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Harnessing technology: Reaping the benefits

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In order to have a competitive edge, it has become mandatory for players in the salon and spa space, to optimise technology-based resources. The advantages of using technology are manifold and the investment needed is minimal. Salon India talks to a few brands that have harnessed technology and are already reaping its benefits

We are living in an age where technology is all pervasive. Tech has made its way into our living rooms, our kitchens, our cars and now our beauty and wellness industry, too. Technology, when used wisely, has the potential to completely transform our businesses. The newage tools enable us to reach out to the millions of people today, who could be our clients, tomorrow.

Top players share
CK Kumaravel, CEO and Co-Founder, Naturals Salons, says, “I feel, customers are our lifeline and we should make every effort, every initiative to keep them happy and satisfied with our services. At Naturals, we have a dedicated team who looks after Client Relationship Management (CRM). Smart devices like mobile and computers have helped us to incorporate new technologies to enhance our customer
experience. Some of the benefits we have availed of, post using the CRM technology, are of maximised customer satisfaction. We have given our customers interactive access to service information and have constant connectivity with them, which is so critical to our business.”

In 2012, Enrich decided to run its data through ManageMySpa, a cloud software for spas, salons and medical spas that includes POS, appointment booking, online booking and sales, employee management, loyalty, inventory management along with sales and marketing analytics that’s run through the cloud BI solution provided by the French company BIME Analytics. By using sales and marketing dashboards, Enrich was able to run a customised marketing campaign that brought in more than $100k of additional revenue. Furthermore, with the following campaign running on their newly launched web store, they touched a whopping $11k in a single weekend. Sachin Kamat, Director, Employee and Customer Engagement at Enrich Salons & Academy shares, “At Enrich Salons, we’ve understood the signifi cant advantage that technology can make in adding value to our teams and our customers. We have two systems in place – one for our employees and the other for our clients.”

Using technology
Says CKK, “We use the CRM software to maintain old and new customer profi les. This technology is also used to identify repeat customers, streamline our customer service process, understand and track customers purchasing patterns and provide them with support and information as and when needed.”

Elaborates Kamat, “We work on a employee first belief since the way we connect with our customers is through our team members and a happy team member leads to better customer experience. Customers have a choice of calling the salon number or reaching for our centralised virtual front desk, which is accessible from a single number across the chain. Here they can get information on services, location
information, make bookings and share any issues they might be facing. The same can be done from a mobile phone using our mobile app or from our web store that’s on our salon website, making for multiple ways that a customer can reach and make a booking – two of which work round the clock. We have a system of sending reminders out on SMS and/or e-mail, depending on the preference of the customer. In the salon, there is a real time cloud based system that has profile details of the customer, details of their past visits and also their satisfaction levels. Every salon is equipped with iPads on which customers can see service videos (we‘ve also experimented with a makeover software where customers can upload a picture taken from the iPad itself and checkout how various looks will work for them) and go through feedback from other customers on individual services and provide feedback themselves. We have an elaborate customer feedback addressing system that spans the salon and teams at the head office teams ensure prompt response and resolution. To simplify things, the membership number for our Loyalty Programme subscriber is their own phone number. We have a one time password system using which members can extend the benefits of their subscription to their add-on members and family members.

Apart from the above, we have an extensive website that addresses our team members, customers and students, where there is a huge repository of relevant information for these segments. We’re present on multiple social media and online forums where our experts are trouble shooting and doing live chat sessions to solve customer issues in real time.”

Going digital and social media
Companies need to adopt the digital media to become accessible to clients and partners, alike. By having your own website, you are reaching out to the world. Whoever decides to visit your page, is sooner or later, depending on your marketing and advertising skills, likely to become a business partner or a client. Social media like Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and Linkedin are such platforms wherein presence of a brand is a must in order to be ahead. One can make immediate and urgent announcements, uploads videos, latest news, interviews of brand heads, news about the product, seminars being held, job vacancy postings and so on. The response one sees is immediate by the number of ‘likes’ one gets and the by the number of followers one manages to attract. Says Subham Virmani, Director, Esskay beauty Resources, “E-commerce is growing rapidly in India. People today are willing to go online to shop as it’s done at their convenience and lends them privacy and exclusivity, as well. Esskay Beauty is the first company in the country to launch an E-commerce store that focuses completely on salons and beauty professionals. The website has our brands that we distribute and products from other companies that we have partnered with. We also provide facilities such as multiple payment options, promotional rates and free shipping on a certain value.
The venture allows our customers to order 24×7, offers door-step delivery, display of our products and gives them access to various international brands, not necessarily available, in their local market.”

