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Start the new year off right with the resolution to give your beauty business a digital makeover! These digital tools will modernize your salon, giving your business a digital presence that is robust and easy to manage as well as making booking and processing payments easier on you and your clients.

Online Booking with Ease

Consumers have grown accustomed to booking online with ease through airlines and car rental services, yet to book a haircut, a client sometimes has to play a game of telephone tag with the stylist, says Michael Wilson, director of business development at Schedulicity. Designed to give individuals in the beauty industry this same type of simplicity and accessibility, Schedulicity is a 24/7 online marketplace for booking appointments, managing calendars, maintaining client relations and much more. Schedulicity’s mission aligns nicely with Sola, according to Wilson, as it emphasizes independence and allows a “hands-off approach with the scheduling part of business that takes up so much time and makes stylists no money.”

According to Wilson, in-field studies have shown that the majority of appointments are booked between 8 p.m. and 3 a.m. The site gives clients the ability to do so without having to leave messages for stylists during off hours. It also allows stylists to focus 100 percent on their clients during work hours. Crafted with both the client and beauty business owner in mind, Schedulicity’s site and backend are easy to navigate and require low maintenance, says Wilson. It’s all about mobility, so clients can book on the go from their mobile devices. “It’s the shortest distance between a thought and booking an appointment,” says Wilson.

Schedulicity also offers several other services, including widgets to add “Book Now” buttons to websites and business Facebook pages; the ability to sell products and book multiple services; and Wilson’s favorite feature, a marketing module. This tool assigns tags to clients based on the services they’ve booked and their interests, then allows stylists to use this information to create very specific targeted email marketing campaigns—further solidifying the client/service provider relationship. Wilson promises that signing up for the service is easy and says Schedulicity has “a killer support team that supports stylists every step of the way.” Schedulicity also partners with Sola Salon Studios, offering Sola stylists a 90-day free trail, no credit card required. Sola stylists can sign up at Sola90.com.

Process Credit Cards on the Go

Jack Dorsey, the co-founder and chair of Twitter, co-founded Square in 2009 with his longtime friend and professional glassblower Jim McKelvey. McKelvey had missed out on a large sale because he was unable to accept credit cards. When he contacted Dorsey to express his frustrations about this, the two had a digital epiphany—if they could be thousands of miles apart and communicate on tiny electronic devices, then why couldn’t there be a mobile way to process credit cards?

Flash-forward to 2014. People are routinely using credit cards for day-to-day transactions, and businesses that cannot accept these payments will miss out on a huge portion of sales every year. Square is designed to process credit cards “in a seamless and affordable way” for businesses of all sizes, says Square spokesperson Katie Baynes. So how does it work? It’s no longer necessary to purchase a cumbersome cash register. Square Reader is free and can be ordered online and is available in various retail stores across the country. The Square Register app, available for Androids and iOS, is also free. Whether American Express, Visa, MasterCard or Discover, businesses pay 2.75 percent per swiped card. The app also helps track cash payments, keeping an online record of a business’s transaction history.

More Digital Tools for Your Salon

Website

Your digital home. Having a website that is easy to navigate and provides relevant information is key to success in a digital age. For those concerned about cash flow—a professional web developer can cost you a pretty penny—try building your own site with a template-based service like Wordpress, Squarespace or Wikispaces.

Another option: optimize the tools on your Sola site, where you can access a “Book Now” button, image galleries, testimonials, a bio section and more. Digital Playlists. Create killer ambiance for your salon with customized digital playlists via online sources like Spotify or Pandora. It’s easy to set up an account, and each site gives you access to an eclectic array of music genres and artists. Social Media. There’s no need to go crazy with all of the new media out there these days.

However, whether it’s Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest or Tumblr, find the tools that work for you to create more direct channels of communication with your current clientele as well as potential clients. If you’re short on ideas for content, check out the official Sola Studio Salons’ Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest pages, which are updated regularly.

Email Marketing

Email marketing is a powerful tool, as it can be customized to target a specific audience. Schedulicity has a built-in resource for email marketing; other stylists use inexpensive services like MailChimp and Boomerang for Gmail. Blogging. Blogging not only digitizes your business, it personalizes it as well. Set up a blog through your website or a service like Blogger, and share stories about you and your business, special promotions and events, and more. We’d love to hear what other digital tools you all are using. Please share your comments below.

 
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