Client no-shows or last-minute cancellations can wreak havoc in a spa, salon or clinic environment, particularly when the allotted appointment time is lengthy and/or the treatment value is high. It not only throws out your team, wastes valuable time and inconveniences other patients who may be waiting to book in, but can costs you thousands of dollars annually.
Luckily, there are certain ways that you can reduce the number of no-shows or cancellations before they happen. We take you through some of these tips and tricks, along with making the most of last-minute cancellations.
Make your cancellation policy clear
Create a policy and make it known. Whether you charge a fee, percentage, or take a non-refundable deposit at the time of booking, ensure that clients know about it by laying it out at the time of booking, and listing it clearly on your website, menus and/or social media. Once it’s set in stone, make sure you stick to it. Word will get around between clients if you make too many exceptions, and nobody will respect it if you don’t enforce it. But of course, remain flexible and compassionate for dire client circumstances.
Confirmation texts, emails or calls will do wonders for reducing cancellations or no-shows. This can be done both at the time of booking (which will allow clients to refer back to later) and close to the booking time itself. The timeframe by which you send pre-booking confirmations are completely up to your discretion, but generally 24-48 hours is most common. 48 hours will of course give you more time to rebook any cancellation spots. We recommend choosing a communication method that requires a response from the client, just in case they don’t receive it. Perhaps the email went to junk, or an incorrect number was recorded on their client card.
Confirm details at the time of booking
There’s nothing more frustration than attempting to confirm an appointment with a client only to realise their number is wrong and you have no way to reach them. Even if they’re a regular, clients can update their emails, phone numbers and addresses frequently, so it may be a good idea to confirm phone numbers with clients at the time of booking. Additionally, continue to regularly ask clients when they visit if their contact info is the same.
Review your no-show data
Keep track of your no-shows and regularly review them for patterns that you may be able to address – do they consistently happen around certain days and times, or for particularly staff members?
Track unreliable clients
Serial offenders are common – ensure you note down and educate your team about repeat cancellations or no-show clients. Make a decision as to when it becomes too much (perhaps a ‘three-strikes-you’re-out’ rule of sorts) and after this happens, have a frank discussion with that client about the seriousness of their frequent misdoings. At some point, you may even want to request that they not return to you at all.
What to do after it happens
Sometimes, regardless of how hard you’ve tried to prevent them, no-shows or cancellations 15 minutes beforehand will still happen, and you simply have to make the most of it. How can we do this?
- Keep a waiting list – always keep a waiting list. These are clients desperate to get in, ready and willing to jump in and fill a last-minute appointment slot.
- Do a text or email blast-out – if there is a last-minute cancellation, do your best to fill the spot. You might have some luck by sending the details by text or email to your existing client database – you never know who might be available at the last minute.
- Put an offer on social media – offer the spot to your social followers at a discounted rate. This tempting offer could even help convert new clients that are feeling spontaneous!
- Keep a list of ongoing tasks – if you can’t fill the spot, the least you can do in ensure the booked therapist or practitioner uses the time wisely to complete those outstanding tasks that nobody finds time for, like filing, re-organising, cleaning etc.