Barbershops, hairdressers, nail salons. Hair and beauty establishments are among the few businesses on the high street that are not just getting by, but actually thriving! The hair and beauty industry both globally and within UK contributes a HUGE contribution to the economy. According to Statista, the global hair and beauty industry was estimated to be worth a whopping 87.73 billion dollars. Within the UK, the hair and beauty sector contributed 6.6 billion pounds to the economy according to BABTAC (British Association of Beauty Therapy and Cosmetology).
You get the picture. The industry is doing well! And also seems to be one that is generally recession proof. No matter how bad the economy is, people are going to want to look good regardless. Things are good, but they can definitely get better. One of the ways for the UK hair and beauty industry to push forward into the next level is automation.
We've seen many industries in recent years embrace automation in recent years and in doing so bring customers a whole different level of ease and convenience. Two of the biggest examples are the food and taxi sectors. It's almost inconceivable to think that once upon a time, you actually had no choice but to physically go to your local kebab shop to get some chicken and chips. Or that before, if you were ordering a taxi, you would HAVE to have cash or card on hand to be able to pay. Companies such as CUBER, Deliveroo, Just Eat and Blueline Taxis have completely revolutionised the way these industries operate.
For a number of different reasons, the hair and beauty industry in the UK has been quite slow compared to other sectors in embracing basic automation in the day-to-day running of business. A large number of barbershops, nail salons, hairdressers and other beauty establishments still rely exclusively on taking bookings over the phone. The advent of social media has brought some tech advancements as customers can now book appointments via apps like Instagram, Facebook and WhatsApp. However, booking appointments via these platforms does not fully automate the booking process as those bookings will still have to be manually added into a physical diary.
There are a number of salon booking and scheduling platforms that exist that provide fully automated booking systems. These include Genus, Booksy, Fresha and Treatwell, to name a few. So why is it that so many hair and beauty businesses in the UK do not have an automated booking process? Well one of the reasons is simply not being aware of what is out there that could help you and your business.
Another reason is cost. According to the NHF NBF (National Hairdressers Federation the National Beauty Federation) over 50% of hair and beauty establishments have a turnover below £99k. After expenses, it may not be affordable to pay for a booking and management platform. Some establishment owners also simply feel that automating the booking process is not necessary and wouldn't bring any tangible benefit to their business. So why automate bookings and appointments?
Well firstly, automating the booking process in hair and beauty establishments will make life a lot easier for the members of staff taking the appointments. Instead of having to juggle telephone bookings, text bookings and bookings from social media, all appointments can be made in one place. It also removes the need to answer the phone to take bookings when in the middle of providing a service to a customer.
According to the NHF NBF, over 90% of hair and beauty establishments employ less than 10 people. This means that more often than not, establishments will not have a dedicated receptionist to take phone bookings or inquiries. Automating the booking process would eliminate the need for this and also reduce the stress of balancing phone calls whist providing a service.
On the customer side, automating the booking process would make booking a hair/beauty service a lot more efficient. Access the booking platform, select the service required and boom, appointment booked. No need to call, text or get a hold of anyone via social media. Easy easy. According to the Office for National Statistics, 84% of people aged 16 and over use the internet whist 'on the go'. Hair and beauty establishments needs to capitalise on this and offer customers the ability to be able to book an appointment easily when on the go.
Automating booking appointments will not only make life easier for hair and beauty staff, it can also aid in increasing the amount of bookings received. Customers will not be restricted to making bookings when someone can take their phone call, neither will they be restricted to having to wait until their booking is confirmed via text or social media. An automated booking process means that establishments can receive appointments 24/7 as customers can make bookings unencumbered. An easier booking process will most likely result in more bookings!
In order for barbershops, beauty salons, nail bars, hairdressers and other beauty establishments to fulfill their true potential, they need to integrate tech into their day-to-day operations. Automating the booking process is the first step. Why? Because a customer booking an appointment with an establishment is the first step in a customer journey. Being able to make that first step as easy and efficient as possible opens up the opportunity for further tech innovations in the customer journey!