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Streamlining Software Selection

Steve Gomez January 2009 issue of Skin Inc. magazine
CD being put into drive

People, and often business owners in particular, are always looking for the next best thing—the newest and most top-of-the-line gadgets with all the bells and whistles. But as consumers, people are bombarded on a daily basis with marketing and advertising campaigns telling of the newest and latest cutting-edge products and services. It can easily be enough to make your head spin, can’t it?

When it comes to making purchases, many people squeeze as little time as possible into doing the necessary research in order to make the most educated decisions. Software companies realize this customer spontaneity and market their software as the more convenient, timely and accessible product.

So as a spa owner looking for the best for your business, how do you dodge the hype to get the best software that will handle your needs? Creating a simple game plan beforehand can work wonders in making the process flow much more smoothly.

Identify your needs

As a spa owner, you have many choices to make in order to set your business up for efficiency in operations. Among your concerns, you may need to focus on:

  • growth in sales and bottom-line profitability;
  • setting up compensation and pricing structures;
  • purchasing and tracking inventory;
  • customer service systems;
  • tracking service sales;
  • gift certificate sales and retail sales;
  • tracking request rates; and
  • rebooking percentages and reviewing overall retention.

There can be much to look into, and purchasing the right type of software for your spa is one of the most important choices you will make, so rushing into it without any idea of what you are looking for can be reckless. Take the time to recognize your priorities, review needs that are being met versus those that are not, and look into ways new software could help you do things more simplistically and efficiently.

Be software-shopping savvy

When you start software shopping, it is easy to become overwhelmed. These tips can help you navigate the software retail waters and aid you in your decision-making process.

Take your time. Be patient with the journey. You have to do your homework in order to get the right software for your needs. In a Google search alone, if you try typing in spa software, there are 501,000 different hits with 35 different spa software companies on the first three pages alone. Take your time—realizing you have many choices is the first step.

Get specific. What do you need the software for specifically? Make a list of what you know you need and why you need it. Do you have accounting, scheduling and tracking needs? Identify them before you shop so you can narrow down your choices based on necessary requirements.

Count your savings. Software can be a significant investment, so you want to make sure your purchase is worth your while. How much money will this new software save in terms of time? A great software program saves time by not having to do manual tracking and number-crunching. Estimate how much time will you save with the new software doing this for you, as well as how much an hour of that time is worth to you in dollars and cents.

Be discerning. If you have existing software and want to replace it, make a list of the specific things you need that you are not getting. This will help you be very clear in your search for other software programs and the needs they have to fulfill, saving you time and effort.

Network. This can be one of the most important aspects of choosing new software. Start by calling other spa owners in your network and asking about their software. What are the benefits and drawbacks of their respective programs? This knowledge can help you avoid a lot of problems up-front.

Get involved. Don’t leave this choice to just anyone. Go online and research spa software programs yourself. By doing your homework, you can avoid the grief of having chosen the wrong software in the end.

Also, go to spa industry shows and participate in live demonstrations. Most of the companies that are serious about their software will be at these events, and they give you the perfect opportunity to play around, investigate and build a relationship with a potential software business partner.

Get back-up. After you purchase the software, will the company still be there for you? Ask for references of other spa owners who use the software you are interested in, and ask the software company how it plans to upgrade its current programs in the coming years. See what type of response you get. Does it know where it is deficient, where it wants to improve, and what it is looking to innovate?

One thing is for sure: Technology continues to improve year in and year out, and working with an innovative software company is crucial. Remember, you are making a huge investment of time and money into this, so you want to be sure you are working with a reputable company.

Check the total package. When you’ve narrowed down your choices and are prepared to make your purchase, inquire about on-site training offerings. Spending the money and time necessary to have one of the software company’s experts come into your spa to install the software and spend a day teaching you and your staff how to navigate the programs is usually a wise investment. While most companies do have customer service numbers to call, you cannot replace hands-on training in your workplace. This training can save hours of time that will save you and your spa money.

Make the switch. If you have existing software that you are not happy with it, make the switch. It may be stressful and time-consuming, but think of the long run and how much money and time can be saved in the future by making the right choice now.

For better business

There are a lot of innovative software companies out there. As a business owner, you have the responsibility to find the one that is best for your spa’s needs. Take the time, do the research, shop around and get your hands dirty. For an investment as important as your spa’s software, you’ll be glad you took the time to make the best decision possible.

 

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