Merchant: Alayne White Spa
Size: 2 locations
Locations: Providence and Bristol, Rhode Island
Platforms: Booker, Facebook, Frederick, Instagram
Bottom Line: Business owners are most interested in marketing platforms that they can set and forget.
When Alayne White first started using an online booking portal at her eponymous Rhode Island spa, her goal was to get just 10% of clients to book online. Doing so, she thought, would reduce incoming calls and make her front desk run more efficiently. Now, eight years later, she’s inching closer to the 50% threshold, as nearly half of her clients are booking their appointments through desktop and mobile devices.
“Clients love the convenience, especially if they are menopausal and wide awake at 2 a.m.” White says. “This takes care of the off hours booking for us.”
Not only have the hours when clients schedule their appointments changed over time—with White seeing a higher proportion of appointments being booked during the hours her spa is closed—but the way clients manage their appointments has changed, as well.
“Back in the day, women used to book their services out for the year, every four to six weeks. These days, with online booking, they tend to book as they need,” White says. “This has some negative consequences for us as business owners sometimes, because we have made it so easy for clients to control their appointment bookings, sometimes we lose the sense of urgency for rebooking when they leave.”
Still, White emphasizes that the positives of online booking far outweigh the negatives. For example, she has noticed that clients will often look online at what services and timeslots are available and then call to make their appointments. This makes calls more efficient, since front desk staffers don’t have to go through the times and dates available for each client who calls in. White says this process also gives her staff the chance to add on or upsell treatments.
In addition to using Booker for online scheduling, White has been using Frederick, a marketing automation platform that connects with Booker, for the past four months. Frederick uses the data from Booker to identify near-term openings in a merchant’s schedule and fills those openings using targeted emails and text notifications.
“The main draw was that it had the potential of set it and forget it,” she says. “You set up the parameters, and then if you really didn’t want to look at it again, the system does it for you.”
White says she tries to do an analysis with Frederick at least once every two weeks. The more she uses the system, the more she’s been able to get out of it.
“I set up the discount and the services, days and skin coaches I want it to book with and how far out by the questions it ask me,” she says. “Once I do this, it miraculously sends out emails and texts to clients. These clients can opt-in or out or later, so it is constantly refining the way it sends out these messages so the same people are not getting them over and over.”
White has noticed at least three to five clients a week booking as a result of her Frederick campaigns.
“Because we are not an operation that does hair, we have to engage more consistently to remind our clients why they need to come to us more frequently, especially if we didn’t get them to book their appointment before they left,” she says. “It is amazing how fast a year can go by, and as I always tell my team, it is not like a haircut where you look in the mirror and say ‘wow I really need a facial.’”
One area where White is looking for growth is with online reviews. Right now she admits that she’s underutilizing Yelp, but she’s in the process of revamping her website, and she plans to integrate a feature from Frederick that will give her the option of whether or not to publish specific customer reviews.
White has also found success through social media and email marketing, and she’s currently in the process of adding more educational materials to her website to get twenty-somethings to see the value of esthetic treatments. White’s former web designer linked her social media accounts, so the messages she posts are simultaneously shared across multiple platforms.
“I have noticed that Facebook is much more known for the moms, so that is a huge client base for us,” she says. “My 18-year-old insisted that I need to be on Instagram, so I did this and I seem to get a lot of response.”
Still, as a business owner, White says the biggest marketing challenge she faces is “consistency of message.” She has trouble staying on task with a marketing plan and knowing when to say “no” to traditional advertising.
“As a business owner with two locations, employing 22 women, trying to wear so many hats and have a lovely life is what drives me every day,” White says. “The more I can set it and forget it, the better it is.”
Stephanie Miles is a senior editor at Street Fight.