How To Reduce

How To Reduce ‘No Shows’

 

Cancellations can be very frustrating and you probably have to deal with them regularly. You take time out of your day to help a customer and make an appointment for them, and you may have disappointed someone else by being booked up, only to have that same person cancel last minute. Today I will share some inside tips with you of just how you can best prevent this in the future. 

 

# 1 - The cost of a cancellation

Firstly I will explain what the impact of cancellations can mean for the turnover of your salon. Many beauticians underestimate these costs. Take some time to really calculate the cost of what a number of these ‘no shows’ add up to. Let me give you an example.

Suppose you have a beauty salon and ask an average of $60 for a treatment and you have 4 cancellations per week; totalling $240 lost revenue every week. If you calculate that per month, you will come to an amount of more than $1000 and a missed annual turnover of $12,480. When you realize that your other costs (overhead) continue as normal (renting the space, electricity, etc.) then it is painful to realize that this huge lost revenue could have been easily avoided. 

The above calculation is just an example. Calculate the costs of your salon yourself. Then try to analyze whether you can observe certain trends.

To help you on your way, you can ask yourself the following questions:

  • Do you have many cancellations on certain days or during certain periods, for example between 3pm-5pm?
  • Does every colleague get the same number of cancellations or is there a difference between them?
  • What conclusions can you make from the trends observed?

 

# 2 - Remind the client of the appointment in time

This seems very simple, and honestly it is. However, it is often forgotten or not an ongoing practice in many salons, but it is very effective. On average, there are three common ways to remind a customer of a booked appointment: 

  1. Appointment cards.
  2. Confirmation by SMS, email, Whatsapp (if given permission to contact through this platform) or Facebook (if booked through Facebook).
  3. Confirmation by telephone.

Don’t be shy about using all of these forms of confirmation. If you do not get a response from one approach, you will get one from the other. This way, you can be sure that you’ve done everything in your power to prevent this customer from forgetting their appointment or cancelling enough in advance so you can replace them. If you get a solid confirmation only a few hours before the appointment then you do not need to ask again.

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# 3 - Good business to customer relationships reduce cancellations

Again, this may seem obvious but it is often underestimated. When you or your colleague have a strong, personal relationship with the customer, then they will not purposely want to disappoint you and they will want to act with your best interest in mind. It is more unlikely and difficult to disappoint a someone you consider a friend rather than a just a stranger.

# 4 - Respect goes both ways

If you take the time to get to know your customers and show a general interest in them, then more often than not they will reflect this behaviour. Simple customs such as making sure you or your colleague is on time for an appointment, or better yet be early so you can have a quick chat and orientation before hand. 

Rewards for loyalty also go a long way. These don’t need to be big gestures, but small signs of your appreciation such as verbally thanking a customer for being on time, offering them a small treat or a coffee, or offering them loyalty cards (a stamped card that offers something free after a certain number of appointments, for example a free manicure after 6 sessions).  

# 5 - Provide a clear cancellation policy

Many beauty salons tend to steer away from cancellation policies in fear of offending customers. However, as long as you are clear from the start that there is a cancellation policy and what it entails then the customer can not fault your business for not being aware of it. If the customer is fully aware that there will be a cost associated with a cancellation then they are more than likely to stick with the appointment or atleast cancel well enough in advance. Be sure to display the policy clearly on your website, the appointment card, around the salon and explain it every single time before you or a colleague books an appointment. 

You can ensure that your policy is fair so your customers do not get upset if they forget that they agreed to it. For example, you can remind your customers about their appointment 48 hours beforehand, so they have the option to change the date or time if they need to. Here you can explain to them that if they decide to cancel any later than 24 hours beforehand then they will face a 50% charge in compliance with the cancellation policy. 

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# 6 -  Keep the message clear

Give the customer a clear explanation of what the policy entails. For example:
'We understand that due to unforeseen circumstances customers sometimes have to postpone or cancel an appointment. We will not charge anything until 24 hours before the appointment. However, if there is a cancellation within 24 hours before the appointment, we will charge 50% of the price in connection with costs incurred. '

Make sure that you and your team have a clear understanding of what the policy is and how it should be communicated to the customer.

# 7 - Working with down payments and deposits

This can be a little difficult to implement with your regular customers as it could come across as impersonal and a little forceful. However, you could always simply begin working with deposits with your new customers, especially if the cost of their booked  treatment is going to cost a lot or take up a lot of your time. Also, if a customer is going to come in for a series of treatments (for example laser hair removal), then a partial down payment would work well here as the customer would need to come in numerous times and it may be difficult for them to stick with certain dates and times that far in advance. If you are a very busy salon then your appointments will need to be planned months in advance. You can not afford to have customers miss appointments and not be able to fill that lost time with other customers on your waiting list.

Author

Niels Mekelenkamp

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