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Six Strategies to Address Client Covid Fears, Cancellations & No Shows

The beauty of being an appointment-based salon/spa is the ability to accurately predict productivity and revenues.

The ugly part of being an appointment-based salon/spa are the last-minute cancellations and, even worse, the no shows.

For most salons and spas, reopening after the shutdown meant full appointment books and doing your best to accommodate clients long overdue for services.

But with infection rates surging in all but a few states, fear is also on the rise.

Now, just when you felt some semblance of business normalcy, COVID-19 fears are causing an uptick in last minute cancellations and client no shows.

Cancellations and no shows are a fact of life in all appointment-based businesses. However, with most salons/spas still operating at mandated reduced capacities, last-minute cancellations and no shows can be financially brutal.

These are extraordinary times that call for extraordinary measures. Many individuals and businesses are experiencing financial hardship. That’s why it may be time to add a financial commitment to the simple act of “reserving” a salon or spa appointment.

Here are six strategies you can use to reduce the number of last-minute cancellations and no shows:

  1. Relentlessly promote safety measures: Prior to reopening, many salons and spas created videos to show clients what to expect on their first visit after reopening. The purpose of these videos was to reassure clients that all possible safety measures and protocols are in place to ensure their safety. Simply put, these videos help reduce fear. KEY: Keep making and posting short videos that showcase your safety measures. If you installed an air-filtering system, showcase it. Review safety measure when clients enter your facility. Review safety measures when clients are booking appointments. The more you reassure, the less reason clients have to fear entering your facility.

  2. Appointments are now “Reservations”: Replace the word “appointment” with “reservation.” An appointment is a convenience. A reservation is a commitment to show up. KEY: This is more than just semantics. A reservation carries more weight. It allows the conversation on the conditions of the reservation to take place. The next four points illustrate why.

  3. Mandatory reservation booking policies: If last-minute cancellations and no shows have negatively impacted your productivity rate and revenues, then it’s time to get serious about creating and communicating stricter reservation policies. KEY: When clients schedule a reservation, explain what the reservation commitment means. Explain how last-minute cancellations and no shows hurt your business, employees, and prevents other clients from securing their preferred reservation day and time. Explain the consequences. This is business.

  4. Appointment confirmations that reaffirm policies: Confirmations are a fact of life in the salon/spa business. Every confirmation must include a brief policy script. KEY: Client must be told when they can cancel a reservation without incurring a charge. If you do confirmations via text or email, an extra step must be added that requires the client to agree to the policies.

  5. Credit card to secure reservations: Taking a credit card to secure reservations has been the subject of endless debate. It’s time to end the debate. KEY: No longer accept any service reservation without a credit card to guarantee it. If a client cancels his or her reservation inside of the 24-hour window — charge the credit card.

  6. Deposit to secure appointments: Consider going beyond simply requiring a credit card and require a minimum prepaid deposit equal to the value of the time being reserved. KEY: The amount of the deposit should be enough to communicate the commitment for clients to respect your policies. This approach is best applied to first-time clients.

Here’s my challenge to you: If you’ve had enough of the last-minute cancellations and no shows — you need to take decisive action.

Yes, a client can dispute a credit card charge for any reason. But when your policies are clearly stated and agreed to by the client, you have a valid defense with your credit card processor.

You’re in the business of selling time in exchange for services. The value of time needs to be respectfully respected — and protected.


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