Grooming Salon Software
When it comes to finding the best software for your salon, there are many factors to consider.
Every business needs to keep accurate records that can provide any needed information readily. There are many ways to do this, but those salons still using paper and pen for records, appointments and bookkeeping are not making the money that they could be.
Most customers today have smartphones, use Facebook and Instagram every day and prefer to communicate as efficiently as possible. It’s not only appreciated if a business can communicate by texting and using social media, it’s pretty much expected. If an establishment isn’t utilizing technology to the maximum, it’s probably not earning as much as it could be.
Software can either be on a local computer or cloud-based. Naturally, if a system is restricted to a computer in the salon, the information on it is more secure, but encryption and other techniques make it a pretty good bet that it’s secure in the cloud, too. And with the cloud, backup is done automatically rather than someone having to be sure to back up data every night on a local computer.
Debi Hilley, founder of a Facebook group for groomers called “Grooming Smarter” and owner/stylist at A Cut Above in Albany, Ga., says that one reason she opted to buy the software outright was ownership of her information.
“I asked one seller about cloud based monthly services, but found that if I ever wanted to cancel and go back to desktop, I could not get my client information, financial records, etc., as they are online and would not belong to me.”
That’s a good argument for making sure due diligence is done on each possible software option before subscribing, and asking as many questions that can be thought of, including whether information is downloadable if the subscription is canceled and what programs it is compatible with. If it can’t be downloaded, ask if it’s possible to print the information out. Many business owners also opt to keep at least basic customer information in hard copy or on a separate local machine in case of an information loss.
Time is money, and software can save time—a lot of time. How can it do that? There are hundreds of ways, depending on which program is in use. Many business owners that already use software to help run the salon may not even be aware of all the tasks it can perform. Time management experts suggest that the best way to determine where time is being lost is to dissect a typical day piece-by-piece and identify tasks that cost the most time. Common areas are bathing and drying, bookkeeping and recordkeeping, and phone calls. While software can’t help bathe dogs faster, it can certainly save time in other places.
Lisa Medeiros, owner/groomer at GroomTown Pet Boutique & Spa in North Andover, Mass., uses software for a multitude of tasks.
“I use it for appointments, retail, sales reports to tell me what we made on grooming and on retail, and how much was spent using credit cards, checks or cash,” says Medeiros. “I can see how much each groomer made and what the commissions were—one groomer makes 50 percent, one 55 percent. It tells me how much each department is bringing in—if I groom a dog, but the bathing department brushed its teeth and bathed it, I only get paid for the groom.”
Medeiros uses 123Pet, one of the most popular software systems for groomers, and loves it. She uses the subscription option and has the database and two networking stations in her salon, which averages 30 to 45 dogs per day.
“I just upgraded, so it costs about $160 a month, which may seem like a lot, but it’s worth it. I can access the whole system from my phone,” she says. “If I have to close the store, I can access appointments and call customers from home.”
She also notes that the email and text features are “fabulous.” The system will automatically send a text two days before the appointment, and it sends confirmations when an appointment is booked either by phone or online. Also, because she leases the program, she gets tech support at no charge.
“One day my calendar was gone, just gone. I called tech support, they asked a few questions, told me to uncheck one box and the problem was fixed,” says Medeiros. “I would have gone crazy trying to find it myself.”
Upgrades are free with subscriptions, too. Every time Medeiros thinks of something she wishes the system would do, it turns out it already does it, she just needs to update. But is the system worth what she pays for it?
“I used to use a marketing company for texts and emails for a couple of hundred dollars a month, so this has saved me money,” says Medeiros. “And I’ve got a no show policy, but now I can track them and charge for them more readily. Ten no shows pays for the software.”
Appointment reminders are a task most groomers dread, but 123Pet will not only send them via email or text, but texts allow the client to confirm by replying with “C,” which will automatically add a checkmark in the online appointment book. Appointments can be made by customers through Facebook, as well as through an included website. GroomTown has been using 123Pet for seven years now, saving valuable time and money.
“I don’t have to use Square or any other separate terminal where I have to track credit cards separately, it all goes through CardConnect and runs through the system,” says Medeiros. “The system learns the more you use it. If I put a price on a dog, it’ll ask next time if I want to use the same code for that dog.”
One area where software can be a big help, but is sometimes overlooked, is accounting. Not only services and retail, but the company’s payroll and taxes can be handled with some of the software available.
Steve Martin, chief marketing officer for 123Pet, says that QuickBooks is what most small businesses use for accounting, and 123Pet is integrated with QuickBooks, making tax season easier. Accounting bills can drop from 15 hours of the accountant’s time to two, even if they don’t use QuickBooks.
“The system will let you output reports,” says Martin. “Anything an accountant would need to enter into their software can be exported. It’s easier and more complete than if the information is solely on paper.”
The program should be utilized to its fullest potential to maximize returns. Even if it doesn't seem user-friendly at first, don’t begrudge the time it takes to learn how to use it properly. Find out how much training is available before purchasing a specific system. 123Pet includes unlimited training and support, including remote screen sharing for subscription customers.
When shopping for software, make a list of the tasks you expect from it. Be expansive with it, dream big. Figure out what’s important to your salon. Do you want to interface with your social media? Send auto reminders? Text your clients? Send mass marketing emails according to criteria selected? Record detailed grooming notes? E-sign copies of policy statements? Include a website? Take appointments on that website? Include a POS system with payment type options?
Consider your business needs. Most mobile groomers need a program that caters to and understands their special needs. MoeGo and 123Pet have mobile versions, as do many others. Compare different programs and see which one will do most of the tasks on your list. Many also offer free trials, so you can test the system out before committing to it. Some are suitable for small one or two person shops, others will handle multiple locations, employees and business facets—grooming, boarding, daycare, etc. Ask the manufacturer before you download a trial since they may have different versions. Remember to ask if there are limits on text and emails or hidden charges. If you have many retirement age clients, can appointments be made without an email address?
There are so many good software programs available that it may be difficult to choose which one is best for your company. A good place to start your search is capterra.com/pet-grooming-software/ since it lists a number of programs.
Whether a salon is just starting with software or it's a longtime user, it’s important to get the most out of it. Work with the vendor to ensure employees know how to use all the features available to the best advantage. Then enjoy all the time and money saved! PB
Carol Visser has been involved in the pet industry since 1982 in various capacities, including grooming in and owning a busy suburban shop, working as a product expert for PetEdge, teaching seminars and training dogs. She was certified as a Master Groomer with NDGAA in 1990 and as a Certified Pet Dog Trainer in 2007, and she continues to enjoy learning about dogs and grooming at her small salon in rural Maine.