We Need to Talk About Chat GPT – and Salon Software
While it’s been around for a while, AI (artificial intelligence) has started to make big waves in recent months, thanks in part to the rise of ChatGPT, an AI language processing tool, also referred to as a chatbot. The tool can be used to compose content, respond to questions, write code and more. While its intended use isn’t to help children cheat on their homework (best check in with your kids’ ASAP) it can be an excellent tool in supporting your salon.
However, there’s also something else on the market that could be just the ticket to help you boost your business: salon software. While many salon software brands also utilise AI technology, they have been specifically developed to take a portion of the workload off your hands and are already programmed to help you tackle specific tasks you encounter on a daily basis. Taking a look at the two side by side, what can they each offer your business, and which members of the hairdressing industry are set to benefit? It’s time to find out…
The Benefits of AI Software
While ChatGPT is the AI software most hairdressers are likely to be familiar with, there are certainly other options available. Becky Nightingale, Founder of Digital Nightingale, a freelance agency which specialises in branding and marketing within the hair industry, explains: “I’ve been utilising AI within my business for about 18 months now, and have tried several AI platforms including Jasper, Copy.ai, and most recently, ChatGPT.”
Now, what can you use these tools for? Some simple examples include:
- Writing captions for social media
- Writing marketing emails to send to your clients
- Calculating formula ratios for colour
As an avid user of AI, Becky expands on some of these uses, explaining: “ChatGPT has proven to be an asset for my business; it has helped me enhance social media captions, edit emails, and create compelling hooks to support my content, all while helping me to improve spelling and structure. While it may not be an effortless tool to use without prior knowledge of leveraging its potential, I don't view it as a threat to my job. AI still requires human guidance.”
ChatGPT certainly presents some limitations, for example it can be hard to identify how original the content being generated is, which is why Becky recommends adapting the copy to match your brand’s voice.
She also notes: “Just like using hair products, its effectiveness relies on the correct usage. I recommend understanding the platform thoroughly before using it, noting that its knowledge is limited to information available up until 2021 and should be double-checked for accuracy.”
The Superiority of Dedicated Salon Software
Jack Mead, Stylist and co-owner of Jack & The Wolfe, sings the praises of salon software, sharing: “We’ve been working with Vagaro for around six months. It offers all the standard support like online booking but it also helps so much by providing us with in-depth reports, so I can really see how our business is running and predict our progress.”
Ursula Moore, founder and owner of Bond Shoreditch, also believes that salon software is superior in supporting her business. Having used Fresha at Bond Shoreditch since opening in 2019, she has an excellent grasp on the many tools it has to offer, including a deposits feature, automatic reminders for clients, quick release of payments into bank accounts and stock control features.
“With the deposits feature, it’s the system instead of us chasing our clients for payments, and it allows people to take care of payments in their own time,” she explains. “It also reduces last-minute cancellations and no-shows, which is great.”
Ursula also shares that the stock control feature not only allows them to keep everything neat physically, but also financially. She notes: “It’s efficient and reminds us when levels are low, which has allowed us to do small, regular orders of things we really need – there’s no more guessing. This has been very beneficial and as far as I’m aware, wouldn’t be possible with a tool such as ChatGPT.”
Another great system for stock control, particularly in regard to colour, is Vish. Since its launch in 2018, Vish has enabled colourists to recalibrate formulas without any input other than reweighing the bowl after service – arguably much simpler than asking ChatGPT to carry out a range of calculations. Vish stores the original colour formula in the client file and will compare it with the leftover waste, refining the formula to show the exact quantities required at the next appointment.
"The time-consuming, tedious job of stock control is gone," adds Luke Ormsby, Owner of salons in Pinner and Primrose Hill, London. "It's brought our stock levels down, as I only order what we've used, so cash isn't tied up in stock sitting on the shelves for weeks, and we never run short of what we need."
The Dream Team
Chloe Start, Receptionist and Social Media Manager at Law Salons in Saffron Walden, shares her experience combining AI with a dedicated salon software. She says: “We have been using SalonIQ for four years now and haven’t looked back since. The AI embedded within the software gives us the power to boost our productivity by automating a wide range of tasks, including customer communications. One feature we find most useful is the automated SMS text messages that send out appointment reminders and promotional offers to our clients.”
Meanwhile, Chloe notes that she has also been employing ChatGPT to help support her social media management: “If given the right set of keywords, prompts or instructions it can help with drafting captions and can also help when composing emails too.”
As someone familiar with both approaches, Chloe says: “Both SalonIQ and ChatGPT have features that have had a positive impact on our salon business growth, however from a business strategy point of view, SalonIQ stands out most as it provides us with enhanced customer engagement, improved efficiency, beneficial marketing and increased productivity.”
It’s inevitable that AI is only going to continue to develop in the future, so by incorporating it into your business now, you can stay one step ahead. It also means you’ll have a great foundation of knowledge to build on when AI expands in the future.
AI isn’t something to be scared of, with Becky highlighting that it already features in other areas of our lives (hello, Alexa and Siri). However, if you still feel uncertain adopting this new tool, then starting off with salon software is your best bet. Not only is it specifically tailored to the industry, and therefore your specific needs, but most salon software providers also offer extensive customer support, guaranteeing a user-friendly experience.
That being said, the most success to be had will be found by combining all of the tools available at your disposal – and with software plans at a range of price points, all offering an abundance of features, there’s something for everyone.
Becky Nightingale, founder of Digital Nightingale
Jack Mead, Stylist and co-owner of Jack & The Wolfe
Ursula Moore, founder and owner of Bond Shoreditch
Chloe Start, Receptionist and Social Media Manager at Law Salons in Saffron Walden