[Updated] How can I enforce cancellation fees for missed appointments?
When clients don’t show up it can have a huge impact on your livelihood. As lovely as your customers are, most won’t spare a thought for your business if their priorities change and they can’t make an appointment.
It may be daunting adding in a deposit or cancellation policy, especially if you’re worried clients won’t want to make bookings as a result, but the addition ensures you and your team don’t face financial loss due to no shows.
Here’s six ways to enforce cancellation fees for missed appointments in your salon.
1. Have a non-refundable booking fee
This secures the client’s appointment. It could be a percentage of the treatment or the whole value, it’s up to you. If clients don’t comply with your policy then they forfeit the fee.
However, Kerry Beavis, owner of The Revive Company, warns “don't use the word 'deposit' because it suggests that it is refundable.”
2. Put a cancellation policy in place
Make it clear on your website, price list, social media and when taking a booking over the phone that you have a cancellation policy. It’s at your discretion how far in advance clients need to cancel but anywhere from 24 to 72 hours is advisable.
“If the client cancels their appointment within your policy’s time frame, allow them to transfer the booking fee across to their next treatment or refund them.” suggests Beavis. “If they cancel after the time your policy states, then they lose their booking fee and will need to pay it again when they make their next appointment.”
3. Make use of your booking software's special features
“We decided to opt for a salon software system called Phorest.” shares Misia Smith, founder of Soothe Luxury Skincare & Spa.
“It's a beneficial tool which allows us to set up many automated features, including online deposits when booking via our website or app. Clients agree to terms during the booking process and provide card details which we can charge if they don't show up.”
Fresha has also launched a deposits feature, which sees that the deposit paid by the client is deducted from their bill following their service, and in the event of a late cancellation or no-show, the deposit is retained by the salon to protect them from a loss of income.
4. Send SMS and email reminders
“You could argue that it’s not your responsibility to manage clients’ diaries, but a quick text or phone call can help reduce no-shows considerably,” says Beavis.
“It’s also your chance to potentially upgrade a treatment with an add on.”
5. Set up alerts to spot repeat offenders
“We set up alerts for our no-shows, and if they try to book again, we can decide whether to accept their booking with a 100% deposit.” shares Smith.
“If that client wants the appointment, they will not mind paying upfront. If they are argumentative, you have to ask yourself, is this the type of client you want?”
6. Create a rule that serial offenders can only book in on the same day
Remember that clients can’t control every aspect of their lives, and sometimes have to cancel with little to no warning.
“Sometimes clients will have to work late or their children are sick, so be mindful of this.” says Beavis.
“However, if you have a client who constantly cancels last minute, tell them they can only book in on the same day due to their busy schedule. That way they won’t be charged if they can’t make the appointment.”
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