Creating the Perfect Cancellation Policy for Your Practice

By Liz Kline 

As beauty professionals, we know our time behind the chair is valuable, especially since time equals money. And that dreaded wait for the client who’s not showing up for their service can not only cost you money that you’ve already calculated into your day, but also take a toll on your mood and self-worth. Implementing a clear cancellation policy will make your scheduling process that much smoother and can save you time and money in the long run. This is especially helpful for those clients who are notorious for missing their appointments. So, how do we create an effective cancellation policy and what does one look like?  

Transparency and clarity are the key components here. Communicating with your clients about the value of your time, energy, and sense of commitment—as well as theirs—will set the expectations for your business. You want clients to feel your appreciation for choosing you as their stylist, but you also want to remind them of the importance of sticking to appointment times. (After all, the process is smoothest for everyone if you don’t have to reschedule.) A clear cancellation policy can outline your expectations for appointments, notice requirements, and any associated fees. 

First, start with an appointment confirmation after the client books. Clients are encouraged to confirm their appointments via phone, email, or an online booking system, like PocketSuite. You can decide how many hours in advance you’d like your confirmation reminder to be sent before the scheduled appointment, whether it’s 24 hours, 72 hours, or a full week prior. This confirmation reminder should coincide with your notice of cancellation requirements so that clients can cancel or reschedule if they need to. (For example: You wouldn’t want your notice of cancellation to be 48 hours but then send your confirmation reminder only 24 hours in advance.)  

Here is an example of what a cancellation policy message can look like: At [salon name], we understand that situations may arise when you must cancel or reschedule your appointment. We kindly request a minimum of 24 hours’ notice for cancellations or rescheduling. Failure to provide a adequate notice may result in a cancellation fee [of $X], which can be paid online, over the phone, or in person before booking a new appointment. This fee covers the time reserved for the stylist as well as the potential impact on scheduling. Clients who wish to reschedule their appointment must do so within 24 hours of their original appointment to avoid cancellation fees.  

As the professional, you can decide what an appropriate cancellation fee is for missed appointments, as well as if the fee can be waived for unexpected emergencies that lead to a cancellation. 

In conjunction with the cancellation policy, you can also implement a no-show policy. You can determine what that fee will be and how many no-shows you will allow before you require a client to pre-pay for their scheduled appointment time or, alternatively, before you drop the client. 

Here’s an example of what a no-show policy message can look like: When a client misses their scheduled appointment without providing any prior notice, it is considered a no-show. After three no-shows, clients may be required to pre-pay for future appointments or may not be allowed to rebook. At [salon name,] we understand that emergencies happen and may cause you to miss your appointment without prior communication, in which case you should contact the salon as soon as you are able. No-shows may be subject to a charge of 100 percent of the missed service to account for lost time and income. 


How do I know if I need a cancellation policy?

If you’re constantly having clients cancel or miss appointments, instituting a cancellation policy that clearly outlines the consequences of doing so may help reduce the number of occurrences and encourage commitment to appointments.  

How much should I charge for cancellations and no-shows?

Both cancellation fees and no-show fees can range from a percentage of the total cost of the service—such as 30-50 percent if the client provides enough notice—to the full price of a missed service if no notice is given. These fees should feel appropriate for the service missed and the value of your lost time and income. 


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