What cheap software or webapps can I recommend to help my friend manage her small business?
December 13, 2007 2:04 AM   Subscribe

What free or cheap software, or webapps, can I recommend to help my friend manage and build her small business, a salon? Although there is software out there specifically made for this purpose, it seems out of her price range and shares a lot in common with more general software.

I've recommended using Google Calendar to manage her appointments and suggested that her basic inventory needs can be tracked with Excel. However, it would also be helpful for her to be able to track the contact information for her clients and what type of services they receive at each appointment, and perhaps including pictures would be helpful as well.

I would think that someone who has experience in managing a business might have some suggestions for software without having specific knowledge about the salon world. Any advice would be helpful.
posted by abkadefgee to Work & Money (8 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Best answer: There are simple, free crm applications that integrate with google apps like this one. Have no idea if its good or not but from your description what she needs is a crm package. There are lots of free/cheap crm systems out there but I don't know of any tailored for the saloon business.
posted by uandt at 2:35 AM on December 13, 2007

Download a copy of Palm Desktop? It's got most, if not all, of those features and works even if you don't have a PDA to sync with.
posted by jon1270 at 2:36 AM on December 13, 2007

It would be cool to be able to make an appointment via Skype.
posted by mdonley at 2:57 AM on December 13, 2007

Using a web app for important parts of your small business might not be a great idea -- you'd sorta be up a creek if your connection went down or a NIC died.

BTW, contact information for clients and so on (even pictures) can be done in Excel too. You can use AutoFilter to make all the columns searchable, etc.
posted by hjo3 at 3:08 AM on December 13, 2007

It seems odd, but many salons still use the old fashioned scheduling book for the day-to-day operations - There's only one copy, it's cheap, changes are immediate and obvious, and you're not subject to computer failures.
posted by shinynewnick at 5:17 AM on December 13, 2007

If I understand your question correctly, she might find Remember the Milk extremely useful for task management.
posted by WCityMike at 7:17 AM on December 13, 2007

Best answer: Yeah, for a one- or two-seat salon, an appointment book is the way to go. Cheaper than a mouse pad, requires no training or upgrading, won't crash, takes no significant time out of your friend's day to maintain.

Gnucash and PLCash are options for accounting, where electronic records are an asset at almost any scale.
posted by gum at 9:27 AM on December 13, 2007

Response by poster: Agh, my internet has been dead at home and I haven't had much chance to check MeFi, but thanks for your suggestions everyone.

She does have an appointment book, but the advantage of a system on the computer is that she could search through past appointments quickly by client. I think a CRM might be the way to go if I could find some decent freeware. That link above that integrates with G Apps is only a demo, but it may be worth trying out.

Also, Gnucash or PLCash do seem like they could be great options for accounting, so I'll look into them more.

Any other suggestions for a small business?
posted by abkadefgee at 8:42 PM on December 14, 2007

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