10 Tips to reduce no shows and last minute cancellations

1. Develop a cancellation policy

Did you know you could be losing thousands per year from no shows and last minute cancellations?

Most of you will have a cancellation policy but rarely do you stick to it. Why? Because you think it will annoy or scare away your clients. When in fact, the only person losing out from no shows or last minute cancellations is you!

The best thing to do is have a very simple set of steps that are undeniably easy to follow.

What your policy may look like:

  • You allow your clients to reschedule appointments up until 24 hours before. This shows flexibility and goodwill to your customers.
  • You charge a fee for cancellations that are within the 24 hour time period set. This will be added onto their service should they book with you again. This may be £10-20 for cancellations when late notice is received, and the amount should be increased for complete no-shows. This will be sure to deter no-shows and is fair and reasonable to clients that respect your time.
  • Charging the no-show fee above and enforcing a deposit for future appointments if the client has previously cancelled or not shown up.
  • Firing clients that do not show up twice within a year. This is disrespectful to your business, and to your time.
  • Getting new clients, specifically those not referred by current, great clients, to pay a deposit.

Once you have chosen your specific policy that works for you and your business, make sure your policy is displayed for all to see!

  • You should have an entire page on your website dedicated to your cancellation policy
  • Display your policy on the wall in your waiting area/treatment area
  • Add your policy to email communications
  • Post about your policy on social media
  • Add a link to your policy on text message/mobile communications
  • Confirm verbally with any new clients and repeat offenders

Now you have your carefully planned cancellation policy in place and displayed for all your clients, what can you do to make sure it’s effectively implemented?

2. Get confirmation

Call each client the day before their appointment to confirm they are still able to attend. Or to save time, automate texts, reminding clients of their appointment and offer a response that allows cancellations (some people don’t like letting people down face to face/on the phone.

3. Take a deposit

Taking a deposit can feel daunting at first, but securing deposits means there will be less risk of no shows, and you will also be compensated for your time should the unfortunate event occur. Adding a deposit scheme also adds an element of value to yourself or your business; it demonstrates that your time and expertise is worthy of needing such up front measures.

Top tip: Radiate confidence, and talk as a matter of fact. Your services are worthy, your time is precious and you are an expert that demands your craft is highly valued.

If a client questions your deposit scheme, simply and calmly explain this is the only way to reserve their chosen time with you. (No need to explain about losing money or any other nitty gritty).

4. Stay strong with your cancellation policy

This is usually the biggest hurdle! Crumbling when somebody breaks the policy, you become fearful that enforcing your measures will scare away clients. But, clients that break policies are not respecting your time and do you really want them as a client?

You will know when you feel like clients are wasting your time or when they are genuine. Of course there are always reasons and circumstances that none of us can control where we need to cancel late or not show up. Follow your gut, but stay firm and consistent too!

Making exceptions for very frequent customers may be the only exception for this rule as our best customers are our VIPs, however after some slack, make sure you enforce that this is only for a single time before further measures are to be taken.

5. Prepay

When you’ve paid for something, there is no way you will not show up!

I can already hear you questioning why would anybody prepay for an appointment, but how about giving clients a reason to! Offer 10% off when an appointment is prepaid for example, or throw in a free service such as a blow dry.

This strategy helps to eliminate no shows, builds loyalty with customers, and gets clients booking in more frequently.

6. Do some research

Is there a particular day or time that is more common for no-shows or cancellations?

Ask your clients when is the best time for them, perhaps your opening hours are out of reach for many.

Ask about clients jobs when they are in your chair, getting an idea of their potential schedule e.g. 9-5 is a great indicator of when is best for their appointments.

Knowing your clients is critical to reduce no shows and last minute cancelations!

7. Your schedule

After carrying out your research, you may consider changing your schedule to match more closely with your clients if this works for you.

However, once you set schedule that meets your own needs and the needs of your clients, it is important to stick to this. You need healthy boundaries with your clients, and they need to know they can not dictate your schedule as and when they are free. Your time is precious and you set our the hours you are willing to share, these need to be respected.

8. Booking

If an appointment is taken over the phone and you hear any hesitation in your clients voice over a time/date, offer another appointment. It is likely the client cannot do that time but will try to make it work i.e. be a likely cancellation later on. make sure your clients sound happy and confident they can attend.

Offer appointments as early as possible. schedule within a week or two where possible as clients that book far in advance tend to forget, or make clashing plans. This is very important with new clients that do not have loyalty with you yet. If another appointment comes up sooner elsewhere, they are likely to cancel.

Note: When you appear to be accommodating, and able to fit/squeeze people in as soon as possible, customers feel valued as if you are doing them a favour.

9. Personalisation

We all know personalisation is king! Remembering names, kids, events, holidays etc that your clients are attending is a great way to build your relationships. Of course you are not super man/woman and your brain can only hold so much, try some client notes! We know of a stylist that has a spreadsheet on her phone and she jots down key points and notes they have discussed in each session. When you client feels like you are taking and interest and can remember life events, they will feel special, and valued.

When you have greater relationships with clients there will be a significant reduction of no shows and cancellations.

More ways to stay in touch with clients and build on your relationship:

  • Use an email marketing service to update clients with news or offers (always personalise emails with names- this can be done automatically in programmes such as Mailchimp)
  • Send messages over holidays e.g. Merry Christmas and good wishes etc.
  • Personalise offers to clients e.g. a Birthday offer (Mailchimp and other email apps/platforms can automate these offers for you)

10. Praise Prasie Prasie

Nothing can reduce no shows and last minute cancellations like praising your clients for being fantastic.

When your clients show up early, or on time, always thank them and tell them they’re so great for always being so timely and respectful.

Offer your best customers rewards! Add a loyalty scheme where their 5th or 10th appointment is 50% off etc. Rewarding loyalty is appreciated and will ensure great communication and reduce any no shows/cancellations.

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We’d love to know if you’ve tried out any of our no shows and last minute cancelations tips!

Is there anything that we haven’t mentioned that you would like to share with the industry?

Let us know! Comment below, or send us message on Facebook or Instagram.