Apps and other marketing tools for mobile phones may feel cutting-edge and a bit scary, but with expert help they can take your salon to new promotional heights. Stuart Holmes - The Stuart Holmes Hair & Beauty Spa

Never a day goes by it seems when there isn’t a new gadget, piece of software or social media site being launched. There’s so much new technology it’s perhaps not surprising many salon owners do not have the time to work out what is actually worth the time and effort pursuing.

At the Stuart Holmes Hair and Beauty Spa I’ve made a point of trying to keep up to date with all the latest interactive trends. And it’s not just because I happen to be interested in new technology. Our investment last year was in an iPhone app which has proved to be one of our most successful ventures to date. It has provided a great talking point, improved our brand awareness and has been a valuable tool for our clients to use.

The app allows users to take pictures of themselves, then test out new hairstyles and colours. The pictures, complete with our branding, can then be uploaded onto Facebook and Twitter pages. Users can also send the pictures to their friends via text or email.

As well as this, the app acts as a mini-website with profiles of all our staff, images from our collections and a link directly to our bookings system so people can make appointments.

Getting started

Apps need to have an element of fun, while also being useful and driving business. Think about what your clients may be interested in and go from there. Interactivity is always good.

I did a lot of research to find a good app developer. We spoke to lots of different companies. It’s important you feel you can work well with them and they can deliver what you are looking for. 

Technical people can baffle you with jargon and charge a lot of money for the pleasure. Make sure that if you’re going to be working remotely with someone that they are on the ball with responses to your communications. We selected a developer in America so never actually met them face-to-face. However their customer service and delivery was fantastic.

Get expert help

To develop an app, you will need expert help unless you are a technical genius. I have a good knowledge of all things technical but not to the level needed for such a thing as app development. It is a relatively new discipline and there are not that many developers out there yet. This means that pricing can vary considerably. It’s a good idea to have a budget in mind in terms of what you would be prepared to pay. We found that it really doesn’t need to be that extravagant. There are companies that can produce great apps for perfectly realistic budgets.

Marketing your app

Once you have your app, you need to market it to your clients. We promoted it through a billboard campaign, in-salon promotional literature and through our Facebook and Twitter pages. The app was also made available to download for free through Apple’s App Store.

We decided to make it free as we wanted it to act as an enhancement to our website and salon literature. You can, however, set it up so people have to pay to download your app from the App Store.

Key points

  • Apps can be an effective marketing and communication tool for salons
  • They need to be fun as well as having a serious business element
  • It’s worth finding a good app developer who you feel you can work with
  • Consider how you’re going to market it, and whether or not you’ll offer it for free

HOW THE NHF CAN HELP YOU...

  • The NHF has Trade Members who could help you to develop an app for your business. Trade Members are listed in our Trade Directory and some may even have offers available for NHF members.