Top 4 POS Systems for Spas and Salons
There are a lot more point of sale systems (POS) available now than there used to be, especially since the advent of powerful, compact new hardware alternatives like the iPad. As a result, taking payments and tracking sales, employee activity, and customer information with a POS is no longer just a privilege reserved for large retail chains and bustling full-service restaurants. Today, almost anyone can take advantage of these increasingly affordable software systems. That goes for food truck operators, mall kiosk owners, and Ren-Fair vendors who sell chain mail out of little booths, but it is also true for people in the service industries. Hairdressers, beauticians, aestheticians, manicurists, massage therapists, and the like have special needs that standard retailers and restaurateurs do not share.
Service professionals need robust scheduling tools, for example, and must interact with their customers in a much more personal way than the average cafe or bike shop owner. Fortunately, POS companies have begun to pay more attention to these unique requirements, and many of them now offer features or add-ons that are specifically designed for salons, spas, and other service businesses. Notably, there are three POS systems (and one scheduling system with a POS component) that have made particular efforts to accommodate the service industry: Square Appointments, Vend, Clover Mini, and MindBody. Read on to learn about these top POS systems for spas and salons.
Table of Contents
Square POS & Appointments
Everyone has heard of Square (see our review) by now. With its free Square Reader, app-based payment system, and simple pricing structure, it’s one of the most popular processing services on the market for small businesses. Square’s pay-as-you-go system allows businesses that ordinarily couldn’t afford a merchant account to accept credit cards.
As part of a larger, integrated merchant services platform, Square Appointments can provide established small businesses with just about everything they need to run their digital infrastructure at a very reasonable price. On a less substantive note, Square brings a high degree of polish to their products. If you like clean, visually pleasing UIs, you’ll be pleased with what Square has to offer here.
Best All-In-One Solution For Salons and Spas
✓ $0 monthly fee for individuals
✓ 2.75% for all card-present transactions
✓ Exceptional POS app included free
✓ Free credit card reader available
Proprietary software suite includes:
• Point of sale software
• Booking software
• Mobile app
|Visit the Square website|
Read our Square review
Square’s pricing structure is about as simple as it gets. There are no monthly fees whatsoever for a basic individual account, and none of the types of “hidden” fees that traditional merchant account providers like to tack on. While some advanced features require a monthly subscription, these are entirely optional, and most businesses probably won’t need them.
For a more detailed look at Square, be sure to check out our full review.
Vend (see our review) is a full-featured point of sale solution. Though it is usually used in retail and/or restaurant environments, when coupled with Timely appointments, this software becomes a powerful all-in-one tool that allows you to manage your service business, accept payments, and schedule appointments. In addition, this software makes it possible to schedule your employees (or yourself), maintain a centralized inventory (this is helpful if you sell hair products, nail polish/accessories, massage tools, etc.), and collect data on your business for real-time reporting. It can operate on a Mac or PC and works both online and offline. It is compatible with most popular POS hardware (click here to see what hardware can be used with a Vend POS system).
Vend is partnered with PayPal and MercuryPay, though if you have an online store for whatever reason, you can set it up to process payments via Stripe, PayPal, Authorize.net, or Payment Express. Find out more about payment processing with Vend here.
In terms of price, Vend gives you the option to sign up with a basic free plan, though this plan isn’t functional enough for most businesses. Premium plans range from $59/month for small locations to $169/month for businesses with multiple locations. With any plan, each additional register is $39/month, and you can purchase priority phone support for an extra $19/month. Integration with Timely appointments software starts at $19/month. Vend isn’t the cheapest solution around, and all of those extra monthly fees can add up, but you really do get a lot of features for your money.
The Timely integration is what really makes Vend a good fit for service businesses. This impressive app can handle one-time bookings and repeat bookings, as well as deal with multiple services and products. It can also help with invoicing and online payments. Best of all, you can actually pull up sales in Vend directly from your Timely appointment calendar (no switching between apps is required). Any products you want to sell can be added to the appointment payment, though you can make one-off sales as well.
One really exciting thing about Vend is that it allows you to customize your receipts, and/or add notes to let customer know about “care instructions, special discounts, or other targeted offers.” You can even generate receipt templates for special events, or receipts that show up in different languages. You also have the option to email or print receipts after each sale.
Read our review of Vend for more details about the software and how it works.
Like its counterparts, Clover Station and Clover Mobile, Clover Mini (see our review) is an unusual POS system, essentially designed to replace standard, old-fashioned POS terminals and provide support for advanced payments interfaces, like Apple Pay. Clover Mini can be used simply to take payments; it accepts virtually all payment types. However, when combined with tools from Clover’s comprehensive app market, the Clover Mini can pack a powerful punch and serve as a complete POS and booking solution for your salon or spa. The hardware is compact enough to fit easily into even the smallest establishment, and is cheaper overall than traditional POS services like Vend or SalesVu.
Clover Mini differs from SalesVu and Vend in another way as well: it is always sold in conjunction with a merchant account (currently, you can buy Clover Mini through over 3,000 major banks in the US, including Citibank, SunTrust, and Wells Fargo, or from small business suppliers like Sam’s Club, Restaurant Depot). The actual hardware tends to retail for around $200-$400, depending on where you buy, but credit card processing rates and swipe fees vary from location to location, and can range from 0.30% + 5¢ to 2.5% + 15¢ or higher, depending on the bank – some merchant account providers may actually offer flat-rate processing fees. In general, the rate you receive will probably depend a lot on your own credit rating and the sales volume of your business.
