Best Salon Software - The Guide for 2020
- What is salon software
- Why use salon software?
- What is the difference between the salon software variations?
- The benefits of using salon software
- How to choose the best salon software
- Salon software terminology simplified
- The best salon software
I have built this guide to take the headache out of picking salon software that is the best fit for your salon and usage needs. There is a lot to choose from, so I hope this guide will help save you time, and filter out those that are unsuitable from a price point or those with features that are unsuitable for your salon requirements.
This post starts off with the fundamentals, what salon software is, covers the different types available and how it can help benefit your salon business. I have then listed the best salon software brands, detailing more about them.
Each listing contains a handy breakdown of the ideal salon size the software is best suited for, the pricing structure and highlights the key features for each.
Finally I have selected the software’s stand out feature, differentiating it from other salon software providers, making it easier to find the most suitable software for your salon.
What is salon software?
Salon Software is software designed to automate a lot of your daily management tasks and streamline the process of running your salon.
Whether it’s having an appointment scheduling system, client records at the touch of a button, automated appointment reminders, inventory management, or managing stylists schedules – there’s salon software out there to fulfil whatever issues you are currently having.
Whether you own a small business with a solo stylist, a larger salon, or own a number of salons, salon software can help with simple tasks like:
- appointment management
- client appointments
- customer management
- business operations
- reputation management
- marketing support
- social media management
All these things help you to build customer loyalty and better the client overall experience.
Using a salon software platform can make your salon more streamlined, freeing up your time so you can concentrate on the important stuff – making people feel fabulous!
Why use salon software over traditional methods?
There is nothing wrong with using traditional methods within a salon, such as using an appointment book, calling your clients personally or doing your own inventory, particularly if you are a small business, but what if someone told you there was an easier way?
Owning a salon is all about being personable and making our clients day with our skills, and using a salon software system does not detract from this.
If anything, it frees you up to do more of the things you love in your industry and keep your busy salon thriving.
Apart from the initial expense, if you opt for a paid product or upgrade to a premium version, salon software more than pays for itself.
You will have heard the phrase ‘time is money’, so if you are able to save time and use a product designed to help with areas that would otherwise eat into your precious time, the answer is simple.
How Can it Save You Time?
- Do you have clients that often don’t turn up to appointments?
- Do you take it upon yourself to call or text them to save your time in the future if they don’t turn up? Leaving you or your stylists with a gap they are unable to fill at such short notice and loss of earnings?
If this is the case, then salon software can assist with this and send reminder emails or SMS to your client base, saving you time in the long run.
It also helps separate your personal/work life by not having to text a client using your personal phone, giving them access to your contact details with which they can contact you out of salon hours.
There are scheduling tools to help with this, such as automatic reminders for upcoming appointments, and text confirmations from clients to help eradicate these problems.
Not only this, you are able to take payments though these systems and could charge deposits, which will be taken off their bill when they have their treatment in the salon.
If they don’t turn up for their appointment or are late and you are not able to carry out the service they have booked, you will have at least some income as a result of their no show.
Most salon software systems standard features include a client database with client profiles.
These feature everything from contact information, to client history, giving you the ability to build a profile on each of your clients to improve their customer experience.
You can also work out their LV so you can establish those customers who end up costing you more than their worth, and highlight your best customers to invite them to purchase service add-ons, according to their buying habits and history.
The above two reasons alone highlight the importance of having an automated system in place within your salon to help minimise on everyday gripes and keep your salon running at full capacity.
What is the difference between the salon software variations?
Salon software can offer a number of features that assist in the running of a salon, with different providers specialising in different areas.
Some are all encompassing and others focus on a few key areas to facilitate the general running of a salon.
Many of the features overlap and therefore make it difficult to differentiate between them easily as they all fall under the umbrella of salon software.
Some lean more heavily on certain features making them better for targeted areas of salon management, depending on your demands.
Here’s a breakdown of the different areas:
Salon management software.
Salon management software generally assists in the running of salon, so things such as managing bookings, marketing campaigns, reports, inventory and payment processing are often included in this type of salon software.
Salon appointment software.
This type of software is primarily for managing the booking side to assist salon owners.
An example of salon appointment software would be Belliata. This is a free salon software application which is reflected in the somewhat limited features available in their free plan, but is ideal if you don’t need a system to do it all and just want the ability to simplify the booking process to make it more efficient.
