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7 Tips to Reduce No Shows and Last-Minute Cancellations in Your Salon

To help you keep your beauty salon an organized place where clients show up every time, we’ve compiled a list of 7 helpful tips for minimizing no-shows and cancellations.

Clients who book a beauty service but then don’t make it to their appointment are more than a minor nuisance. So-called no-shows can cost businesses about 21% of their yearly revenue.

If you’re running a salon business, the risk of losing almost a quarter of your revenue is too much to play around with. This is why you have to work on minimizing no-shows and cancellations.

However, trying to prevent clients from canceling their appointments can be a challenge.

To help you keep your beauty salon an organized place where clients show up every time, we’ve compiled a list of 7 helpful tips. When you reduce the no-shows, you’ll be able to use your time at the salon more effectively and devote your attention to your valuable clients.

Here’s how to achieve that.

Send Appointment Confirmations and Reminders

If you want to reduce the number of no-shows, your safest bet is to ask for appointment confirmations and send out reminders.

Our lives are busier than ever. We book appointments, cancel subscriptions, and order groceries, all while sipping on a coffee on our way to a meeting.

When clients make decisions so instantly, they can get overwhelmed and miss their appointment with you as a result. You can prevent that by introducing appointment reminders at your salon.

A message reminding your clients of an appointment is not a nice-to-have option, either—it is a necessity. Clients expect you to notify them of an upcoming consultation. Fortunately, your skilled beauty technicians don’t have to waste their time ringing up clients all day because 67% of them prefer texts as reminders.

A study on reminder systems has confirmed that all types of reminders effectively improve appointment attendance. Still, the type the authors call reminder plus is even more effective.

Instead of sending simple reminders with just date, place, and time, a reminder plus includes a short paragraph that explains the service scheduled or provides gentle encouragement to the recipient, taking about 30 seconds to read.

Source: Zoyya

Of course, you don’t want to get lost among different types of reminders nor spam your clients’ inboxes. Only three simple messages can do wonders for reducing no-shows.

First, you can send a confirmation text immediately after scheduling, so your client is clear on where and when to come. Since some services are scheduled a month or two in advance, you should also send a reminder a week before the appointment because the client may have forgotten about it.

Finally, send a reminder a day before the appointment to help your client organize their day with the visit to your salon in mind.

Source: Zoyya

Sending a confirmation text followed by reminders before an appointment might seem like a lot of work. But if you approach them in a smart way, they don’t have to be a waste of time.

Using a system that sends automatic reminders reduces your time spent on administrative work, scheduling, and sending reminders. Automated reminders are just one of the features Zoyya provides to boost your business efficiency.

Using this system, our clients have cut no-shows by 25%. But if you want to maximize the efficiency of scheduling and encourage your clients to be punctual, you also have to make booking simple, which brings us to our next tip.

Simplify Your Booking Process

To attract new clients and keep existing ones, you have to make the booking of your services accessible. And if rebooking is simple as well, you may notice a decrease in no-shows because the clients will know they can reschedule their appointment with ease.

Still, you have to choose your booking system carefully.

With a poorly designed solution, you may lose 42% of your potential clients. You can avoid that by using a pre-made online booking system that looks good and is easy to use.

An additional benefit of using a booking system rather than relying on phone call reservations lies in availability.

Online booking offers the clients flexibility; they can book an appointment whenever they want, regardless of your working hours. This is vital for beauty salons because the data shows that 46% of bookings happen online, when salons are closed.

Source: Phorest

You don’t have to be on your phone at 11 PM fielding WhatsApp messages from your clients—let the booking system work for you.

But there’s even more to online booking than setting up appointments around the clock.

Once you set up a booking system, a good booking software such as Zoyya will collect an abundance of accurate client data that you can use to track the appointment trends.

You will be able to see each no-show or cancellation, together with the names of the clients who didn’t show. How you interpret and use that data is up to you; you could request deposits from risky clients or maybe offer a loyalty program to the reliable ones.

Whether your business is flourishing or you’re experiencing no-shows, a booking service can help you get to the root of those trends.

Each business is unique, so Zoyya’s business management tools let you adjust the settings according to your needs. That way, you’ll get the most accurate business reports.

Letting your clients schedule appointments in only a few simple steps is bound to attract new clients. But to make them stay and return, you have to offer the best service.

