6 top-rated booking software for effortless salon reservation

    Efficient booking management is key to a salon’s success.

    It sets the right tone and makes sure clients have a smooth, convenient, and customer-friendly experience, way before they even walk through the door for their appointment. 

    Manual bookings often leads to scheduling errors, customer dissatisfaction, and operational inefficiencies. Meanwhile, salon booking software will help you streamline appointments, reduce no-shows, and enhance your overall productivity. But, with so many options and alternatives to choose from, how can you pick the right salon software for you?

    In this blog, we unpick the top six salon booking software options, exploring deal-breaker features alongside what real users are actually saying about them. Let’s dive in! 

    The need for advanced booking software in salons

    Running a salon without booking software can be like styling hair blindfolded: much harder than it needs to be. Without booking software, beauty salons often resort to pen and paper or spreadsheets, resulting in chaotic schedules and potential errors.

    Human error? It’s bound to happen, leading to double bookings, missed appointments, and some seriously unhappy clients. Plus, manual reservations waste valuable time that could be better spent serving clients or growing the business.

    Your solution is… [drumroll] salon booking software, which will provide:

    1. Streamlined booking process: Clients can schedule appointments online, eliminating phone calls and back-and-forth emails, thus increasing your client retention by 26%.
    2. Improved time management: By automating the booking process, salon employees can focus on providing quality service to clients rather than drowning in admin.
    3. Enhanced customer experience: Clients can easily schedule, reschedule, or cancel appointments conveniently.
    4. Data management: Salon booking software’s features help track client preferences and feedback for personalized service.
    5. Accessibility and convenience: Clients can book appointments anytime, making the salon more accommodating.
    6. Compliance assurance: Booking software ensures compliance with data protection laws like GDPR and HIPAA and means that salons stay within the law and act ethically.

    What to look for in salon booking software

    Today, business owners and managers have access to many advanced salon booking software options. And with the value of the salon software market set to reach $2421.95 million by 2031, that number is likely to grow even further. But more choice isn’t always a good thing.

    It’s essential to know what features to look for to ensure you’re investing in the right solution for your business. Pick right, and you’re onto a winner.

    Wide range of features including scheduling automation

    A comprehensive salon booking software should offer a wide range of features to simplify managing appointments. Core functionality includes online booking, appointment management, payment processing, and scheduling automations. 

    Scheduling automations allow customers to book appointments online, notifies both the salon and the customer of upcoming appointments, handles cancellations or rescheduling, syncs with staff calendars, and sends appointment reminders.

    Inventory management

    Effective inventory management is crucial for salons to track and manage product inventory well. Look for scheduling software that links inventory with appointments, so that stock levels are automatically reduced when certain types of appointments are booked in.

    You can also get software that will send you low stock alerts or even suggests what to stock, so you can restock products promptly and keep the salon running smoothly, 

    Easy-to-understand reporting and analytics

    Insightful reporting and analytics tools help you understand your salon’s performance better so that you can make informed business decisions. Without data, you’re running blind.

    The ideal booking software should provide easy-to-read reports on the services that are driving revenue, client retention, staff performance, and end of day reports.

    Mobile accessibility or app

    Over 50% of bookings, especially those in the working hours, happen on-the-go. 

    That’s why you need to look for software with a mobile app or mobile-friendly interface for easy access to bookings and schedules anytime, anywhere. 

    Mobile accessibility enhances convenience and flexibility, enabling clients to book appointments and staff to manage schedules from anywhere, at any time.

    Integrated payment processing

    Payment processing built into booking software boosts online sales by making transactions more convenient for customers. For example, when a customer books online, having payment processing built in reduces friction in the purchasing process, which means they’re more likely to complete their booking, which equals more sales and happier clients.

    Additionally, robust security features embedded within the payment processing system ensure that sensitive payment information remains safe and protected.

    Security and compliance

    Safeguarding client data and following data protection regulations are vital for salon businesses. It’s crucial to opt for booking software that has robust security processes in place and complies with data protection regulations such as GDPR and HIPAA. 

    Don’t risk breaking your hard-earned trust with patients.

