You have a successful business that sells, installs and maintains excellent hot tubs and spa pools, but the more successful your business becomes, the more complicated your paperwork seems to get. Managing customers, stock levels, installation timeframes, delivery schedules, and maintenance requests – and that’s before you even get started on POS, bank reconciliations and invoicing (payable and receivable!).
If only there was a way to easily manage all of this – like, specialist spa software? Thankfully in this day and age, there is a tool for every job – and that includes the jobs you need a good software tool for. However, with the multitude of options, it can be confusing and being spoilt for choice does not make it easier. So here are a few things that you should think about before committing to your software solution.
Do They Offer An All-In-One Solution?
Chances are high that you have more than one aspect to your business, so why do you think you will need only one software solution? Well, why shouldn’t you? Or at the very least you should be able to have spa software that will integrate with other software. Think about the software you currently use:
- Customer Management System
- Point Of Sale System
- Invoicing Software
- Stock Tracking
- Marketing Tools
- Accounting & Tax software
Do your current systems talk to each other? Look for a system that can either be integrated to work with current systems or that can replace your current systems to make your whole business function so much better.
Do They Offer Training & Support?
This should come at a couple of levels. The best spa software should be pretty self-explanatory to use for day to day tasks, with a low level of training required to introduce new staff members to the ins and outs of the system. However, most software also has a more complex level where high-level users will be able to customize, alter internal records and fix errors, so you should be able to have one or two staff members who are able to be trained up at this level. These are the people who will know the support numbers to call if there is a problem with the software and will have enough knowledge to be able to get systems working again if they ever go down.
Ask about the resources they have available for ongoing training. Ideally, you will want something more than a few ‘read me’ notes dotted around the software pretending to be a help file. Detailed and searchable manuals with lots of screenshots showing exactly what you need to know are a must for ongoing internal support. If you can get access to video help files this is even better.
When you are thinking about support, particularly if you need a POS or mobile solution, ask about their support hours. You want to ensure that you can get help at 9 am on a Monday morning, and at 4:55 pm on a Friday afternoon. If you have a weekend retail store running, you want to ensure that it is actually going to be able to run all weekend. Although most software companies will have some level of support available, you want to ensure that if everything goes wrong that you do have an emergency support contact who can help get you up and running again.
Do They Offer Customization & Upgrades?
You should be able to have a basic system that will run your point of sale and backend office, but what about if you have clients that are in the trade and get a wholesaler or trade discount? Or do you have a rewards program for customers that are purchasing cleaning supplies? https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Loyalty_program How about a customer loyalty program for pool and spa maintenance? If you can get this all out of the box that is awesome, but your business is unique, so what happens if you need software that can be tweaked just a little to fit in better with that uniqueness?
What about upgrades? Will you be able to access upgrades that fix minor software bugs? Will this be an additional cost, will there be a time limit on how long you can receive upgrades for, and if you have had customizations that are unique to your business how will this affect your upgrade pathway? You don’t want to be locked into using outdated operating systems and other software because the software that is the backbone of your spa business is not able to be upgraded to meet these changes.
Do They Offer Uniformity?
It is the little touches like having a uniform font, logo and signature information across all your correspondence and marketing that really sets a company up as a professional organization that knows what they’re doing. It provides that extra level of professional pride. And it really shouldn’t be difficult to make happen. When you look at getting business software check to see if they will be able to set up your company style guide so that these things are automated.
Does this matter as much as having an accounting system that makes it easy to keep track of unpaid bills? Yes, it actually does (see here). Talk to your branding or marketing team. Every single piece of correspondence that leaves your company should be subtly reminding people that you are the best spa company around and be reminding them of who you are. Having a standard logo, that uses that same fonts and colors throughout your correspondence helps to cement your company name and brand identity in the minds of potential customers.
You want to make sure that when someone casually asks one of your current customers who they’d recommend getting a spa from, that you are the first name that springs to mind.
Do They Help Streamline Your Warehousing?
Being able to scan barcodes as stock comes in from your supplies, and as it is sold to your clients can make your stock take and stock control much easier. Being able to track serial numbers for larger and more expensive items provides extra security and helps keep your insurance company happy as well. What if you have more than one store? Is your software able to offer a solution where each store knows what is in stock at another location, or will you need to rely on the telephone and sending someone physically into the backroom to check?