Salon scheduling software.
Salon scheduling software shares similar attributes to salon appointment software and can range with how much they offer. They can manage your bookings, access client information, track your stock levels and send automated reminders to name a few attributes.
These are slightly different from traditional salon software and exist to highlight the other services that are offered. An example of salon appointment software would be Fresha (formerly Shedul). Usually they make money from the client using their payment system either by booking directly through the marketplace or by moving your payment processing system to them, where they charge a fee for each transaction.
The benefits of using salon software
As a salon owner, you have to wear many hats to run a successful business.
From tasks like overseeing your bookings, promoting and marketing your salon to new customers, managing sales and employed/self employed staff management, it is no mean feat!
This is where salon software really comes into its own.
If you are concerned about the running costs of introducing a salon software system to your business, there are many available that are free and offer the option to upgrade to a more advanced version if needed. The upgrade usually includes more features than the free version or more advanced options.
The main benefit, as discussed before, is the time it will save you.
Running a salon can be stressful, so if you are able to outsource some of the areas that can be time consuming or are adding more to your already busy workload, why not take the burden off your shoulders?
We’re always looking to find ways of making our lives easier.
Emailing, texting, shopping and working out online, are all aspects of our lives that have been simplified by the use of technology. Salon software is no different.
Have you ever wondered where your clients go if they do not return?
Clients lead busy lives too and sometimes having a gentle automated reminder to book their next appointment would be all it takes to get them to return to your salon and become a regular customer – keeping you at the forefront of their mind when they think about their hair and beauty needs.
You are also able to work out the lifetime value of each of your clients with advanced client data available with some salon software, and decipher those that end up costing you more due to missed appointments or cancellations at the last minute.
Using a salon software system in your salon also enables you to take bookings 24/7 using an online booking system, which alleviates any missed bookings as a result of you being closed.
How to choose the best salon software for your business
If you could choose one thing that is a bug bear within your salon business… one thing that you would love to avoid doing, what would it be?
Chances are, salon software could be the answer to your prayers.
- First take a look at your pain points within the salon. Are missed appointments costing you dearly? Do you want a more streamlined approach to your everyday salon life? Does your salon inventory give you anxiety at the mere thought of tackling it?
- Once you have established the areas in which you want to automate, you need to look out for these features in any software you consider. For example, features such as automated SMS and email reminders and credit card processing are useful if you are struggling with no shows.
Salon software is designed with the salon owner in mind. It is there to tackle the running of your salon behind the scenes so you can really focus on the creative side and have more time to work on other areas such as fulfilling services themselves, team leadership or just taking some much needed time to recharge your batteries knowing that your business is handled.
Salon software terminology simplified
POS – Point of sale. In essence POS is your cash register with the added benefits of doing much more than just managing your cash flow. Having POS software that is integrated or separate to your salon software gives you the ability to process payments, manage your customers accounts, as well as upsell any services or products that you sell.
This means you are able to take payment in multiple forms, such as credit cards, cash or gift cards. It also enables you to create loyalty or membership programs for your salon and have the ability to easily track all payments made.
You can also keep an eye on your client’s account balances and manage your promotions all in one place.
Small salons. Small salons would usually be deemed as 5 staff or less.
Cloud hosting. Cloud hosting can also be referred to as web based software or software as a service.
This simply means that it can be used on your web browser as opposed to installed on your computer hard drive, where it can only be used there.
The benefits of using a cloud based salon software are: it is more accessible because you are able to access it 24/7 remotely on any device, your data is protected and multiple users can access the software at the same time, meaning you can keep an eye on your business even when you are not in the salon.
Additionally it is often more affordable because it is a subscription based service.
CRM – Customer relationship management. A customer relationship manager is a tool which helps businesses coordinate and access their customer data.
A CRM system joins all areas such as customer services, marketing and sales in one organised system. This is a very helpful feature in a salon software system because it assists you in a more personalised service given the comprehensive information you hold on your clients.
BI – Business intelligence. Business intelligence is data that is derived from using your salon software which in turn helps you to make better decisions from a data driven stand point. This information could be in the forms of analytics, charts or reports giving you a broad picture of your salon’s data which can be used to oust inefficiencies and make educated changes according to the information provided, helping you to grow your salon.
