Integration: Gift Cards for the Holidays

It’s almost fall, and time to think about how you are going to promote your spa or salon through the holiday season. Right now, you have back to school and fall specials, including products and services to help your clients recover from all that summer fun. But very soon, you will need to focus on holiday events, wintertime skin and hair and, most importantly, gift giving.

This year, as in recent years, Gift Cards and certificates will be the biggest sellers for all kinds of retail outlets. Gift Cards are bulletproof: Letting the recipient choose what they want never fails to please.

Your spa or salon has likely been offering Gift Cards and certificates for as long as you have been in business. You already know that they can both increase income and add new clients, resulting in growth and profits.

But the busy fall and holiday season means your staff is busier as well. The increased demand for Gift Cards means more time spent issuing cards as well as redeeming them … UNLESS you have an integrated system for handling them.

Your salon software is designed to integrate Gift Cards into your customer data, check out procedure and sales. A simple barcoded Gift Card can interact with your salon software to issue a loaded card for an existing client with just a few clicks. Redeeming the Gift Card happens in just a few clicks within the check out process.

If your Gift Cards are integrated with your salon software, the days of filling out forms and certificates are gone, and you and your staff can handle the holiday gift-giving season with little or no additional effort. Except that you do need to order your gift cards now, so you have plenty on hand when your clients are in a giving mood.

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PC-based vs. “Cloud” Salon Software

If you have prepared your taxes using your browser (e.g., Foxfire, Internet Explorer) rather than a software program you installed on your computer, you have experienced “cloud computing.”

Cloud computing is an increasingly popular way of delivering software features and functions without delivering the actual software. Customers purchase access or buy subscriptions to use the program, but never actually install it on their personal computer. All customer data and activity are stored on the “cloud.”

The term, “cloud,” is a metaphor for the Internet, and is based on the cloud drawing which used to be used to represent the telephone network.

As cloud computing is becoming more popular, some salon software companies have chosen to offer their salon software services this way. How can you decide whether it would be better for you and your company to use cloud-based salon software, or PC-based salon software?

Advantages of cloud computing versus using software installed on your computer are said to be:

  • Cloud may be less expensive
  • Cloud may allow easier access for multiple users in different locations
  • Cloud may allow greater room for data storage

Some software companies essentially force their clients to use cloud computing by discontinuing their PC-based offerings. This could be considered a disadvantage because it takes away the customer’s choice.

Some other possible disadvantages of using a cloud include:

  • The need for high-speed Internet service – and in some cases very high speed service (the kind of speeds that may be required do not yet exist in many parts of the country)
  • Privacy: The hosting company can monitor at will the communications and data of its customers
  • Security: Traditional PC-based protection is not sufficient for this new structure; hackers can and have purchased services of cloud computing companies and used the service to send out malicious instructions to infected PCs; in addition, security is not managed by you, the customer, but by a third-party

Whether you choose to use salon software that is cloud based or installed on your PC depends upon several things including whether or not you require large amounts of data storage accessible to multiple users or locations, whether the cost for using the cloud-based service is significantly less than having the salon software installed and run on your PC and local network, and whether you are comfortable with the privacy and security risks involved with cloud computing.

More and more, you will see salon software companies offering their services from the “cloud.” You will hear all kinds of marketing messages about the advantages of this new technology, but only you can decide if cloud computing is right for you.

Leprechaun Salon Software: Every Salon and Spa Should Have a Loyalty Program

These days, it is unusual NOT to have a loyalty program if you are a retail business of nearly any kind. Some businesses issue actual credit cards which accumulate points for rewards or purchases. Others use plastic loyalty cards which allow the customer to prepay for goods and services. The have, for the most part, replaced the old “buy ten get one free” punch cards that were popular a decade ago.

Buy offering rewards, free products and services or by giving customers an incentive to prepay for their future services, you are encouraging or ensuring that they will return to your business to make those purchases.

Allowing clients to accumulate points or credits toward future purchases urges them to make more purchases in order to get enough points to use toward free items.

Loyalty programs can be simple or complex; it’s entirely up to you. What you don’t want to do, however, is create a loyalty program that you must do entirely by hand, or which requires a third-party to run it. You also don’t want to create a program that can be exploited by the customer (where they can, for instance, give their card to someone else in order to accumulate points faster).

The best type of loyalty program is one that is built into the system you already use. If your salon software contains a loyalty program option, that will be the easiest way for you to get your program off the ground, and keep it running and producing with a minimum of effort.