Offer the Best Service

If the clients know they can expect good service, they’ll look forward to their treatments and give them a higher priority, reducing your cancellation rates.

Everybody knows the importance of attracting new clients. Still, don’t underestimate what the existing clients can do to keep your schedule filled. You can convince them to stay with the quality of your work.

You can spend thousands of euros on attracting new clients, but returning customers are the ones who keep your business going.

Returning customers will buy more over time, refer others to you, and be willing to pay more to continue coming to you instead of switching to other salons and beauticians they are not familiar with.

But to make the clients return, you have to offer top-quality service.

When it comes to beauty salons, a study on repurchasing intentions of consumers has identified the factors that influence the clients’ decision to return to a salon.

The factors range from satisfaction with the results of the treatment, to well-informed beauticians, and even the level of privacy afforded by the space.

Source: Zoyya

Being happy with the results is a standard customer requirement. But the world of the beauty industry is constantly changing, so don’t forget to train your beauty technicians on the latest products and trends. Clients appreciate knowledgeable staff.

Besides being the best at what you do and providing excellent results, you also have to make your clients feel valued. Establishing good relationships with your clients may take some work on your part, but it will result in a loyal customer base.

In a generic salon, a client pays for a service and gets it, but that’s not nearly enough to keep them coming back.

For maintaining good client relationships, you have to show a client you’re approaching them as individuals. When they request a service, talk them through the procedure and tell them what the results will be according to their skin or nail type.

Clients like a personalized approach. If you manage to combine that with delivering the promised results, they will be satisfied. There is a significant correlation between customer satisfaction and loyalty, so always keep in mind that every effort you put in maintaining good relationships with your clients will have long-term benefits for your business.

Have a Clear Cancellation Policy

Some clients, especially those new to your services, may not know canceling their appointments is an option, so they just fail to show up without letting you know. This is why you should create a clear cancellation policy and keep it in a visible place.

Your cancellation policy should contain the following information:

  • A timeframe for canceling a service without penalty
  • A penalty for a late cancellation
  • Contact info for cancellations

It can look something like this:

Source: Euphoria

Of course, the zero cancellations rate is impossible to achieve because life happens. Still, if you have a good relationship with your clients, they’ll feel comfortable enough to let you know they won’t be able to make it. You’ll give their slot to another client; problem solved.

So, how much notice in advance is enough?

Well, most beauty salons allow clients to notify them of cancellation 24 to 48 hours before the appointment. That way, you usually have enough time to find another client to get their treatment done in this window, and your business isn’t suffering.

To make sure people notify you if they can’t make it to the appointment, you can also consider charging a fee for no-shows. Some salons charge as much as 100% of the service price for no-shows and 50% for late cancellations.

Whatever you decide to charge, be sure to emphasize the fees upfront. Clients don’t like feeling they were tricked into paying for something they didn’t agree upon, so it’s safer to explain the policy to every new client. Also, make sure to explain the actual cost of no-shows to justify your decision.

Take Deposits to Combat No-Shows

Another helpful method to discourage clients from no-shows comes in the form of deposits. Collected upfront, they’re a preventative measure against having your time and resources wasted.

Time is money, especially for appointment-based businesses. If you have six scheduled appointments in a shift, and one person doesn’t show up, you lose almost 20% of your profits for the day.

So, since no-shows can damage your profits, you can ask your clients to provide a safety net for you by paying for a portion of the service price in advance.

Keep in mind that you don’t have to take deposits for all your services. Some beauty salons choose to ask for a deposit only for services taking one hour or longer, while some businesses require deposits for all their services. Some take percentages, some ask for a fixed value regardless of service.

A client can feel lost between all these options, so the wisest thing to do is decide on either a percentage or a fixed amount and stick to your decision. Clients will appreciate the transparency, and it’ll be easier for your staff to keep track of the deposits.

Source: Zoyya

However, bear in mind that asking for deposits isn’t a universal solution for reducing salon no-shows.

Some clients may feel offended if they think you don’t believe they will show. This distrust may be detrimental to your client relationship, to the point that they choose to take their business elsewhere. This is where having an easily accessible base of clients prone to no-shows comes in handy.

After you’ve built a base of your clients, you can analyze how frequently they cancel their appointments and choose whether to ask for a deposit accordingly.

