Did you know that 35% of clients prefer scheduling appointments during non-business hours? Not only that, but 25% of millennials (those under 35) only book appointments online.

If you’re a salon or spa with an established website, offering online booking could potentially boost appointments by 25%. While there’s no comprehensive study on the impact of introducing online booking, the numbers seem to show that more and more people prefer to book online and during non-business hours.

Before we get into the pros and cons of online appointment booking, let’s look at two leading booking platforms and who they’re best suited for.

Best Online Booking Software for Multiple Stylists – Booker

For salons with more than one stylist, Booker is a great option. Booker’s marketing network links a scheduling tool to Google, Yelp, Yellow Pages, MapQuest, SpaFinder, and more. You also get an “Online Booking” widget directly on your profile in search results. It’s a great way to combine marketing and online booking in one package. 

Free Online Booking Software for Individuals – Square Appointments

If you’re a one-person operation or renting a chair at a salon, Square Appointments lets your clients book online 24/7 at no cost to you, and integrates with a cloud-based calendar so you don’t have to spend time returning calls and emails or handling scheduling conflicts. Square Appointments also integrates with Square POS, a free point-of-sale system popular with salon professionals. 

Common Concerns About Online Bookings

Will online booking lead to less time talking with clients and less sales as a result?

Offering online booking does not have to replace phone call appointment setting. Salon websites or apps can offer clients the choice of scheduling via the phone or online.  Some clients are going to prefer the phone and others to schedule online. You can satisfy both types of clients. When a client books by phone, you enter the appointment information into the online booking system to keep everything in one place.

Your salon may be able to increase business from clients that prefer phone booking by having online booking! When the salon or spa is closed, offering only phone booking means that clients cannot book appointments when there is not someone to pick up the phone and look at the calendar. While clients can leave a message and get a call back from you, that does not work well if they want the appointment for the next day. Research from Acuity Scheduling shows that over 40% of bookings are made 1 day or less in advance, occurred during non-business hours. By not offering online booking, you’re missing out on appointments from people calling the night before, or early in the morning.

Also, online booking creates time for staff to have longer conversations with clients that call in by phone. Instead of dealing with the logistics of scheduling, salon staff will have more time (and less interruptions) when talking to new clients that want to learn about the salon, or existing clients that need help figuring out what services they want to book.

Will online booking not be able to handle the complexities of appointment setting?

Salon and spa owners know that while appointment booking may not be rocket science, it’s not as simple as sticking a person’s name on a calendar. There are several factors that go into scheduling appointments. One cannot arbitrarily assume that the average appointment will last 40 minutes. A blowout is going to take much less than cutting hair and adding highlights. Among the factors that go into scheduling are the following:

  • The availability of the particular beauty professional with which the client has a relationship
  • The services to be provided
  • The client’s scheduling needs

Scheduling is complicated. Poor scheduling will result in underbooking (lost revenues) or double booking (creating poor client experiences). Many salon and spa owners worry that the online software just isn’t built to handle these complexities.

The good news is online booking software has become very advanced. Online platforms like Acuity Scheduling have been around since 2006, and gone through several stages of development. You can have clients book with individual beauty professionals, and with different time amounts allocated for specific services the client desires. Booker even gives salons the option of showing clients the cost of each service when booking.

The Big Benefit Of Online Booking – Less Missed Appointments

Salon booking software is designed to send out text message reminders to both the clients and beauty professionals. In a report by online scheduling firm Appointment Plus, text messages were shown to reduce no shows for medical appointments by 50%. One reason why text messages are extremely effective, is that most check their text messages several times per day. The chances of them not receiving the message is very slim.

Older ways of reminding clients that they have an appointment include phone calls and emails. Unfortunately, the number of emails people receive, and the fact that many emails don’t make it into the inbox may reduce the effectiveness of this reminder method. While clients may not be overwhelmed with incoming phone calls, this reminder method is very time consuming for salon staff to carry out, which often leads to reminder phone calls not being made. Automatic text messages have advantages over both phone calls and emails!

Get More Bookings with a Professional Salon Website

Chances are that if your clients are booking appointments online, they’re visiting your website during the booking process. That’s why your website needs to be as beautiful and professional as your salon itself. Check out our guide to designing a salon website which comes with a beautiful template you can use for free with any WordPress site.

If you’ve decided that offering online booking is a good idea for your business, don’t forget to get a free Booker demo if you’re a salon with multiple stylists, or sign up with Square Appointments for free if you’re a one-person business or renting a chair at a salon.