By Kim Raisanen
I remember the days of appointment books and post–it notes. When I first started out in grooming I kept records of my business in a simple book and scheduled my customers on a rotary phone. My schedule was easy to read, it was portable, and I could scratch out cancellations and write down new appointments. I used it multiple times a day.
In the beginning, the appointment book served two important roles. The first being my appointments and second, my daily income. I would write down how much I charged for each cat. Once or twice a month I would translate it in an Excel spreadsheet. As I type this, I laugh at the effort and confidence I put into that appointment book. I was totally on top of things and I had a nice and easy bookkeeping system.
Nowadays, there are companies that can make your life easier by offering online booking, credit card processing and databases to arrange your clientele. Some of these companies also offer the ability to send appointment reminder emails or SMS text messages.
After a simple Google search I looked into the following companies. This gives you an idea of what other businesses may be using. Some of these companies offer free trials as well as free subscriptions with limited abilities.
Capterra (www.capterra.com/pet-grooming-software) is a website that contains actual user reviews of numerous companies that have specifically designed software for the pet industry.
A few of the reviews that I researched are:
• Baxus.com offers online scheduling for small business and charges a flat fee per staff member per week.
•10to8.com offers free online scheduling for small businesses, expandability is available.
• Groompropos.com is designed specifically for the pet industry and offers unique online scheduling, free credit card processing, and a free trial.
• Housecallpro.com is designed for different types of business but they also have a full menu of abilities for the small business enterprise.
• Petexec.net is designed specifically for the pet industry. It offers a full menu of abilities with a monthly cost.
• Pawfinity.com is designed specifically for the pet industry. It offers a full menu of abilities with a monthly cost.
When choosing the right software for your salon, I would recommend that you write down your needs and wants. Once you know what you need, the free subscriptions are great options because there are no contracts. If you like the product then you can expand your software as you expand your business. What I’m saying is you don’t need to purchase the Cadillac when all you need is the Chevy, especially if you’re just starting out in grooming. Some pet software technology can easily reach into the thousands of dollars and, unless you are operating a larger grooming salon, you may be able to save some of your hard earned money by using the free options.
If your business has a website, some of the add-ons can include scheduling, client databases and simple accounting. I have personally used Weebly.com, Wix.com, and GoDaddy.com. I also use Constant Contact for my emailing marketing needs.
Another approach to controlling your small grooming business is by using your phone. Apple, Windows and Android phones all offer calendars and, thanks to the cloud, we can see our bookings from any of our devices.
It may seem that as soon as you buy a new gadget, a newer, better one comes around the corner. Like you, I have obsolete devices. I still have a Blackberry, do you remember them? That phone died many years ago, but it still amazes me that I actually was able to type on those tiny buttons. Right now, my iPhone is my right hand. Due to the full array of available Apps, you can download the specific one that will help you. Some Apps are free and expandable for an additional fee.
There is other technology that we haven’t discussed yet. Security cameras and pet owner viewing cameras. If you have a brick and mortar salon, I would highly suggest you invest in both. Why? The security camera provides a piece of mind to you. The viewing cameras, which can be located in the boarding area or styling area, record the handling and grooming of the cats which provide their owners a sense of control. These are indispensable and worth the investment. Having the security cameras in and out of the salon will provide valuable evidence in the unfortunate event of a break in or a crazed customer.
Grooming room cameras can serve as an “I’ve got your back” asset in your business. Have you ever had an owner blame you for injuring their cat? Or have you been injured by a pet and need proof? These cameras are there to protect you and your staff. If you want the option to allow owners to view your grooming in real time, there are software packages for that, too. These cameras come in all sizes but they are not for everyone. If you see these as over the top, I would suggest taking pictures of injuries. More importantly, take pictures of pre-existing injuries to have on file in case you need to provide proof.
If you don’t feel you need technology to help you run your business, you can always purchase the good old appointment book from any office supply store or through Amazon and have a drone deliver your package. Oy vey, technology makes my head spin. Maybe I will sharpen my pencils, dig out my post–its and be on my merry way. ✂