Running your salon business is no easy feat. And finding the right solution to help you start, run, and grow your business is going to be crucial to your long-term success. Every hair stylist, esthetician, nail technician, and any other beauty or wellness professional can benefit from salon software.
So in this article, we’ll do a comprehensive overview of two popular software solutions used for local service businesses – Vagaro vs. Square. We also added a third option into the mix for those looking for an alternative option (more on this later).
Founded in 2009, Vagaro’s mission is to help small business owners and independent service professionals use the power of technology to reach their business goals. The platform was created to help people find salons and spas in their local neighborhoods so they could book appointments online. In essence, it’s a marketplace where salon owners can find clients and vice versa.
Vagaro also has a suite of software tools designed specifically to help salon owners with the back end of their business. From online booking, payments, notifications, and customer tracking, Vagaro is used by many in the beauty, wellness, and fitness industry.
But since its inception in 2009, there have been a lot of changes in the way people discover salons and spas, and how beauty professionals use software to help them manage their businesses and process payments. So it can get confusing when you have so many different salon software options at your fingertips, and you’re not sure which one to use. Let’s take a look at some of the pros and cons of using a platform like Vagaro.
One good thing about Vagaro for beauty professionals who are starting to build a book of clients is that it has a marketplace where you can advertise your salon or spa business. But besides helping you with the discoverability of your salon, Vagaro also has some features that can help you manage your business.
Some of the pros of Vagaro:
Probably one of the most highlighted features of Vagaro is its ability to send automated messages to your customers that remind them of upcoming appointments, which can help reduce the number of no-show clients.
Check out GlossGenius’ All-in-One No-Show Protection Stack
Many of Vagaro’s features make it feel like a great tool, but not every salon software is created equal, and there may be some things about Vagaro that will make you look for an alternative.
One of the downsides of many online scheduling software subscriptions is that they can have a lot of fees that start to add up. This is especially true if you have employees or plan to get more involved in marketing your salon business.
Don’t get us wrong, Vagaro can be good for beauty professionals who are just starting out, but some things that may turn salon owners off Vagaro include:
If you’re more price-conscious, Vagaro can quickly start to get quite expensive – regardless of if you’re an individual service provider or a company with employees. Let’s talk about pricing.
If you’re looking to start simple with just salon booking software, and you’re the only person using it, Vagaro will cost you $25/month. Looking to give other people access? Vagaro’s price increases by $10 for each individual you add to your account (up until seven bookable calendars). On this standard plan, you’ll get access to a handful of basic features needed to start and manage your salon business.
But if you want extra features to help you grow your business, such as text messaging, forms, a website builder, or a mobile app – which are all very important – they will run up your monthly bill.
These features act as an “add-on” to your base $25/month subscription fee. On one hand, this payment structure can be great because you only pay for what you need. But as mentioned earlier in this article, there are tons of different salon software out there that may include all of these “growth” related features at no extra cost – more on this later.
This brings us to our next tool for salon and spa owners.
Also founded in 2009, Square has become a household name in mobile payments and commerce. However, over the years, Square has launched many different tools and features to help local business owners manage and grow their businesses.
One of those tools is Square Appointments – which gives business owners a POS (point of sale) system for managing booking, payments, and notifications. Square Appointments is used by cafes, spas, personal trainers, and more. It’s a versatile tool designed for a broad range of audiences and use cases.
But as a beauty professional, this versatility may limit you in certain areas of your business. Square is a good tool for businesses in general, but if you’re a salon or spa, and want an extra level of brand customization, you may want to look into using Vagaro or GlossGenius (more on this soon).
Square is a popular POS (point of sale) system and there are a lot of resources available for it. From an iOS and Android app to a strong social media presence, Square is an established platform.
Here are some of the pros of using Square:
As you can see, Square could be a good solution for managing your business, but having a broad range of features doesn’t mean it’s designed specifically for your needs. Let’s take a look at some of the common reasons why people may look for an alternative to Square.
As mentioned, Square is a popular solution for small businesses, but depending on your business model and the services your business offers, you may want to consider some of the cons that come with this platform.
Here are some of the cons of using Square:
Every business is different, so knowing how to evaluate both pros and cons when making a decision is crucial.
For the most basic plan, Square is actually free to use. With this free plan, you get access to online booking, mobile scheduling, reminders, and recurring appointments.
But if you want some extra features like appointments syncing with your Google Calendar, automated email and text notifications, and no-show protection, you’ll have to upgrade to a paid plan, which starts at $29 per month.
At $69/month, Square’s top tier subscription plan isn’t the most expensive out there but it’s not cheap either, and with payment processing fees as high as 3.5% with per-transaction fees on top, the cost can go up a lot without you realizing.
But what do you do if you’re a salon or spa owner and find Vagaro or Square may not be tailored specifically for you? This is where our alternative platform GlossGenius comes into play.
Launched in 2017, GlossGenius is an all-in-one booking and client management software that offers a free website builder, and a reliable POS system, designed specifically for hair salons, spas, barbers, estheticians, nail artists, massage therapists, and more. Out of all the tools we’ve gone over so far, GlossGenius is the most cost-effective and allows salon and spa owners and their teams to operate out of a single app.
