Self Employed therapist- Booking system issue


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Sep 15, 2023
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Hello everyone, I am looking to go self employed by renting a space within a hairdressers. The hairdressers have their own booking system, which they are encouraging me to use. I was going to use a separate platform like treatwell as my primary booking system and keep the in-house booking system as a secondary option for referrals from within the hairdressers. But the hairdressers are insisting that I use their booking system as the main booking platform, which I think will muddy the separation between my business and the hairdressers. Not to mention the complication regarding client data if I were to move on somewhere else in future.

Treatwell do charge a commission of about 35% for every new client booking through their marketplace but there are not commission charges for returning customers- with the added advantage of all clients belonging solely to me.

I was just wondering if you guys have had similar experiences with your host salons. I am seeing me going self employed as a stepping stone towards establishing my own salon one day in the near future. My goal as a self employed therapist is to build a loyal clientelle who will follow me when I move on to a different salon or set up my own premises. Would sharing a booking platform not cause issues regarding the ownership of the clients and their data?

Would using the in-house booking sytem not be akin to being an employee of the salon rather than self employed. I would be grateful for your advice and guidance on this. Many thanks!
Hi Beauty 143

Well done on your research. You are indeed correct that sharing a booking platform can create issues. The main one is data protection, you will need a privacy notice explaining that data is shared between all staff including self employed staff. You will be able to see hairdressers client data as well as having them see your client info. You will also need to make sure that beauty clients understand that you are running a separate business within the hair salon. You can tell them, but if they are also hair salon clients (or become hair salon clients) they may not want to be your client, they may prefer to use whichever beauty therapist happens to be working in their hair salon.

Having 2 booking systems is also problematic. You will need to manually update your availability with the ever present risk that you get double booked because 2 bookings are made simultaneously. That’s not as unlikely as you might think. If you work off Treatwell then a hairstylist booking a client using their booking system will need to make you unavailable on Treatwell for the time they are booking you a client. Hairstylists are busy people, they don’t have time to faff around.

There are marketing advantages to sharing a booking platform. The hair salon can send out promotions and offers to their client base with a booking link.

You are right, there may well be a fight over who “owns” the client. But it will cut both ways, you may well tempt away their clients to try pastures new.

Ultimately clients will travel ridiculously long distances to stick with the same hairdresser but they really don’t care that much about beauty treatments. They will give whoever replaces you a couple of goes and if they don’t like your replacement they may try someone new rather than searching you out.

I’m an amazing beauty therapist but I regularly lose clients who think anyone can do what I do. I get them back eventually, and some will confess to trying several other salons before deciding that they better just book well in advance with me, rather than trying to book in same day with whoever didn’t have any customers. So my take is that I wouldn’t think of a client base as something that you get to keep, or take with you,

I would focus on now. What will cause least friction and get you the most business now? Worry about the future when you get there. Your biggest marketplace is quite possibly the clients at the hair salon who presumably won’t cost you a penny to book first time. Treatwell will churn your client bank, offering your clients deals to try other salons because they only make money when a client books first time. Therefore it makes sense for Treatwell to offer a client a discount voucher to use with a new salon and tempt them away - even if it bites into their 35% commission.

So my thoughts are that the main advantage of sharing space with a hair salon is getting to market to their clients, and having stylists book treatments for you. Using Treatwell means you rely on their promotions to bring you clients, for a hefty fee. And the marketplace in your place of work are told “you need to book on Treatwell”

Treatwell works brilliantly if there aren’t many salons near you using it, if there is healthy competition on Treatwell in your area then everyone’s clients are continually searching around for deals and offers. It’s like paying rent twice.

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