By Lauren Gartland, Inspiring Champions
No-shows and cancellations are costing you more than just money. Consider what it is costing you in your life not to have boundaries or use business systems? If you have no-shows and cancellations or if you have ever come in to work on your day off, stayed late, missed lunch or cancelled your own plans to accommodate clients, then what is missing in your life and business is the proper structure.
The first step to your new business system is to implement a cancellation policy. The policy should be firm yet positive, reading something like, “If you must cancel please notify us at least 24 hours prior to the appointment or you will be charged for the missed visit. Thank you for respecting what we love doing most — serving you!” Think of this policy as your code of honor. Post it in a prominent place and enforce it. If you booked a room in a hotel and then didn’t show up, wouldn’t the hotel charge you? They reserved that room for you, just as you reserved that appointment time for your client when another client could have been served. Your clients are not in control of your life and business, you are.
The next step of the protocol is to make courtesy calls a top priority. Make it a habit to be in communication with your guests, so there will be less chance for breakdowns. Instead of the customary day before, make a courtesy call 48 to 72 hours in advance, so your client will be sure to receive it in time. Always use a prepared script to ensure perfect communication, such as “This is a courtesy call to confirm your reservation on (date). Please note that this time has been specifically reserved for you. If for any reason you are unable to keep this appointment, we do require a 24-hour cancellation notice to avoid being charged for the missed service. Thank you for choosing the XYZ Salon. We look forward to serving you on (date).” If you leave a message, you must request that the client call you back to confirm the appointment.
Of course, if the guest has an actual emergency, you may waive the policy at your discretion. Always give each guest one opportunity to miss an appointment without penalty. It is crucial that you record the date and verify that you reviewed the policy with the client. Again, use a prepared script to avoid any confusion: “Because this is a brand new policy and this is your first missed appointment, we’re not going to charge you this time. However, if this were to happen again, we would have to charge you for the missed service. I want to make sure we are in agreement on the new policy.” Keep emotions out of it; it is not personal. Give options and solutions and plant seeds for future success. Assure clients that you hear and understand what they are saying, yet clarify that your time is important and you are running a business. If a client then continues to miss appointments, you will need to consistently enforce the policy. Chances are, they will quickly learn and change. If not, then they are the type of clients you will need to lose.