Apps are the way
For mobile phone, brands have launched apps. To download an app, all one needs is Internet connectivity and the awareness that the app is available. Says Najeeb Ur Rehman, Director, Partner Professional Services, Schwarzkopf Professional India, “Our brand Schwarzkopf Professional is all about hair care, colour, finish and form and our apps are created based around these. The Midas app has been created locally in India and it shows 1000 hair looks with Schwarzkopf Professional’s Igora Royal Hair Colour. Furthermore, the House of Color App and Care Expert App answers the consumer’s query on colour and care and assists them in selecting the right colour using different options and informs them of what is in vogue. It also lets the professional know of the Perfect Formula Creation based on the clients’ profile, their individual needs and desires. It saves your client’s personal information and colour history. Our Hair Expert app is a holistic tool that supports hairdressers day-to-day within the salon. It identifies individual hair profiles and recommends home regimes, which meet every client’s needs. Therefore, taking hair care to the next level.” Apart from the above, cloud-based synchronisation helps you to keep track of your mutual history and improves the consultation process. How apps help a salon Elaborates Rehman, “The salon has an interactive tool which helps the consumer visualise their look. In the beauty business, we need to show the consumer the final image, before it’s even begun. Until now, it was only the hair dressers convincing skills that helped customers to make a decision regarding their look, but now they have support of such apps and we at Schwarzkopf Professional are happy to help our customers in such an easy and innovative way.”

Challenges of an app
The challenges would be to make these apps reach all the salons, although we all have smart phones and are very active on the app-culture, but Internet speed and its usage defers the spread and the success of these apps.

Who are the clients
Shares Rehman, “Anyone can be our client as an app is freely available at the Apple store and Google play store. We suggest salons to download them on Apple phones, iPads and any Android device.”

Future plans
Schwarzkopf Professional believes in providing the best technical knowledge to their hair dressers, as proper education is of utmost importance to us. The future for apps does not limit itself to consumer interactions and choosing hair styles. Schwarzkopf Professional plans to take the apps to the next level, by making technical hair education freely available to hair dressers and be a true partner to their salons. In an upbeat mood, Rehman says , “In fact why stop at that when we can provide access to worldwide trends, innovations, take feedback from the hair dresser and involve them in our R&D process.”

Improvement in business
Be it via an app or a website or the various other platforms, companies are using these days, it is a fact that harnessing technology can go a long way in increasing footfalls. “Considering the versatility of the CRM software, it has not only helped us to build a personal relationship with our customers, but also aided in identifying our most profi table customers and offer them the highest level of services,” says CKK. “It
helps us to increase footfalls as our customers are constantly updated with our new offers and services which allows them to repeatedly comeback to our salons,” elaborates CKK. Enrich, on the other hand, has doubled the average ticket size and reduced discounts from 30 per cent to 22 per cent on their campaigns with smart marketing.

Says Kamat, “We reached all our goals – we reduced the discount we were giving away, sent people home with their home care products and also moved a high volume of retail products. We expect many of these customers to purchase their retail products
from us going forward.”

Kamat shares, “Billing has become really simple. ManageMySpa’s POS maps the customer’s bill to the offer they have received. Our receptionist doesn’t have to do anything, as everything was automated. This is important for us as it saves time and confusion, but it also means that the system can’t be gamed. ManageMySpa ensured that customers receive a coupon that they have used to collect their products, which means that any chance of pilferage is reduced. We also train our employees on the offers. And we align their revenue sharing (commissions) with the campaign as well. They have an incentive to encourage the package sale, which sometimes means they have to sell an add-on service to the customer. Hence, employees ended up making more on commissions, so they’re happy with the campaign. This is in contrast to our previous flat discounts where employees got less commissions. I also use the ManageMySpa Analytics to drill down into results – see what worked best and where I can leverage more from the campaigns.”

