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 or clients who tend to cancel their appointments at the last minute or, worse, simply don’t show up without prior notice. The problem is that these “no-shows” disrupt time management while simultaneously affecting your customer base (e.g., loss in revenue, schedule gaps, etc.) and, likewise, stopping your practice’s overall progress. Here are 5 tips you can use to motivate your clients and make sure they come through your doors.
1. Provide All Important Information
Presenting your clients with the information needed to attend the appointment is a reliable tactic for avoiding “no-shows.” For example, with your appointment confirmation, you should communicate with your clients to share the appointment time, your address, as well as the appropriate contact information (such as your phone number and email address). The more information you provide, the fewer excuses your prospects will have to pull out of their hats. This technique is simple but has proven very effective across all industries.
2. Send Friendly Yet Firm Reminders
You may think this is pretty basic and obvious advice, but you would be genuinely surprised at the effectiveness of this strategy, particularly if you're as busy as a bee. According to statistics, we recommend sending a customized email reminder 72 hours ahead of time. Nowadays, people tend to be glued to their phones, providing a fifth limb. Did you know that the average person checks his or her phone 221 times per day? Therefore, we suggest sending a text message (SMS) reminder as well, just to be safe. The SMS reminder should be sent about 24 hours before the appointment. That being said, you 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, not the other way around!
3. Use Technology 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 online scheduling software. The reason is that using online scheduling software is an easy and conveniently reliable method of reducing the frequency of “no-shows.”
It opens a realm of possibilities (such as online payments, receipts, and control of last-minute cancellations) and is a means of engaging with your customers. Especially with your younger tech-savvy demographic, who prefer online scheduling for its speed and ease of use, it’s essentially a win-win for both parties. Additionally, the added benefit of online booking is that, with most software, reminders are covered. As an entrepreneur or manager, 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, at least a little. Otherwise, it will induce prolonged wait times for clients, and the last thing we want is an impatient client walking out.
4. Enforce Your Cancellation Policy
Another strategy to reduce and avoid last-minute cancellations altogether while efficiently managing your schedule is to establish a strong cancellation policy. Before booking an appointment, your clients will have to read and accept the conditions of your existing cancellation policy. To make sure your clients fully comprehend your policy, you can also include it in your intake form and your email reminders.
5. Make Rescheduling a Breeze
Sometimes, life gets in the way and your clients have to cancel their appointment 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 (and their) 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. Also, you can choose an online booking platform that lets your clients change their appointments in the notification and confirmation email (GOrendezvous offers this feature!).
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, to avoid harming your business, you should always remind your clients 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 scheduling solution.
Lastly, you ought to make rescheduling smooth and effortless, and don’t be afraid to enforce your cancellation policy. By following these 5 steps, you will drastically reduce your “no-shows” faster than you can say Quidditch!