No-shows are the scurge of any service industry
What are the options for dealing with them? Here are our top tips for tackling the issue:
Get over it!
Accept that people sometimes miss appointments – the trick is to focus your energies on minimising the number and not getting angry when someone doesn’t appear.
It’s worth actually analysing how bad your no-show rate is – try keeping a diary for a month – note down any no shows and give each person a call and ask why they didn’t make it. At the end of the month you can analyse your results and make a plan of action to improve things.
Always give out reminder cards
When anyone makes an appointment in person give them an appointment card. Suggest that people keep their cards somewhere on display . .perhaps next to the dog food!
Spot potential culprits
Ask people upfront if they sometimes forget appointments (ask nicely and people will admit to their shortcomings) – if they are, then do something to help! Perhaps you should make a special note in your appointment diary and send these customers a reminder text message.
Asking isn’t difficult – Try saying something like “I tend to be a bit forgetful – are you the same?” or perhaps “Would it be useful if we sent you a reminder text message?”
Think about charging for no-shows
This is tricky – not least because without a contract it’ll be very difficult to get credit card companies to accept a no-show charge – plus you’ll have to get card details at the time of the appointment. However, there are still things you can do:
• Make it clear you charge for no-shows
Research in the USA shows that if you advertise a high charge for no shows the numbers drop – but note that small charges don’t work as well and you don’t necessarilly have to make a charge – it’s the threat of a large fine that appears to work!
• Ask culprits to pay a fine to charity
This is a friendlier but still a stern message – say a £20 charge but you donate it to a dog charity.
• Try to get clients to prepay
If clients pay up front then you can charge if they don’t show up. If you suffer from a lot of no-shows think about changing your pricing and charge more on the day or less for prepaids.
Don’t suffer with repeat offenders!
It’s a very good idea to keep a note of who has missed an appointment. Set a clear rule for how many times you’re prepared to accept a missed appointment. Perhaps you should be refusing to accept subsequent bookings or maybe ask for an upfront payment. Make sure that staff know who’s on the list and what your policy is.
Lastly – find out how others deal with no-shows
Dentists, opticians, garages, restaurants, vets, kennels . . . you’ll be a customer to loads of businesses who have the same problems you do . . . so ask how they deal with similar situations. Remember this is a great chance to tell people what you do – and show them how professional you are!
If you have any experiences or extra tips you’d like to share, then please get in touch – we’re always keen to expand on articles.