Also, know what you are paying for. Generally, you will pay for hardware and software (sometimes sold separately, sometimes in a package), training and support, and, with some companies, extras. Beware of “extras” or hidden costs. Always ask for a complete price, down to every cable and plug, in writing. Some companies price their computers very low, at bargain prices – until you realize the deal does not include a monitor or keyboard.
FEAR OF “FAST BUCK” SALESPEOPLE
True, there are salespeople who will try to pressure you into buying their computer, regardless of your needs. “This is the best bargain on the market,” they shout, “but you must buy it now!” You can avoid these “fast buck” talkers by choosing a company that sells directly to the industry, and has a solid reputation. One that has been around for a minimum of three years and has installed more than 50 computers in several states and:
- can give you references of satisfied customers
- will take the time to explain and simplify computer jargon
- will try to explain things clearly to avoid confusion or making computers sound like complicated machines only they can understand
- is recommended by other salon owners. By networking, you will hear about companies that are known to give customers a bad deal or bad service. It’s a small world, and word of disreputable salesperson, or company, usually travels fast.
You can also make it easier for both the salesperson and yourself by knowing what you want a computer to do for you before you shop for a system. Make a list of all the things you would like a computer to do, and know how much you’re able to spend.
FEAR THAT YOUR STAFF WON’T BE ABLE TO LEARN HOW TO USE A COMPUTER
Your employees may have the same initial reaction to computers as you did – “I can’t learn how to use that!” But the truth is they can, and will, learn how to use it. A lot depends on your attitude and how you introduce it in the salon.
Salon owners who have computer systems recommend that you go slowly. Don’t intimidate employees by giving them 24 hours to learn to use it. Instead, introduce the computer as a positive addition to the salon. Tell them how it can save time and increase everybody’s earnings.
“Employees usually like the idea that goal setting can increase their income [an example of goal setting is determining the number of new or repeat clients a technician should service each week].” said one computer owner, “and that direct mail can increase their customer base [direct mailing software includes features to automatically print cards to send to customers, reminding them to call for an appointment, wishing them a happy birthday or offering a particular discount on a particular service].”
Soloway agrees. “With our system, employees receive a performance analysis report with each paycheck. I know some women who use the information on these reports as a kind of competition. For instance, they compare how much they sold, or how many wraps they did. Then, they try to beat those numbers by the next paycheck. One salon owner I know even offers plane fares to the Bahamas for the technician who makes the most retail sales. You should see how motivated those women are!”
Most salon owners find their employees not only learn how to use computers, but become more involved in the business because of it.
FEAR OF NOT SEEING A RETRUN ON THEIR MONEY…OR, HOW TO JUSTIFY THE INTIAL EXPENSE
“Even with minimal service use, a computer can save you approximately seven weeks of work a year, and bring in extra money,” Dengler says. “Let’s say you have a customer base of 1,000. If you can get each client to come in one more time a year just by using the direct mailing capabilities of the program you’ll increase sales by $10,000.”
Soloway agrees. “Being more organized saves you money,” she says. ‘By keeping track of inventory employees, and advertising costs, most of my customers increase their earnings within the first three months.”
Another way you can justify a computer expense is by leasing, instead of buying it outright. “Leasing is a lot less intimidating for many salon owners,” Colon says. “And unless your salon has a large cash flow, it can be more advantageous. When leasing, you pay for the computer as you use it.”
Other justifications for computerizing are:
- Gaining control of your business. Industry experts predict that salon owners who use a computer to help them in their business planning are less likely to go out of business than those who are not computerized. Computers can help you plan your profit by helping you to calculate and to keep track of how much you are spending on overhead expenses (rent, telephone, etc.), how much you’re paying your employees, and whether or not you’re charging enough for your services to ensure a profit.
- Organization. Once you enter basic information into your computer, it eliminates timely duplication of your efforts. For example, inventory. If you take an accurate count of your inventory, both for retail and for services, you can update that information simply by keeping track of your sales and usage. It means you won’t have to recount all your bottles of nail polish, files, etc., and you can easily reorder those supplies you need without over-ordering those you don’t.
- Payroll is made easier.
- Computing commissions is easier, and more accurate.
FEAR OF BUYING THE WRONG SYSTEM
You should have little fear of buying the wrong system if you know what you want your computer to do for your business, talk with other salon owners who currently have computers, and buy from a company that specializes in working with the nail salon industry. Remember, the reputation of the company is at stake and they want to stay in business. A good sale can make or break their business so they want to make sure their customers are happy, just as you want your customers to be happy.