For service businesses working around appointment slots, such as beauty salons, empty slots cost money, as do no-shows and last minute cancellations which, unlike the dentist, can’t be charged. On the customer side, meanwhile, sifting through the noise to find a trusty salon that does last-minute appointments can be a chore.
Founded by Jenene Crossan and Steven Torrance in 2012, New Zealand startup Flossie is a software platform helping customers easily find, book, and pay for beauty appointments at partner salons. As Crossan puts it, the system is a “customer solution for businesses who sell time”.
As Crossan put it, “The vision for Flossie is to become the first true retailer of services, where women can ‘book a look’ as easily as she might buy a handbag online, taking this category out of being an ‘Expedia of hair and beauty’ and into being a true ecommerce experience, encompassing AI and personalisation into extraordinary UX.”
The push to begin work on Flossie came as Crossan saw a growing need for a service marketplace to bring the needs of salons and customers together.
“The more research I conducted, the more confident I grew in the opportunity and vision. The vision has extended as we have learned that the opportunity is not just functional; this isn’t just about ‘I need a haircut’ moments. Many appointments nowadays are made based on style, anti-ageing, or personality, a look that a customer wishes to achieve,” Crossan said.
With Flossie being her fifth business in 18 years, Crossan was ready to get started.
She said, “My purpose in life is to bring ideas to life.”
That isn’t to say that the process of bringing Flossie to life was simple, however; rather, Crossan said, it has been a “long, hard, and arduous journey”, though “peppered with excitement and a touch of joy” – par for the course in developing and launching a startup.
“There’s nothing easy or linear about developing these businesses, it’s entirely making it up as you go along with no road map to guide you. I’ve had a vision, kept iterating on that as technology and customer behaviour is better understood and develops, then taken my team and shareholders on the journey,” Crossan said.
“Keeping that many ducks in a row is entirely non-trivial and there are infinite number of challenges; not running out of money, proving the concept and getting more people behind you, finding the right resources, convincing people that your vision is valid.”
Along the way, Crossan said Flossie has always had a clear vision of what a customer journey looks like, mapping it out with data to in turn look at what growth should look like, in increments.
“Then we’ve taken the approach of saying what do we need to do to make the small improvement, what is the hypothesis, then what is the MVP, get it into development, test and learn, then expand. It’s a formula that has worked well,” she said.
With an in-house development team, Flossie is gearing up to launch version 50 of the app.
A customer using Flossie simply searches for a particular salon or service, and can then book and pay ahead of time.
“When you turn up to salon, you’re already paid up and you can leave like a rockstar without any pesky payment or awkward rebooking questions; we help you with that in app, when you’re ready,” Crossan explained.
For salons, Flossie simply integrates with their existing management tools to help them fill empty appointment slots. Salons are charged a commission on each transaction, with the fee fluctuating according to a number of factors.
According to Crossan, getting salons on board has been quite easy, as the value proposition of Flossie – filling capacity – is something every business wants. With this in mind, Flossie has been selective in the salons it has chosen to bring on board; rather than being a directory, it has worked to curate “the right combination of places” it believes customers will want to visit.
“Being exceptional at what they do, providing true customer service and value and happy customers is key, and we send in two testers to each salon before we bring them on board. We then monitor reviews and retest should the need require,” Crossan said.
In bringing customers on board, Crossan said Flossie has been social and content-driven, with a focus on creating habitual customers, classed as someone who has purchased more than four times.
“Flossie is perfect for going to the same place, or different places, it’s entirely up to you, but we get you in quickly to the best, at the best price. VIPs get a better price in market than anyone else, but you must be booking with Flossie continuously to be able to access this,” she explained.
Launched in Auckland three years ago, Flossie soon expanded around New Zealand with NZ$4.3 million in funding; it has brought on 45,000 customers across 450 vetted salons, and grown 20 percent month on month to reach $2.5 million in annualised sales.
With this track record, Flossie is now launching in Australia with a salon supplier; having spent two years in market development, it will be setting up in Melbourne first, with a view to bringing on salons in Sydney within a few months.
There are a couple of local players in the market, from Bookwell to Glamazon and Luxit, which help consumers book a beauty service at their home or office, however Crossan believes Flossie’s offering differs sufficiently from others available, for both consumers and salons.
“The benefit of working on our pilot programme in New Zealand is that we could make all our own mistakes there, figure out what was most important, and then feel confident with the product we’re taking into Australia. We know Australia is bigger and tougher, but to succeed in New Zealand – because of how small we are – you have to be super good at what you do,” Crossan said.
“The marketplaces have a lot of similarity and the customers have similar pain and opportunity points; there are lots of nuances, but many similarities.”
Beyond Melbourne and Sydney, Flossie will also look to launch into London later in the year, supported by a planned Series B funding round.
Image: Jenene Crossan. Source: Supplied.