Business intelligence can help pinpoint ways to increase profits, analyse customer behaviour, track your salons performance, unearth any problems plus much more.
Saas – Software as a Service. (Please see Cloud hosting)
The Best Salon Software
Phorest Salon Management software - Best for Marketing
Phorest have created salon software that is suitable for a number of businesses within the hair and beauty industry. Whether you own a beauty salon, hair salon, nail salon, spa or barber shop, their integrated system can adapt to suit your business needs.
They look after all areas of your salon business using one tool. With combined features to help you schedule appointments, market your salon with email and text templates and manage your staff and locations if you have more than one salon, it really is a one stop shop for all your salon software needs.
Phorest offer easy migration and all their plans offer tailored set up for your salon. They also give free training for life, where you are able to book additional online training after the initial set up and training for new staff at no extra cost. Phorests support team live by the mantra: ‘Seirbhís go hiontach’ (excellence in service).
You are able to book a free demo online, so go check it out to see how Phorest can help grow your salon today.
Phorest offers 3 price plans, each varying in cost depending on the level of salon software you need.
Starter – the basics to get you started
Grow – This features everything in starter with more features included
Ultimate – This also includes everything in starter, plus even more benefits
All of Phorest’s price plans include: unlimited devices, unlimited staff and affordable SMS rates. You are also able to add some features not included in your plan as an optional extra on the Starter or Grow package.
You can request a quote to receive the most up to date pricing direct from Phorest.
Phorest does not offer a free trial, but if you are interested in trying before you buy, they do offer a full demo of their product to help you decide as well as complimentary set up of their software, if you do decide to go ahead and purchase.
Please note: Due to Phorest having 3 price plans depending on the level of salon software needed, not all features will be available unless you opt for the ultimate package.
- Appointment scheduling
- Online booking system
- Salon branded booking app
- Automated SMS and email
- Salon marketing tools
- Get ready-made email and SMS marketing templates
- Reviews on Google, Facebook and Yelp
- Loyalty programme
- Customer relationship manager
- Import your client lists
- Manage multiple salon locations
- Manage staff rostas
- Stock and inventory tools
- Digital consultation forms
Phorest prides itself on offering the most sophisticated tools to help you own your brand and reach your ideal client. As cited on their website, no other salon software can be automated to enable you to get more 5 star online reviews on Google, Facebook and Yelp.
- Enables you to build your own marketing campaigns.
- Smart integrated tools featuring stylish emails with built-in photo editor and image library.
- Targeted planning with the ability to reach the right customers through refined targeted lists.
- Measurable results so you are able to quickly figure out which campaigns worked.
- Finally Smart extras helping you get more reviews on Google, generating referrals even when your salon is closed.
Rosy Salon Software - The best Cloud based system
Rosy was founded by former hair and spa owners, making them an ideal choice for salon software. With this background knowledge and understanding of the industry, it is reflected in their approach to building a salon software system with salon owners in mind.
Rosy is the first cloud-based salon and spa software. Combining all of the main elements needed to assist in running a salon with an easy to use interface and having the security of a hosted system, centrally located on a secure server in the Cloud.
They offer standard subscription pricing and optional premium features which include all of the elements included in the standard pricing at an additional cost. This will give you the opportunity to really tailor your package, according to your number of staff and requirements as a salon.an
- Mobile access to your account from any device
- Automated text and email reminders
- Salon scheduling
- Online booking
- POS with integrated credit card processing
- Manage your inventory
- Reporting Performance to analyse your salon performance
- Dashboard to set performance goals
- Online Store for online retail sales
- Facebook/Google integration for more booking capabilities
- Advanced loyalty programme
- Cloud hosted
Rosy run a hosted system, meaning their salon software is centrally located on a secure server in the Cloud. This means you are free to access their system through the internet on any device virtually anywhere.
This is paramount from a security point of view as your data is kept safe in the event of a power failure and with automatic back ups and multiple backup locations to protect from data loss. Leaving you to rest assured that all the important information held for your salon is in safe hands.
Salon Iris - The Best for POS
Salon Iris has been helping hair salons, nail salons, beauty salons, barber shops, tanning salons, lash and blow dry bars for over 20 years by helping them grow and succeed with their innovative approach to salon software.
