First, it is important to really have the viewpoint in ALL your dealings with clients … that you are a service based industry and customer service is KEY to your success and expansion.
Why do people cancel and no show?
If you understand fully exactly why something happens, that will open the door to being able to handle it.
Clients cancel and no show simply because they can.
Thus you have to shape your business around this fact, and change that viewpoint in consumers and clients.
It is very simple to do as well.
Here are some key things to implement into your business which will cut down and potentially fully prevent cancelations and no shows.
HAVE BUSINESS POLICIES
1. Formulate, clearly state and make it well known what you business policies are.
Definition of Policy: A set of ideas, terms or plans, that clearly define what to do in a certain situation by a person, group, business or organisation.
You don’t have to have lots of legal terms, conditions and hard to understand comments in your policies. You just have to state what your expectations are of a client, what you as a business will offer and give in return and any penalties that will be applied if the terms are not fulfilled.
It is very important not to add lots of ‘harshness’ to your policies and communicate in a manner that you yourself would like to be communicated too. Politlness is key.
Too often I see Facebook posts of lash technicians handling their clients through rudeness, or making their policies with too many terms and conditions that don’t take into consideration what would ALSO work for the client too.
The policy has to work for all parties, not just you.
Your policy should include (but not exclusively) the following;
- Communicate the expectations you have of them as a client.
- Communicate what you will give them as a provider.
- Make sure you clearly define the exact time frame which they need to give to change their appointment.
- The consequences and penalties of not coming to their appointment or changing it after the defined time frame. (This could be a charge, a percentage of the monetary value of the appointment etc)
- State all credit card charging terms and conditions (see below for more explanation on this).
2. Have some leeway in your policies but don’t be a sucker.
Emergencies do actually happen. A lot of our clients are mothers and kids do get sick. Legs do get broken. Gastro does happen.
There can be legitimate reasons to not making an appointment. So allow for this with your clients.
A great idea is in your policy, to have one (just one) ‘emergency no penalties apply cancellation’ for every client. Kind of like a 'Get out of Jail Free Card'. They can cash this in at anytime, but only once. After that, every other ‘emergency’ will have a penalty which is clearly stated in your policy.
Then if the client does cash in on there one time use only ‘no penalties apply cancellation’, make sure you communicate to them openly & clearly when they do cash this in, telling them again that they can only do this once per your policies.
If it is a true emergency, any charges you take from them for breaking your policy, actually won’t matter. You don’t think about that sort of thing when you have a true emergency. By having this clause you will actually be minimising the chances that they are just hungover, sleeping in, forgot etc.
This is also a great way to weed out clients who don’t actually have an emergency too!
3. Make your policies well known and easy to access
Your policies should be clearly stated on your website and then given again when making a booking.
A link can be given in your confirmation texts and emails (we will get to that more later) and when the client books.
When the client arrives to their appointment talk to them again about your policies.
The more you communicate about something, the more that it is known about, the less upsets that will create for the future.
Social media is for marketing and promoting your services to new and exisiting clients. It is not the place to be putting your terms and conditions and policies.
HAVE AN ONLINE BOOKING SYSTEM
There are so many pro’s to having an online booking system.
I have heard some lash tech’s state that they are too small to justify an online booking system.
But I think you need to change your viewpoint a little on this.
Think big. Implement your business systems while you are small, that will help you grow to the size you want to be. Act like you are big and you will grow bigger.
Also with so many options of different online booking systems available, it is actually not a huge expense and can be as little as $50 per month.
KEY PRO of an online booking system… they send out automated texts and emails to remind and confirm appointments! You can word the texts/emails yourself, you can say when they go out and how often they go out. This WILL prevent cancelations and no shows.
It is recommended that you send out at least 2-3 reminders and confirmations before the clients appointment. And send it to both text AND email at the same time. Send out one confirmation at least 3-4 days before their appointment. Make sure you include in the confirmation a link to your policies on cancelling & changing their appointment.
Remember the more available you make your policy, the less upsets you will create for the future.
Then send out another reminder 48 hours before their appointment, again reminding them of your policy on cancelling.
And then lastly 24 hours before their appointment saying this is their last chance to cancel or change their appointment before cancelation penalties will apply.
Here are some pro’s to having an online booking system:
- You take a deposit when they book. If they no show or cancel it is not out of your pocket. It will also cut down dramatically on your no shows and cancelations.
- Charge an amount of deposit that has both value to you and the client, but don’t go over the top or too little. Typically 25-50% of the appointment cost is standard.
- You can adjust the schedule (appointments available) to suit your own schedule. If you are going away on holiday, or your kid is sick etc, you don’t have to text 100 clients informing them of this. You just change the available times on the schedule.
- You save YOUR time. You are not having to answer a million text messages and emails, trying to schedule clients. Your time is extremely valuable. You can instead be servicing clients, doing more marketing, spending time with your kids etc.
- Statistically 65-70% of clients make appointments outside of office hours. You don’t want to be spending your time during your dinner answering emails and text messages.
- It is easier for clients to book online. They can see what appointments suit them and then just book it. It gives them options.
- It is a great way to up-sell extra services and products to your clients. You can increase your income with little to no effort from you. Because they are on your website etc, why not as they are making the booking have a pop up or added note telling that you also do waxing or tinting or whatever else you may do. You can also tell them about product as they are booking. For example having a pop up as they book saying ‘Statistically customers who use aftercare products have longer retention. Use this code to receive a 20% discount off all aftercare products during your appointment”.
- It collects customers names and addresses which you can later do direct marketing too.
- It can give a link and state your business policies.
- Taking a deposit through an online booking system also makes the client commit to you and the appointment. It sorts out the flakers and unreliable clients too.
As an end note - google what your rules and regulations are in your State/Country regarding storing peoples credit card numbers. Typically you can’t. However if you use an online booking system, you are not actually not personally storing it, they are and you don’t have access to the numbers (the numbers are encrypted and you can’t actually see them.)
But do check first because from State to State and country to country it does differ a little.
Don’t ever charge a persons credit card without their permission. If you have clearly stated and given your policies to a client, then this is their legal ‘permission’.