When the program is built in, the salon software automatically keeps track of each purchase a participating client makes, whether product or service. You salon software could even print a customized message on each receipt to keep the client up to date on their current point total.

These days, you can’t do without using every tool you can to create customer loyalty. Remember, it costs ten times more to create a new client than to upsell the ones you have. A salon software-based loyalty program is the perfect solution to rewarding your clients for giving you their business, which helps your profits and your salon grow.

Leprechaun Salon Software: How Many Checking Accounts Does Your Salon Need? (Part III)

PART III OF III: HOW THE THREE ACCOUNTS WORK TOGETHER

The Deposit Account collects all payments from all sources – cash, checks, credit and debit cards. The only balance that matters is the current balance showing in the account on the day you need to use some of the money.

When you finish a session of writing out checks or setting up online payments using the Operating Account, and before you send out the checks or release the payments, add up everything, then transfer that amount from the Deposit Account to the Operating Account using an online transfer.

The same applies to the Payroll Account. After you run or write out all payroll checks, tax payments or set up your online tax payment, and before you distribute the checks, add them all up and transfer that amount from the Deposit Account to the Payroll Account to cover them.

The Operating Account and the Payroll Account are what are known as “zero balance” accounts, meaning their balance is always reconciled: You always take out exactly what you put in.

And because you use online transfer to move money from the Deposit Account to the Operating and Payroll Accounts, you always know the money is there before you make the transfer or the payments.

You’ll never bounce a check again, and you’ll always know exactly where your money is.

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Leprechaun Salon Software: How Many Checking Accounts Does Your Salon Need? (Part II)

PART II OF III: THE THREE ACCOUNT SYSTEM

Remember that even if you cleared a couple thousand dollars today, it isn’t all in the bank tonight – or even tomorrow. If you use a single account to deposit all payments and make all payments, you can never reconcile the balance on the account because constantly, every day, there are payments coming in and going out from a number of sources.

The simple solution is to open three accounts – a system which will ensure that all payments are covered, and that you can know immediately what your balance is at any time.

The Deposit Account. The first account you need is the Deposit Account. This is like the account you have now where all revenues flow into the account. The difference is that you never write checks or make individual payments to vendors from the Deposit Account.

The Operating Account. The second account you will use to write all checks and make all payments to vendors and utilities such as phone, internet, electricity, etc. The only thing you won’t pay from this account is payroll.

The Payroll Account. Which brings us to the Payroll Account. The only things you will pay from this account are payroll and payroll related expenses (taxes, etc.)

More in Part III.

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Leprechaun Salon Software: How Many Checking Accounts Does Your Salon Need?

PART I of III: ARE YOU LOSING TRACK OF YOUR MONEY?

At your salon, you’re taking payments all day. It feels good to deposit all that money at the end of the day.

But when it comes to making payments, Do you ever find yourself bouncing checks or not being sure you have the balance you need to cover an online payment, even though you know you made more than enough money that month?

The problem is that your customers pay many different ways: Some with cash – which clears immediately; some with checks – which can take several days to clear; and some with credit cards – which can take anywhere from 24 hours to four days to be deposited into your account, depending upon the type of card used.

While your salon software keeps track of the sales and purchases (such as inventory), you need a reliable and proven method of tracking your money to ensure that your payments and payroll are covered without having to spend valuable time constantly accounting for every dollar.

More in Part II.

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Leprechaun Salon Software: Appointment Booking 24/7/365

Have you heard of online booking? Did you know that you can now sign up with a service that can talk to your salon software and let your clients book appointments that fit your schedule, and do it at their convenience — even on weekends and late at night?

Online booking, or web booking, is a popular method of making medical appointments and is slowly gaining strength in the spa and salon industry. Online booking can save your reception staff and even your stylists, nail techs and spa professionals hours and hours of time over the course of the year, due to the many fewer calls they have to answer to book appointments.

Another big advantage to online booking directly to your salon software’s appointment schedule is that you can control the time slots into which appointments are booked. Your software can determine even how to book complex treatment packages or combinations, per your guidelines, maximizing every hour of every day.

Finally, online booking can be combined with marketing to build client retention and decrease the time between appointments. Send out an email to your clients as a reminder of upcoming appointments and include a coupon or other special. Give them a direct link to the online booking service and you’ll see many of them booking within minutes of receiving the message.

Still wondering if online booking is right for you? Feel free to contact Leprechaun about how to set up online booking for your spa or salon, fully integrated with your salon software. It’s easy, it’s a good value and it’s just plain cool!

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