Spas are designed to pamper guests and encourage stress-free relaxation, but that doesn’t mean that managing a spa is any less stressful than overseeing any other type of business. Because of the many demands of running a spa, many owners and directors have come to rely on software to help them stay organized. “Investing in software allows spas to stay ahead,” says Molly Southern, marketing manager at SpaBooker. “Streamlining operations with one software system that includes marketing functionality can result in many successes, including more customers, higher customer retention, increased employee satisfaction, and more revenue.”
One of SpaBooker’s most innovative features, the recently launched Promote, involves attracting repeat customers. Promote is an easy-to-use preset email program that sends smart incentives based on each customer’s last visit to motivate them to book a new appointment. “On average, it costs six times more to get a new customer to book an appointment than to get an existing customer to return,” says Southern. “This means that repeat business is extremely valuable to spas.”
According to Matthew Wiggins, co-owner of ProSolutions Software, e-commerce is also a must in running a successful spa, and ProSolutions offers this feature without any additional charge. It also allows users to create and design their own websites directly within the company’s Transcend software. “They can upload their own logos and banners, their own social media links, and give their clients the ability to purchase retail, gift certificates, and book appointments,” says Wiggins. “And if the spa so chooses, they can also add an app once its store is created. This isn’t a ProSolutions app, but rather the spa gets its own app that lets its clients utilize all the functions right from their smartphones.” Vionic, a social media deals platform, also gives spas complete control over their marketing campaigns through its newly launched YouTube and Vimeo integration feature. “Spas have the ability to showcase deals, sweepstakes, contests, and more by embedding a video directly within their campaign,” says Kosta Gara, CEO of Vionic. “If a photo is worth a thousand words, a video is worth a million.”
Yet, perhaps the features today’s spas depend on most are those that help effectively manage employees and inventory in an easy-to-use and concise manner. “The largest expense of any spa is its employees followed by its product inventories,” says John Harms, founder and CEO of Millennium Systems International. “Having software that helps motivate and track employees and also manages inventory is essential to the profitability of smart spas.” Being able to track inventory and employees allows spas to stay on top of their operating expenses and labor costs, as well as see their key performance indicators (KPIs), which include overall service and retail sales, client retention, productivity, and frequency of visits. “KPIs on product trends and employee productivity can be monitored and used as a tool to help drive key business decisions to increase the spa’s overall profitability,” says Roger Sholanki, CEO of Book4Time.
Millennium’s Monitoring Station allows users to get all performance indicators, and its MA200 Growth Analysis report shows everything needed to evaluate an employee or a department on one sheet of paper. “The report includes revenue for service and retail, hours worked, productivity, retention, number of lost clients, pre-book percentage, and frequency of visits,” says Harms. “It has been groundbreaking in its ability to simplify reviews and coach employees.”
SpaBooker makes it easy for users to track and input employee hours and also synchronizes employees’ schedules with the spa’s calendar to help manage and book appointments. “Spa owners have little margin for error when it comes to scheduling and employee management,” says Southern. “Not only do they have to ensure coverage for every shift, but they also need to balance client preferences with employee schedules.” In addition, employees can access their schedules from anywhere, eliminating most scheduling questions. SpaBooker also offers a variety of payroll options. “Whether you pay salary, commission, or a combination of both, SpaBooker has the options to support any payment structure,” says Southern. “Our spa management software automatically tracks factors such as hours and tips, ensuring that payroll is 100 percent accurate week after week.”
Similar to managing employees, keeping track of inventory can often be a challenge, as it requires paying close attention to product use during treatments and replenishing appropriately. Therefore, many spa software companies promote their inventory management features. Vagaro, for example, helps spas maintain their inventory by warning them when it is low and alerting them as to what products are best-sellers and what is not selling. MindBody also includes a comprehensive inventory management feature, which is designed to save time, improve efficiency, and make it easy for spas to manage and track retail stock, shipments, orders, and top-selling products.
Millennium determines what products are slow-moving and should be put on sale, provides information on the spa’s top-selling or lowest selling products by manufacturer or specific employee, tracks inventory history, and can calculate the exact inventory value for both retail and professional backbar supplies. “Millennium shows not only what products were sold but also at what rate clients repurchased the products on each subsequent visit,” says Harms. Similarly, ProSolutions offers a “buy again” feature within its Transcend product, which contacts customers who have purchased products from one of the spa’s employees but have failed to repurchase that product after a time frame set by the spa owner or manager. “The ability to track retail sales, retail goals, and retail futures makes Transcend an incredibly powerful system that can be focused on specific employees and show them how some minor changes can make them even better purveyors of your product,” says Wiggins.
While all the innovative features that spa software companies provide are useful in helping you manage your business, it’s important for the company to also provide you and your staff with customer support to help your spa fully utilize these features. SpaBooker, for example, includes a number of support options with the purchase of its spa software. “Our online help center has an assortment of training videos so long-time users can refresh their memories or new spa staff can get trained, and we send a fun Tuesday Tip email every week with new feature highlights and quick how-tos to help clients get the most out of the software’s many capabilities,” says Southern. “Also, our client success specialists are available via web-based training, phone, live chat, and email support seven days a week.”
Book4Time assigns every client to a dedicated account manager, and they can receive live 24/7 help desk support. Bliss Spa at the W Atlanta Downtown uses Book4Time software, and according to spa director Joey Detenber, the software and its customer service have been integral in helping him manage the spa. “It is an easy system to train new associates and for the techs to manage their productivity, sales, and retention,” he says. “The customer service is exemplary.”
Because there are so many spa software options available today, it is important for you to do your research and choose the one that best suits the needs of your spa. “You may have heard the expression, ‘time is money,’” says Wiggins. “So, if you can increase your bottom line while saving time through organization, then you have achieved the goal of good software.”—Nicole Altavilla