If you’re worried your clients won’t be thrilled about paying in advance, remember to explain the rationale behind the deposits. That way, you’ll hear fewer complaints.

For instance, a hair salon in Ireland takes deposits of up to €100, but their clients have no qualms about paying because they understand why the deposits are there, and they know they can expect top results.

Deposits are simply a guarantee that a client will turn up and allow you to provide an excellent service. Let the clients know they aren’t required to pay extra because the deposit will go towards their service price.

Reciprocity Matters: Respect Your Clients’ Time

Your clients will keep coming to their appointments on time only when they know they can expect the same from you.

In an ideal world, both staff and clients would always follow proper salon etiquette, especially the part about arriving on time. In the real world, though, not everyone sticks to the schedule.

Missing an appointment, or even worse, arriving 15 minutes late, causes a snowball effect. Let’s see how.

When a client doesn’t show up at all, the biggest problem is the missed revenue opportunity. But by the time the next client arrives at their scheduled time slot, you and your station are prepared, and you can dedicate your time to that client.

But let’s say you’re waiting for a client, unsure whether to keep waiting or take a walk-in for a smaller beauty service. The salon’s bell rings, and in barges your client, walking in 15 minutes late.

Are you supposed to turn them away? Probably not a good idea. Traffic jams or other situations we can’t control can happen to anyone. Besides, if you’d turn them away, chances are the client wouldn’t return to your salon again.

So you start with the treatment, but because of the delay, you know the planned 45 minutes will extend to a full hour. Now you have to choose between two evils: rushing the treatment or letting your next client wait. Both options will reflect badly on your business.

This is why you should require your clients to come on time. Even more importantly, ask your staff to do the same. Teach them the importance of respecting the schedule.

By starting the treatment exactly when it was scheduled, you can devote your time entirely to the client and provide an excellent service, rather than rushing and doing a poor job. If you teach your beauticians to always be punctual, your clients will know you respect their time, which will, in turn, motivate them to be respectful of yours.

Source: Zoyya

Respecting the clients’ time boils down to this: if you provide one service exactly when you were supposed to, you’ll be able to keep the cycle of punctuality throughout the day.

Directing your staff to start appointments on time is doable because you have direct control over the way your salon works. But when it comes to clients, you can’t just tell them to arrive on time and hope they will.

What you can do is set up an automatic reminder system. If you remind a client they’re scheduled for a lash lift the next day at 11 AM, they’ll be able to plan their day more easily.

Yet, as we’ve said, the possibility of delays can never be fully eliminated. If a client has to wait for a few minutes, you can make that a painless experience for them.

Research shows that customers perceive the waiting time to be shorter when they are entertained, so get a TV or magazines and or other materials where they can learn more about your work while waiting for their turn.

Have a Stand-by Waiting List for Last-Minute Cancellations

When last-minute cancellations happen, you don’t want to sit there waiting idly. A true business person knows how to get the most of every situation. One way to reduce the damage of no-shows is to introduce a client stand-by waiting list.

Creating and maintaining a waiting list enables you to make money even if a client cancels at the last minute.

When you have an opening, check if there’s a client you’d be able to work with in that slot. When you see a service you can fit in before your next appointment, give the person who booked it a call and ask if they would be able to come in. They’ll probably be glad they get to flaunt their new nails earlier than expected.

Example of a waitlist announcement from @thehumbledbeauty

While some clients won’t be able to come to the salon outside of their scheduled times, many of them are flexible. So, if you decide to implement a waiting list into your business, introduce your clients to the new concept.

When the clients book your services, ask them if they would like to join the waiting list. If your salon is usually busy, being on the list will give them a chance to reduce the waiting time by a few days or even weeks.

Moreover, advertising the waiting list may also improve brand perception because it will show your services are in high demand, making potential clients even more eager to book an appointment with you.

Conclusion

No-shows and cancellations cost salons patience and money. Luckily, you can reduce their number significantly by applying our seven tried-and-true tips.

The key to spending less time doing administrative work lies in automating everything you can. Automatic confirmations and reminders will make it impossible for your clients to forget appointments at your salon. And as people don’t have time for figuring complicated apps, you should make your booking process easy for everyone.

Providing the best service and showing your clients you respect their time will turn them into repeat buyers. A clear cancellation policy, deposits, and a waiting list can help you with that.

Put these tips to the test, and become a success story like many of our clients.