    The best 6 salon booking solutions

    1. Pabau

    Pabau stands out as an all-in-one practice management software designed to streamline operations for salons, spas, private practices, med spas, and more.

    Designed specifically for healthcare and beauty businesses, it will help you boost efficiency and effectiveness in managing appointments and enhancing client experience.

    First of all, it has a robust online booking system. You can take deposits (which can be customizable to the service), send intake forms and questionnaires, set patch tests to be required for certain types of appointments, and more. Clients can also manage their bookings through the client portal, reducing administrative tasks for salon staff members.

    Salon staff can easily manage appointments through an intuitive calendar interface with drag-and-drop functionality, and automated confirmation and reminder communications (by email and SMS) ensure clients are prepared for their appointments. You can also work on the go and manage your schedule from wherever you are using the app on your phone or tablet. 

    Pabau offers inventory management, reporting, and staff scheduling. Plus, its built-in marketing features help you attract and retain clients with email and SMS campaigns, loyalty programs, automatic client recalls, a survey feature to get feedback, and more.

    Unique features

    • Built-in email marketing and SMS templates
    • Customizable deposits – no more no-shows 
    • Built-in intake forms, sent automatically
    • POS end-of-day reports


    • Streamlined appointment management
    • Enhanced client journey
    • High data security and protection
    • Scalability and reliability

    Customer reviews

    • “All my bookings can happen while I’m working, sleeping etc. My invoices are automatically sent to Xero. It saves me a lot of time and reduces a lot of stress.”
      Nicola K., Small Business Owner
      September 28 2024
      Via G2
    • “Pabau is helping us solve the issue of remaining totally compliant in all areas of our business, as well as helping us to grow, as we’ve tremendously improved communication with all patients, tackled any inventory issues, streamlined every feature of daily operations – basically ALL aspects of establishing and running a business.”
      Diva S., Medical Director
      December 06 2023
      Via G2

    2. Phorest

    Phorest describes itself as a salon management software and that’s exactly what it is. 

    It’s designed for small to medium-sized businesses and helps with appointment bookings, point-of-sale, payment terminals, inventory management, and reporting. With its cloud-based system and mobile app, it’s easy to use on phones and tablets.

    You can book appointments online that update automatically to prevent overbooking. The software also sends automated emails to clients based on their booking history. It records sales and orders in one place and alerts you when inventory is low. 

    Using Phorest for online bookings can be costly, however, since it charges online booking fees of between 60p and £1.50 in the UK and a flat fee of $1 per transaction in the US and Canada. Integration options are more limited than other software solutions, as they only integrate with Quickbooks, Xero, Facebook and Instagram.

    Also, Phorest has some limitations with their sales and payment features. For one, you can’t sell treatment packages online, and while you can take payments from different channels, the invoices can lack key details and aren’t stored in one place.

    Unique features

    • Waitlist management
    • Payroll management
    • Membership feature

    Customer reviews

    • “I’ve used the Phorest app with Salesforce to automate a workflow related to online appointments for a salon and it worked pretty well.”
      Mitusha A., Developer
      January 2024
      Via Capterra
    • “The software’s client management and appointment scheduling functions supported efficient organization and improved customer experience. Despite the fact that Phorest provides a wide range of capabilities, some unique needs or specialty salon operations could call for further modification or integration with specialized software.”
      Angelica, Product developer
      June 2023
      Via Software Advice

    3. Fresha

    Fresha is a free booking software for beauty and wellness businesses, used mainly by hair salons, spas, and barbershops. 

    Available on iOS and Android, with Fresha you can manage appointments, staff members, and locations easily online. Its marketing features include email campaigns, text messages, and alerts within the Fresha app. 

    Fresha doesn’t charge a monthly subscription fee, which is great on face value. However, for each new client booking generated through the Fresha marketplace, there is a one-time commission fee of 20%, so it’s not quite as affordable as it seems. 

    Customization options on your online marketplace are also limited. The generic booking page you’re provided with might work for you if you want to get up and running quickly, but you can’t fully customize the design to reflect your branding for better recognition.

