Earlier this week a successful salon owner asked me this question:
“I was wondering what your opinion is of cancellation charges for missed appointments?
On one hand charge them (even if they cancel/not turn up reasonably regularly) and they will probably not come back and you risk the lifetime profit from that client.
On the other hand don’t charge them and they are allowed to not respect your time (which is a bit of a personal raw nerve of mine) and they have no incentive to respect your time and business next time they are ‘asked to work late’.
I bet you would suggest ‘find clients who respect your time in future’… however I find in the recession customers are starting to take more of the ….as they now feel they have the upper hand over businesses as we should be desperate for their custom. What is your take on it?” Great question! A real challenge. And just like lady, this can drive me nuts – it can feel like a constant battle between wanting (sometimes needing) the business and yet not ending up like a ‘door mat’ being trampled on by time-wasters and people with less integrity than a ‘losing’ politican. Yet, it NEVER, EVER happens to me (and I’ll tell you why in a bit)…
But, today, I’m going to give you some REAL techniques you can use to dramatically reduce ‘no-shows’ AND increase client ‘compliance’.First off we’ll cover a few actions you can take. THEN, I’ll cover the way to stop it happening forever (or pretty much). Here we go (this is a kind of menu of things to try – I’ll flag up my favourites):
- HAVE a lateness and NO SHOW POLICY. Obvious yes – but you’d be amazed how many salons and spas don’t. What should your lateness policy be. Well, it depends a little on your type of salon/spa and clientele.
- This could be a minimum of five hours notice for cancellation (that allows for the people who wake up in the morning and realise they forgot to book the afternoon off).
- It could be a fine for not showing up. But this is very difficult to enforce and if you don’t enforce it clients will not respect it and you’ll loose credibility – NOT one of my favourites.
- For late shows you can ONLY offer them the time left in their appointment window. Say something like “Unfortunately, we only have ___ minutes left to the session. What areas would you like the focus to be on?”
- TAKE DEPOSITS (non-refundable) – This IS one of my favourites. Easy to implement and VERY effective. Not only do you pretty much ensure your client turns up but if they don’t you still make a little and have the chance to fill the slot. PLUS, taking deposits ‘weeds out’ a HUGE portion of the time-wasters. The people who casually book an appointment on Saturday morning with you before they call all the other salons in the area to see if they can do better… Size of the deposit of course depends on the treatment, service. I would NOT go any lower than £5.
- Don’t allow people to book appointments UNTIL they have had a consultation session with you AND either JOINED your ‘Health and Beauty Membership Program” (where they pay X amount every month for a certain set of treatments) OR they’ve paid the ‘JOINING FEE’ to even allow them to become a client of yours. This is a VERY powerful technique. It switches the power position from the client to you. People want what they can’t have and if client’s have to pay to even have access to your services then the best clients will want them more. And once they’ve paid then the likelihood of them not turning up is dramatically reduced…
- CALL CLIENTS prior to their appointment. This SHOULD be part of your marketing system anyway. But you or a staff member should call clients 24-48 hours before their appointment. Just making this call will dramatically reduce no shows.
Whatever policy you choose here are a few things you MUST DO:
- DISPLAY your policy clearly. On your appointment cards, on price lists, in your salon or spa reception area etc.
- EXPLAIN your policy in person with EVERY new client and remind ALL clients periodically.
- Make sure FULL details of your policy ARE included in your client welcome packs (and yes you MUST deliver client welcome packs).
- IF clients do NOT turn up you MUST call them. This at least diffuses embarrassment if there was a genuine mistake, gives you the chance to book them back in AND/OR ask if they know anyone who would be able to take their appointment. The likelihood is that person won’t be able to get top you in time BUT at least you’ll have a referral!!!
And FIRE YOUR CLIENTS If clients consistently abuse your policy then your response is simple. You SHOULD FIRE THEM. Say something like:
“Mrs Bloggs, I value your custom, you’ve spent a lot of money with me – which is nice. But I cannot afford for you to keep not showing up for appointments. So, I’m afraid if that happens once more then I recommend you find another salon or spa to serve you…” Following that – you’ll usually find they are never late again.
Here’s the ULTIMATE NO SHOW STOPPER And this is what I do (and I eluded to it earlier). Most salon and spa owners are so ‘desperate’ to attract and please clients that they kind of ‘roll-over’ and take anything their clients throw at them. This is a very ‘weak’ position. Instead you need to craft a position of POWER. Where clients HUNT you OUT. Are DESPERATE for you to serve them. Want YOU and NOBODY else. And in turn are so pleased to get an appointment wouldn’t miss it for the world. How do you create this position? Through marketing. Consider this.
- If YOU were the author of a best selling book on beauty – would client ‘hunt you out’?
- If YOU appeared on the BBC as a beauty consultant – would clients ‘hunt you out’?
- If YOU were the ONLY salon or spa who delivered OUSTSTANDING client care that had people talking about it all over town – would clients ‘hunt you out’?
- If YOU were the ONLY salon or spa endorsed by a local/national celebrity – would clients ‘hunt you out’?
And the answer is of course… The first 4 actions I listed at the top of this artice (take deposits etc) to combat no-shows and lateness are really ‘reactions to the problem’.
A MUCH better way to solve the problem is to NEVER have it in the first place.
And that comes through the ‘POWER POSITIONING’ I speak of above. And that comes through
MARKETING. Marketing that positions your salon/spa head and shoulders above the competition as THE place people talk about and the ONLY place you clients and prospects want to go…
Good luck! Henry Baker.
Copyright Magnetic Salons 2009