Today’s spas are complex businesses with management challenges that require tracking and balancing schedules, inventories, service facilities and various team members, not to mention creating, executing and evaluating marketing initiatives. It is hard to imagine a spa succeeding in today’s fast-paced world without some kind of computer assistance to automate these critical, yet time-consuming tasks. However, getting the most from spa management software does not necessarily mean using the most features and functions; instead, it means getting everything you want from the ones that are used.
Computerized scheduling goes far beyond the old pencil-and-paper method, allowing for complicated booking that takes into account staff availability, room openings, time needed for services, overlapping treatments, packages and just about every time-sensitive detail imaginable, customized to a specific business. Scheduling by computer can allow the ability to provide highly personalized client care, as well. Client data and history modules can track services received, personal preferences, special instructions and esthetician’s notes, among other details, in order to fully prepare for the needs of each returning client.
Sharon Oshita, spa manager of Spa Vitale at Hotel Vitale in San Francisco, believes her computerized scheduling saves time, provides cost-efficiency and allows her to offer improved personalized service. “The software can tell me about the clients coming in, what services they’re having or if there’s a special request for a treatment or therapist, just by the color of the appointment blocked out on the schedule. The program automatically prevents us from booking things if we don’t have the resources. It will tell us we don’t have the space, a room or a person available,” she says.
“It also logs when appointments are moved and notes who moved them, so if a client questions an appointment or comes in and says she has an appointment when she doesn’t, we can look at the schedule and have an explanation as to what happened, which allows us to straighten out any problems before they become issues. We set up past notes that are helpful when we have repeat clients because as soon as we bring up their names, a pop-up will tell us if they have any special requests, allergies or other instructions,” Oshita continues. “We get to know our clients better that way and can be more personable with them because we can talk about what they need. People really appreciate that.”
Most spa software programs have far more marketing tools and ways to apply them than will probably ever be used, but with the ability to automate tasks that used to be completed by hand or to market more frequently to more specifically targeted client groups, an increase in retention, income and visibility for the business can take place.
JoAnn Erickson, owner of Beyond Bliss in Vancouver, Washington, takes advantage of several marketing tools and a detailed client database to help bring in clients when she wants them there, as well as to fill vacant slots, and upsell services and retail. “I use a lot of information because I do a lot of marketing,” Erickson explains. “I send out birthday cards every month, for instance. With my software, I can just pull up addresses, run labels and send them in minutes. I can keep track of new clients and send out thank-you notes every month, as well as break down my client list by dollars spent, whether they’re female or male, the age range or almost anything.” She also enjoys the ability to easily gather and combine her client data with her e-mail promotion program.
“I use an online mass e-mailing program to alert clients to monthly or periodic specials. I can quickly grab the e-mail addresses I want from my software and send them to my online program as an e-mail list,” says Erickson. “One great use I’ve found is, if I have openings, I can offer last-minute booking discounts and fill them. Because e-mail is virtually instantaneous, I can get an immediate response, which helps keep my schedule full.”
Integrated gift cards that can be scanned directly both to create the card by adding a dollar amount and to redeem it, are a quick and simple way to increase sales significantly. “We barcode scan our cards so that everything is in the computer. There’s no paper to track, you don’t have to write anything,” Erickson says. “I believe that this looks much more professional.”
A strong spa software program will have a reports feature that provides information in a practical and usable way based on the client data that has been entered. Good reports are critical in order to know what is happening with your spa and to make informed decisions about what to do next. Many software programs have hundreds of ways to list data on paper, but to get the most out of reports, they need to explain what the data means. Analytical reports can offer an instant, clear picture of a business, down to the tiniest details.
Generally speaking, there are five essential reports every spa needs to keep its business growing.
Annual reports. A good set of annual reports conveys exactly how the business is doing, its strengths, weaknesses and trends. Preparing for strategic planning is streamlined, and getting essential information for accounting purposes is fast and easy.
Summary sales reports. Periodic sales reports provide help for managing daily, weekly, monthly and quarterly sales accounting. A daily spa summary report shows total dollars in sales, clients served and work performed, and how these details are applied to each staff member.
Exclusion report (or comparative sales reporting). This marketing report helps find easy places to make additional sales with existing clients. For instance, how do you identify clients who get massages, but have never tried a facial in order to attempt an upsell? Run an exclusion report, and obtain a list of those clients, as well as their mail and e-mail addresses.
Retention report. To stay in business, a minimum level of retention must take place and the steps necessary must be made to stay above it. A quality, analytical retention report shows if numbers are slipping in order to stay ahead of the game.
Inventory usage report. This report provides several items needed to manage inventory for use in services. For instance, immediately see if the number of masks performed that week, that month, that quarter or during any period of time, aligns with the amount purchased. Waste and shrinkage can be devastating to a spa, especially when money is tight. Kellie Sommers, owner of About Skin Professional Skin Care Center in Mission Viejo, California, uses several reports to keep track of her spa’s progress, even though she’s not a big computer-user. “I don’t use computers, not even at home, but my spa software reports are easy to access and understand, and there are several I use frequently,” she says. “We input all our client information and use the software to check out clients after services and when purchasing products. I run a summary every night to keep track of all sales, services and tips.”
Reports also can help to create and run profitable promotions and incentive programs. “We do retail sales contests among our estheticians and use a retail analysis report to get the totals and breakdowns for each esthetician,” Sommers explains. “We give product prizes to estheticians who make their sales goals.”
Do your research
It is important to understand that today’s clients value their time and money more than ever. There are many spa software packages available, so be sure to complete extensive research to find one that makes sense to you, is easy to learn and use, and does everything you want and need it to do.
Don’t try to use or even learn every feature, but be aware of the options the program contains in order to put them to work in the future, if needed. This method allows you to begin saving time and money immediately and to continue to get the most from your spa software as your business grows.