We’d all love to eliminate the problem of no-shows and late cancellations – but realistically that’s not going to happen. The best we can aim for as beauty and massage business owners is to reduce them as much as possible and look at why clients cancel, and how we can retain them or get them back in the clinic or spa.
The first step to tackling cancellations and disappearing clients is monitoring them. Do you have software in place to spot trends or repeat offenders? Most dedicated spa and business software will have this function somewhere. Run a missed appointment report and look for patterns like common days or times when people are more likely to drop out, or any team members who get more no-shows (could be that they are more inexperienced, or more expensive.)
These, and last-minute cancellations, are the most irritating. Don’t risk clients forgetting their appointment as this is one major reason for unexplained no-shows. People are busy and have a lot to remember. Deal with this by;
- Giving out appointment cards when a client books – most clients will pop it straight into their purse for a reminder.
- Sending text messages – a decent business software system will offer this option. They are easy to set up and can save you money on missed appointments through sheer forgetfulness. Send it 24-48 hours before the appointment.
- Calling – this could be something you try for repeat no-shows and cancellations, and even first-time clients. Give them a courtesy call around 48 hours before the appointment. If they don’t pick up, leave a message. Then send a text just in case!
Other reasons for dropping off the radar
We’re assuming that the clients are forgetful, and often that’s the case. Sometimes there are deeper reasons for cancellation and not rebooking. They may have found a cheaper or better service. In which case, your task is to place your business as a better option, if you want to get the client back in the appointment books.
Most people don’t make a big deal of bad service at the time, they prefer to just not return. We’ve all had meals in restaurants that we pretend are just fine when we really didn’t enjoy them – we just never go back. Make sure that your clients know they can talk to you or your staff members any time they are unhappy with your service. This gives you an opportunity make things better before a client resolves never to darken your door again. Coach your team about how to handle complaints and concerns; your no-show rate will reduce significantly.
Make it easy to reschedule
Some clients may need to cancel or reschedule an appointment for very good reasons but don’t get around to making the call. Make it easy for them – get online booking software.
Online booking means a client can easily let you know if their plans change in their own time and find a new slot easily. Yes it makes it easy to cancel – but it’s just as easy to rebook.
If your client doesn’t show up
Call the client as soon as you can and ask if everything is OK – especially when it’s a regular. If they’ve simply forgotten, you can get them straight back in. If they’ve had something else come up, sympathize but remind them of your cancellation policy (you do have one, right?) You can waive any charges for emergencies obviously but it’s a good idea to mention it at this stage.
Clients who regularly cancel appointments at the last minute or don’t show up even when you text and call aren’t worth the booking time. Fire them and don’t chase their business.
Regular clients can be given leeway – so don’t go overboard if a long-term, good client has to cancel at the last minute once in a while or forgets an appointment. You’re more likely to keep them on the books if you show a bit of understanding and don’t get straight in there with your cancellation fee request.
Why aren’t your clients showing up?
If you’ve analyzed where the problems are, you will probably see that in most cases, a ‘deliberate’ missed appointment is something to do with the experience the client has had in your establishment. Ask yourself if the client was happy:
- With the cost of their treatment?
- With the results they had at their last visit
- The customer service they received at the last visit?
Make your spa or massage center a welcoming place that can always be relied on to provide great service, make it easy for people to book, rebook and mention any concerns they have. You should find that the no-show and cancellation situation improves.