Hi, I'm Jason. I make scheduling software for hair salons

Greetings, fellow bootstrappers! I’ve been building a product called Snip since January 2011. Snip lets hair stylists see their schedules from anywhere, and it does automatic appointment reminders to help cut down on time spent doing confirmation calls.

I have a modest 3 customers now, with a 4th in the process of getting (hopefully) on board. I did a lot of high-touch, in-person sales in the beginning and had some success with that, then I switched to online marketing and had some successes with that, and starting in October I’m planning to switch back to the “brute force” of door-to-door sales because although it’s not very scalable, I do know that it’s effective. Once I have some profit from door-to-door sales I plan to reinvest that into better analytics, SEO tools, design, etc. and pick back up with the online marketing. I need 2 more salons (5 total) to be profitable.

I had a full-time job when I started building Snip, and then I got laid off, then I went freelance, then I got another job, and in October I’m going freelance again. I’ve found that it’s easier to do sales when I’m freelance because my schedule is then flexible enough to visit salons on the salon owners’ schedules. I have a wife and two kids, ages 4 months and 3 years, both boys.

Good luck, Jason. I sympathize with you in that we’re both selling to non-technical audience that are used to doing things manually.

Have you heard of StyleSeat.com? They’re a popular venture-funded startup that does something very related: it helps you find and book beauty and wellness pros in your area. I wonder if you could tap into their audience somehow, or at the very least see where they’re advertising via something like Mixrank.com.

Thanks, Rob. I’d be interested to hear any challenges you’ve had with non-technical users. For me it pretty much means I become each customer’s IT department along with a Snip subscription (which is absolutely fine, just somewhat comical).

I am familiar with StyleSeat. I haven’t given much thought to tapping into their audience, but maybe I should. Thanks for the idea.

Looks pretty cool Jason. I think you should play up the money saving aspects of automated appointment reminders. It might also be interesting to add in phone reminders at some point also, since I imagine a fair number of a salon’s customers aren’t really email users or at least would prefer phone. Also, a salon probably has easier access to phone numbers than emails.

I also think having pricing someplace other than the free trial page would be good, people want to know what they’re getting into. Good luck!

Thanks, Ian. I believe you’re right on all counts. People have been asking a lot for text reminders in addition to email, so I plan to do a Twilio integration soon, and I definitely need a clear pricing page.

Jason, how’s Snip? The best ideas are those that plug tech to solve an user problem. Have you heard of Plivo.com? If you’re already trying out Twilio, you can easily make a few quick changes to the xml and use Plivo. It’s cheaper, more coverage, more features, and 24/7 tech support is free. Let me know if you have any questions. You can also check out our https://plivo.com/twilio-alternative/ page for the full comparison. Cheerio!

Hi Jason, why would you not continue with online marketing? Wouldn’t online marketing be much more effective and cost effective as opposed to “brute force”?
Congratulations on your product!!

Hi Jason.

Sounds like a very helpful idea for salons. Might be worthwhile to invest in more imagery on your product page. I find that imagery really helps less tech-savvy audiences understand your product better.

Good luck to you sir! Keep us updated on how Snip is doing.

These guys do a lot more than just scheduling but maybe you could get some ideas on marketing tactics and copy: http://www.salonbooker.com/

Hi Jason, best of luck with those final 2 to get you in profit, hope they come soon. Sorry to add to the growing list of competitors, but it’s good to see what others are doing I guess. I’ve seen these used regularly - http://www.gettimely.com. They seem to have some nice integrations like on this site (http://www.theblushbar.co.uk/book/) which adds the whole booking interface onto their clients’ site.

Thanks for sharing Jason and best of luck – keep us posted.

One thing I wanted to mention regarding your website…get some screenshots up there! And better yet, a screencast/demo. The text is interesting…if people read it. A lot of great points about the value of the software, but you need to show it. It’s going to be hard to convert prospects to trial otherwise.

Wow. This post has gotten popular lately. First let me briefly summarize what’s happened since September 2013 when I posted this.

Instead of 3 customers I now have 6. I’m profitable now. All three of the new salons are local, and all three came from referrals. Two of the three required some sales work; one just jumped on board.

My sales and marketing plans are more sophisticated now. Instead of switching between canvassing and SEO, my plans include canvassing, SEO, PPC, direct mail, email marketing, cold calling and eventually more. Per marketing author Dan Kennedy’s advice, I plan to move all these channels forward simultaneously rather than execute on them serially.

It’s too early to tell yet how these marketing plans will work out since switching my marketing site from Rails to WordPress was a prerequisite to any kind of effective PPC, SEO or direct mail campaign, and it took me forever to build the site. But it’s up now and I’m excited to keep moving, and I’m about to get to the fun stuff: building opt-in pages and driving traffic to them.

And now I’ll attempt to respond to everyone…

@lucyz I acknowledge your Plivo sales pitch. :smile:

@FaisalSyed123 Good question. I don’t remember my reasoning at the time but my plan now is to do a little of everything each week. I frankly haven’t been doing canvassing and probably won’t again for a while. I might start again once I have some mail campaigns going. Talking face-to-face with prospects always helps me understand my customers’ motivations way better than anything on the computer could.

@iammorton Thanks. You’re totally right. Now that I switched my site from Rails to WP it will be a lot easier for me to add stuff like that, and it’s pretty high on the priority list as far as content goes.

@tompowell Yes, they’re pretty popular. I think I want to copy their level of professionalism design-wise but not their tactics. Their CTA should be above the fold, they should avoid using so many distracting photos and other visual embellishments…at least this is what I read in that book Landing Page Optimization.

@tomlloyd Thanks. I’m there, man!! And no need to be sorry. I’m aware there are dozens if not hundreds of competitors. I don’t believe the products that offer general scheduling but don’t focus exclusively on hair salons can really compete on my level. Hair salons have mind-blowingly unique and specific needs.

@ckeck You are very right! I’m planning to put some screenshots and videos as soon as I can. There are so many “top-priority” things. :slight_smile:

Do your potential customers hang out in the online forums? You can observe how they behave there and get a good idea about their pain points. That is just 1 way of doing it.

I also own a company that sells software to hair salons so know a lot about Jason’s pains in setting up :slight_smile: The main forum I would check out is www.salongeek.com. There are quite a few threads on their from people asking about software. Reading that forum I would suggest that recommendations from other salon owners is considered highly as is price.