Window Shopping

It’s been a year since I implemented online booking. For the most part, it has been a great addition to the way I do business. It saves me time, it ended most of the phone tag, clients can see my schedule and what’s open and what’s not, and now they know that I’m not just making it up when I say I don’t have an opening for another two or three weeks. The program I use sends e-mail and text message confirmations — which has really helped with no shows. And people tell me all the time how much they love being able to book online.
But I’m not sure that everyone realizes that I get an e-mail for every single transaction on the system? If you make an appointment and then cancel it, I get an e-mail that you made the appointment and I get another e-mail that the appointment was cancelled. I get e-mails whenever anyone does anything on my schedule.
When I got started with the service, I wasn’t at all surprised to see several people trying it out. I got lots of e-mails about appointments being made, then immediately cancelled. No sweat. People just getting used to the idea and seeing how it worked, right?
But you know how you always have those clients who call up and make an appointment with you sometime out in the future? And then call a day or two before their appointment and reschedule it? And then call a day or two before that appointment and reschedule? Like they’re holding their place in line just in casethey decide to actually get their nails done? And you usually know the person and their story — they keep booking that appointment in hopes they’ll be able to afford it by then, or that they’ll have a sitter by then, or that their car will work by then, or whatever it is that keeps them from being able to keep appointments like grownups.
I used to have one client who was absolutely terrible about this. And she was always very careful to call and cancel or reschedule just in timeto fall within my cancellation policy. When I finally had to explain to her that I could not continue to allow her to take up time in my schedule that she never actually paid me for, she was genuinely upset with me! She could not understand how or why I would refuse to schedule any further appointments with her when she “always cancelled with the required notice.”
The online scheduling has helped with so many scheduling issues — but it can’t solve them entirely, I guess. I have “window shoppers” now — people who book a fancy full set some time off in the future, only to cancel or reschedule right on the edge of that 24-hour notice requirement, often rescheduling off into the future again, to reschedule again as soon as the next date approaches.
I guess I can always change the cancellation requirement, or I can prevent these people from self-booking. Or I can send “are you really coming” e-mails to shame them into realizing that, yes, I do notice the constant rescheduling.

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