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Choosing the Right Spa Software

By Cathy Christensen
Posted: February 27, 2008, from the March 2008 issue of Skin Inc. magazine.

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     Out-of-the box or customization. Most out-of-the-box programs will be sufficient for the majority of day spas. “There aren’t that many variables,” says Durocher. “It’s very rare for the average spa to need a heavily customized program.”
     These programs can be more desirable for resort spas, such as Mohonk Mountain House, however. “Our choice needed to support other venues within our resort, such as tennis, golf, recreation and other scheduling areas,” explains Stirewalt. “Also, because we have a complex structure in operating a resort hotel with 265 rooms, we needed a software program that could possibly support room management or interface properly with those types of systems.”
     For these more complicated needs, Mohonk reviewed a larger number of choices, narrowed it down to a few finalists and requested a proposal from select vendors. For a comprehensive list of spa software vendors, please access Skin Inc. magazine’s Buyer’s Guide by logging on to www.SkinInc.com/buyersguide.

Happily ever after
     In the end, you need to make sure the software you purchase helps your company grow and succeed. “It boils down to how the software can help you serve your customer,” says Stirewalt. And in order to make sure you are purchasing the right option to meet all of your needs, Cortright advises calling in some favors. “It’s really valuable to network as much as possible with other businesses in the industry to find out what they are doing. Ask them if they had it to do all over again, what would they do differently,” she suggests.
     “Spa software has developed significantly during the nine years that I’ve been in the business,” says Stirewalt, but despite this significant growth, Cortright urges prudence. “Even though you may have a wonderful computer and software system, things happen. Have a backup plan. Every night, we run a paper-based appointment schedule for the following day. Make sure that you have the ability to run your business tomorrow if a disaster happens.”
     For better or worse—probably better—the days of worn-out, indecipherable paper appointment books are a thing of the past. And though the sheer number of software options can be staggering, know that if you go in with a clear picture of what you want and need for your business, you will end up with a system to support the success of your business … happily ever after. 

Interview transcripts from the spa professionals interviewed for this article.