Forward Migration Kit: Salon software for the Mac OS

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(For those new to the column, Forward Migration is our term for companies moving from Wintel machines to Macs -- or at least adding or increasing the number of Macs they use. A forward migration kit is an overview of Mac OS products for a particular occupation, such as dentistry, accounting, etc.)

This week we're looking at Mac OS software designed for use by those in the salon industry.

The most mentioned product was Salon Transcripts by ST Pro Software.

ST Pro's Client Manager tracks unlimited service and retail history, found by clicking on the service or retail log in the client card and provides a special note file for personal client details.

Users can select clients to mail to with a list of mix and match criteria. They can even make up their own client "Flags," criteria that may be unique to their business, such as senior citizen discounts, hair models, etc.

ST Transcripts' Inventory Manager includes an automatic ordering feature. Its sales analysis, value and activity reports track details of the inventory process. ST Pro's Point of Sale Manager offers Total Sheet, Payment List, Detail Report and Cash Accounting Report features. It tracks all payment types and displays gift certificate and charge account balances. All information is updated by the single entry of a client ticket to generate detailed reports such as client history, employee and salon income analysis reports with corresponding pie graphs, payroll reports, promotional reports and inventory reports. Users have access to ST Pro's Client Retention report to keep tabs on which employees are retaining which clients.

The Personal Image Center analyzes your client's hair characteristics to recommend the best combination of products for that client based on the stylist's and/or salon's preferences. The individualized printout lists sizes, prices, cost-per-once and directions for use.

ST Transcripts also offers, naturally, the ability to book client appointments. File and record locking techniques allow for many receptionists to be booking appointments simultaneously. Each service and time allocation is customized for each stylist. ST Pro automatically transfers service information, pricing and stylist information to the cash drawer checkout. This purportedly allows for five second or under checkouts.

Appointment books can be viewed in many different ways: by the month, day, the week, by stylist or by services. Clients log-in/checkout features are designed to ensure that clients are moving through the salon at the right time and seeing the right stylists.

Online booking has been the industry buzz for several months, with salons searching for technology that would enable them to control it. Large companies have come and gone ("Salon 1,2,3" for example) trying unsuccessfully to manage Web-based data.

John Sebastian, a name synonymous with success in the beauty industry, took one look at the Mac and knew it was the way to automate the beauty industry. In fact, he liked it enough to form a partnership with ST Pro Software. He had already rejected the handful of DOS options for salon automation because they were too cumbersome and complicated. When he found our Mac program, he immediately dubbed it "hairdresser-friendly."

"I understand it," he said, "It makes sense to me."

William Hottin of Mon Ami Hair Design in Longmeadow, MA, said they have been using ST Pro salon software for a long time.

"We first began using it on a LC III, moved up to a Performa 6116 and are now using a 333MHz iMac," he said. "ST Pro has continually improved their product through the years to keep pace with more powerful systems. This is a total solution software product that is our point of sale, inventory management and also calculates our employees' commissions. I also have always been impressed with their support. They don't leave you hanging. Calls are returned promptly."

Ed Sharp of Mac Proz did Macintosh support for several years for a salon. "They used ST Pro and ProBook by Salon Transcripts," he said. "It was very comprehensive and the scheduling application [ProBook] was very flexible. The major deficiency I saw was scanning for inventory and sales was encoded in Code 39 barcode font; it did not support UPC barcode."

Jeffrey Mayes, manager, Information Technology, DiNISCO DESIGN told MacCentral that he has done some consulting for a salon on Newbury Street in Boston that used the software. "In fact I was one of the support people there, and about 10 to 15 solons on Newbury Street use it," he said.

A Mac OS X version is due next month, according to Stephen Lauterbach.

"By taking full advantage of OS X's server, we are maximizing the simplicity and finally bringing the safety of a local hard-drive database to the huge potential of an online database," the folks at ST Pro Software told MacCentral. "We couldn't be happier with the premier glimpses of our new product, STX. And while we have positioned ourselves to serve automated salons in either platform, we stand with Apple at the cutting edge of cutting hair."

Meanwhile, developer Dave Logan has written a vertical market application called "Optique SMS," which is professional salon software. (The "SMS" is an abbreviation for "Salon Management System.")

The software has never been actively marketed. Logan wrote it as a hobby about 10 years ago and has constantly updated it. He's marketed it to 17 salons and day spas in his hometown of Thunder Bay, Ontario.

There's no URL for info at this time so e-mail Logan for details. His main work is writing custom databases for his Mac clients.

Optique SMS is priced at US$2,000. Custom development on it is also available at an additional cost. The software will run on any Mac compatible PowerPC system that runs Mac OS 8.6 to 9.2.1. However, Opique SMS will be Carbonized for Mac OS X by the end of the year, "maybe sooner," Logan said.

Have a Forward Migration story? Send it my way.

This story, "Forward Migration Kit: Salon software for the Mac OS" was originally published by PCWorld.

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