Finding a fit as a salon owner
When Amy Pal worked in corporate finance, she knew her passion lay in becoming an entrepreneur. So, when her family moved back to the United States, Pal decided to open a franchise location of an indoor cycling business. The business was a success and soon expanded into a second location in a neighboring town. After a while, Pal was tired of running a brand that wasn't her own and wanted to explore opportunities, so she sold her locations and decided to start a new business—this time with a brand of her own.
A self-described trendspotter, Pal saw an increasing number of styling and blow dry bars opening and jumped into the beauty market with a concept that was focused on styling services but still offered the full salon experience. The business had a rocky start.
"We opened up with blow dry bar and salon initially in 2016," Pal said. "I learned a lot of very painful lessons about the beauty industry when I started. I didn't realize how much went into it."
But Pal didn't give up—and now, four years later, Whip Salon has three locations in Connecticut that served over 30,000 appointments in 2019.
“I quickly climbed that learning curve,” Pal said.
Integrating technology into the salon
While she had lessons to learn, Pal knew one thing for certain when she opened Whip. Because Pal had experience as a fitness business owner before venturing into the salon industry, she knew that online booking would be crucial to managing a salon. She did her research and decided to use Booker as she built out her salon.
"I picked Booker because I felt like I had all the features that I needed," Pal said. "It was the right size to deal with and, and I just felt like they were responsive. And it was specific to the industry."
It was the right choice. In the years since first opening, Booker has empowered Pal with reports and technology, helping her be a better salon owner. With Booker, Amy can see each of her stylists’ appointment calendars, allowing the salon flexibility if someone needs to call in sick. Pal can also easily pull reporting, showing her how many times clients have come for specific services and creating opportunities to generate more revenue through upselling additional services and products. Whatever she needs—Booker can support it.
"It's just so versatile. I like that I can use it on my phone. I use it on my computer," Pal said. "I'm definitely a power user. I try to squeeze as much out of it."
Keeping the customer experience top-of-mind
One of Pal's lessons early on in her salon ownership journey was that excellent customer service is crucial—but figuring out how to collect customer feedback can be challenging. Pal saw that if her team didn't have a chance to ask for—or address—feedback, it would end up on Yelp, Facebook, or Google, and the salon wouldn't have an opportunity to fix the problem.
Review and testimonials became a focus for Pal. Because she had been using Booker software since the first day of her salon, she had access to Booker's Marketing Suite, including its automated review system. She built out a review program that asked every customer about their experience when they left the salon, allowing her to catch unhappy customers in a way she couldn't before.
"What I like about it is it not only tells when somebody is happy but also gives someone an outlet that's not happy," Pal said. "So instead of going to Yelp or Google reviews, or Facebook or someplace public, it can give us an opportunity behind the scenes politely say, 'Hey, I screwed up.' But if you don't give them that opportunity, they probably will go straight to one of those other places."
Pal uses the reviews the salon earns through Marketing Suite for more than just intel into her customers' experiences. She also uses them on her website to help market the salon and encourage and coach her staff members.
"It just shows them that we're getting this love from this client—someone took the time to write about you, and you made an impact on their day," Pal said. "So, I feel like it's more important for my culture in a way than getting clients."
And, Pal’s strategy is working. Each Whip Salon location maintains a Net Promoter Score in the mid- to high-nineties, and every review is a new opportunity to engage with a current customer or acquire a new one, helping Whip engage and retain customers—automatically.
“I watch it like a hawk because, if there's a trend, it helps us keep on top of our game.”