How to Deal With Client No-Shows & Last-Minute Cancellations
Posted on July 09 2018
Emergencies, last-minute conflicts ... they happen to the best of us. Sometimes, it seems like they only ever happen to clients! That's why it's important to know exactly what to do in the event that clients don't show up or call in a last-minute appointment cancellation.
We've got a few tips for you on how to handle these emergencies right when they happen — and what you can do to minimize their impacts moving forward.
IN THE MOMENT:
Ask if they can reschedule their conflicting appointment.
Within reason, politely ask the client if it would be in any way possible for them to reschedule the other activity that’s keeping them from getting to their lash appointment.
Obviously, don’t ask them to reschedule emergencies like sick family members, medical emergencies, car trouble and the like, but it can’t hurt to ask if it’s something relatively minor, like a forgotten lunch date with a friend.
Oftentimes, simply asking them will make them realize that, as a matter of fact, they are able to change their other obligation.
You can say something along the lines of: “Sarah, I know how important it is for you to get your fill done to maintain your extensions, and since we’re within my 24-hour rescheduling window, I’m holding this time for you. Do you think it’s possible for you to switch around your other obligation so that you’re able to make your appointment with me?”
Remind them of your cancellation policy.
Remind them that they will be paying 50% - 100% of the service price even if they don’t show up. It’s funny how many people can suddenly make their appointment when they realize they still have to pay! (Side note, if you don't currently have a late cancellation policy, we strongly recommend implementing one to protect you and your income!).
Ask if they can come in later that day.
This way, you can still receive the income you had planned for the day. Politely inform them that in this case, you are doing them a favor by making an exception and not charging the full fee for the missed session.
You can say something like this: “Sarah, I do have a time window later this evening that I may be able to fit you in. Would you be able to make this time?”
If all else fails, see if there’s anyone they can send in their place.
Make it clear that it pains you to charge for a service they do not receive. If they are able to find someone to replace them, not only do you get to keep the income from this session, you’ll also be getting it later when the client does presumably come in — doubling the money you were originally going to make!
“Sarah, I sincerely do not want to charge you for an appointment that you are unable to make. Do you have a family member, friend or coworker who might want the slot? This way, at least one person will be able to make use of the time you had booked.”
Use the empty time.
Worst comes to worst and you’re unable to find a way to fill the time, use it to your (and your clients’ future) benefit! Run some errands, respond to client inquiries, practice making fans — or be kind to yourself and give yourself a break until your next client.
TO AVOID IN THE FUTURE:
Start a client waitlist.
Keep a short list of clients who may originally have wanted to come in that day, but who you had to push back to see. It will give you people to contact in the event of a no-show, and may make another client very happy!
Send appointment reminders.
Sending 24-hour appointment reminders can save both you and the client a lot of hassle. Use a booking system like Acuity to both keep track of your schedule and set appointment reminder texts and emails.
Set prepaid appointments.
We’ve all had that client that hasn’t shown up multiple times. They’re lovely, super sweet, often tip generously despite — or because of — their erraticism. That being said, they’ve still been a no-show three of their last five appointments this year.
It might be good practice to begin pre-charging these clients for their appointments. How you decide to carry this out is up to you. For clients who are no-shows only once, you may require a 50% deposit next time at the time of booking. For clients who are no-shows twice or more, you may require 100% of the fee.
Some salons take down a client’s card information and charge a 100% no-show fee. Implementing and being upfront about such a practice will ensure that clients take their own irresponsibility more seriously and actually show up to their appointments on time.
Have them book by contacting you directly.
It’s hard to gauge what a new client will be like when they’re, well, new. If your salon uses an online appointment system, consider requiring first-timers to book by calling you or the business, so you can directly inform them of your cancellation policy, procedure and terms and conditions.
The benefits of a direct booking are twofold — you can also start to get a sense of their personality before they set foot in your salon.
We do encourage you to keep using a booking system for even after the client has called (appointment reminders are extremely important!). Make your booking policy explicit on your website!
Last-minute cancellations and no-shows are disappointing on several fronts, but with a little preparation and by following these tips, you can minimize their impact — and even turn a stressful situation into a profitable one.