kiosk App is a unique feature that allows clients to check in independently or create new appointments. You can customize the appearance with photos and background images. DaySmart Salon offers a 14-day free trial for new customers.

Mindbody: AI-powered tools

With over 20 years of beauty industry expertise, Mindbody understands that salon owners need revenue-generating features alongside tools for managing day-to-day operations. The salon software assists entrepreneurs with features powered by artificial intelligence (AI). You can train Messenger to reply to client questions or booking requests in your brand voice. The system flags responses requiring human assistance.

Mindbody provides a lead management dashboard and marketing suite. Both let you customize your email and text campaigns to increase engagement and stay on brand. Mindbody integrates with popular web hosting platforms like WordPress, Squarespace, and Wix. You can embed appointment bookings, contact forms, and staff profiles on your site, and everything syncs automatically.

The vendor offers one-on-one setup and training. Subscriptions start at $129 monthly, and payment processing begins at 2.75% per transaction.

CO— aims to bring you inspiration from leading respected experts. However, before making any business decision, you should consult a professional who can advise you based on your individual situation.

CO—is committed to helping you start, run and grow your small business. Learn more about the benefits of small business membership in the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, here.

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