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How Automation Helps Spa and Salon Businesses Work Smarter, Not Harder

By Lisa Starr

Here in the US, the pandemic feels like it’s moving into a manageable state. Consumers who have been staying home for over two years are now out and about; planes, trains, and automobiles feel like they’re working at full strength. For wellness businesses, the good news is there has never been a higher demand for our treatments and products, as consumers are seeking all things wellness-oriented. However, we're still not seeing employees returning to work in substantial numbers, putting a lot of stress and strain on consumer-facing businesses—especially those in the spa and salon space. Now, more than ever, we need to make sure we're working smarter, not harder.

Certainly, you have software to help you manage your business, but you may not be aware of just how much your software can actually do for you. I recently visited one of my favorite yoga studios—that uses Mindbody—and the owner told me she had never clicked on the Marketing tab! Now is the time to explore and utilize any underused features in your system—especially those that can help your business run efficiently with potentially less staff than you might prefer through automation.

As technology continues to improve and innovate, we’re seeing automation all around us. According to Gartner, the number of businesses adopting artificial intelligence (AI) grew by 270% in four years—and it’s expected to grow by 21% from 2021 to 2022. The size of the market for AI was valued at $51 billion in 2020 by Verified Market Research, and is projected to reach $641 billion by 2028. Cloud-based services and higher demand for AI virtual assistants are fueling this growth. In fact, AI virtual assistants can often provide more personalized, efficient, and accurate service to customers than overworked staff members.

Boost your marketing with automation

Streamline your communications

Mindbody and Booker both offer integrated automation that you should be taking advantage of in your salon, spa, or wellness business. Marketing Suite does an amazing job of streamlining and automating your marketing and client communications efforts. In fact, there are so many options within Marketing Suite that it may be daunting at first, but as you explore, you’ll see you can configure any number of automated messages and promotions to clients, including:

  • Welcome emails for new clients
  • Birthday notes
  • “We miss you” campaigns to coax clients to come back

You can utilize the furnished templates or create your own with a branded look, and once you set up the parameters, the system seamlessly runs in the background.

Fill last-minute openings

One of the most useful features allows you to drum up revenue for upcoming open slots in your appointment book by sending out promotions specific to that service. You can offer a discount that's comfortable for the business by incorporating a sliding scale similar to bidding on eBay. Last-minute deals like these can help you to attract new clients and expand the reach of your business. Once you’ve acquired clients, Marketing Suite helps you retain them with automated templates for regular emails and text messages, eliminating the need for additional third-party programs.

Segmenting lists

Marketing Suite also allows you to participate in one of the most important components of email marketing, which is the segmenting of your list. You can create Smart List subsets of your main database, enabling you to drill down and build powerful promotions that are specific to a group. For example, you can send a facial treatment upgrade offer to all clients who have had skincare services in the past—or share a buy-one-get-one (BOGO) promo for customers who have previously purchased a particular product. This type of personalized segmentation increases open and click-through rates, leading to more successful campaigns and increased revenue. Marketing Suite also employs referral programs to help you continue to build traffic and gather and publish reviews of your services. All these activities previously filled many hours of time from a support staff or marketing team member, but once these programs are set up, they operate 24/7 without human interaction, an obvious time- and money-saver.

Enhance the client experience

Messenger[ai] is another nifty feature that can simplify and speed up client communications. Whether through your website, branded app, or the phone, Messenger[ai] can respond immediately to inquiries and supply frequently sought-after information such as hours of operation, business address, or help with bookings. If you should happen to miss an incoming call, the system will automatically generate a text response and engage with the guest. Clients today are becoming so used to information being readily available at their fingertips they’re quick to move on to the next business if yours doesn’t respond quickly enough.

Together, Marketing Suite and Messenger[ai] create an elevated experience for clients. And soon, will become more integrated with each other, consolidating phone numbers for messaging purposes. All messages sent from the business will come from one unified number, and tabs in Messenger[ai] will allow you to easily see the source of the responses.

The future is automation

These are just a few examples of the many features available to your wellness business, enabling you to stay up to date in the eyes of your guests. Of course, beauty and wellness businesses are built on relationships and personal touch, but given the current staffing challenges, leveraging these tools for the appropriate interactions will allow your staff to spend more quality time with the guests that are front and center.

Sixty-two percent of consumers understand that utilizing AI is going to provide a better experience for them in the long run, and 61% of employees say AI helps to boost work productivity. Automation speeds initial response time to customers and prevents human errors that can crop up when tasks are done repetitively. Younger customers especially appreciate the ability to get support 24/7 through multiple channels, whether or not your establishment is open. These are amazing tools that you have no doubt experienced when interacting with large businesses, but they’re now available to you!

It can be difficult to know where to start with automation, but these features make it easy to dip your toe into the water. Plus, allowing your staff to focus on guests in front of them will deliver more job satisfaction and potentially less turnover. You won’t be alone—right now, it’s estimated that nearly 25% of customer service organizations are using some sort of chatbot.

Be sure to include your staff in your vision when rolling out these tools and explain that you're attempting to streamline their work processes. Changes in culture and workflow are always difficult, but companies that undergo significant change are more likely to experience improved outcomes, according to a study by Deloitte. If you're running your front desk operations the same way you did three years ago, it's time for an upgrade. AI tools allow you to increase productivity and save money at the same time, a win-win for everyone.

Learn how Mindbody helps business owners like you work smarter, not harder.

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About the author:

Lisa Starr Headshot

Lisa Starr

Principal

Wynne Business Consulting

Lisa is a frequent collaborator with Mindbody and the Principal of Wynne Business Consulting & Education, which specializes in spa, wellness, and salon businesses and brands. She has over 35 years of experience in the beauty and wellness industry, spending the last 22 years as a consultant and educator helping wellness businesses optimize their operations while providing exceptional experiences for their guests. Lisa is the Task Force Chair for the Global Wellness Institute’s Consulting Initiative, a Contributing Editor at Spa Business Magazine, a regular contributor to global trade publications, and a highly rated speaker at industry conferences. She also offers live spa management courses both online and around the globe. 

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