Bob Summers, CEO at good call
Since the start of the pandemic restrictions more than two years ago, few industries have been as affected by the pandemic as salons. Considered non-essential, salons were among the first businesses to face mandatory closures. According to data from the Labor Statistics BureauBetween February and April 2020 alone, employment-based salon jobs fell by 84% across the country.
Since then, however, the sector has shown promising signs of recovery. As widespread vaccination allowed for the reopening of shops and the lifting of restrictions, kline found that while 180 independent Aveda salons in the US and Canada were permanently closed between June 2020 and April 2021, 175 new ones opened.
In fact, the return to the salon marks an important milestone for the consumer. Of 78% Given that returning to regular spa and salon services is critical to restoring a sense of normalcy, these businesses face both hurdles and unprecedented opportunities.
Taking a closer look, I think it’s clear that technology will be the catalyst for the revival of the salon industry. As the founder and CEO of a company bringing AI to small businesses, I have witnessed the positive impact of digitization on businesses after a pandemic across all industries. Looking at salons and beauty salons, here are four technologies that salons have implemented to stay ahead of the curve.
For salons in particular, a shortage of staff means an inability to meet demand and often a decline in customer service. Many salons have switched to scheduling and booking software to reduce the time employees spend answering calls so they can prioritize the clients in front of them. These salons now use technical tools to simplify scheduling by managing availability, allowing customers to book online and schedule reminders from one easy-to-use app. Internally, they also use software to manage multiple staff calendars and schedule important internal meetings. Other salon-specific solutions keep businesses on track with tasks using automated reminders.
From the customer’s perspective, the solution enables easy online bookings and customer communication to ensure both parties are in the right place at the right time. Square Appointments and Rosy Salon Software are just a few examples that salons use to book clients online to ensure appointments are kept.
Salon employees and clients alike know that there’s nothing worse than when the result doesn’t live up to expectations – the color too light, the length too short or realizing that bangs weren’t the right move. Thanks to AI, this may soon be a thing of the past.
Before booking their appointment, clients start trying new hairstyles and colors with virtual reality and imaging solutions. L’Oréal, Redken and Madison Reed all offer similar imaging solutions. Using virtual image tools, consumers can browse haircuts, styles and colors to find their perfect match. Once they’ve brought the final virtual image into the salon, the stylist can be confident that they know what the client wants.
When your salon is busy, it is not always possible to understand your client and their history in depth. New smart tools do the work for stylists. Products such as smart hair brushes seamlessly analyze customers’ hair types and recommend treatment and products accordingly.
Salons also use smart products to ensure that all of their customers’ questions are answered regardless of staff availability. By leveraging high-performance machine learning, conversational AI has quickly become a reliable solution for service companies across industries. (Disclosure: My company offers this solution.) These telephone assistants provide 24/7 support and capture the value of calls without taking the precious time it takes to answer them, especially when there is a shortage of manpower. Salons are turning to these solutions to seamlessly improve customer service, marketing and engagement, free up staff time, and build a better, more personalized salon experience.
Marketing and Social Media Solutions
While at home, we relied on the internet and social media to inform us about business reopenings and promotions. Social media quickly became companies’ most trusted marketing and customer communications tool, from certain grocery hours to closures and changes in business hours. Many small businesses rely on their social media marketing strategy.
That said, maintaining a well-curated and thoughtful social media presence is no easy feat. Fortunately, new advancements in social media software have made scheduling and posting more efficient than ever before. Even with fewer employees, salons can ensure they post client photos, reviews, and updates with social media management platforms. Additionally, these solutions enable multi-location salons to manage multiple accounts on a single platform, monitor customer engagement, and analyze ROI. Social media presence is central to post-pandemic growth, with 45% of consumers say social media influences their purchasing decisions. Tech solutions make the transition easy for salons.
Implementing new technology
While companies may feel more comfortable relying on technology that has consistently delivered, we are in an era of inevitable change, and I think staying ahead requires a willingness to experiment.
Having been in the tech world for years, I can tell you that new product releases almost always come in waves: first to friends and family, then to beta users, and finally to the masses. Implementing new technology in salons should be the same. Start slow to avoid unnecessary frustration and prioritize staff training where appropriate. Test new solutions to see how they affect your business and scale from there. Even the best solutions become useless if employees don’t know how to take advantage of them.
Finally, be patient and remember that experimenting with new technology can take time. Keep in mind that there will be some growing pains, but eventually you will be able to operationalize efficiency at scale, and the changes you make now will set you up for future success.