One of the most common complaints we get when speaking with salon and spa owners is client ‘no-shows’. We’ve all been there… a client calls to make an expensive, time-consuming treatment with you, you prepare for their appointment and have even had to turn away other business.
The day of their appointment comes only to see them canceling 15 minutes beforehand. Even worse, is the number of complaints we get for clients that just don’t arrive without even calling. This kind of behavior is rude, disrespectful of your time and expertise, and it costs you money!
Typically, these clients fall into 3 categories:
- Clients that call at the last minute to cancel
- Clients that arrive late
- Clients that don’t arrive at all
The good news is that you are not alone. It happens to the best of the best, and it’s a problem that every salon occasionally has to deal with. Thankfully, there are ways to help eliminate (or drastically reduce) the number of no-shows you have:
Setting up the groundwork
It’s always best to think proactively and stop a problem before it starts. To do that, you should have a clear policy in place for handling problem clients before you need to use it. Make sure your policy is posted on your web page, Facebook page, and online bookings page and that your clients have read and understand it. Then, stick to it! It may be difficult to turn away a client who shows up late, but if you don’t enforce your policy it becomes meaningless. If you say on your website that you’ll refuse service to anyone who is more than 15 minutes late, then do it. Typically you only have to enforce the policy once for the client to realize you mean business and start showing up on time.
It’s also important to understand that you teach your clients how to behave. If you don’t respect their time, you can’t expect them to place any value on yours. When you’re always running late, either because you’re doing services on clients who showed up late or you’re overbooking your schedule, then you’re telling them it’s OK for them to be late as well since you probably won’t be ready anyway.
Additionally, you should always make sure you have the correct contact information on file so that you can confirm their appointments in advance, or follow up if they don’t show up for their booking. Even regular clients sometimes change their phone numbers, so ask if it needs to be updated when they rebook their next appointment. SalonBridge lets you update your client email address and mobile number when making an appointment, so it couldn’t be easier.
Once you have your policies in place, almost everyone agrees that the next step to preventing no-shows is to have an appointment confirmation procedure worked out. While many salons prefer to make confirmation phone calls or send personal WhatsApp messages, not everyone has the time to do this. Do you really want to sit after hours and make confirmation calls, or send messages manually to every one of your clients?
Since most salons don’t have the time or resources to devote to calling a person repeatedly in order to speak to them directly, an automated confirmation SMS and email can lower your stress level while increasing your revenue.
SalonBridge lets you configure your client notifications and reminders to send out SMS messages and emails when an appointment is made, changed, or canceled. We also let you set up automated appointment reminders that get sent to the client the day before.
Getting a Commitment
A growing trend in the salon and spa industry is charging clients a booking fee, or deposit, before their appointment to secure their booking. While this is used predominantly in the larger spa groups, there is no reason why even the smallest salon cannot implement this policy.
SalonBridge gives our clients access to this in 2 ways:
- During the online booking process: By adding a credit card payment option at the end of the online booking process, clients are required to pay in advance for their treatment. The funds are settled directly into your bank account, and the payment is reflected on the client account in SalonBridge automatically.
- By sending a secure invoice: Once the booking has been made, SalonBridge lets salons send their clients a white-labelled invoice that your client can view online. This gets emailed directly to your client and offers both EFT and credit card payment options. This feature is great for requesting a 50% deposit with your clients.
After the Missed Appointment
If despite all of your efforts to confirm the appointment, a client still doesn’t show up, it’s important to contact them. This accomplishes a few things: first, you can make sure they’re all right and show them that you care for their well-being. Clients are less likely to no-show in the future if they feel they have a relationship with their service provider. You can help nurture that personal connection just by checking in on them. Secondly, it can help diffuse any embarrassment they might feel if they simply forgot their appointment, especially when you tell them “I’m just happy you’re OK.” Then, after you’ve reassured them, you have an opportunity to reschedule the appointment and not miss out on the potential for future revenue. However, if you don’t make that call, chances are you’ll lose the client forever.
Even with all of our confirmations and safeguards, life can swing out of control and appointments get missed. In those situations, it’s advisable to proceed with care and compassion rather than trying to shame clients into good behavior. Otherwise, you could drive away good people who just happen to be going through a rough patch in life.
Occasionally you will run across someone who repeatedly misses appointments no matter what you do. You can try to counteract the effect they have on your revenue by not allowing them to pre-book appointments. Instead, have them call on the day they would like to come in to see if there’s any availability. If you rarely have last-minute openings available in your schedule, try putting them in at the end of the day. Then, if they don’t show up, at least you can head home early. When their habits become too disruptive to your business, it’s time to let them go.
It’s never an easy conversation to have, and it’s better not to have it face-to-face in order to avoid a scene at your salon. Give them a call or drop them an e-mail, and simply tell them you believe their needs would be better met at a different salon. If you’re able, recommend a nearby place that has walk-in availability. Be polite, but firm. Remember that they aren’t just wasting your time, they’re costing you money.
Remember that whatever policies and procedures you ultimately put in place, the best way to prevent no-shows and late arrivals is through outstanding customer service and quality. If you are known for the amazing work you do and the way you respect both your time, you’ll build a clientele that is loyal and respectful.
If you want to find out more about how to avoid no-shows, feel free to contact us.