They offer packages for varying salon size and budgets and 3 of their packages are cloud based solutions. Great for having all your valuable information backed up in the cloud. They also offer a front desk POS system which is not only convenient but easy to use. Designed with salon owners in mind, Salon Iris continues to strive to give you the best management platform to use in your salon.
They also offer a front desk package designed just for POS, which integrates everything you will need to run your salon effortlessly.
- POS system
- Taking online bookings
- SMS and email reminders
- Templates to promote salon campaigns or the option to create your own
- Credit card processing
- Inventory management
- Employee scheduling and payroll
- Gift cards which can be customised
- iOS & android app available
- Reports to highlight your strengths and weaknesses
- Progressive client management
- Reputation management for salon reviews
- Software integration for help with accounting and bookings
- Cloud hosted
Salon Iris’s stand out feature is their front desk package designed just for point of sale.
This solution integrates everything you will need to help run your salon effortlessly. Including credit card processing, enabling you to unlock more key features such as membership billing and the ability to save credit card details on file – handy for faster billing and taking deposits.
Salon Tracker management software - The Best for keeping your Data Secure
Salon Tracker has been designed by professional software engineers who have continued to work with salon businesses to build a platform that constantly evolves to meet the needs of salon owners.
Building strong customer relationships is their core principal, which has given them the capacity to create a system that is suited to a wide range of salons and salon industry businesses.
They also offer POS hardware packages which work in partnership with their software packages, creating the perfect pairing to help facilitate the running of your day to day salon life.
Do you prefer to tailor things to suit? Salon Tracker has the option to build your own package ‘Enterprise plus subscription’. Price on request, please contact them for a quote.
Security is paramount when using any online application. If you are inputting sensitive data such as contact details, home address and payment information, you want peace of mind that it is stored securely and doesn’t end up in the wrong hands. That goes for your salon data, as well as your customers information.
Salon Tracker has implemented a number of ways to keep this sensitive information protected at all times. As highlighted on their website, they take their customers’ security very seriously and have produced integrated, optional products that work in conjunction with Salon Tracker software. With features such as; a biometric fingerprint recognition for staff and clients, secure pin for customers to access their information and secure shell lock to deter staff from using the computer for personal use.
Please note: these extras are not included in the software packages, they are additional extras.
Booker - The Best for Business Intelligence
Booker by Mindbody, is a salon software system that was created with the wellness industry in mind. Their core values as cited from their website are:
- committed to wellness
- audaciously achieving
- humble and helpful
- empathetic and consciously evolving.
These principals illustrate how Booker is in tune with the hair, beauty and spa industry and strives to remain relevant by evolving their offerings to their customers to keep ahead of the curve.
This is vital in the technology industry, and Booker salon software gives you all the tools needed to run and maintain a healthy salon, by providing flexible plans to fit your salon business needs, according to your budget.
- Cloud based software
- Online booking
- Live customer support
- Targeted campaigns for marketing
- Memberships software
- Set up and training
- Your own branded app
- Access on any device
- Ability to manage gift cards and packages
- Data migration support
- Product inventory tracking
- Business education resources
- Credit card processing
Bookers business intelligence dashboard provides insights into your marketing campaigns and sales to assist you in growing your salon business.
Find out how much your customers are spending, track your customer referrals and know which marketing campaigns drive repeat business vs new business.
Vagaro - The Best for Innovative Features
Vagro is a salon, spa and fitness management solution designed to help grow your business with integrated client data and inventory management as well as automated email marketing. They also import your clients and inventory for free if you switch to them from another provider.
As software providers for hair salons, massage, nail, spa, barber, tanning, makeup and hair removal set ups, whatever type of salon business you run – Vagaro has got you covered.
To grow and maintain any business you need to set goals and have a way to check you are staying on target.
Vagaro have underlined the importance of goal setting and tracking by simplifying the process and building their salon software with this as their central objective.
- Cloud hosted
- New Covid secure features
- Calendar with drag and drop appointments with custom appointment colours
- Online booking
- SMS & email reminders and post appointment thank you emails
- Customer tracking for memberships etc
- Automated email marketing
- Reports & payroll with Gusto
- Mobile app
No contract is a great feature as you are able to cancel your subscription at any time. This is useful as with many salon software providers you are locked into a 12 month contract with them.
Vagaro have really been on the ball with a suite of new Covid safety features for their software.
