Whether it’s meeting new people from all different walks of life or getting to flex your creative muscles by trying out new styles or offering new services, running your own salon is usually a fun and rewarding experience. But let’s face it: despite all the things you enjoy about your salon business, there’s always at least one thing that causes you no end of frustrations.
More often than not, it’s managing your bookings, isn’t it? Keeping on top of all those advance appointments and last minute cancellations is enough to have even the most organised salon owners reaching for the aspirin. This is particularly true in the digital age when more and more customers expect to be able to book and manage their appointments online.
Sure, you’d love to offer such an option, but so far every online booking platform you’ve come across seems to cost a fortune.
If that sounds familiar, then you’ll find a lot to like about Shedul, a complete bookings management system designed especially for salons that is completely free to use. Below, we’ll take an in-depth look at this popular scheduling tool, discussing its features, functions, pros, cons and more.
Shedul – salon scheduling made easy
According to the company behind Shedul, the booking system is used by a total of 190,000 stylists and businesses in over 120 countries. However you look at it, that’s a pretty impressive number.
Impressive, though not exactly surprising. Having used it ourselves, we’ve found a lot to like about it, so it’s no wonder literally thousands of salon owners prefer it for managing their schedules.
Shedul Technical requirements
All you need to use Shedul is a web browser and an internet connection. That’s it. There’s no software to install and no apps to download.
Though an app may be useful in some circumstances (such as on mobile devices), it does mean that you can always access your system at any time from anywhere that you can connect to the web.
How easy is Shedul to use?
Right from the word go, one of the things that impresses us the most about Shedul is just how easy it is to get started.
Signing up is no more difficult than entering an email and password along with some basic details including:
- Your name
- Your business name
- Business type
- Your timezone
- The currency you trade in
The whole thing takes about 20 seconds and, after that, you’re in. Unlike other tools, Shedul doesn’t just leave you to figure things out for yourself either. Immediately after logging in, it guides you through two quick steps to get you up and running.
The first of these is simply selecting your opening hours. The second is adding the names of your staff members or colleagues, along with the types of services you offer. That way, you can create and accept bookings for multiple people all within one calendar.
So you could, for example, take a booking for a blow dry with Kerry at 2pm and a re-style with Wendy at the same time.
From there, you’re in and ready to start using Shedul. The process is so quick and simple that at first, you find yourself just looking at the screen, convinced that there should be something more to it than that. After all, a lot of tools like Shedul are usually a lot more complicated to get started with. Don’t worry though – you won’t find yourself looking at the screen for too long, especially when the excitement kicks in of having all these new features to play with.
At the heart of Shedul is the calendar.
This is the first thing you see when you log in and provides you with a comprehensive overview of your schedule. By default, the calendar just shows you your schedule for that day, but at the click of a button, you can easily change that to an overview of the whole week, scroll through the next few weeks, or jump straight to a specific date.
Clicking on an appointment in your calendar will give you all the details about that appointment, including:
- The name of your client
- The time and length of the appointment
- The service booked
- The cost of the appointment
You can also change the status from booked to confirmed, even marking when your client arrives and when your appointment has actually started. This may prove invaluable for letting colleagues and other clients know that you’re currently with a client and therefore unavailable.
Whilst the calendar may be the heart of the system, it’s just one of the many features available. An easily-accessible menu runs down the left-hand side of your screen and includes all of the following features.
An at-a-glance look at your upcoming appointments and recent sales. It also provides interesting stats on things like the most popular services that clients book, and even which staff members receive the most bookings.
A helpful feature for tracking, managing and reporting on recent transactions and income generation, with additional tools for managing invoices and even discount vouchers.
Offers tools for tracking and managing details about regular clients. This can show you how many appointments they’ve booked, the total amount of money you’ve made from sales to that client, and even whether the client has cancelled or no-showed an appointment.
You can use this to store contact details about each individual client and use this information either when you enter in a booking manually (such as if they call to making a booking over the phone), or when they make the booking themselves online.
This keeps track of automated customer notifications, reminders, cancellations and other types of messages. A link from this page also gives you the option to manage your client notifications. Using this option, you can change things like:
- How far in advance reminders are sent
- The subject heading and text of confirmation emails
- Whether or not you send thank you emails following an appointment.
Here, you can add new staff members to your calendar or remove them if they leave your salon. You can also set their working hours and decide what level of access they have to your booking software.
Just as you might expect, this is where you add, remove, or change your existing services.
If you sell products through your salon, this handy feature provides a range of tools to help you effectively manage your inventory.
Create detailed reports about sales, inventory, who your top clients are and more.
Shedul Online bookings
If there’s one Shedul feature we like the most, it’s this one. It provides you with a link to an online booking form that you can send customers to via your website or social media, along with instructions on how to link to that form from the Call to Action button on your Facebook.
It also offers you the opportunity to customise the button that users click in order to access your form, and helps you embed that button within your website.
Last but no means least, this is where you’ll find options to customise a whole range of settings, including those relating to your account, your clients, your calendar and more.
Did we mention that all of the above features are free? That doesn’t mean they’re free for a limited trial period, or that they’re free with the option to then pay for more advanced features.
It means that the whole thing costs nothing to use.
Given the wealth of tools Shedul offers, not to mention how easy they are to use, we think that represents pretty good value compared to other tools that charge a lot of money for half the features.
So far, so good, but we’d be lying if we said Shedul was absolutely flawless. The lack of a dedicated app for mobile devices is disappointing, as this could have definitely improved the experience for those using the system on the move.
That being said, we tried Shedul out on an iPhone and a few different tablet devices and found that whilst the layout was different, it wasn’t much more difficult to use than it was on a standard laptop.
The only other bugbear we found is that adding in a mobile phone number as a client can be frustrating. The form requires you to use your country’s international code along with the main phone number, but it took us several attempts before we got this to work.
As frustrating as it was at first, it certainly wasn’t enough to put us off using Shedul.
Shedul user reviews
Up to now, we’ve been more than impressed with Shedul, but what do other people think?
The product only has a small number of reviews still live on its TrustPilot page, but these are overwhelmingly positive. One user praised the platform’s simplicity compared to other features, saying: “I’ve used other programs before and it was more confusing using those software compared to Shedul. Best of all it’s actually FREE.”
On the website Software Advice, however, we did find some criticism that was mostly about the fact that Shedul is an online-only tool.
One user described the biggest downside to Shedul as the fact that it can’t be used offline, saying: “I would like if one can download the software or app and can be able to use it even without [the] net.”
As a browser-based tool, Shedul certainly isn’t without its flaws. We agree that an offline version would be helpful, and at the very least we’d like to see it presented in an app, particularly for those salons who have moved to using tablet devices they can carry around rather than clunky laptops.
Still, those are minor complaints and don’t change our mind that Shedul is genuinely one of the best options out there for salon owners who need a simple-yet-effective system for managing schedules and online bookings.
For us, the biggest selling point here is the wealth of features. We’ve read a number of user reviews who say that even more features (such as the ability to send confirmations and reminders via email) would be a welcome addition.
Whilst we certainly agree, the fact that you can already do so much with Shedul without paying a penny for it certainly makes this one worth checking out for any salon owner.
Try Shedul for yourself at shedul.com.