Designed as a cloud platform scheduling system for salons and spa businesses specifically, Booker is a solid tool from Mindbody that any personal services business should consider for scheduling management, especially when you want a database tool that can be combined with marketing campaigns, inventory control, and customer records management as well as workload planning.
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The benefits of Booker are multiple, from financial to marketing to planning to enhanced customer assistance in scheduling and matching of services to requests. The database features also provide significant history tracking and reporting as well, allowing businesses in the system to secure the information they need to spot customers falling through the cracks as well as see where the business can grow further by data mining and robust reporting.
The fundamental design of Booker is heavily centered around the calendar function of the system (01-Calendar). Events, planning, appointments, and information capture happen as calendar events created on Outlook-calendar style design. The user is able to begin, combine, and edit data for even appointments and events created. This also provides the doorway for customer information capture discussed later in this review. Because of the fact that events are able to be created simply through a calendar scheduling, the Booker platform is extremely user-friendly and easy to learn. This intuitive approach is what gives Booker such an easy choice to adopt (01C-Calendar). Unlike complex systems that require a high learning curve, Booker can be added and put into production for a business within a day or so.
Booker also digitizes and enhances quick payment, which speeds up revenue streams as well as income capture. The integration of e-commerce tools within the same scheduling system that customers can access for requesting appointments reduces wait time for payments and expands customer reach with convenience. All major credit cards can be processed within the already built-in payment tools, and the related financial tracking allows businesses easy ability to garner reporting for tax reporting and accounting compliance as well.
Booker is friendly with alternative payment methods as well. This includes issuance and creation of digital gift cards, packages that can include combined services, and membership plans that allow for subscription and ongoing revenue streams from dedicated customers (11-Memberships).
Significant Business Flexibility
In terms of compatibility, Booker provides a connection with all major operating systems via either Windows or Mac OS as long as the point of contact is reached through a browser application. More importantly, however, the Booker system is integrated with MindBody now. And that allows Booker to expanded access through both direct Internet access as well as through mobile devices like tablets and cell phones.
The flexibility of Booker allows both the business and customers to see the system and related scheduling just about anywhere there is an Internet connection (02-Customer). And the business can edit its bookings and scheduling on the go as well. That includes the ability to see customers’ accounts and edit them for updated information, an ideal tool for a business with spa and salon staff working on alternate schedules or moving around regularly from facility part to facility part and working with mobile devices (02B-Calendar).
One of the huge advantages of Booker involves the built-in features that integrate with natural marketing tools. The first is the enhanced email database collection tools. All your customers in Booker are collected and captured to translated into email news blasting capability (07-Email). Specifically, every time a customer is added to the Booker system, the contact information is also integrated within the related email tools. When desired, the business can then line up all the appropriate customers already in the system and send out distributed marketing emails and contact communication which makes it extremely easy to reconnect with customers and generate repeat business. Whether it be an event, a discount coupon or offer for a future visit, service enhancements customers should know about or expansion of your business with more offerings, the emailing capability allows you to reach all or any of your customers with a simple organizational process and communicate all within the same system and platform.
Booker also includes a reach out of the tool in the form of Frederick (05-Frederick). This is a communication campaign scheduling feature that allows a user to generate specific communication messaging, schedule its release on a date-specific launch, and be able to recycle the material for future campaigns as well. The Frederick marketing tool is easy to use, easy to learn, and highly effective in mass reach within a few minutes of work and effort.
Communication isn’t just limited to email alone. Because of the ease by which Booker is able to add in additional Internet-based tools, SMS texting is also built into the system for customer contact as well (13-SMS text). This is particularly useful in generating spot income. Many customers will respond to a simple reach-out with a timely text. This is a very reaction prone type marketing approach that frequently generates additional sales, especially when a business can be running slow or delayed. SMS interaction is also a really handy way to capture instant business reviews as well. As customers react back on the services they’ve received as well as what they expect to continue ordering, those comments and responses can produce wonderful screenshot images for reviews and marketable material for further business generation. Customers follow where other customers have been and review positively.
