Put An End to No-Shows and Cancellations!

Spa Canada

January 2011

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Put An End To No-Shows & Cancellations!

Consistently Practice A No Fail Process That Will Address This Serious Challenge To Your Spa

Spa clients who are no-shows or who cancel appointments at the last minute cost beauty professionals thousands of dollars each year, in addition to lost time, energy and frustration. Consider what is causing the breakdown resulting in this serious issue for spa professionals? Not educating clients on what we expect, having no consequence to clients when they do not keep appointments, fearing that you’ll lose clientele and money if you confront clients and poor business planning all contribute to this critical challenge. Lauren Gartland is the founder of Inspiring Champions, a business training and coaching company working in the professional beauty industry. Gartland regularly instructs spa beauty professionals on how to create a no fail process to overcome these common business obstacles.

Gartland shares, “No-shows and cancellations are costing you more than just money. Consider what it is costing you in your life to not have boundaries or use business systems? If you have no-shows and cancellations in your spa 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.” Remember that whatever your clients’ habits are, you have allowed them to occur. Be aware that it is not up to the client, it is up to you to create empowering habits. Gartland implements the following proven four step system to end no-shows for good.

No-shows and
cancellations are
costing you more
than just money.

Implement Policies

The first step to your new spa 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!’ Gartland says, “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 spa client when another client could have been served. Your clients are not in control of your life and business, you are.”

Make Courtesy Calls A Priority

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.

Give One Opportunity To Miss

Of course, if the guest has an actual emergency, then you may waive the policy at your discretion. Always give each guest at least 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.’ Gartland says, “Keep emotions out of it, it is not personal. Give options and solutions and plant seeds for future success.”

Enforce Your Policies

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! If clients miss a second appointment, personally call them to clarify the situation. As the business owner or manager, you will need to do this yourself and not the front desk. If clients complain when you explain you will need to charge them, cite the opportunity they have already had to miss one appointment. Say, “Back on (state the date), you had to cancel at the last minute. We discussed at that time that if it did happen again we would have to charge you for the missed service. I would absolutely love to reschedule your appointment, but we will have to charge you this time for the missed service.”

If the client still continues to protest, share the steps that your business took to prevent the missed appointment. Explain that you had your 24 hour cancellation notice posted in the salon, did give the client a 72 hour courtesy call and did let the client know when the last appointment was booked about your new cancellation policy. Ask if there was anything else you could have done to support not having this happen again? Say, “In order for us to move forward with our working relationship; we did give you one opportunity to not get charged and you did agree that if it happened again we would charge you. This is a business and we will need to charge for the missed service; so what would you like to do in order to move forward?” Gartland shares, “It is important that you assure your clients that you do hear and understand what they are saying. Communicate that you know that circumstances arise for everyone where appointments are missed. Yet you must clarify that your time is important and that you are running a business.”

Pre-Book Your Spa Clients!

Finally, make pre-booking guests a priority. This will help to create good habits as well as to discourage clients from trying to squeeze in last minute appointments, forcing you to change your schedule. If the clients are pre-booked, then they become conditioned to coming in regularly and are much less likely to not show. Gartland says, “Pre-booking is the best way to educate your clients and think about solutions in advance. You are losing 20 to 30 percent in revenue by not prebooking appointments. Additionally, when you can’t fit in a client, let them know that pre-booking their appointments will solve this challenge in the future.”

Whatever your clients’ habits are, you have allowed them to continue and it is up to you to create new, empowering ones. Using structured business systems and implementing sound policies will set you and your business up to win!

Inspiring Champions is a business and coaching company offering live training camps, coaching and mentoring services, webinars, audio tapes and educational resources. For more information call 800-496-9305 or visit www.InspiringChampions.com.
Jenny Hogan is the Media Director at Marketing Solutions, Inc., a full-service marketing, advertising and PR agency specializing in the professional beauty business. For more information, contact 703-359-6000, visit www.MktgSols.com or send an email to MktgSols@MktgSols.com.