Article by Tanya Owens
This article appears in 2020 | Volume 1, Issue 3 of AHP Indie Stylist magazine
How do you feel about business policies? I think policies are about as fun as a sunburn margarita hangover on your second day of vacation.
That said, every business owner should have policies written out to cover you when things don’t go as planned, because an alarming fact is that most of us rarely fill a last-minute cancellation, which can make us smolder while waiting for our next client. (Obviously, we aren’t talking about a regular that had a true emergency.)
Now, picture your client—let’s call her Linda. You call Linda because it is now 15 minutes past her appointment time. She answers and tells you she has not left her house yet, and she wants to know what other times you have available. (This is a real example; I seriously could not make this up!) Although you may be ready to burst, it’s what you do from here that defines your branding and salon image.
You could say, “Sure, I can get you in next Saturday.” But chances are she won’t show for that appointment either. Perhaps you want to say, “Well, I’m sitting here waiting for you, and it's Saturday. So no, I don’t have any other openings!” But hold on one hot second . . . unless you want a bad review along with lost wages. The most effective way to deal with the Lindas in your life is to make three simple changes today. (And, in my business, I treat all clients the same—yep, even friends.) Waiting for Linda Let’s get down and dirty about cancellation policies by Tanya Owens the biz
- Decide how many “get out of jail free” cancellations clients can have. In my salon, we offer one last-minute cancellation per client. Here is sample verbiage you can write to your client during that cancellation day: “Although we understand life can cause changes to your schedule, we only waive one last-minute cancellation fee. If you have to cancel for any reason in the future, please allow 24 hours’ notice. Thank you for your understanding. We appreciate your business.”
- Request a credit card while booking. I found my cancellations and no-shows dropped by 85 percent when I started doing this! I also found that new clients afraid to book with a credit card were often the last-minute cancellation culprits. Do you have an online booking system? It may be as simple as turning on the feature that requires a credit card. If not, it may be an extra step, but it will prove to be well worth it when you are making guaranteed income on all your appointments. Nobody likes to hear “I told you so,” but I’m here if you need me!
- Make your cancellation policy public. Sometimes we think our clients know our industry as well as we do, but a client who works on salary may have no idea they are giving you a pay cut by canceling at the last minute. An easy way to incorporate this policy is by sending out a newsletter, posting it on social media, or posting it in your salon.
I have also found it handy to text the day they book their appointment. (This is also an online booking feature you can indulge in.) You can text something like this: “Thank you for booking your next appointment. If you need to cancel, please give at least 24 hours’ notice; otherwise, you will be charged a 50 percent cancellation fee. We look forward to seeing you soon!”
AHP Indie Stylist magazine is a bimonthly publication, created to speak directly to you, the independent hair stylist and barber. In this issue:
• Big Hair Energy: Stylist Ammon Carver talks inspiration, trends, and the world of editorial hair
• The Profitability of Hair Extensions: The benefits of offering hair extensions
• Post COVID Marketing Ideas: Changing with the times is essential - and it starts with rebuilding your clientele