Running a hair salon successfully takes a lot of time and effort, and depends a lot on how well you optimize your salon calendar.
Balancing the schedules of multiple stylists with different skill sets and making sure your booking calendar stays gap-free can be a challenge for even the best salon managers. Without the right tools, your hair salon scheduling can quickly become a nightmare.
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19 Ideas to Optimize Your Salon Calendar
1. Choose Your Time Slots Wisely
Hair salons do not actually sell haircuts, they sell time!
Before you move forward the first thing to consider in your salon calendar optimization challenge is to make sure you use consistent time slots in your calendar for booking your services.
We would recommend sticking with fixed 15 minutes time slots, so 15, 30, 45, 60, etc. That will help you cut down the unproductive gaps in your salon calendar like random 10 or 20 minutes here and there.
2. Start Using Salon Scheduling Software
This is a big one.
In hair salons, things change quickly, and business management involves always knowing what’s going on. Yes, your goal is to keep your calendar full but in order to maintain that in the long go, you need to have time to work with your staff, look after your clients as well as look for business efficiencies.
Save some stress and introduce a bit of automation and employ salon management software to help you optimize your calendar.
With a salon mobile app, you will always have access to your schedule, clients’ appointment booking and be able to check your salon business performance whenever you like, wherever you are.
You can respond to your calendar needs instantly: change staff working hours, add extra client appointments, react to late cancellations, proactively address slow time. No more gaps in your calendar and missed opportunities.
Keeping all your information united in one app will also make it easier to point out any problems and deal with them quickly.
3. Enable Online Booking
Too many booking requests? Don’t we all know it?
Why don’t you let your clients take care of their booking needs themselves!
Offer free online booking on your salon website, social media, or Google My Business, available 24/7. Who doesn’t love the freedom of booking appointments when they want to, rather than working around their busy schedules?
When booking online your clients will have more time to check their availability avoiding future cancellations and rescheduling. They would also be able to fill up a pre-treatment form, book recurring appointments, or make group bookings.
With online booking, your team won’t need to stress over missed calls and can focus on their customers, saving their energy for the service they’re providing. This can also free up your receptionist (if you have one) to help out with other duties.
The client self-booking, rescheduling, and canceling online booking functionalities can save you a lot of time and resources.
4. Send Appointment Confirmations and Visit Reminders
Late cancellations and no-shows can create gaps in your salon calendar that is nothing else but lost revenue for you. Using SMS or email appointment confirmations and reminders can easily help you reduce those losses by up to 70%!
When you send your clients visit reminders (e.g. 24 or 48 hours before their appointment) they can either confirm, cancel or easily reschedule using your salon app, giving you the opportunity to fill out the time slot with other clients.
Also, look at the time you will save by replacing following up your bookings manually with emails, calls, or text messages client by client by your receptionist.
5. Create a Waiting List
Many hair salons struggle with how to schedule hair appointments when their business is already fully booked or someone leaves a gap by canceling last-minute, and this is one solution.
Along with allowing your clients to book regular appointments online, it’s a good idea to create a system for clients to book a service in the event that someone cancels at the last minute or your hairstylist has an opening.
While you could do this the old-fashioned way with a pen, paper, and a ton of phone calls, that’s not going to optimize your calendar or save you much time.
If you have a cancellation or a no-show, you can fill up your calendar again by having an automated waiting list set up in your salon software that sends people a message, offering them the opportunity to quickly book an appointment during that newly opened up time slot. If they don’t book, it contacts the next person on the waiting list.
This cuts way down on the amount of damage that no-shows can do to your salon’s bottom line.
6. Account for Breaks and Book Your Resources
Your salon runs smoothly because of the team of dedicated staff who work so hard to give each client excellent service.
Salon scheduling software allows you and your staff to manage their timetables and set extra time breaks, time off, sick leaves, etc. when needed, respecting the time already reserved for your customers.
When setting up your services you can also include some blocked time for things like clean up and sanitization, salon equipment checks.
You should also think about allowing some of your resources to be booked automatically when required for a particular service e.g. a room, or some other salon equipment, to ensure that there are no scheduling conflicts or surprises, that will need to be sorted out in front of your clients.
7. Prioritize Booking Slow Time Before the Busy Hours
To make sure you have no gaps in your appointment calendar, try to book customers during slower times first whenever possible.
Optimized salon software can do this for you and can help you to identify and manage these slower periods by showing them as “available” first when clients book online. That way you will fill up your calendar with bookings back to back.
You’re also able to open up your calendar gradually for online booking, which is great for new salons who don’t want to show off an empty calendar to potential new clients.
8. Be More Efficient with Your Salon Services
Consider scheduling smaller services such as cuts or trims during longer appointments or taking walk-ins at these times. That way, each stylist has time to complete these bookings while they’re waiting for a color or chemical processing on another client to finish.
A smart way to manage processing time windows is to add it to your service time in your salon software which will make it be available for booking in your calendar for other clients.
When you decide on your salon services offer, include variations e.g. short, medium, long hair, differentiate full color from just highlights, etc.
That will allow you better account for the time your clients will spend in the chair and better utilize your salon calendar.
9. Upsell Add-ons Within Services
Selling additional services to clients sitting in your chair may not come easily to everyone. Why not offer the option to add on additional service during the online booking of the main service?
