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For some nail technicians, becoming an independent contractor is the next step in building the career they desire. Whether you’re looking for flexibility or simply want to manage your own business, booth rental can be an attractive career path. Some return to a traditional salon environment with commissioned salaries after trying booth rental. But some find becoming an independent contractor eventually launches them into opening their own salon business, or that it simply suits their lifestyle.

If you choose to become an independent contractor, you’re no longer just a nail tech. You now wear every hat in the salon. You must take calls and make appointments without a front desk, maintain a client base and gain new clients without an owner guiding marketing and referrals, stock retail and more.

But with the right software, you can still operate your business with all the client benefits and business strategies a traditional salon owner uses.

Virtual Front Desk

When you have a client in front of you, there’s one expectation she has every time: your undivided attention. So if you’re interrupting her appointment by taking calls or texting with other clients, you’re likely going to lose her.

But what about those clients trying to book an appointment? Technology to the rescue! It’s crucial for an independent contractor to use a software system like STX Cloud that allows clients to book in real time online or through an app rather than playing phone tag.

Beware of technology that only allows your clients to make an appointment request. This is ultimately no different than playing phone tag, and clients will quickly grow weary of it. Data shows if it’s too hard to get an appointment with a nail tech, the client will go elsewhere.

Think creating a web page or figuring out what app to use is too complicated? Not with the right software partner. STX Cloud creates a website with a custom online experience for an independent contractor that has your logo, custom background, the services you offer and an option to book online. Or if you prefer, the online booking button can be connected to your professional Facebook page.

The web page gives your business an added level of professionalism and makes it simpler for potential new clients to find you on Google. Want to take it to the next level? A client app is another simple tool offered by STX Cloud.

Retail and Marketing Solutions

As an independent contractor, you’re probably not carrying a full line of retail. Instead, you may focus on client favorites and products you use regularly.

Software can help manage this inventory by tracking what clients purchase, how much you use, which products are most popular and more. Just like a traditional salon, the independent contractor must track retail and other benchmarks to grow the business.

STX Cloud can also help you tackle another area that’s easy to overlook as an independent contractor — marketing. Clients leave nail techs and salons for many reasons—they move, they die, their commute changes—it’s not always about the service. In a traditional salon environment, the salon owner markets and offers referral incentives to keep a steady stream of new clients. You should do the same.

Use software to send out promotions, changes in availability, email reminders, text reminders, etc. You can flag no-shows so they leave a deposit next time, or create a wait list in your database to fill last-minute cancellations.

All of these tools will help you build and grow your business, and avoid stagnation. You could have a potential goldmine you don’t even know about. Six to eight weeks between visits is a lot of time, use the marketing to stay in touch with what’s new with your business. Whether you have one or 100 employees, you should always be growing your business.

Can I Afford It?

The question you should be asking yourself is: How can I afford not to invest in software? If clients can’t make online appointments and you can’t track benchmarks and market your services, your business is going to stagnate, or worse, decrease.

STX Cloud offers systems that cost $20-$100 monthly. You could expect to pay around $49 per month for all these booking, benchmarking and marketing benefits, and because it’s cloud-based, all you need is a device and Wi-Fi to get started.

Technology affords you the ability to focus on the clients in your chair, and to have your own life. Do you want to book appointments while you’re at your child’s soccer game? Or pick up the phone at 6 a.m. to take a cancellation? With the right software, clients can book online, and you can build your business—even when you’re not working behind your nail desk.