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Exploring New Business Technology

Victoria L. Rayner June 2006 issue of Skin Inc. magazine

The presence of business technology has had a major impact on how skin care facilities function. Choosing the most appropriate and functional technological system requires careful consideration that thoroughly evaluates the variety of selections on the market. Not only is extensive research necessary, but advice from highly informed expert resources is vital, as well. Technology can be troublesome—sometimes causing frustration and mishaps. Be wary before choosing a business solution.

Do the research

The new business systems available need to match your particular spa’s needs from both operational and financial standpoints. Technology is expensive and requires hours devoted to installation, implementation and maintenance. New systems also involve time for training management and team members, revenue for ongoing support and money for continual updates to sustain its functionality. The initial expenditure of the equipment, its capabilities and viability, and its predicted depreciation need to be anticipated methodically by all who will be affected by its use. It also should be compared to your skin care facility’s forecasted revenue to justify the purchase and guarantee a return on the investment.

Get help

Spa owners looking to convert a manual business system to a more efficient electronic means or those considering upgrades should think seriously about hiring a specialist to observe the business functions of the esthetic center. This person can provide recommendations and solutions about the actual technology the business requires in order to function successfully. A qualified consultant can carefully analyze pertinent operations and critical work behaviors, as well as answer specific questions on how to simplify and streamline. A consultant also can suggest ways to upgrade old systems on a budget and recommend less costly technologies. Undoubtedly, gathering more data before making a purchase will be well worth the conscientious effort and could save money in the long run.

Ask questions

Gathering information early will help to ensure that the right decisions are made for your skin care business. Utilize the Internet to locate consultants who specialize in technological business systems for the esthetic industry, as well as other invaluable data that will aid in making the best investment choice. Take advantage of the many newsletters, publications, information-exchange groups and chat sessions on technology, or contact local associations to see if members would be willing to share their experiences with the acquisition of technological systems. Ask people what would have aided them throughout the process, and find out if they had any frustrations, regrets or disappointments regarding their purchases. Learning from the mistakes of others is a highly effective way to avoid costly purchasing errors.

Spa technology

There are a number of technology systems that a spa facility needs in order to function. These systems can help in handling administrative procedures and client transactions, as well as in streamlining and simplifying daily managerial tasks.

Administrative software. Software systems that manage administrative tasks can range in price from $349 to $5,000 or more, depending on the number of features. It is crucial to select the right program for the job. When choosing business software to conduct administrative and operational support, focus on maximizing its utilization throughout the facility and for all team members. Some of the most helpful and commonly used features of an efficient system include the following.

Accounting tasks. Payroll and accounting systems, account statements, financial reports, and check issuing and printing.

Appointment scheduling. Online booking with backup reminders.

Inventory-tracking systems. Product and vendor information, monitoring and reordering capabilities for treatment room supplies, and tracking office supplies and equipment purchases.

Marketing and communications. Client data tracking, mailing lists and labels.

Miscellaneous management. Budget forecasting, client procedures and expenditures, and networking capabilities to link multiple computers in different locations.

Sales transactions. Sales transactions with bar code ability and credit card processing capabilities.

Team member management. Work schedules and overtime features to monitor absences and punctuality of team members, as well as performance records.

Touch-based applications. As a group, those who work in the spa industry are very tactile and spatially oriented. Consequently, a touch-screen computer monitor and software program can be a welcome technological aid. Many professionals believe that it is a highly reliable replacement for the traditional computer navigation method of a keyboard and mouse. It is more efficient and faster because the screen remains on and ready to use. Items can be located quickly and activated by the touch of a finger, or even a gloved hand. The program’s functions are divided into modules, which skin care centers can purchase as needed, based on individual needs. Current features include point of sale, inventory control/products, services, client management, appointment book, team member roster, clubs/client incentives, marketing, miscellaneous income/petty cash and security/logs.

Telecommunications management. A highly efficient telephone system is vital for every spa facility. It must respond to and support all communication to clients, vendors, and business and medical associates. Because the telephone is the most frequently used form of technology in a skin care facility, every team member should be well informed on all of the phone system’s features, advantages and benefits. The ramifications of a poorly chosen or inadequately utilized telecommunication system are many, but none are as devastating as the potential loss of revenue from prospective and existing clientele.

When choosing a telecommunications system, the basic rule is to opt for one that exceeds your spa’s needs. Always focus on the most important services that will be provided, and then make your selection. A small spa should be equipped with at least three to four telephone lines—one to field incoming calls, another for outgoing calls and a third dedicated to a fax or Internet connection. The telephone configuration and the number of lines should be evaluated at least once a year.

Special features to consider, depending on the size of the facility, include voice mail, call forwarding, call holding, caller ID, speed dialing, three-way calling, redial and speakerphone. A spa also would benefit from an auto-attendant that enables callers to hear preset options. Set up mailboxes by group, as well as by individual names. Research online by searching for “business telephone systems,” and look for technical support packages that offer warranties from two years to 36 months. Costs vary from less than $2,000 to $7,000 or more. Other options include checking with wholesale suppliers and purchasing less expensive refurbished models. But be careful not to acquire antiquated, discontinued systems that lack technical support and upgrades.

A business partner

Although only a few years ago a skin care facility required less complex and more manually driven technology, those days are gone forever. There is no question that a functioning technology system delivers useful and crucial management capabilities that help a spa conduct business. It is important to learn how to partner with these new business aids, while being prepared for the inevitable possibility of mishaps. After all, what separates man from machine is his ability to allow and compensate for an intrinsic trait in all of us—human error.

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