Online Appointment Scheduling – Choosing a Computer For Your Salon

So you've finally decided to start accepting online appointments ? Great! But you do not have a computer at work yet? Do not worry. A lot of hair salons and massage therapists do not have a computer yet. But as soon as you get one, you'd be surprised how you could have lived without it – It can be used for many more applications than just online scheduling !

I'm gonna give you some hands on tips on how to choose a good computer, without spending more money than necessary.

Desktop or Laptop?
Let's take a look at some pros and cons!

+ Easy to install, very few cables
+ Easy to bring home from your salon, to protect you from theft
– Smaller screen than a desktop computer
– Usually smaller keyboards

Desktop computer:
+ Big screens are very cheap
+ Full sized keyboard for good ergonomics
– Several cables that will clutter your desktop
– You can not bring it home

What brand should I choose?
The mobility of a laptop really makes it the preferred choice for many. You can find laptops in almost all sizes, from 7 "to 20". But if you need a big screen, it's better to buy a light weight and small laptop, and connect a big screen to it. The small laptops with screens around 9 "are called netbooks. Personally I think this is the perfect size, cause it fits in any bag, and weighs only 2.5 lbs (1100 grams) I have an Asus EEE PC 901 which also has very good battery life, which is great if you're mobile with the netbook.

Some of you may think that the keyboards on these computers are too small. But the fact is, when you get used to it, it works great without you have very big fingers. When accepting appointments , you type less and click more. Usually you input your clients name and phone number. And if you need to write a longer e-mail or document, the keyboard works better than you'd expect. I wrote this article on my Asus EEE – not that bad, huh?

Be sure to try it in a store before you buy it though. A lot of people that have a hard time with the small 9 "computers, usually gets calm when they try a 10" netbook. Asus has a model almost identical to the 901, which is called Asus EEE PC 1000H, but there are lots of others. Another netbook that has got very good reviews is the Samsung NC10. It comes in several colors, where lots of girls prefer the pink one. It's pretty, is not it?

You can get a good netbook like the ones mentioned above for $ 300-400, but if you're on a budget, you can usually find cheap netbooks on sites like eBay.

A warning on netbooks – If you're gonna use it at home for gaming and other graphic intensive applications, you should really look at a more expensive, and usually larger laptop. The netbooks are mainly designed for web surfing, music listening, and other light applications.

Online appointment scheduling
To start accepting appointments online, I recommend you to try web based appointment scheduling. This way you do not have to download anything and you'll be up and running in minutes. You pay a subscription fee per month, depending on the number of calendars you have. Normally you need one calendar per staff member.

Make sure to find an appointment scheduling software that allows you to try it before buying. Most services lets you take a free 30-day trial. This should be enough to learn how easy it is, and see if it works for your business.

Another useful thing is that your clients can get reminders by text messages to their cell phones. This makes it almost impossible to forget the appointment, and you get less no-shows, which means that you'll earn more money.

Internet connection
Since appointment software is web based, you're gonna need an internet connection. Depending on where you work, there are several options. The one I prefer, when working mobile, is using mobile internet access, by EDGE or 3G (Also known as UMTS or HSDPA). 3G is very fast, and if your mobile operator has support for it, you should try it. You usually need to order this as a service from your operator.

Some of the netbooks have a built in 3G card. This usually costs about $ 50 more, but if your netbook does not have that, you can connect a 3G modem via USB which usually is included in a subscription.

If you have a wireless connection (WLAN) where you work, you can connect your laptop with this. This way you do not have to connect any cables.

In case you're unlucky to have either 3G or WLAN, but a network socket in the wall, you can connect your computer with a cable, to access the Internet.

If you want to print booking receives, daily schedules, statistics, etc you should have a printer. A great choice at around $ 90 is the Canon PIXMA iP4600. It can print beautiful photos, but also prints text very quick. Canon makes new models all the time, and usually most PIXMA printers in this price range is very good.

In case you need the option to copy and scan, you're gonna need a multi purpose printer. Canon makes really good printers, and in this category, the Canon Pixma MP620 for about $ 150 is what I'd recommend.

It's pretty hard to find a very small printer, but if you really need to take the printer with you as you go one option is the Pentax PocketJet 3. It's pretty expensive though at around $ 300, but it's really small, like the width of a paper sheet and a few inches long.

Get a cute little netbook that's easy to shove in a bag. To be super-mobile, make sure that it has a built in 3G card to surf the Internet where you are. Finally, get a good online appointment software and you're ready to accept appointments in no time!

Source by Niclas Marie

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