Stop The Leaks!
If you’ve been in practice for any length of time, you’ve probably had a client scheduled in your calendar, and … they never come in. These people who do this are what we lovingly refer to as a ‘No-Show’.
You’re all ready, and waiting on them, you’re maybe wondering if it was a mistake and you wrote it down wrong or did they just forget… you wonder if you should call them, or wait longer…
Or maybe you’ve had clients who are running late, so they call and tell you they won’t be to you for (10, 15, 30 minutes…), and then they proceed to ask if you’ll be able to give them their full session time…. YIKES!
The third scenario – They simply call to announce they can’t come in for their appointment that is scheduled for later that day. (Lovingly referred to as “Same Day Cancellations”.)
What’s a girl (or boy) to do?
This post is the first in my new 3-part series to help you manage the common occurrences we all struggle with when we work in a service business and have appointments with clients.
Part 1- “No Shows”
Part 2- “I’m running late; can I still get my full session?”
Part 3-“Same Day Cancellations”
Over these three posts, I’ll be sharing my exact words (scripts) that we use in our wellness center. My experience with coaching, is often practitioners get stuck on what to say and how to say it, for fear of coming across rude, or pushy, and not wanting to lose the client, for good possibly.
My hope by modeling our approach is it will help you know what to say, and more importantly, how to handle the situation as gracefully as possible, where you stay in integrity, honor the client, and create and keep boundaries where you stay in control of your business. (I refer to this concept as “Who’s Running Your Biz?”.)
I did a brief FaceBook survey:
Many of you know you have lost money from these missed appointments. In fact, Laura Allen, educator, and clinic owner told me she figured her clinic lost around $8000 in the first year she was operating her business just from the visits that never happened!
When you set an appointment in your calendar, there are many things you can (and should do) in advance to avoid missed appointments in the first place.
But if it does happen, let’s get on to My Exact Words To Say To “No-Show” Peeps & How to Handle The Situation:
Once you’ve realized they are late for their appointment, here are the steps to take.
(This is the scenario for an hour session):
You’re going to make 3 Calls to the client:
(Remember, at this point, you still don’t know if they will be a ‘no show’ or if they are just running late, so we assume they are running late, and we also assume there is no emergency that is holding them up.)
Call #1. (5-8 minutes after start time)
Call them and Say something like this:
“Hi X, it’s Irene from Diamond Wellness Center. I have you scheduled today to see me now, your appointment was set for 3:00 and now it’s about 10 minutes after 3 … I’m calling to see if you’re on your way. Hopefully, you’re just outside parking, and you’ll be walking in the door in a moment, but please call me as soon as you get this message so I know where you’re at and when you’ll get here. My number is 415-921-1290. ”
Call #2. (About 35 minutes after start time)
Call again and say, “Hi X, I’m still waiting for you, so hoping everything is OK. Since I know how much you were looking forward to this session, I’m worried about you. Please call me as soon as you get this message, ok? The number again is 415-921-1290.”
Call #3. (After the session was supposed to happen, later in the afternoon, but before the day ends)
Gosh, I’m just calling you one more time to check in on you. It’s a shame you were not able to come today, I really hope you’re alright. I hope to hear from you about today’s missed session with me. My number again is 415-921-1290.”
Note: You can also text or Email them with the same #3 message.
Here is a Sample Email to send:
Subject: Re: missed appointment today with Irene
I hope everything is ok with you. I had you scheduled to see me today at 3:00 and I waited for you, hoping you would arrive. I also left you a few voice messages.
Please email me back as soon as you can so I know nothing serious happened to you. (I worry about you. 🙂
Looking forward to hearing from you soon,
Now, what happens if you never hear from them?
I suggest you wait a day or two, just to be sure they are not in the hospital or something, and it truly was a missed appointment.
3 Actions To Take Once Your Client is a ‘No-Show’:
#1- You can charge their credit card for the amount you have pre-designated for missed appointments. (hopefully, you have it on file for this very reason)
Email them a financial statement showing the charge for the missed appointment, so they are not surprised.
#2- You can waive your missed appointment fee.
I actually suggest you do this if it’s their first missed appointment with you.
Mail them a statement (the bill) , show the charge, and then show that you adjusted off the charge, leaving a zero balance.
Write a note on their statement (in handwriting) stating, “as a good-will gesture I’m waiving your missed appointment fee since it is your first time missing an appointment with me.”
(When you speak to them on the phone in the next conversation, kindly, matter-of-factly mention again, that you waived the fee this first time, but in the future, they will be responsible for any missed appointment fees.)
Psychology Behind This Good-will Approach:
By waiving the fee, you show you have compassion for honest mistakes that some times happen. Since they are thankful you just ‘saved’ them the fee they were supposed to pay, it tends to create more loyal clients.
(Of course, if it were a true emergency, I would hope you would waive the fee anyway.)
Also, by waiving the fee, it puts them on notice that you are serious about your biz and will charge them next time it happens.
#3- If they’ve missed appointments with you before (& this was not an emergency), you’ll no-doubt charge them your missed appointment fee.
What to do when you do hear from them:
You can choose from the same three options as above on how you think it’s best to handle the situation.
Stand firm and be kind, but consistent in your message.
So, there you have my years-in-the-trenches learned advice.
You’ll create your own scripts that fit your personality and the way you speak, but I think you’ll see this is fair to them, yet still established you as a professional business person. When stated kindly, but not wishy-washily, your clients will respect your policies.
One Important Diamond Tip:
You MUST have your policies established in advance AND your clients MUST know what your policy is BEFORE you can enforce them.
(It’s not fair to charge a client for a no-show if they didn’t know they would be responsible for the fee.)
So, now that you’ve read what I suggest in the case of ‘no-shows’, please share your answers to these 2 things in the comments below:
#1- Do you have your policies set up for no shows?
#2- Will you use these scripts and ways to handle the no-shows I shared above, or do you have a better suggestion?
Can’t wait to hear from you below!