Today, 35% of people prefer to book their appointments online. For people under 35, that number is even greater, with many refusing to book over the phone or in person. With so many consumers preferring to book service appointments virtually, online appointment booking software is necessary for businesses like hair and nail salons.
Without a website to support online bookings, you may be missing out on an entire consumer base. Plus, with Covid-19 changing buying behaviors and your operating hours, you may be missing even more potential customers who don’t want to walk-in or keep missing you through the phone.
Many salons and other local businesses have had to get more creative with how they advertise, facilitate customer interactions, and keep regulars coming back through their doors. Extending this creativity to how you book your appointments is a natural next step.
The easiest starting point is building an elegant, streamlined website. It’s also a great way to show customers more info about your brand and build an online presence. Combine this with social media, email newsletters, and even texting, and you’re sure to get more customers back inside.
Building a Website
First things first, you need a website. This can seem intimidating, but with many website builders available online, you’ll never need to actually code a page from scratch. Instead, do a little research about what option works best for you, and then get ready to get down to business.
Many website builders have free plans, so all you’ll have to purchase is your domain name. Today, even if your preferred option isn’t available in a “.com,” you can register a “.net” or “.org” for the same price.
When you log onto a builder, it’ll give you the option to associate your domain name with the website you build. Don’t worry, if you decide to go another route, you can always move your domain between different website building platforms.
One of the easiest builders to use is Wix. They have excellent templates, apps, and Calls to Action that you can embed throughout your page as “buttons.” These terms become easier to imagine as you practice on your website.
Once you create a profile, you can choose the template you want to use. From there, it’s just a matter of replacing the placeholders in the template with your preferred images, text, and forms.
Another great option is SquareSpace, which offers an excellent support team who can help you bring your salon’s website to life. It’s super easy to move between formatting your page for desktop users or configuring for mobile devices. Their blogging features are great if you’re considering content marketing, and it’s much easier to embed relevant SEO tags if need be.
You’ve probably heard about WordPress but be wary —this is not a great option for beginners. While it’s marketed as being intuitive, this is only because it’s a common ground between graphic designers and backend engineers (aka the people who write the codes that allow for the fancy-schmancy stuff other websites use). If you’ve used a website builder before or are curious about the backend of SEO, this can be a great option, but you’ll need a lot of help getting started.
Building an Appointment Book into Your Website
Once you have a website, you will need to integrate it with an online appointment booking tool. While you can (and should) have a general contact form on your website, this is not sufficient for scheduling appointments.
Customers will expect a clean, seamless experience when scheduling their appointment online. They should be able to choose:
- An appointment type (haircut and blowdry, manicure, facial, etc.)
- Available Date and Time
- Preferred technician or stylist
To get the right functionality and make sure it’s properly integrated with your salon’s calendar, it’s best to invest in a tool that’s designed to do all these things.
One super easy free tool is Square Appointments. This tool is something that you’ll maneuver like an app, but it will appear on your website like a portal.
Customers can click on it to go into the app and book their appointment, which will automatically sync with your own version of the app. Square will collect their contact info for you and can be set up to send reminders or notifications for deals on other services.
Square Appointments is also a great option if you’re working as a freelancer or renting a chair in a salon. In this case, you can build a basic landing page instead of a whole website and quickly link people to your appointment book. This can lend a little legitimacy to your entire approach and guarantee that you’re setting yourself up for success.
Another option is Acuity Scheduling, which is also free. It’s a more sophisticated platform in terms of presentation and scheduling capabilities, so if you’re looking to manually add and manage appointments and lure in new customers, this may be a good tool for you. That being said, to access all of its advanced features, you’ll need to get a paid subscription. So if you’re looking for a free, uncomplicated solution, this might not be for you.
Now Get Customers Online
In the digital age, it’s crucial to collect your customer’s phone number and email address. That way, you can follow up with them about upcoming appointments and remind them to schedule a new appointment after a few months.
You can also send out a weekly or monthly email to remind them of what your salon has been up to and quickly link to your appointment book.
To get new customers in the door, you may have to look to more traditional solutions. One hack is to combine your new online presence with print advertising, especially with a guaranteed format to catch any customer’s eye.
With IndoorMedia, local businesses can print their ad or coupon on the back of grocery store register tape. This allows you to save on printing costs, but it also guarantees a huge local reach for your salon.
With around 20,000 customers visiting grocery stores every week, your supermarket advertisement could be going home in the pocket of every single shopper.
Moreover, because grocery stores typically draw their customers in from a three-mile radius of their store, you’re promised hyper-local advertising. This is part of why grocery store advertising is so popular for small businesses who really want to ensure they’re reaching their community.
All you need is an enticing special and a link to your website. Then you can sit back and watch your supermarket advertisement drive new customers to your website and watch your new online booking tool turn them into customers.