Issues and concerns
Opines CKK, “One of the key challenges that we faced was in the identifi cation of the right CRM module that would suit our company requirements. We wanted a partner who understood our fi eld of work and gives us strategies to enhance our

Most often in the past, Enrich used to offer a 20 per cent discount for memberships and, when it was running a festival offer – in order to make it even more appealing – they increased it to 30 per cent discount. But this took its toll on their budgets. Their new campaign was thought differently: they created about 20 target segments for customers based on their spending patterns (and they way they become regulars) and service history.

Secondly, they paired services with the right home care product into packages (if someone came in for a Pro-Keratin service, they wanted them to purchase the right shampoo and conditioner). Thus, the marketing campaign designed package offers that included a value add – the customer received a retail product for free, paying the regular price for services. The campaign ran for two months and averaged at a 22 per cent discount – this was 8 per cent lower than old campaigns where they were giving away 30 per cent.This 8 per cent alone meant $100k in additional revenue, which had a significant impact on profitability rates, as well. Furthermore, they managed to fill in the correlation gap between people using their services and selling more suitable retail products to these people. Not to mention they also doubled their overall ticket size.

Plan for the future
“Going forward, we are planning to customise our CRM services by identifying our potential customers and giving them customised offers and discounts to improve our relationship and customer satisfaction levels,” CKK reveals. Signs off Kamat, “On the cards, is a consultation form that is filled and stored on the iPads, so customers can be in any salon in the chain and their consultation data is accessible so that they get personalised attention and the process to add the professional products portfolio to the webstore. Enrich has already put into place custom coupons using which we can extend customised offers to individual guests, which means every customer can be offered a unique offer that is best suited and most relevant to them. On a positive note, shares Kamat, “At Enrich, we’re constantly seeking ways to add more value to our user experience using technology while maintaining the personal touch.”

Varun Thakkar, CEO, Divine Beauty (I) Corp, had created a software know as The Divine Beauty Salon/ Spa Administration and Management Software way back in 2002. What does it do: Manages clients, employees, service revenue, inventory control, appointments, client follow up and reminders, SMSs and e-Mails, revenue projection and revenue forecasting.

Functions: The software simplifies day to day operations, governs and maintains the SOPs implemented by the management. It reduces cumbersome hours of non-productive work which is done manually to collate financials and fundamentals of salon and spa operations. In a nut shell, it’s a smart manager at a negligible cost.

Benefits: It has virtually visualised a 360 Degree turn around as far as management and administration is concerned. It processes intelligent information on click, MIS, 100+ reports with multiple filters are auto generated thus resulting in effective customer care and privileged client handling.

Challenges: One of the primary challenge is implementation. The perception of system setup is not understood, as there is a misconception with a lot of prospective software buyers who anticipate that by just buying or installing a good software, issues will be solved. Primary inputs about daily tasks, taxation, payrolls and more, are unclear which becomes very tedious to setup a system on auto pilot. Software users are happy with a revenue-based Target Achievement, but 98 per ent lose the bigger picture of KYC (Know your Client). The basic client info is not captured, eventually resulting in a ‘Garbage In Garbage Out’ process. By the time the funda is realised, it’s too late.

Clients: Taj Group Of Hotels, Yasmin Of Nalini & Yasmin, Lemon Salons, Sohum Spa, Myrah Spa and Runah Salon in Mumbai, Mirrors Salon & Spa in Hyderabad, Snip Salon & Spa in Goa, La Femme and Final Touch Salon & Spa in Ahmedabad. Upgrades being done: The USP and forte of our company is implementation and education. We have always tried to use simple interfaces on the front end of the software and to enable multitasking from one screen. Also we plan to do phase-wise implementation after understanding the power of the user.

In the future:To educate and preach Salon Management to amateur new entrants and skilled professionals, alike.

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