4 tips to avoid costly no-shows

Dominic Iafigliola
February 23, 2017
By Dominic Iafigliola
As a massage therapist, last-minute cancellations and no-shows are a major hurdle to overcome. Just a few empty time slots here and there can cost you a lot of money in the long run. For a practice that charges $90 per hour for a massage therapy session, just five empty, hour-long slots a week can mean a loss of more than $20,000 in revenue over the course of a year.

Luckily, just a few easy changes to your daily routine will help you avoid missed opportunities and make more money as a massage therapist.

1. