Customers are going to miss appointments – in our industry this is a fact of life. Some clients are constant problems and no matter what you do, they will just mess you around. However, most of our customers are simply decent people with hectic schedules. They have every intention of keeping their appointments, but sometimes life just happens, they get stuck in traffic, caught up in circumstances beyond their control and they end up missing their appointment.
You know what I am talking about because you have experienced this problem yourself. In our current economy, you can’t afford problems like this. In times like these you have to make the most of every business transaction. Whether you own a Spa or Salon, your business revolves around your scheduler. Missed appointments mean lost revenue and wasted opportunities. So what can we do to be proactive and minimize the risk of no shows even before they happen?
Step 1: Workout the cost of “no shows.”
The place to start is by working out how much revenue you are losing on a daily, weekly and monthly basis. As you read this article, do you really know what missed appointments are costing your business? As you read this article, get your scheduler, a pen and a piece of paper and answer the following questions;
1. How many no shows do you have in your Spa on a daily, weekly and monthly basis?Do a thorough exercise and look back over the last 6 months at least. Get an accurate picture of the problem.Can you spot any trends?
2. How much money has your business lost through missed or forgotten appointments? You need to know the answer to that question?
As a result of answering the above questions, complete the following exercise. Firstly, work out the total number of no shows for the previous month. Secondly, work out the amount of lost revenue in Rands. Next, divide the amount of lost revenue in Rands by the number of missed appointments and work out the average cost of a “no show” for the month. You will probably be shocked to see how much money you are losing. From now on, it is your job as a Spa Owner or Manager to keep track of these figures. The worst thing about missed appointments is 80% of them could all be prevented with a little time and effort.
Here is something else to remember. When you have a no show, not only do you lose out on revenue from that client. Had you known in advance that a customer wasn’t going to pitch, you could have rescheduled them andyou could have put someone else intheir place. In other words – no shows cost you a lot more than you think!
2. Put your policies together.
Once you have a picture of how bad the problem really is, your next job is to create a set of guidelines or policies and procedures that govern client bookings. Your job now is to get very clear about how you want your business to run.
One of the bad assumption’s business owners make is that they assume their customers know how the business works and that the customer will use common sense in the business relationship. This is a bad assumption – one that will cost you money and raise your stress levels! In life and in business, you teach people how to treat you. So, if you struggle with no shows and customers who always arrive late, chances are it is because you and your staff are giving customers the message that it is ok for them to mess you around. So here are two business principles you need to practice.
1. Stop being casual about your time. Time is money. Your time is valuable and it needs to be treated as such. Get serious about your time. If you don’t respect your time, why should your customers?
2. Stop tolerating late comers and no shows. They cost you money and their late arrivals have a knock on effect. Don’t reward them for being late and don’t say, “Its ok, I don’t mind, it’s not a problem.” Deal decisively with problem clients. Politely, yet authoritatively explain to customers that this kind of behavior is not acceptable. Start giving clients the message that you are serious about business.
Most Spa’s have a set of policies and procedures somewhere on their treatment menu, usually in small print right at the back. The policies are usually forgotten by the Staff and in most instances they are never communicated to the customer clearly and consistently. If your policies and procedures regarding appointments are on the back of your menu they are out of sight and out of mind. Keep this in mind – when policies and procedures are compromised, the business always suffers. Create a set of policies and procedures governing the way you book clients in, and how you will remind them of their appointments. Your policies and procedures are meant to serve you, so create them and implement them. As you create your Spa policies, anticipate what can go wrong, put solutions into place that will minimize problems and maximize business.
Once your policies and procedures are in place, then it is time to train your staff to consistently communicate policies to your clients.For example, if you are using an automated sms reminder system, tell every client that they will get an sms to remind them of their appointment. Tell them that they must respond to the sms to confirm their booking. Tell them what to do if they can’t make it. Do they need to phone the Spa or just reply via sms? Tell them what will happen if the arrive late. Lead them through the process. One more point – make sure that you lead by example, let your staff see you educating your clients on the policies regarding appointment booking and cancellations
4. Use tools:
We live in the information and technology age. You can either use technology to grow your business and gain the competitive edge, or you can ignore it and watch your competitors use technology to put you out of business. Did you know that within 30 – 60 days, you can reduce the number of no shows by up to 80% and make sure a client never misses an appointment simply by using an automated sms reminder that is linked to your diary? Use technology to automate your business and streamline the booking process. Just remember the words of Bill Gates, “The first rule of any technology used in a business is that automation applied to an efficient operation will magnify the efficiency. The second is that automation applied to an inefficient organisation will magnify the inefficiency.” That brings me to my last point.
5. Measure on a daily, weekly and monthly basis
You are never going to totally eliminate missed appointments; however, you can manage them and even drastically reduce them. In order to do this, you have to constantly pay attention to what is happening in your business. In other words you have to measure and manage. You can’t improve what you don’t measure. As you measure, (I recommend you use Spa Software to do this) look for trends. For example, is it a particular client, or group of clients that are regular offenders? If so, can you figure out why? What course of action will be needed to fix the problem? Do missed appointments happen with a particular therapist? By asking yourself questions like these, you can figure out whether you have a people problem or a process problem. Once you have collected information about the problem, you can turn it into action and fix the problem. This way, missed appointments can become a thing of the past.
FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT VAUGHAN OWGAN ON 082 786 3223
By Vaughan Owgan – SPA BUSINESS TOOLS