Just because you’re fortunate enough to have a full slate of clients doesn’t mean you have the wherewithal to keep their personal information straight. Many technicians keep track of their clients with their Palm Pilot (a type of PDA, or personal digital assistant) or SmartPhone. The built-in address book allows you to keep all their information in one place, including work, home, and cell phone numbers, address, birthday, etc. The appointment book feature built into the Palm operating system is also pretty handy for booking your appointments. If you would like to take that process one step further, a program called Agendus essentially marries the address and appointment modules and is available for both Palm OS and Windows Mobile. I highly recommend this magnificent tool, available at www.iambic.com/agenduspro/palmos for $39.95.

Agendus has standard and pro versions available. Look for the “Standard or Pro” icon on the website to view a chart that can help you decide which version is best for your needs. There is also a version for your desktop, allowing you to manage the address and appointment books from your computer. The next time you sync up your Palm, all your data will be there.

While this product has been available for Palm systems for years, the Windows Mobile Pocket PC version is in the beta (testing) stage. It will probably work fine, but you should back up and sync up more often, as well as check the website often for updates, fixes, and repairs. You can sign up for an e-mail list to get notification of new releases from Iambic, the company that produces these programs. Before paying for these programs you can download a trial copy and play with it for a while. These trial versions are usually almost full-featured and will normally run for 30 days before it starts prompting you to pay or remove the program. I personally have been using Agendus for many years and could not live without it.

When Agendus “marries” the appointment book and the address book of the built-in application, it makes booking appointments or contacting a client much faster and requires far less tapping around. When you go to the calendar in Agendus and bring up Mary Jones’ appointment, not only can you see what she is scheduled for and the time and length of the appointment, but now with one tap you have access to her complete address book entry and any notes you have made about her.

The newest version of the Agendus software even allows you to add a picture of the person to her address book entry, so you will recognize her when she shows up! Depending on your Palm or SmartPhone, you can e-mail the client right from the PDA, but you need the Pro version for this feature. Agendus even works with your Outlook contact list and the look and feel can be highly customized to your liking.

More Help With Clients
Another option is a stand-alone client management system such as Client Keeper (www.beautytech.com/clientkeeper). This software package manages your clients, not the salon. It is perfect for booth renters and independent operators, no matter if you do nails, hair, or skin care. Client Keeper manages your client profiles, schedules appointments, tracks your financial information, and can send automated e-mails as appointment reminders. Client Keeper also links to MS Outlook and Outlook Express on your wireless device or PDA. So now you can manage your business even if you are nowhere near it.

SalonBiz (www.extendedtechnologies.com) is a computerized client and finance tracker. The software comes in several different configurations and the price ranges from free to $225 per month plus $75 per month for each additional computer. The high-end package allows you to perform a wide range of daily salon activities such as online booking, e-mail reminders, QuickBooks integration, and credit card integration. The free version is designed for salons with fewer than four employees, making it perfect for the independent contractor or booth renter. For salons with multiple locations, the Enterprise version will handle every detail of your business including inventory handling and centralized booking and reporting.

Electronic bookkeeping is easy to learn. And if you get yourself organized, your accountant will love you! When you develop good record-keeping habits tax time is no longer so stressful. Asking what others use to stay organized will provide you with some good information, but actually using a system is the only way you will know if it will work for you and your business methods. You can go to the links area at BeautyTech.com, where you will find more than 40 links to different software packages.

No matter what program you buy make sure you look carefully and understand the system requirements. If you are not clear if it will work on your system, e-mail or call the software company. Some have forums you can search or post to for information on compatibility.

Debbie Doerrlamm is the founder of BeautyTech.com and a contributor to NAILS on web and technology topics.

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