With a new year comes new opportunities for improvement. Whether those improvements reside in your personal or professional life, a chance to set goals for the upcoming months is one that we should make the most of. While it’s easy for some resolutions to fizzle out within the first month of the year, others are easy to follow through on. Small steps toward goals are an excellent way to stick to any aspirations set for the year. 

As a small business owner, now is the optimal time to analyse what your business is doing well and what could use improvement. While we all would love to say we are great at everything, it’s imperative to be honest with oneself to grow. At Vagaro’s inaugural iconic.22 conference last September, the salon industry icon, Tabatha Coffey, spoke about how she doesn’t aspire to know everything or to be perfect. “I don’t want to know it all,” she said. “The day I know it all means the day that I don’t grow anymore, that I can’t progress anymore, that I can’t learn anything from anyone anymore.” Without continual learning, one becomes stuck & stagnant.   

Most small businesses aspire to grow and hope to see new clients, especially as another year begins. If you want to improve various systems in your business, one excellent way to do so is to introduce automation by using technology solutions to optimise operations. 

Let’s be honest—integrating new technology into your small business may seem like a hassle, and an unnecessary one, at that. But the benefits of using small business tech far outweigh the initial transition from using pen & paper to digital tools. Plus, if you choose the right technology, making the switch can be easy, even for non-techies. So, how can using small business technology benefit your business? 

1. Make more data-driven decisions 

Small business growth comes from lots of hard work, determination and knowing your numbers. Data analytics give insight into how your business is performing, allowing you to make informed decisions about everyday business operations. Combing through spreadsheets and piles of papers is extremely time-consuming and can often be the last thing you want to do. But with digital technology solutions, you can streamline the analysis process, making everything available for you to see at a glance.

Think of the information you have stored as your business’s data centre. With the right software, all you need to do to access that valuable information is run a report. With digital tools, like advanced Reports, you can get insight into various aspects of your business, whether it’s looking at customer retention rates or sales trends. Any relevant data you need about a specific facet of your business will show up, allowing you to make decisions quickly without having to spend time crunching the numbers yourself. Instead, you can focus more on what matters most: your craft & your clients. 

2. Build better client relationships 

When the pandemic closed salons and stores, we saw how imperative nurturing interpersonal relationships is. As the world returns to normalcy, small business owners should focus on building connections with old & new customers alike. With returning clients, it’s easier to fall back into the rapport you once had. But if you’re seeing new clients, you may wonder how to establish stronger relationships with them. With some digital tools from Vagaro, customer relationship management is easy & effective. 

  • Focus on the customer experience. Before a client walks through your doors, they will probably check out your website and any social media accounts you may have. If you’re currently offline, it’s time to change that! And you don’t need to be a coding wizard to do so. One easy way to create a page for clients to check out is to use a customisable Webpage Builder that gives you the structure of what you should have on your website. Be sure to include pictures and information about your hours, location and any policies you have. Stay active and in touch on social media so a client can get a feel for your business. An engaging social media presence is attractive to prospective clients.
  • Stay in touch. Delivering an excellent customer experience doesn’t stop once a client leaves your business. Continue to engage with them! Use features like automated follow-up emails to send them a receipt, kindly ask for a review & welcome them back for another appointment. Once you have a client’s email, you can quickly communicate with them as needed. Whether your business hours change, you modify your pricing structure or run a limited-time promotion, email marketing is a simple way to keep that open line of communication.
  • Consider e-commerce. If you sell products at your salon or spa, make it easy for clients to buy from home or whilst on the go. Try an Online Store so a client can purchase that shampoo from you the moment they run out. Clients crave convenience—why not improve the customer experience by making it a priority?
  • Remember client details. As a small business owner, you’re pressed for time and mental energy. Instead of frantically searching for a client’s colour formula before an appointment, stay organised with digital Client Notes that automatically attach to a customer profile. When you remember client preferences, their experience is more personal & they’re likely to rebook or refer a friend to your business. Speaking of rebooking, small business tech can also help you… 

3. Get more appointments booked  

No one wants to jump through hoops to accomplish a simple task. Acquiring new customers facilitates business growth. But if you’re using a physical diary to track and make appointments, you’re limiting your business potential. Clients, especially new ones, do not want to play phone tag or scour the Internet to try and find where they can book with you. And you’d likely much rather focus on the customers in front of you instead of spending time scheduling appointments. So, why not make your job easier and increase the level of convenience for your customers at the same time?

One of the most invaluable digital tools a salon or spa professional can have is a quick & easy-to-use online booking system that’s easily accessible from a mobile device. Don’t worry about being overbooked or scheduled when you’re supposed to have a day off. With software like Vagaro, you can customise all booking settings, including lead time & appointment intervals. Chanelle Farmer, one of the owners of Meraki Salon in Milton Keynes, was searching for a software that could streamline the booking process. After finding Vagaro, she said, “We don’t need a diary, or pen & paper anymore. Vagaro’s scheduling features take away all the stress of managing bookings.” 

You can also craft a cancellation policy to save your business money & time. Plus, you can install widgets on your social media profiles for a one-stop booking experience. You may even consider your own Branded App for clients to book from in order to keep your business relevant & stay top of mind. Without having to constantly man the phones, you’ll free up time to do more of what you love, which just so happens to mean more money in your pocket as well. 

4. Manage employees more effectively 

As a small business owner, lead team members with confidence and respect. While it’s important to be in touch with what your employees are doing, it’s essential they maintain a sense of autonomy over their work. If you start to micromanage employees or constantly criticise what they do, you may see higher staff turnover, which can be detrimental to your business operations. You’ve hired your employees because of their skills, so trust them to do their work properly. And with digital tools, you can always keep up with their schedule.

Utilising a customisable, communal Calendar can keep you updated with any appointments & services your employees have on the books. You can run reports to monitor things like their client retention rates and average ticket sales. This allows you to keep an eye on your employees without hovering over their workstations, making them feel they are under constant supervision. By fostering trust and respect, you will build a positive work environment. Not only will your employees appreciate you as a leader, but your clients will also be able to tell your salon is a happy, cohesive place. After all, happy employees make for satisfied clients! 

5. Keep your inventory up to date 

Salons & spas use many products daily. Therefore, it’s imperative that you know what your stock looks like in real-time. But manually counting your supply & meticulously keeping track of how many products have been used or sold is not only exhausting, but it can also be inaccurate. And, as a small business owner, you cannot afford inaccuracy. 

Think of your inventory as the backbone of your business operations. If you’re too low on something or order too many of another, you’ll throw your daily operations out of alignment. Why not introduce automation to make your life a little easier?

With Vagaro, managing your Inventory is simple. Set low quantity warnings which can automatically create and send purchase orders when selected products dip below a set threshold. You can also set maximum quantities so you don’t order too many products. Once you receive the order, mark it as “Received” for products to be automatically input into your system. You can also mark an order as “Partially Received” to avoid any discrepancies in your inventory count. 

Plus, when you use Reports, you can analyse which products are most popular and which are not selling to more easily decide what to keep in stock. Vagaro takes care of the heavy lifting, which optimises your workflow and allows you to regain your most important resource: your time. 

6. Get back valuable time 

Switching from what you know to new business management tools may seem time-consuming or overwhelming, but small business technology & automation can streamline your business operations, making running your everyday less stressful. If you’re ready to enter the new year with software that can help optimise your salon or spa operations and meet your small business needs, sign up for a 30-day free trial and add some va-va-Vagaro to your business!