When a client doesn’t show up to an appointment, it is a frustrating occurrence that can cost your business thousands of dollars each year, in addition to lost time and energy. There are many approaches to no-show policies in the industry, and they all serve a purpose. As a service provider, your time is your livelihood, and it’s important to create a culture at your business where your clients respect your time and talent.
Creating your policy
The inner workings of your salon or spa are unique, and therefore, there is no “one-size-fits-all” no-show policy. In order to find the best approach for your business, start by assessing the amount of clients who are M.I.A. each week. Are your no-shows always the same few clients? Are you able to easily fill the open appointment? After determining your biggest issues, you can create the best no-show policy to better serve your business.
Here are some things to consider:
Cancellation window. How far in advance would you like your clients to notify you if they need to cancel? 24 hours? 48? While the industry standard is typically 24, if you have a hard time filling appointments on short notice, you may want to allow another day or so to try to re-fill your books. If your policy is 48 hours, then confirmations should also be done 48 hours in advance.
Cancellation policies. If a client cannot make it to their appointment, make the effort to find a new time that works best, instead of canceling the appointment all together. Consider charging 50% of the service fee for cancellations made with less than 24-hours’ notice.
Fees. Will you charge your clients the amount of the missed service? Using your software, you can charge clients no-show fees, if they have a card on file, by entering a reason for cancellation. You can also mark a client restricted if they continually no-show to prevent them from booking, and you can ban them from online booking. In addition to these fees, consider implementing a non-refundable deposit for services that take the most time and resources prior to the appointment.
Amount of tolerance. How much tolerance will you give clients when they miss an appointment without notice? Zero? One no-show? Three? Consider tolerating at least one. Keep in mind that your clients are human too, and life happens. Allowing some leniency with your clients will help you to reinforce the policy and improve client relationships.
Communicating your policy
Making a habit of communicating your policy to clients is the best way to help reinforce it. At booking time, have your front desk professionals remind clients of the cancellation window and the consequences of a no-show. Create an easily readable sign regarding your policy, and place it at your front desk and on your website so it is always visible to clients. If you offer online booking, be sure that your cancellation and no-show policies are clearly stated on your online booking site.
Include a policy reminder in an appointment reminder email as well as an appointment confirmation email. If your client loyalty program offers points for pre-booking, let the client know that as long as they keep the appointment they keep the points, if they want to cancel an appointment, be sure to remind them they will lose their points, and instead, suggest they reschedule. Clients only receive points on register transactions at check-out time.
Proactively confirming your appointments will greatly reduce the amount of no-shows. Perhaps your client booked two months ago and completely forgot about the appointment – a courtesy call, text, or email 72 hours before will put the appointment back on the radar.
Be sure that your appointment confirmations allow enough time for a client to cancel or reschedule without being penalized. This will help strengthen client relationships and increase client retention.
Take advantage of your software capabilities that provides two-way SMS communication. Clients can quickly respond to confirm, reschedule, or cancel their appointment.
Enforcing your policy
It’s always challenging to enforce your no-show policies. As a salon or spa owner, you always want your clients to be satisfied with the way you run your business, but you also have to remember that YOU are providing your time and services, and it’s up to the client to respect that. Creating a culture where your policies are enforced by your service providers will help retain the loyal clients who really want your services, and help to eliminate the ones who are wasting your time and energy. Above all else, be polite when enforcing, but also be firm. Remember, no-shows don’t just waste your time, they cost you money.