You don’t need me to tell you about how Covid has massively affected salon owners and all business since March 2020. Since reopening all salons have had to put in extra measures to protect their staff and clients against the virus.
With this in mind, Vagaro have innovatively created and added some extra features to their software including: a Covid-19 Ready badge which labels your business as a Covid clean business on Vagaro.com and on the client app.
It also shows a Covid-19 highlights section which lets business owners input all the safety measures they have put in place to protect clients and staff.
Additionally, it has templates for a Covid liability waiver for clients to fill out and contactless check in methods. Read more about the Covid clean features on Vagaro, here.
SalonBiz - The Best for Client Relationships
Salon Biz identified a gap in the market before many salons used computers in their businesses and generated a product that ticks all the boxes for salon scheduling, booking appointments, managing inventory and many more to help make your salon more efficient and profitable.
One of their many great features include: pricing includes free, ongoing support as well as automatic updates, ability to manage multiple locations and secure data with multi level password protection. Read more about SalonBiz on their website.
- Cloud hosted
- Integrated payments
- Inventory control
- Manage multiple locations
- Online booking
- Automated appointment reminder notifications
- Pre pay option for appointments
- Take payments from any location
- Self check in and out for clients
- Direct communication with staff for clients
- Online purchasing for clients
The Guest experience, the pocket salon app. (Available in the app store and on Google Play).
SalonBiz have cleverly delivered a concept where you hand over the reigns to the client. This opens your salon business up to having better client relationships, which is what our industry is built on. Without clients, we have no business.
The SalonBiz app gives clients the ability to book their own appointments, buy products from you, message their stylist directly, leave tips and check in & out all within the touch of a button on the consumer app, Pocket salon.
This slick approach turns the age old concept of the salons having to to everything on its head and gives control to the client.
Belliata - The Best free Salon Software
Belliata was established in 2014 and is a free salon software application to help aid your growth as a salon. It is a salon scheduling software, POS software and salon booking app.
You may be wondering why it is free?
With all the salon software available on today’s market, doesn’t this sound too good to be true?
The free product does not include all of the premium features, many of which are practical in a salon software application.
Some of these features cover things like SMS appointment reminders, a branded booking page and ability to accept online payment, but if you are a small salon, wanting to try out some software and see if the free features are adequate for your salon’s needs, then give it a go!
- No contract
- Cloud based solution
- Appointment scheduling
- Colour code your services
- Re-book function
- Staff scheduling
- Track and manage your inventory
- Sell retail products
- Track sales
- Appointment reminders
- POS system
- Client feedback from reviews
Belliata is free to use with no set up costs or contract, and you don’t need to provide your credit card details to create an account.
This straightforward approach to providing salon software is advantageous for smaller salons or for those who haven’t ever used a salon software system in their salon before, and are interested in how they can serve their business needs.
One Belliata’s website, they have provided a no nonsense chart, listing all the features that their salon software includes and whether or not it is included in the free version or the premium.
This transparent sales pitch makes it easy to determine whether the features you are looking for are available in the free version.
Versum - The Best Value for Money
Versum is a salon software designed to manage the day to day operations of a salon, streamline the process of bookings and marketing to enable salons to focus on growth.
Used by professionals globally, Versum’s offerings span a wide range of capabilities to help easily manage your salon.
One of the benefits of Versum is it is an integrated booking salon software system that enables you to access customer records electronically and book appointments in the click of a button, in one handy package with simple and advanced tools at your fingertips.
The real stand out feature with Versum, is the fact that they include all features in all the plans.
This offering is really attractive because the only thing you need to consider is the number of staff in your salon and pick your plan accordingly. (Administrative staff are not included in this figure).
They offer special discounts for advanced monthly payment of the subscription fee, so by paying more than one month in advance, you are able to save money. The subscription also includes free implementation of the system and free support.
Versum gives you all their advanced features in all their plans, which are often not included in the value plans of other salon software providers. Saving you from having to forgo some of the premium features if you are limited by budget and want to make use of all they have to offer.
In a nutshell, utilising a salon software system within your salon can save you time, effort and above all – help you grow your salon business to its full potential.
This is because of the effective marketing campaigns, offers salon software applications can implement, or the efficiency of online booking giving the client’s ability to book themselves in the click of a button – an ideal solution to aid salon professionals and clients alike.
Remember… work smarter, not harder.