Like I mentioned above, Clover Mini itself cannot handle booking and scheduling, but it can be integrated nicely with two apps that work well in a spa or salon environment: Salon Scheduler, by AppHeaven, or Appointments Pro, by Seven Spaces. Both applications offer a free trial. Bear in mind, however, that unfortunately, you cannot try out the actual Clover Mini before buying. This means you will have already had to commit to Clover at the point you would be testing the scheduling software.
For $14.99/month, Salon Scheduler gives you the ability to keep a history note journal for each customer, scan and view a customer’s entire visit history, link multiple appointments for the same customer, specify default service categories, choose service times for each employee, automatically send SMS Text reminders for upcoming appointments, and receive SMS Text responses from your customers directly on your appointment block. Each employee is given their own calendar on which to schedule clients.
Appointments Pro goes for either $9.99/month (for the basic plan) or $14.99/month (for the advanced plan). It integrates fully with Google Calendar, and allows you to manage multiple employee calendars (with different availability for each employee), set up appointments in 15, 30, 45, or 60 minute increments, send out SMS appointment reminders, and manage customer contact information and appointment histories.
It’s important to remember that Clover Mini – in its standard form – is basically just a blank slate, a tool you can use to process payments. But there are a number of different apps available for the device (many of them free) that can aid you with anything from managing inventory to tracking employee labor, recording and analyzing data, and so on. Basically, with the help of add-ons and applications, Clover Mini can do whatever you need it to do.
If you’d like to get a better picture of how this software operates, read our full review of Clover Mini.
Unlike the software systems mentioned above, MindBody (see our review) was not designed primarily as a POS solution. Instead, this unique software was created especially for spas, salons, gyms, and other businesses in the health and beauty industry. It is essentially a high functioning booking tool that also happens to have a POS component.
MindBody makes it possible for clients to book their own appointments online (though you still have power to add appointments and modify, reschedule, or cancel appointments at your discretion). Clients receive automatic reminders for scheduled visits, and are even automatically prompted to book future appointments as well.
Every client is given their own profile, where you can collect contact information, record the person’s birthday (for targeted coupons or promotions), and keep track of payment and visit histories. What’s more, MindBody makes it possible for you to target new clients with special promotions and gift cards. If you want, you can start a loyalty program as well. This is a great way to attract new customers and keep your current customers engaged.
There are five different subscription plans available, ranging from $45/month (for solo practitioners or small establishments) to a whopping $225/month. It’s not the cheapest solution around, but MindBody’s special emphasis on service industries makes this software well worth the investment, in my opinion.
MindBody itself offers payment processing to customers (with the help of preferred payment processing partners), and enables you to accept all major credit cards. Processing options and rates vary according to your physical location. MindBody also sells hardware that allows you to “link your front desk directly…with point of sale hardware bundles and individual hardware pieces.” Click here for more information about MindBody’s hardware packages.
If you’d like to know more details about MindBody, you can check out our comprehensive review.
Honorable Mention: SalesVu
SalesVu (see our review) is a standard POS provider that also offers beauty and wellness management features. This software can do all the things you’d expect from a typical point of sale – it can gather and store information, run analyses, collect customer data, and manage employees, inventory and more. But it also offers an intuitive online appointment management and scheduling system that can help you make and organize appointments for customers.
SalesVu allows clients to see which time slots you have available, and then make their own bookings online or over the phone. Don’t worry, though – you’ll be notified every time a new appointment is made. And if you want to protect your business, you can require a non-refundable deposit when a customer makes an online reservation.
To reduce the risk of no-shows or forgotten appointments, SalesVu ensures that your customers receive automatic appointment reminders. Furthermore, you and your employees will also be automatically reminded of appointments, and can consult the calendar at any time to edit appointments or see what’s in store on any given day.
The POS itself costs $25/month, and it is another $25/month to add the Appointment Management and Scheduling application. Check otu the website for more details about pricing, or if you’re interested in learning what other apps are available.
SalesVu is partnered with Mercury Payments and Century (WorldPay) Payments and offers customers a free card reader, as well as some of “the best credit card processing rates in the industry.” It’s important to note that you cannot actually use SalesVu service unless you apply and are approved for a Mercury Payment Systems or WorldPay merchant account. This is a bit of a pain, I know, but fortunately both processors offer to match (or beat) your current rates.
SalesVu doesn’t sell hardware directly, but they do recommend compatible hardware. If you’re interested, a full list of compatible hardware and accessories can be found on the company’s website.
For a fuller picture of how this software works and what it can do for your business, take a look at our review of SalesVu.
Final Thoughts on POS Systems for Spas
Running a service business isn’t easy – there will always be cranky customers, canceled bookings, and missed appointments – but it doesn’t have to be as hard as it used to be. If you’re relying on un-synced payment processors, inventory trackers, and booking tools, then you’re doing something wrong. With full-featured, integrated software solutions like Vend, SalesVu, Clover Mini, and MindBody, you can sit back and let your POS system do most of the hard labor. Any of these four is an excellent alternative to separate using separate booking and POS software, and all have been tailored to fit the needs of your salon, spa, gym, or clinic.
Have you used any of these spa POS software systems and noticed an improvement in your business? Give a shout in the comments section below and let us know how you’re doing! Wondering about other tools that can give your business a boost? Check out our article: How To Choose Software for Your Salon or Spa.