How to Create an Appointment Cancellation Policy to Reduce No Shows

Appointment Reminder Cancellation Policy

It is common that some clients may forget their appointments. When they do not show up for an appointment not only do they waste your time, but they also generate economic losses for your company that may be difficult to recover from. 

What are the Potential Reasons for a No-Show?

There are many reasons people fail to show up for their meetings, but a few most common excuses are:

  • Forgot all about the appointment
  • Misunderstood when the appointment was to take place
  • Misunderstood where the appointment was to take place
  • Lost the original sense of urgency when the appointment was booked

Remind Clients of Their Appointments and Provide Additional Information

To reduce no-shows, there are tools that can help you remind your clients by SMS, text, phone calls, or email. When sending a reminder, you should make sure that you are clear about the time the appointment will take place and the location. Linking to a Map may be helpful. When sending reminders to first-time clients, you may want to include links to additional information that will help them understand how you can help them.

Have a Clear Appointment Cancellation Policy

You should have a clear cancellation policy that communicates to customers the importance of attending each appointment.

Your no-show policy should be expressed in a clear and concise way, letting them know their duties and rights when scheduling. This allows you to maintain a good relationship with your clients while maintaining an economic balance that does not affect the income of your company.

Appointment Cancellation Policy Template

When creating a cancellation policy, you should include the following:

  • The reason you have a cancellation policy
  • A time frame for cancellations (24, 48, 72 hours in advance, etc.)
  • How to communicate a cancellation (phone, email, text, etc.)
  • Consequences of not canceling the appointment within the parameters

Place Your Cancellation Policy on Your Website

After you have developed your cancellation policy, create a page on your website so your clients or prospective clients can read and understand your policy clearly.

Link to Your Cancellation Policy in Your Appointment Reminders

Now that you have created a page on your website that details your appointment cancellation policy, consider including a link to the page in your reminders. If you are sending SMS text reminders, you can incorporate a URL shortener to be more concise and reduce character count.

Prepayment for Services

In reality, it is very common for people who have requested an appointment not to attend on the established day and time. Therefore, many companies require clients to pre-pay some or all of their fees at the time of the appointment creation.

Having a prepaid appointment plan helps to ensure that the cost of your service is covered, and will also serve as an incentive to decrease frequent forgetfulness. Have a clear payment policy in place, and that will help decrease your no-shows.

If your clients schedule themselves, using automated online scheduling, include a pre-payment feature.

Cut-Off Time for Canceling Appointments

Things come up and people have to cancel sometimes. Having a concrete cancelation policy (most have a 24-hour policy) will keep the communication clear.

When you set a reasonable deadline for cancellation of appointments (e.g., requiring that you cancel before noon on the day before the scheduled appointment date), your clients will be more understanding.

Cancellation Fees

If a person cancels their appointment within a certain time frame of their appointment, they must pay a fee. This allows you to recoup some of the money you lost if/when you are unable to backfill the appointment. This is a way to encourage clients to attend and avoid financial loss. Sending a cancellation notification (that includes the cancellation cost), with a link to reschedule the appointment, may help reduce last-minute cancellations.

Repeat Offenders 

There always tends to be repeat customers who cancel or miss appointments over and over again. You can help them eliminate their no-shows by sending them reminders for their scheduled appointments with SMS messages, e-mails, or phone calls. GReminders is a service that can do all of this for you, with very little work on your part. If your client is still missing appointments on a regular basis, consider using advanced criteria and send only those clients additional reminders.

You should ensure that this policy is included in any material you provide to them so that they are clearly aware that they will be assigned a lower priority if they are repeatedly missing their appointments. 

Communicate and Enforce Your Cancelation Policy

Once you have established your own policy, it is necessary that you communicate it to your clients. Sending appointment reminders, you can regularly communicate and reinforce the no-show policy to clients, and establish the consequences of no-shows or late cancelations.

Make sure you keep your policy visible to everyone. We recommend placing it on your website and at the reception of your business so that your clients are well aware of the policy. At the same time, you should include it in writing on any document to be signed by clients.

Client Rewards

Another option to reward good behavior by people who attend frequently is to have some type of a rewards program. For instance, consider a small discount or preferential rates for a client who accumulates more than 5 appointments in a row. When it comes to good customers it is important to reward their loyalty to your business.

If you have any questions, please reach out to us HERE.

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