5 steps to introducing an appointment-only system in your hair or beauty salon
According to the government regulations for reopening salons, hair and beauty businesses must operate in an appointment-only system. Clients are supposed to book their visit remotely and arrive at the salon just in time for being treated. This way, you reduce in-store contact to the minimum and avoid having people crowding in a closed space.
Introducing such a system requires taking care of a few elements of running your business – it’s not enough to just announce “so yeah, from now on you have to call to make an appointment”. If you want everything to work smoothly, it’s best to act comprehensively. Let’s go through the process, step-by-step!
1. Offer alternative ways of booking (eg. online)
Have you already introduced an online booking option for your salon? Clients love making appointments this way. It’s quick, convenient, allows them to book whenever and wherever they want, gives them better control over the date and time and eliminates the need to talk on the phone (some people find it very stressful). Salon owners love online bookings as well – you don’t have to stop performing the service to answer the phone, you don’t need a receptionist, there’s no room for misunderstandings, you have all the data in one place and no one wakes you up in the middle of the night, asking for a manicure at dawn.
Now, if you want to operate in an appointment-only system, online booking is pretty much a necessity. Otherwise, you will be forced to either keep answering the phone all day long or employ at least one additional receptionist (your staff have to work in shifts, remember?). From a business standpoint, it’s best to allow customers to book appointments in at least two ways – so that those unable or unwilling to call will be able to book online, and those unable or unwilling to book online will be able to make a call.
Versum delivers an online booking feature that is in perfect sync with the rest of the system – appointment book, customer records and appointment reminders – and provides several additional settings that allow you to fit the feature to your needs. Read more about our online booking feature here.
2. Set up appointment reminders
Appointment reminders are your best friends in the fight against no-shows. Getting a text message at the right time makes it very hard to overlook the planned visit – it also helps to plan the day ahead, so that your clients not only arrive, but arrive on time.
Currently, no-shows hurt twice as much – you cannot simply invite a walk-in to fill the empty spot or start working earlier on a client waiting in the reception area. By having a no-show, you waste up to a few hours of your time. Moreover, as you cannot have too many people in the salon at once, the number of free slots is heavily limited – a client failing to arrive takes away a huge chunk of your profit for the day.
Late arrivals are also terrible – they disorganise your schedule more than ever, as currently, you cannot just simply ask another staff member to finish the client or start working with another one who already arrived for their appointment.
If you want to ensure your appointment-only system works smoothly, it’s best to set up appointment reminders that will stress the importance of being on time. That will make your clients more conscious about planning their scheduled visits. Read more about setting a personalised appointment reminder with Versum here. And if you want to be absolutely certain that your clients arrive for their appointments, introduce prepayments for each booking – more on that here.
3. Introduce a digital screening questionnaire
Introducing an automated screening questionnaire that your clients can fill before they even arrive at your salon is a crucial element of the appointment-only system. Why? Firstly and quite prosaically, because filling such a form takes a moment, and in the current state of things, your timeframes dedicated to each client must be rather rigid. Secondly, because having a client confessing they had been in contact with someone infected with COVID-19 when they are already in your salon kinda defeats the purpose (regardless of whether or not you introduce the appointment-only system – it’s just a poor idea overall).
This is why we have added a digital version of the screening questionnaire to our system – clients fill a consultation form remotely, without the need to visit your salon first. They receive the link to the survey along with the regular appointment reminder and if the results of it will disqualify them from being treated, they will be required to cancel their appointment. Read more about the screening questionnaire feature here.
4. Update your salon policies
Now, once you fit the appointment-making process to the new system, it’s important to amend your salon policies as well. It’s best to update the:
- Late arrivals policy – now more than ever it’s vital for clients to be on time. Delays can easily result in appointment clashes you can no longer work over by asking another stylist to help you. You might want to consider making your late arrival policy more rigid, for example, by imposing a fee on customers arriving more than 15 minutes late.
- Late cancellation policy – it can be a difficult topic now. Usually, you insist that clients should cancel their appointments in a reasonable time, otherwise a fee might be imposed. But now, if a client experiences any COVID-19 symptoms, they should cancel their visit, even if it’s fifteen minutes before the appointment. So it may be wise to ease your late cancellation policies for the time being, in order to avoid clients arriving at the salon when feeling under the weather.
- Right to refuse service – the most important one in this situation. You need to openly state that you can (and will) refuse service to a client who didn’t book their appointment earlier and insists on being treated as a walk-in. It’s best to add that every visit requires making an appointment and filling the screening questionnaire.
5. Inform your clients about the changes
Finally, as always, when you introduce some changes, you need to inform your clientele about it. Switching into an appointment-only system is a big change, so it’s best to use all available channels – from your social media fan pages to text messaging. The main, big announcement should be focused on no longer taking walk-ins and information regarding the ways customers can book with you now. However, if you are also introducing the consultation form or updating your policies, you should definitely mention these things as well.
It is also vital to hang a poster, announcing you are no longer taking walk-ins on your salon’s display. Make it plain, clear and polite – something between the lines of “NO WALK-INS. To ensure safety, for the time being, we operate in the appointment-only system. You can book your visit by phone ([NUMBER]) or online ([LINK OR WEBSITE’S NAME]). Thank you for your understanding!”.
If you want to make sure your announcement reaches all your clients, use Versum to send a bulk text message to your entire customer base. Read more about bulk text messaging feature here.
Following these steps, you will be able to meet all the safety requirements. And with the help of Versum, you’ll do so quickly and with ease. Start your free trial now!