Your clients will have time to consider the benefits of the extra service e.g. deep conditioning, see the pricing upfront (no uncomfortable questions about the price!), and will be more willing to upgrade their service. This way you will increase your salon profits ergo make your salon calendar booked more efficiently.
10. Adopt Cancellation and No-Show Policies
Most businesses in the beauty industry have a cancellation and no-show policy in place to discourage this from happening. It also gives businesses, management, and customers a clear idea of what will happen if service appointments need to be changed or called off at the last minute.
Don’t be afraid to ask for a credit card to guarantee someone’s spot for complex bookings or multiple services- you can set your salon software to do this at the time of a booking. You can also set it to have clients view and agree to the cancellation policy when they book, cutting down on cancellations and confusion later on.
For more ideas, check out our article on salon cancellation policies.
11. Account for Walk-ins
If your hair salon is in a high-traffic area, make sure to account for walk-ins. You may want to have a system in place (e.g. self-check-in) or leave some time slots free for these last-minute clients.
If it’s a constant phenomenon, you may even want to add an extra staff member during your most hectic times of the day or week.
Remember that you can still offer self-service to your walk-ins. Keep some QR codes at the reception desk, that your walk-in client can quickly scan and check if there are any free slots to book an appointment on the spot.
12. Keep Your Clients’ Information and History Up to Date
If you want to send appointment reminders out, you’ll need to keep everyone’s contact information up to date.
Salons also often keep records of marketing and purchase history, as well as what hair services their clients have received.
You can have this information integrated into your hair salon management system and help yourself optimize your calendar by sending appointment rebook reminders.
By having your client’s purchase history available during the checkout you can also offer them some products they have bought previously etc.
Stylists can also use this to check the details of previous visits or new client notes added during online booking, and plan accordingly, saving time.
13. Utilize Marketing Tools
You can also automate some of your marketing activities and use salon software to send out promotional SMS messages, run automated marketing campaigns, send out birthday or special holiday vouchers, or salon newsletters.
Your salon software can also send out automatic thank you notes and surveys after an appointment, curating the client feedback so that you can privately respond to negative reviews but automatically encouraging clients to share positive ones on Google My Business or social media.
Check out our post on Salon Event Ideas.
14. Let Your Staff Manage Their Own Schedule
From arranging shifts to knowing their traits that can affect the timing, it’s important to involve your staff. This is true in any business or industry, but especially for management in salons.
People skills are an essential part of good management and you can save a lot of time and stress (as well as get valuable, free feedback) if you stay united with your salon staff and work together on scheduling.
It’ll be much easier to point out scheduling conflicts and get people to agree to work different shifts if you’re doing the planning as a group.
15. Schedule Your Staff According to Client Footfall
When planning your staff’s calendar always keep in mind the time of the day, day of the week, and the season.
Make the busiest time of the day fully covered, keep the breaks to a minimum, you can compensate that during the slow time so you do not overwork anyone.
The same goes for busy and slow seasons, which need to be planned ahead and communicated well to your staff.
16. Cross Train Your Staff
An important business management strategy is simply training a salon’s staff to do multiple jobs.
A receptionist’s duties can be united with other admin work like processing payments and updating the online website and salons’ social media when not busy with bookings.
With hair salon, online appointment booking, reception, and cleaning tasks might even become integrated into other staff members’ duties, especially during downtime or free time. Booking software can help you identify these slower times using your salon calendar app and schedule fewer people accordingly.
17. Manage Your Service Routine Well
You need to make sure that client appointments start and finish on time.
The first step starts with you being punctual. Then it’s important that you plan the time to complete your salon services well. Take your time, use your experience and set yourself up for success.
Make sure that you do not drag one appointment onto another through too many unplanned gaps or breaks. Sometimes when your clients get really late offer them another service that will not impact your next appointments.
18. Accept Payment Online
Efficient point of sale or POS systems are integrated into salon software and will work together to minimize wasted time, leaving you free to focus on running your business.
Some of the ways that salon POS will speed up the checkout process are by using options that let clients save their card info and pay quickly using the salon app or by taking online payments for the full price at the time of booking. This will create a very convenient experience for both your staff and clients.
You can also request deposits payments or pre-payments, or ask your clients to give their credit card details during the online booking and automatically charge late cancellation fees. That way a last-minute appointment cancellation salon calendar gap will cost you the loss of revenue.
19. Do Daily Schedule Reviews
Set some time every morning and during the day and review your salon calendar. Knowing your schedule, along with the type of appointments booked will help prepare yourself for anything unexpected.
There is always going to be cases like:
Booking an appointment for a wong time of stylist;
Appointments running longer than planned;
Clients are late or missing the appointment;
Small calendar gaps to fill out etc.
These are common scheduling risks that you will face in your salon and the best way to handle them is to act on them as soon as possible.
Do not miss our post about Salon Marketing Calendar.
It’s not easy to run a busy salon and balance the needs of your staff members with the schedules of each customer. If your scheduling system feels like a house of cards that you need to balance and adjust all the time, then consider using a salon booking app.
Along with the other strategies that we’ve mentioned, hair salon calendar software combined with a bit of planning can free up a lot of your and your team’s valuable time. Then, you can get back to doing what you love most.
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