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Salon Software for Solo Stylists

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Salon Software for Solo Stylists

In the salon industry, 44% of stylists are self-employed. Being an independent stylist gives you a lot of freedom in your schedule and your methods, but it’s not always a breeze. Working outside of a traditional salon can present some unique situations that solo stylists have to navigate on their own.

Along with the typical challenges of running a successful business comes the added stress of managing appointments, tracking inventory , and maintaining a client database without the help of a receptionist. And often, independent stylists will go where their skills are needed: traveling to clients and working at events can make scheduling a bit hairy (if you’ll excuse our pun). But the right software can help any stylist tackle these head on!

There are many salon software solutions out there. It can be hard to know where to start. If you’re just starting out, you may want to check out our Top 20 Most Affordable, Most User-Friendly, and Most Popular Salon Software reports to get you started!

We have a whole team at Capterra dedicated to doing some of the legwork for you. We research and test software products by category to develop and publish our top 20 reports. Our testing team dove right into as many salon software as we could find. We tested 7 standard tasks, collected information about pricing and features, and even evaluated implementation, training, and support resources offered by the vendors. You can find out more about our process in our methodology blog.

When testing salon software, we focused on products for small to medium sized businesses. Our reports are intentionally high level, so we have certain requirements to make them as inclusive as possible. Of course, that overlooks some of the great options for independent stylists. We believe that throughout our testing process, we discovered 2 praiseworthy stylist management systems for all you solo stylists out there!

Read on to learn a bit more about these great solutions, and find out what our research uncovered!

1. Artichoke

Artichoke’s headline in their google search results says it all: “Artichoke | All-in-One Business Tools for Solo Entrepreneurs”. And from our research, we would have to agree that Artichoke really does offer it all!

Artichoke scored very highly in our testing process. Check out some of the impressions our testers had about the system:

“If I were a solo-stylist, this would be a fantastic system”

“Good interface with nice colors, contrast, and easy to find buttons”

Some testers valued that client notes are time stamped, the inventory section automatically calculates profit margins, and that analytics are offered right on the dashboard. Testers also thought that the different interface pages are nicely organized and easy to navigate because of the precise terminology and consistency across features. Particularly, the consistency across the client, inventory, service and appointment forms made it intuitive and seamless for testers to complete each task.

In addition to commenting on the ease of task completion, each tester completed a ten question industry-standard questionnaire for each product with the intention to help measure user satisfaction. These results generated System Usability Scale (SUS) scores which are out of 100 points. Additionally, we tracked how many seconds and how many mouse clicks it took our testers to complete the following tasks:

  1. Add service provider (salon owner in stylist management’s case)
  2. Add a service
  3. Add item to inventory
  4. Add a client
  5. Schedule appointment
  6. Add note/interaction.
  7. Run a report

Being able to quickly figure out where to navigate within a system means the interface is pretty intuitive, and making sure functionality is clear prevents redundant clicks, which also helps ease of use. Check out how Artichoke did below:

Testing Data:

Compared to the average salon software, it took ten fewer seconds to complete a task in Artichoke on average, and 3.32 fewer clicks. This data goes to show just how quick, easy and intuitive Artichoke’s interface really is! And with an average user satisfaction (SUS) score 26 points higher than the industry average, our testers clearly enjoyed using Artichoke! To check out what else Artichoke has to offer beyond our testing data, read below:

Additional Features:

  • Online scheduling
  • Appointment reminders
  • Client notes
  • Credit card processing
  • Appointment reminders
  • Multi-device access
  • Income and expense tracking

Having automatic appointment reminders is a trending feature in the salon industry to help reduce or avoid no-shows or tardiness by clients. Multi-device access is another up and coming feature so stylists can access their appointment, client, and point of sale information anywhere, anytime. According to Artichoke’s pricing page, you can expect to pay just $25 per month for access to all these great features.

If our tester’s comments and data aren’t convincing enough of Artichoke’s functionality and ease of use, luckily, you can try for yourself on Artichoke’s fee trial! Additionally, for great training and support, Artichoke offers online videos, training articles, documents and webinars, and even an FAQ and help desk!

If you like the sounds of Artichoke software but you need multi-user functionality, or are currently a sole stylist looking to switch to running a multi-employee salon, then you’re in luck! By the end of July or early August 2017, Artichoke will be launching the multi-user functionality of their platform so salons of all demographics can enjoy their features.

In the meantime, as for software for sole providers, Artichoke may have some friendly competition in NuStylist for Independents.

2. NuStylist

NuStylist advertises for stylists who want to take control of their business through the empowerment of technology. In today’s technological environment, who doesn’t want that! As a totally mobile platform that is accessible on any device, NuStylist allows you to run your business from the palm of your hand with ease.

One tester valued that they could add information in the bio about their salon, and about them as a stylist. Another tester appreciated the prominent navigation buttons and the vast and visual reports section. Multiple testers found it invaluable that clients are auto enrolled in rewards programs and that users can track the popularity of each service. Lastly, testers also liked the feature integration as the appointment scheduler tied in information from existing services and recognized the salon’s working hours.

With the aforementioned task list, and definition of SUS scores in mind, check out how NuStylist performed:

Testing Data:

With an average task time and clicks per task both lower than the industry average, NuStylist sure is an intuitive and easy-to-use system! Users were able to quickly complete each task with little redundant clicks! Additionally, NuStylist scored a 4.5 out of 5 stars on Capterra reviews for each overall, ease of use, and customer service! NuStylist also has an impressive features and functionality list, highlighted below.

Additional Features:

  • Personalized websites
  • Online bookings
  • Loyalty program
  • One touch payment processing
  • Sales and reporting
  • Appointment manager and reminders
  • Retail products

Loyalty programs help promote client retention and allegiance while online bookings increased the likelihood of clients to schedule appointments. Additionally, personalized websites allow users to better brand their business! If NuStylist’s features and functionality appeal to you, you can access all of the above for just $24.99 per month!

Acclimating to any new software can be a challenge in itself, but luckily with NuStylist you can check it out first hand on their free trial! Additionally, NuStylist offers training articles and documents, webinars, and an FAQ page too!

While the above descriptions hopefully give you an overview of two of the many stylist software systems available, this short list is not all inclusive by any means. It’s important to review all of your options before making any purchasing decisions. And if down the line you find your business shifting from an individual salon to a full blown multi-employee establishment, be sure to check out our Salon Software Products directory.

What do you think? Have you had experience with a stylist management system we missed? Let us know! We would love to hear your thoughts.

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About the Author

Christina Tsantes

Christina is a Product Report Specialist as part of Capterra’s software lab and a graduate from Christopher Newport University. When she’s not testing software solutions, she spends her time practicing yoga, watching reruns of Friends episodes, and attempting to learn her mother’s cooking skills.

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