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How to deal with cancellations

What to do: when your client cancels
Your week’s off to a good start and then out of the blue a client cancels, and it’s not for the first time. Missed appointments can add up to thousands of pounds being lost. But how do you keep the client without losing your cool – or your cash?

Create a cancellation policy
We get it, cancellations can be frustrating, especially if they’re last minute. But while there’s nothing you can do about them needing to cancel, you can implement a process to try and lessen the blow. A cancellation policy lets your client know that if they cancel within a certain time period, different penalties might arise. 

For instance, a client who cancels with less than 24 hours and has paid a deposit, should expect to lose that deposit. Or you could create a policy that means cancelling within 24 hours means the client must pay 50% or even 100% of the service fee. This is your policy – you can be as stringent as you like. But, you must make it clear. 

Let your client know about the cancellation policy
There’s no point going to great lengths to create a policy and it’s sat somewhere on your social media highlights or in a paragraph on your website. Before they even book in for one of your services, the client must be told what will happen if they cancel at the last minute. 

You can also give them a sliding scale – for instance if they cancel a week ahead, you might be happy enough to refund the deposit or allow them to move it to another appointment date.

Ask if they can reschedule
This depends on the reason for them cancelling; if it’s a medical emergency or family issue, it’s best to just allow your client to get on with things and tell them to reach out when they’re ready. But if it’s just a case of them running late or they just can’t make it, you could ask them to reschedule. 

Of course, this depends on your schedule too – if you can fit them in, and they’ve told you within a 24-hour window, you could try and ask them to come in later. Working things out this way means that the client feels listened to and you are able to retain them long-term without having to be tough on them for letting you down. Ultimately you want this client to only ever have positive things to say about you, no matter how far they might stretch your patience. So always endeavour to stay fair and flexible when you can.

Choose your words carefully 
Life is full of ups and downs and of course your client has to put themselves first. But this doesn’t mean that by cancelling once, they should be encouraged to cancel last minute again. Keep it short and sweet; thank them for letting you know but point them to the cancellation policy. 

Respectfully detach from a client who’s a repeat offender
We all have last minute dramas and situations that truly do mean we need to cancel an appointment, but if you’re noticing it’s always the same client, then it might be time to politely ask them to find a pro that would suit their more random schedule.

How to avoid cancellations

Send text reminders
A reminder means your client really can’t come to you with any excuses for cancelling. Sending them a text 24 hours or even 48 hours ahead can make all the difference. Emails work too but a text is far more immediate. Also, if you’re working with an online booking system such as Timely or Fresha, they are enabled to send reminders on your behalf.

Work on client loyalty

It should go without saying that you should treat every client with the best attention you can give; you want them to keep coming back. But on top of how you treat them, think about anything else you can offer. A loyalty scheme is a great way to reward clients for always showing up and choosing you. After an appointment, send them a thank you email or text – it’s these little things that go a long way in showing your client they’re more than just an appointment. 

Try a package deal
For services that require repeat visits, or for clients that like their nails doing once a month or more, ask them to pay upfront for a bulk package. The fact they’ve already paid up means they’re less likely to cancel for any non-serious reasons.

Need more advice? Check out these useful blogs.
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