With tens of thousands of beauty and wellness professionals currently using GlossGenius to run their businesses. GlossGenius works out of the box with minimal setup and training, and if you do need help, the company offers first-class customer support. It also manages all the little things that keep you booked and on top of your day, without lifting a finger.
From a free website builder to stunning credit card readers to fit your brand, GlossGenius acts as an operating system for your entire salon or spa business.
If you’re a salon or spa owner, GlossGenius has a suite of tools designed specifically to help you start, run, and grow your business.
Here are a few pros of using GlossGenius:
If you’re a beauty or wellness professional, you should definitely give GlossGenius a try and see if it makes sense for your business.
Start your free 14-day trial – no credit card required.
Of course, we don’t want to be biased, so let’s go over some reasons why GlossGenius may not be the best fit for you.
Here are some cons of using GlossGenius:
If you want to learn more about what GlossGenius can do for your business, be sure to check out the GlossGenius blog where you’ll find a treasure trove of valuable information.
The great thing about GlossGenius is that it’s one of the most cost-effective salon software solutions on the market.
When compared to other solutions on the market, GlossGenius makes it easy for beauty professionals to calculate what they’ll pay, with flat subscription prices and payment processing fees and no sneaky add-ons or hidden fees.
Bottom line, if you’re a salon or spa owner and you want to get the most features for the lowest price, GlossGenius is definitely a tool you want to check out.
Whatever software you choose, you need a way for clients to book appointments. All three tools we talked about above offer appointment scheduling. And the tool you use really depends on what other features you need from each platform.
Vagaro helps you streamline your client booking experience by allowing customers to schedule appointments through Vagaro.com, a widget on your website, or the Vagaro app.
The online booking features for Vagaro are included in their basic plan. So if you just need a tool to help you set up appointments, it will run you $25/month. This is the most expensive option on the list.
Square Appointments gives you a flexible scheduling system that makes it easy for clients to book appointments with you.
If you are on the free plan, appointment booking is free. This is the cheapest option on the list when comparing Vagaro vs. Square appointments. But if you want better reminder features, you’ll want to upgrade to their $29 per-month plan.
GlossGenius’ online booking features are designed with a focus on creating a great client experience that will leave a memorable first impression.
Regardless of what plan you choose with GlossGenius, online appointment scheduling is included. You even get free text messaging and email notifications that let both you and your client know that a time has been scheduled.
Read how GlossGenius’ checkout process helped Matthew Landis Atelier achieve a near-100% rebooking rate!
Being able to securely and efficiently collect payments is a must with any salon and spa software. This is where a POS (point of sale) system comes into play. All of the platforms mentioned here have a payment system built in. But the fees can vary significantly from software to software. Let’s go over that.
Vagaro’s payment system charges 2.75% per transaction, with an additional 0.75% + 15 cent card on file and key-in fee.
But Vagaro does offer a free card reader, which is a plus. With the transaction fees, this means Vagaro is the most expensive salon software on this list.
As mentioned above, Square has a popular POS system used by many small businesses. And just like Vagaro (but unlike GlossGenius) Square’s payment processing fees depend on a few factors.
Depending on what payment method you use, your credit card processing fees will vary. However, if your client has a card present, Square’s fees are slightly lower than Vagaro's. But if you’re looking for something more cost-effective, GlossGenius might be the best alternative.
GlossGenius’ payment processing fee is only 2.6%, making it the least expensive alternative when compared to Square and Vagaro.
What makes GlossGenius’ payment processing special is that you can transfer your money on the same business day you receive payment, and you’ll have your money in your linked bank account as early as the next morning. You also have the option to add tips and book clients for their next session with you during the checkout process and before they even leave the salon.
In fact, GlossGenius’ rebooking feature has helped many salon owners double their revenue from repeat customers.
If you want to learn more about how GlossGenius can help you manage payments, be sure to check out our Payment Processing feature page.
Both Vagaro and Square are good platforms for managing your local service business. If you need a more general use case, Square is a good option. But, if you’re in the beauty or wellness space, Vagaro might be a better option.
If you’re an individual who is running a salon or spa business, or you plan on having employees, GlossGenius may be the best option – given it’s designed specifically for salon, spa, and beauty business owners.
Vagaro has a marketplace used by many people to browse different salons and spas. So, naturally, Vagaro can be a good option for marketing your business. Square gives you the option to create a loyalty program and leverage email and SMS marketing. Vagaro also has these features (but these will come at an additional cost).
GlossGenius’ platform was designed with marketing your small business in mind. So naturally, you get all the built-in features you need, like:
With so many features included in GlossGenius’ basic plan, it’s a compelling choice for those serious about growing their business.
Check out GlossGenius’ full marketing features.
Finding the right salon software for you depends on what stage you are in your business. It also depends heavily on the type of business you plan on running.
If you’re a salon or spa owner, and you don’t plan on expanding outside of those industries, Vagaro or GlossGenius are your best options. But if you plan on going beyond just the beauty and wellness industry, Square might be a good option.
If we group each platform by use case, our winners come down to:
But at the end of the day, only you know what platform makes the most sense for you. If you think GlossGenius might be it, be sure to start your free trial!
No credit card required.