Smile, You've Got Software

Choosing a software system for your spa may seem like a daunting task, but the rewards the right system can reap for your business are priceless. Then again, that same system may just help you put a price tag on those rewards with the ability to generate a host of reports on virtually every aspect of your operation. To find out how spa software can simplify the way your spa does business, we asked several spa owners and directors to share their experiences with their chosen software systems along with the features they and their staffs cannot do without.

Spa directors agree that software should be easy to use by all employees, from key executives to front desk employees, such as those at the Spa at Mandarin Oriental, Miami.
Spa directors agree that software should be easy to use by all employees, from key executives to front desk employees, such as those at the Spa at Mandarin Oriental, Miami.

Key Requirements

Most spa owners and directors have some sense of what their ideal software system should accomplish. For Eugenia Rinaldi, president of Bodyworks Day Spa & Wellness Center (Temple, TX), it is the ability to schedule multiple services, therapists, treatment rooms, and more. "I also wanted to know how much each client spent, the time each treatment room needed to be blocked, and how much to pay each therapist," says Rinaldi, who recently transitioned from pencil and paper to Elite Software.

For companies that have multiple locations, such as Calidora Skin Clinic (Bellevue, WA)
For companies that have multiple locations, such as Calidora Skin Clinic (Bellevue, WA)

For others, ease of use is key. "First and foremost, I wanted a software system that was easy enough to learn," says Patti Rice, owner/spa director of The Spa-Los Gatos (CA). "I didn't want to put a new front desk employee through a month's worth of training before he or she could answer the phone and schedule an appointment." Rice found what she was looking for with Milano Software. Not only is it easy to learn, but it also has a custom report function, which she finds to be invaluable. "You can take just about any parameter you want—client, staff, service, retail—and create your own reports," she says.

Understanding the importance of choosing the right software system, Jim Farrell, director of operations at Panache Salon & Spa (Erie, PA), began by defining four criteria that were essential to the company's success. "First, easy access and utilization of the system by the front desk personnel was a major consideration," he says. "Second, we believe that service and support is of the utmost importance, because the software is only as effective as the support team. Third, we considered the capacity of the software to sift through the client data and define a creative and successful marketing campaign. Finally, and most importantly, we considered the character of the company." In doing so, Farrell asked about the leadership of the company, its understanding of the spa industry, and its plan for the future of its technology. "We launched our spa with Harms Software's initial package, Salon Solutions, more than eight years ago, and we haven't looked back since." Today, the spa uses Harms's Millennium software.

Spa Fairmont Le Château Montebello (Quebec), an effective software program that ties the spas together becomes imperative for the company's success.
Spa Fairmont Le Château Montebello (Quebec), an effective software program that ties the spas together becomes imperative for the company's success.

Operational Overhaul

The individual features a software package provides can be instrumental in changing the way a spa operates. Rodney Cutler, owner of three Cutler Salons (New York City) has been using Shortcuts software for three years. The ability to text message confirmations has fast become a favored feature. "We cater to more than 1,500 clients a week, so being able to text our clients has saved us hours of time," says Cutler.

An effective software program helps eliminate scheduling conflicts and keeps things running smoothly at Spa Village at The Ritz-Carlton, Kuala Lumpur.
An effective software program helps eliminate scheduling conflicts and keeps things running smoothly at Spa Village at The Ritz-Carlton, Kuala Lumpur.

For Farrell, the online capability that Millennium provides is invaluable. "Clients simply love that they can view their entire history online as well as book future appointments," he says. "We show them how to go online and book an entire year's worth of appointments from the comfort of home." Staff members also benefit in that they can view their future appointments and track their service and product revenue. "Online accessibility has benefits not seen before the last few years in our industry, and the platform is growing rapidly," says Farrell.

Easy-to-use software helps boost retail sales at The Spa of Colonial Williamsburg (VA).
Easy-to-use software helps boost retail sales at The Spa of Colonial Williamsburg (VA).

Kathy Zia, director of operations for ONE Spa at Shutters on the Beach (Santa Monica, CA), has been using ProSolutions Software for the past four years. In that time, the appointment, guest history, and inventory functions have helped to simplify the way the spa does business. According to Rice, the ability to track sales for services and retail helps simplify purchasing and promotional decisions. She is also a fan of the email marketing options and the special instructions that can be noted on client files.

State-of-the-art software is an important part of a new spa's opening, such as the new Kohler Waters Spa at Burr Ridge (Chicago), which has sister properties in Kohler, WI, and St. Andrews, Scotland.
State-of-the-art software is an important part of a new spa's opening, such as the new Kohler Waters Spa at Burr Ridge (Chicago), which has sister properties in Kohler, WI, and St. Andrews, Scotland.

As a SpaBiz customer for more than 14 years, Sheila McGurk, founder of Circe Day Spa (Alexandria, VA), has found that her spa's needs have shifted over the years. In the beginning, software that provided a paperless appointment book was sufficient. Today, the spa requires a software system that quantifies everything from productivity, retention, and gift certificate sales to lost clients, individual staff goals, and more. "Thanks to the software, we're able to manage productivity, acquire and retain clients, and fine-tune our marketing strategy by utilizing our client database to promote services and products with coupon incentives on the internet," says McGurk. "We can also take advantage of a web-based client referral program that rewards clients with in-house discounts. In addition, we can market to select clients with a weekly email blast to fill last-minute appointments. We also benefit from an off-site call center."

Resource Guide
Resource Guide

Future Advances

Because technology is always improving, the software system you choose should grow with your business. Even the most intuitive and functional systems have room for improvement. Rice, for example, is looking forward to using her software's online booking option once a few kinks have been worked out. "It needs a better format with more options, such as multiple appointments," she says. On McGurk's wish list is a Mid-Atlantic call center to answer the phones and handle appointments. Rinaldi would like the ability to block an individual therapist's schedule for the future. "One of my therapists is attending school and recently gave me her summer schedule," says Rinaldi. "I need to wait until next month to manually enter that information, otherwise it will change this month's schedule as well." It is only after you become thoroughly familiar with a software system that you begin to realize its true potential. The software you need today won't necessarily be the software you need tomorrow. It should, however, evolve with your spa and transform the way you do business.

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