No Show, No Go

Dealing with cancellations

Service providers rely on their appointments for income, which ultimately contributes to their lifestyle and wellbeing. In a spa environment, where the wellbeing of clients is the focus, it is important to recognize that if the service provider is not doing well, neither will the clients. Cancellation policies are necessary to keep the spa busy, but they also ensure the wellbeing of the therapists and, therefore, the other patrons of the business. Cancellation policies benefit workers and clients. They ease the stress of a lost appointment for the therapist, and give enough time in advance for more clients to take appointments and have a better experience with a happy therapist.

It Takes Two to Tango

Cancellation policies are essential, as they hold clients responsible for the time they have scheduled with a spa and with a therapist. Without one, clients might feel no obligation to hold their appointments because there is no penalty. Cancellation policies remind clients that their actions have consequences, and not showing up to an appointment is an action with only negative ones. However, it is up to the spa to make sure clients know the gravity of their decision to cancel appointments and know everything that will happen if they do decide to cancel (or no show).

Clients should be held responsible for the appointments they book. Enforcing the cancellation policy is important so that clients do not take advantage of a business.

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If the client is not made aware of the consequences for cancelling an appointment, it is unfair to hold him or her responsible. The policy must be visible to the client prior to booking the appointment. For spas that use web-booking, before the client can book, a window with the full terms of the policy must be read and agreed to in order for the client to finish booking. For appointments taken over the phone or made by front desk staff, the policy must be made transparent to the client prior to booking the appointment. When clients are surprised by cancellation policies, this has lasting negative effects on the business. Clients might write a negative web review, preventing other clients from booking appointments; they might tell everyone they know not to go to this spa, and they surely will not be back again. This can be prevented with open communication and transparency.

Implementing A Cancellation Policy

Cancellation notice should be given at least 24 hours prior to the appointment. This gives the spa time to find another client to fill the spot for the therapist. In smaller cities, however, even 24 hours might not be sufficient. 48 hours is preferable for spas that are not as busy. If the client has booked a service only a few hours before the appointment time, there might be no opportunity to fill the spot. However, that spot might still have been empty had the client not booked in the first place, so it is not fitting to charge for the appointment in this case.

Clients have many reasons to cancel appointments. This can include being sick, family emergencies, heavy traffic, sleeping in, or simply forgetting. Stories are often made up to get out of paying for an appointment. The spa should be calm and understanding in conversing with the client. The spa should always believe the client and be empathetic. However, many cancellations somehow turn into emergencies, so the cancellation policy should still be upheld. It should be stated very clearly in the cancellation policy that there are no exceptions (including emergencies) to the policy. When the client agrees to this and books the appointment, this is final. Clients should be held responsible for the appointments they book. Enforcing the cancellation policy is important so that clients do not take advantage of a business.

Upon booking an appointment, credit card information should be taken in order to implement the cancellation policy. The cancellation policy should clearly state prior to booking the appointment that the client will be charged a penalty should they break the agreement with the spa, regardless of whatever emergency. Depending on whether the spa has selected the 24 or 48 hour policy, if the client cancels after the timeframe, 50 percent of the service should be charged to make up for the lost time for the therapist. As no materials were used for the service, 100 percent of the service cost is not necessary.

A Note On No-Shows

In the case of a no-show or an appointment cancelled after the therapist has already set up for the appointment (usually a four hour window), the appointment should be charged in full, as materials in addition to time have been wasted. If the client is late, the service may still be conducted, however the duration should only last the remainder of the service as to not affect the following clients, and the client should be charged in full.

Rescheduling Rules

Often, when a client cancels, he or she reschedules. If the client reschedules, the penalty should depend on when the appointment is rescheduled for. If the appointment is rescheduled for a later time on the same day, then no charge should be enforced. If the appointment is rescheduled for another day, but the therapist has already prepared for the appointment, the penalty should cover the cost of the materials for the appointment and the time it took the therapist to set up.

Clients that no-show, cancel, or reschedule continuously (more than three times) outside of the 24-48 hour window should be blacklisted. In addition to enforcing the cancellation policy, the client’s name should be documented, and he or she should be carefully monitored when booking appointments and encouraged to seek walk-in appointments instead. This should be implemented by the front desk staff. Most booking systems have a mechanism to message the staff about particular clients. When a blacklisted client attempts to book an appointment, the client should be informed that the books are full, but that the client can walk in or call back to see if an appointment is available at the desired time.

Confirmation Is Key

Cancellation policies can be harsh, and everyone is prone to human error. Clients should be reminded of the appointment and of the cancellation policy. The client must agree to the cancellation policy prior to booking. However, prior to the time frame for cancellations chosen by the spa (24 or 48 hours depending on the business of the spa and population of the city), the front desk staff should remind clients via their preferred communication method of their appointment, reminding them of the cancellation policy. This gives clients time to decide whether they can hold their appointment while they are still outside of the cancellation window, and gives the spa time to fill the appointment.