We don't usually think of hair salons being on the "cutting-edge" of technology - pardoning the pun - but one 29-year old hair salon brand is taking web and mobile technology to its business. Minneapolis-based Great Clips, Inc
has launched the industry's first-ever online check-in service, so those looking to get a fuss-free, convenient hair cut can simply check in for an appointment via the computer or a smartphone
Powered by a patent-pending, Internet-based technology platform developed by Innovative Computer Software
, Great Clips
' online check-in allows customers to remotely log in from a computer or smart phone and find out the estimated wait time at Great Clips
salons around them, as well as check-in to add their names to the waiting list at the salon of their choice.
“Not surprisingly, our research shows customers don’t want to wait,” says Great Clips
CEO Rhoda Olsen. “We’ve always been focused on keeping wait times low, but with 'Online Check-In' we can make our customer’s wait even shorter; our test markets show about 80 percent of folks who check in remotely wait less than five minutes on average once arriving at the salon.” So far, more than 1,400 Great Clips
salons across the U.S. and Canada have implemented the technology; the roll-out will be completed later this year at all its 3,000 salons in 149 markets.
“We are the first in the hair care space to introduce this game-changing technology. It shows we respect the busy lives of our customers, and want to make the haircut experience as easy as possible,” she adds.
“As business people our heads are in the sand if we don’t recognize that customers use mobile devices for services. 'Online Check-In' gives Great Clips’ franchisees the competitive advantage because customers will choose a salon that gives them a time commitment,” says Peter Kaiser, CEO of Innovative Computer Software
. “It will also help franchisees monitor their salons, so they can shift staff and adjust schedules to better meet customer demand.”
It Is A Big Hairy Deal
Franchisees, such as Dave Hands who has used the system at all six of his salons in central Illinois, have already seen improvements to their business sales-wise and operationally as well. “We’re seeing an influx of tech savvy professionals in their twenties who have an hour for lunch and want to fit in a haircut and a meal,” says Hands. “They check in from their desktops, pop in for a haircut and are thrilled they can get in and out so quickly. We’re breeding customer loyalty at a young age. These folks won’t salon shop because our competitors don’t offer convenience anything like this.” The check-in waiting list allows him to schedule breaks for his stylists, and helps even out customer traffic flow.
“It’s like taking down the doors to our salon. This is a revolution in the hair care industry.” says Olsen. “Just like downloading songs made it easier for consumers to get music, just like online retailers made it more convenient to shop, Great Clips
’ 'Online Check-In' allows customers to get in and out and without a long wait in a salon lobby.”
Daniel Goh is the founder and chief editor of Young | Upstarts, as well as an F&B entrepreneur. Daniel has a background in public relations, and is interested in issues in entrepreneurship, small business, marketing, public relations and the online space. He can be reached at daniel [at] youngupstarts [dot] com.