Unknown to many, if you’re in the service industry, you will probably have to deal with the unfortunate reality of “no-shows”. And no, this has nothing to do with Netflix. “No-shows” are the individuals who tend to cancel their appointments last minute or worse, simply don’t show up without prior notice. The problem is, these “no-shows” disrupt time management while simultaneously affecting your customer base (e.g. loss in revenue and schedule gaps) and, likewise, halting your business’s overall progress. Here are 5 tips you can use to motivate your clients and make sure they come through your doors.
1. Provide Them With All the Reasons in the World to Commit.
Presenting your clients with the information needed to attend the appointment is a reliable tactic in avoiding “no-shows.” For example, upon appointment confirmation, you ought to communicate with your clients to discuss appointment time, the address, as well as the appropriate contact information (such as your phone number and email address). The more information you provide, the less excuses your prospects will have to pull out of their hats, therefore increasing your client success rate.
2. Send Them Friendly Yet Firm Reminders.
You may think that this is pretty basic and obvious advice, but you would be genuinely surprised at the effectiveness of this tactic, particularly if you're a busy bee and schedule multiple appointments within the same timeframe. Naturally, we would recommend sending a customized email reminder 72 hours ahead of time. We say naturally because nowadays people tend to be glued to their phones, providing a fifth limb, so we suggest a text message (SMS) reminder as well, just to be safe. Similarly, the SMS reminder should be about 24 hours prior to the appointment. That said, you definitely don't want to spam their inbox with 114 reminders because they may become irritated and decide to cancel. Your goal is to ensure that they look forward to the appointment!
3. Use Online Appointment and Booking Software to Your Advantage.
The future is now! That is to say, if you're solely living in the era of pens and paper, you may want to consider an online scheduling software as well (it’s good for the planet). The reason being, using online scheduling software is an easy and conveniently reliable method in reducing the frequency of “no-shows”. It opens a realm of possibilities (such as online payments, receipts, and control of last-minute cancellations) and a means of engaging with your customers, especially with your younger tech savvy demographic who actually prefer online scheduling for its speed and ease of use, so it’s essentially a win-win for both parties. Additionally, the added benefit of online booking is that, with most software, reminders are covered. For a business owner, that means less time worrying about scheduling and more time perfecting your craft.
PRO TIP: Do not overbook. Generally, to prevent feeling rushed, it’s best practice to space out your appointments, a least a little bit. Otherwise, it will induce prolonged wait times for clients, and the last thing we want is an impatient client walking out.
4. Request a Deposit.
Time is money! One strategy to avoid “no-shows” and efficiently manage your schedule is to collect a deposit or even the full payment at the time of booking. And, as you've probably guessed, this can be accomplished online! Better still, you can even decide which services require a payment at the time of booking. And if you have a cancellation policy in place (if not, you should consider one), this would be the ideal way to have it enforced!
PRO TIP: To be even more efficient, you may consider offering your customers prepaid passes. This way, you will guarantee revenue even in the event of “no-shows”.
5. Easy Peasy: Make Rescheduling a Breeze.
Sometimes, life gets in the way and your clients have to cancel for legitimate reasons (and not solely for being unwilling to get out of bed). For this reason, it is imperative that you make it easy for your customers to reschedule if need be. A sure way to do just that is to offer an online waiting list whereby clients can, based on your current availabilities, add themselves to a specific time slot. Moreover, when sending your reminder messages, you can include a link that will guide them to the waiting list or your calendar scheduling tool.
PRO TIP: It is always a good idea to follow up with “no-shows”. If, for whatever reason, they do not initiate the rescheduling process, you may want to follow up with them. They will appreciate the effort and will have a tough time repeating this behaviour.
It has become apparent that “no-shows”, no matter your industry, will impact your business and, realistically, no one wants that, not even the “no-shows” themselves. Regardless, in order to avoid harming your business, you should always remind your clients as to why they booked an appointment with you in the first place, always consider informing them about their upcoming appointments through email/SMS-based reminders and, most importantly, consider an online booking solution. Lastly, you ought to make rescheduling smooth, effortless, and don’t be afraid to ask for a deposit if necessary. By following these 5 steps, you will decrease your “no-shows” faster than you can say Quidditch!