    Unique features

    • SMS marketing
    • Customizable reports
    • Inventory management

    Customer reviews

    • “The online booking form has boosted our business with real-time online booking. [It’s] so convenient, and you can have a link put on your Google business page.”
      Billy R., Owner – Small Business
      August 2023
      Via G2
    • “I really like that Fresha is a really simple and easy to use booking platform which is also inexpensive.”
      Alicia, Beauty therapist
      November 2023
      Via Capterra

    4. Vagaro

    Vagaro is an online tool for salons, spas, and fitness centers that helps you book appointments and manage your business more easily.

    It offers tools for bookkeeping, payroll, client databases, and inventory management. Professionals can list available appointments, and clients can easily book through Vagaro’s website or app. 

    Vagaro charges for add-ons such as data storage and client forms, so it’s more of a pay-for-what-you-need system. While it is a more affordable software option, it may end up being more expensive once you’ve included all the necessary add-ons for your business.

    Unique features

    • Online store
    • Barber app
    • Payment processor

    Customer reviews

    • “I like the easy ability for me or my clients to book appointments. everything is self explanatory.”
      Rashawn, Health, Wellness and Fitness Worker
      January 2024
      Via Software Advice
    • “I think the thing I like least about Vagaro is the fact that the add-on functions cost extra. To feature your business on Vagaro, it’s an extra fee, and also it’s extra to develop a form, it’s the little extra fees that really adds up, especially when your building your business.”
      Mavis W., Salon Owner
      January 2024
      Via Capterra

    5. Mindbody

    Mindbody serves as a booking and management tool tailored for fitness and wellness businesses, including salons. It automates essential functions such as booking appointments and processing payments.

    The platform offers marketing tools for promotions and loyalty programs, accessible through a mobile app that simplifies client booking and payment processes. The software also includes a great AI assistant tool which gives your salon a 24/7 real-time customer service. Nice! 

    Mindbody’s pricing is tiered and tends to be higher compared to similar software options. In order to access some of the features your salon may need, such as a branded app or the marketing suite, including their AI assistant, you have to be on the higher pricing tiers.

    Unique features

    • Waitlist
    • Email templates
    • Mindbody booking app hub

    Customer reviews

    • “We can schedule, run payment and keep track of all of our students in one place, it also integrates with our marketing system.”
      Virginia C., Owner
      January 2024
      Via Capterra
    • “Overall, we can do most everything we want to do, but it’s not always a seamless process to achieve our end goal.”

      Verified User in Health, Wellness and Fitness
      September 2023
      Via G2

    6. Square Appointments

    Square Appointments, a scheduling app catering to small businesses, integrates a built-in point-of-sale system and booking website. With both free and paid plans available, it offers fundamental tools for service-oriented enterprises.

    The software is user-friendly and comes with automated notifications through texts, emails, and calendars. It also features built-in payment processing, which is great, although it requires you to use Square’s booking system, subjecting salons to flat-rate transaction fees.

    It lacks SMS marketing and a client portal, which for salons may cause challenges in  communication and client convenience. It also doesn’t have client forms so you’ll need to use their integration to get access to them – which may require an added monthly cost. 

    Unique features

    • Barcode scanning
    • Easy integrations
    • Waitlist

    Customer reviews

    • “We wish there were more options to show the different stages of an appointment (appt offered, scheduled, confirmed, canceled, completed) and for it to work better for mobile business.”
      Carolyn B., Owner
      October 2023
      Via Capterra

    Find out why Pabau is the ultimate salon booking software today

    Pabau stands out as the best all-in-one option for salon booking software due to its comprehensive features that streamline client management. 

    With Pabau, businesses can seamlessly manage appointments, track client preferences, and enhance customer experiences, ultimately driving growth and profitability. Everything you need is baked into the system, with confirmation and reminder communications, robust client cards, patch tests, customizable client forms, inventory, and lots more.

    Its intuitive interface, robust scheduling capabilities, and efficient communication tools make it the superior choice for salon owners looking to optimize their operations. Why not book a demo and discover how Pabau can revolutionize your salon management practices?

    What you should do now

    1. Schedule a Demo to see how Pabau can help your team.
    2. Read more clinic management articles in our blog.
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