Things to Look for When Choosing Spa Management Software

By Marc Mataya

It's your spa, and nobody is better qualified than you to decide if a particular software program can help you run your business better. As you survey the many options vying for your attention, here are some things to consider.

Intuitive Interface

If the computer screen looks complicated, people will shy away. Information should be presented in recognizable and meaningful ways. The spa appointment schedule should look like an appointment schedule. The cash register should gather and show all necessary information at a glance and not require you to click button after button to get to a total.

Look at the programs you're considering and choose one that is easy to follow and feels comfortable to you.

Time-Efficient Scheduling

Scheduling for spas and salons is more complicated than for most other businesses. Good scheduling software keeps track of the time necessary for different services and automatically provides appointment options to allow for that time. Your software should be able to manage each service provider, each chair and each treatment room to make the most efficient use of your entire staff and facility.

Scheduling by computer gives you the ability to use the information in your appointment "book" in ways that paper books never could. Look for software with easy to use scheduling tools and which allows you to view and analyze appointment information to assess areas such as client activity, staff productivity and overall use of your facilities.

Smart Marketing Tools

Marketing is all about the management of information, and nothing does that better than a solid software program with smart marketing options. Because you can keep detailed client records, including birthdays, service and product purchase histories and personal preferences, you can target your marketing where it will do the most good and get the highest returns.

Look for software with easy to use marketing tools which can select clients based on many different criteria, such as age, sex, level of expenditures, frequency of appointments, types of services or any of hundreds of possible combinations.

Comprehensive Reporting

You will truly know the joy of a great point of sale software program when you can find reports that answer your questions about how your business is doing and help you plan for the future. A good reporting system offers a wide selection of useful reports with calculations and analysis that show you exactly how your clients, staff, products and services are benefiting your bottom line.

Look for spa software with reports that are concise and comprehensive, and that provide clear analysis of your information, rather than just listing it on a page. Software with tons of reports is not as useful as software with the right reports -- reports that actually show you how your business is doing.

Budgetable

In most cases, the license to use a software package will cost thousands of dollars up front, depending upon how comprehensive it is. After the initial expenditure, you will need to budget for the cost of program upgrades, usually about every six months; and because you're in the spa business and not the computer business, you're going to want access to technical support, which is usually charged by contract or by the call.

Another way to license software is by "subscription." Subscriptions do not require a large upfront cost and the monthly subscription cost is often surprisingly low. Subscriptions include the cost of upgrades, automatically come with technical support, and may offer other benefits as well.

Look for software with a payment structure that works for you.

Add-on Capability

While you may start out with a basic spa management package, you will find yourself doing more and more as you get used to using your computer and as your business grows.

Look for software that makes it easy for you to add features and functions as you need them, such as credit and debit card processing, payroll, inventory tracking, gift cards and certificates, networking and more.

Training

Look for software that includes training by phone or internet. Going over the program's features and getting guidance on entering information will get you up and running and enjoying your software a lot sooner.

Technical Support

As you and your staff are becoming accustomed to your new software, you will have questions. At those times, you'll want access to expert advice and consultation without having to jump through hoops to get it.

Look for a software company that provides easy access to phone-based support and make sure you're comfortable with the way their service fits your needs.

Get the Features YOU! Need

Most spa software already includes scheduling and check-out -- the two primary operations your business does every hour of every day. In addition, software can handle almost any information management task, so you need only to decide which tasks you want done and, with today's range of affordable options, you'll find a program that will do it.

Most spas need five basic operations: client records, point of sale cash register, scheduling, marketing and inventory, plus some type of reporting and analysis. While you may choose additional functions based on your needs, don't be swayed by bells and whistles that don't make sense for your way of doing business.

Look for software that will help you now. Over time, as software technology changes, you will discover new and different benefits for your evolving and expanding business. In the end, the right software will pay for itself many times over. It is one of the best investments you can make toward your growth and success.

Marc Mataya is Vice President of Sales and Marketing for ClienTrak! Spa and Salon Software, Inc. Marc grew up in the beauty industry, working in and helping to manage his family's multiple salons and spas. ClienTrak! grew out of a need for specialized software in the Mataya's businesses and is now a top-selling spa and salon system. You can contact ClienTrak! at 1-800-397-4582, at sales@clientrak.com or by visiting www.clientrak.com.

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