“Wasted time is more expensive than wasted money.” a great quote from a renowned author and writer – Paulo Coelho. But let’s face it, time lost from cancellations and no-shows could affect not just your income but your entire business as well.
According to Dental Economics, “If a practice loses one appointment each day for a year, the lost production would be in the range of $20,000 to $70,000”. That estimation is relatively high in terms of the value and revenue your business would have gained. Thus allowing colossal damage to your income.
Impact of Missed Appointments
Whether it be direct financial costs, operational costs, client goodwill, or customer service costs, missed appointments could significantly impact your business.
Not only is valuable time lost whenever a client or customer decides to default, but each irrecoverable appointment could result in decreased revenue, underutilized staff, lost commissions, and decreased staff morale. The cost incurred due to cancellations and no-shows is a real pain and inconvenience and it can happen rampantly across numerous specialties in various locations, regardless of the size and type of business they offer.
Reasons for Having Cancellations and No-Shows
While it is easy to just blame the client for a no-show, some reasons are much more complex. An obvious reason could be financial. When people find out the amount they need to pay for the scheduled appointment, it may seem like too much for them, resulting in being discouraged. Some also get disappointed by long waiting-times and limited understanding of how seriously the appointment needs to be taken.
Some other reasons could be transportation issues – be it a flat tire or the unavailability of a cab, people tend to miss appointments despite their best intentions. Furthermore, let’s not forget about forgetting. Human memory has the selective capability to remember. This is the reason why people need to be reminded about their appointments.
Tips for Reducing No-Shows and Cancellations
Now that we have outlined what the problem may be, what are several strategies and solutions to reduce missed appointments?
According to studies, SMS messages are more effective than leaving voicemail messages to help clients remember their appointments. Almost 17% of clients are likely to forget their appointments when they are left with a recorded message compared to those who received an SMS. The biggest problem with live calls and voicemails is that they eat up a lot of time, effort, and manpower.
If you want to greatly reduce no-shows and cancellations on your appointment schedule, follow these steps, guidelines, and advice. This will help you significantly reduce them.
Educate your Customers
Some clients are unaware of the true value of your service and the importance of attending all scheduled appointments, and are therefore less likely to show up. It is important to take the time to educate your client on the value of keeping to their appointment schedule – whether it’s for their health, wealth, or other important matters. Look for opportunities to provide education in every interaction.
By educating them with brochures, educational websites, blogs, images, or graphics, you will help them understand the need for adhering to their scheduled appointments. Answer all of their questions and make sure they understand the consequences of not adhering to their appointments and your cancellation policy.
Explain Your Services
Talk to your client about the value of the services you offer, how unique your approach is compared to other competitors, and make sure they understand how important it is to show up for their appointments on time. During their visit, give them a brief overview of the service and product you provide and how it could be of importance to them.
Make them feel like you are not only after the revenue, but also the value you give them to help make their life easier and more manageable. Answer their questions thoroughly and support their needs when necessary.
Work On Your Appointment Schedules
Minimize setting appointments too far in advance. Your clients may have no idea what they are doing on a Tuesday morning three months from now. If you are scheduling them that far out, it is very likely that something might come up that will prevent them from keeping their appointment.
Instead, consider implementing an automated appointment system that can allow them to book an appointment on your calendar at a time that works for them. Automated appointment booking could not only help you set up, schedule, or send appointments reminders, but it could also reduce the time and effort you spend on scheduling your appointments. GReminders offers an optional tool to allow your clients to schedule directly on your calendar without having to speak directly with you.
Send Appointment Reminders On-Time
Confirming and sending appointments schedules in advance will help reduce your cancellations and no-shows. Ask your clients for their preferred contact information so that you may send automated SMS reminders to remind them of their appointments. This would help lessen the no-shows your business has to deal with, and could help you backfill a canceled appointment.
Create a No-Show Appointment Policy
If you do not have one already, now may be the time to create a no-show policy and communicate that policy to both new and existing clients. If your customers know your practice has a last minute or no-show cancelation policy, they will be less likely to cancel without giving sufficient notice.
You must remind them of your policy when they make their appointment. You may decide to waive the fee for the first no-show appointment and charge a repeat offender, or charge no-shows all the same whether it is a first time or a habitual no-show client. Also, make sure your business is implementing strict operating procedures to ensure consistent service is being delivered to every client on every visit.
No-shows can significantly decrease the expected net gain of your businesses. Getting rid of the factors that could affect your clients to miss their appointments is a must to increase customer retention and help grow your revenue. Giving great value and care to your customers allows your practice to remain profitable while ensuring that you can serve them the best that you can.