Last year at Hair Biz Forum during an interview I mentioned that my businesses, Chumba Concept Salon, are endevouring to go ‘paperless’.
In reply to several enquiring emails that I’ve kindly received since I thought I’d share the why’s and how’s of our Paperless project.
Why go Paperless?
There’s lots of reasons to banish paper from your life. The thing that got me really thinking about this was Stevie’s great article on Green Salons. Did I really need to sanction the chopping down of trees through my habit of printing bits of paper all day – no I don’t so I won’t.
There’s lots of other reasons besides trees to go paperless of course including efficiency, conservation of space, sanity when searching for records, mobility, access, back up redundancy, sharing files etc. But to be truthful it’s the trees that made me do it. The Australian Hairdressing Council’s Salon Select program also has strong Green Policies of which I’m a member.
The other benefits have been realised since we made the move and I’ll expand on those below in detail.
Paper who needs it? Not me!
Who needs paper anyhow? Well at a really base level the short answer today is nobody.
Wikipedia has a great article describing the ins and outs of the Paperless Office. The Paperless approach was once the domain of big business but no longer. Since small business is by far the majority in all economies it’s fitting that all hairdressing salons start to look at the benefits of paperless technologies.
Paper to Digital Files
Nobody needs paper records; that is so long as you can covert your paperbased files to digital. Enter the Fujitsu Scansnap – my friend and soon to be yours perhaps. The little Scan Snap S1300M that I use is light, transportable and good for the planet. In goes the paper out comes a beautiful PDF file into my computer and “rip” goes the paper into my recycle bin. That feels so much nicer than paper filing and keeping literally hundreds of hard-binder folders in my office or back shed for the next seven years to comply with Taxation requirements.
Although a touch pricey here in Australia the Fujitsu Scansnap line is awesome value right now on Ebay due to our strong exchange rate.
If you’re a touch frugal, work out the cost of that now ancient Fax machine, the cost of filing cabinets, paper files and storage space. The scanner wins hands down every time. Plus, you know you want one!
File it to Find It
I’m guessing most Hairdressers are great stylists but terrible office administrators. Certainly I am!
For whatever reason I can never find paper files, just ask my bookkeepers and staff. What a nightmare.
Digital files however, if named correctly and well just appear instantly on my Mac as I type into the search box. Loving that.
Not being an ‘office type’ person I needed to learn to name my files correctly so I could find them in the future. Here’s an article and/or audio podcast that might help you learn this boring but crucial step in managing your business files. And another on going Paperless
Remember any computer is only as good as it’s back up protocol too, so research your needs with that.
Client Management – can you say iPad?
For a lot of us we grew up with client record cards and consultation forms. With the advent of computerised Salon systems we had a better way of managing that information. But we still firstly had to write out on a paper form the information and then type it all in. That system is still prevalent today and stylists everywhere are drowned in paper. As I said above we are not at dealing with bits of paper are we.
To the rescue has come the Apple iPad and web based Salon Systems like Simple Salon. There endeth the paper war. Our stylists now consult, review and record directly into Simple Salon via an iPad. Not only is this faster and less labour intensive – the iPads are cool and that means my staff do it.
With Simple Salon’s web based software solution our stylists can literally roam the salon with records in hand without clogging up the front desk.
The power of the iPad has also spilt over to other areas of our business. Magazines have always been important to a salons atmosphere and service expectation. Now with applications like Zinio we can do away with the magazine stack and hand over an iPad instead.
The other popular use of iPads in our business is for video delivery. We use client styling videos such as the Kevin Murphy series and also staff training videos. The iPad seems to be just the right size for both applications.
Bookkeeping and Accounting
Web-based accounting systems have come along in leaps and bounds recently. Wouldn’t it be great if something like Xero Accounting Software integrated with a Salon Management System like Simple Salon seamlessly. Hence avoiding carting off loads of paper to the accounts office? That a hint so watch this space…
Tie the above idea with a Virtual Bookkeeping and Accounting serve such as Viridity Accounting in Sydney and you have a ‘paperless’ sysytem to control your entire salon business.
One of the challenges in multiple salon set ups or even a single salon setup with digital files is access when you’re physically not there. An example would be the salons Policy and Procedures manual. Often I’d get call asking for this or that piece of paper.
Solution = DropBox
DropBox is Cloud Based storage. The idea is that your files go onto your computer but also into a secure filing system in the ‘Cloud’. From there the files are also synced onto any computer you have set up to receive them.
Result = no mre “where is that file…” calls.
DropBox is free for a 2Gb plan which is ample for hundreds of digital documents. Upgrades cost extra but it’s still cheap.
note: if some ‘IT Guy’ tries to tell you that you need a server these days, tell him politely that he’s a dinosaur (or salesman) and move on.
Marketing without Paper – can you say ‘Social Networking’?
We used to do alot of printed media mail outs to market to our clients. Then I meet Stevie English from Stevie English Hair.
(In respect of full disclosure Stevie’s my friend and business partner here on www.prohairstylist.com.au)
That being said I can still be a fan – Stevie is a marketing genius.
He’s built his business into a major Sydney salon in less than three years without paper advertising or marketing. And on zero dollars.
His secret…We’re all plugged into Facebook, Twitter, Tublar, Linkedin etc etc and there lays your salons future marketing strategies. Again, no paper and no cost.
A modern Salon System like Simple Salon plugs straight into all of the major Social Media sites and allows for instant and prolonged relationship with your clientele. Use this strategy and never by a stamp again.
See this article Top 10 Social Media Tips for salon owners for more on this subject.
Well that was a longer article than I’d planned! Going Paperless has been an awesome improvement to our business processes and performance. If any of this interests you all I can say is just do it. Take it slowly and learn as you go.
There’s no question that the benefits of a Paperless Salon is well worth the effort involved in set up and training.
Goodluck and remember the trees.