The second major advantage of the Booker system is its built-in customer records management (CRM) features (06-Profile). Again, as customers are added, so are their accounts. All related business with a particular customer is captured as well. This allows a business to analyze different customers, their interests, desired services, level of revenue stream capability and products or features they like the most. It also allows in-depth viewing of customers for targeted approaches, which is particularly handy in customizing services for high revenue customers. The customer records include extensive detail on appointment history and event type, the expanded contact and identification information, and any current notes for customer records and reference. Even if there is a quick glance, the customer’s last and most recent appointment information is flashed at the top of the customer record screen, specifying exactly what might be a probability of the next appointment request (12-CRM).
Reporting is well detailed and populated with multiple choices as well. Booker provides user views and canned reports on the business activity covering everything from standard finance views to inventory control to the frequency of business contact (08-Reports). This internal information reporting is invaluable in that it gives ongoing performance pattern views as well as the convenience of having the reporting all in the same system that is generating the data and business. There’s no need for exporting and then translating the data into a spreadsheet or other data management tool. Instead, a business spends more time being strategic and less time wrestling usefulness from hard to read data.
One particular aspect of the reporting involves the business intelligence dashboard (14-BusIntel). This snapshot type of reporting is in the moment, but it is particularly useful for quick tracking and updating of what is happening with your business activity in Booker from day-to-day. The business intelligence screen provides quick metrics on sales revenue, customer count, and appointments pending, all providing the business owner or lead manager a quick health check on whether to ramp up activity or keep up with current good business patterns.
Finally, Booker is heavily integrated with all the major search engines and allows customers to access a business’s services through Yahoo, Bing and even Yelp (03-Social Media). A customer can engage and choose the appointment service she or he wants, select the timing and scheduling available, and access additional contacts with specific service providers working in a business’ spa or salon specifically. This feature lends itself heavily with social media, search engine linking, SEO and more, again all being streams that increase traffic to a spa or salon business and fulfillment within Booker.
Product Inventory Control
An internal control feature that can be utilized in Booker involves inventory control (04B-Inventory). Because the system already generates information capture for customer activity, the inventory that is consumed by the customer during the scheduled event can also be captured. This, in turn, can be utilized to update inventory count as well as ensure that product consumption is tied to profit generation as much as possible. The amount of shrinkage is reduced heavily, and the sunk cost expense is also reduced. Both allow a business using Booker to maximize a profit margin.
Pricing Models for Different Levels
Booker is generally charged in three different levels of customer pricing (09-Plans). The first level is the Essential package. This basic entry-level includes regular system access without limit, the online scheduling features, integrated e-commerce tools, various alternative payment tool applications, inventory control and management, at least 20 canned system reports on activity and revenue creation, and optional add-in of credit card processing and acceptance.
The Accelerate pricing level includes all of the aspects of the Essential platform and adds on a higher set of benefits for differentiation. This packaging includes and adds in the SMS texting reach which is not available with the basic plan. The additional marketing tools of email news blasting, as well as the campaign scheduling via Frederick, become open and accessible at this price point. The smart email targeting features also turn on. And a very significant feature of customization opens up with client-created field capture. This is unique because it allows tailoring of information capture on customers that is not available at the lower levels.
Finally, the Ultimate pricing plan, the third platform level, provides the business automated text messaging to customers via SMS, a digital service that can run night or day while generating new customer contact. Customized drip-campaigns becomes possible with enhanced marketing communication. Finally, Booker’s reporting expands even further with greater information access and data mining capability for additional decision support and business strategy.
All three platforms are charged at graduated price levels with monthly charges and subscriptions. And any of these price platforms can add on a branded mobile app access for an additional fee per month. This specific logo-attachment approach allows a business to create brand recognition, a method of marketing that often generates simple customer retention through memory attachment with high-quality service performance and satisfaction.
Value for Money
Given the significant benefits MindBody’s Booker provides a spa or salon business, it’s really surprising much of anything else would be considered after one gives Booker a solid test and sampling with existing practices and operations (12-Final). Booker is so easy to apply and integrate, and the cloud platform is so scalable to a growing organization, it’s literally the system to have and utilize for a modern salon and spa. From a software review perspective, Booker is built well and should definitely be adopted by small and medium salon spa businesses if such a system isn’t already in place.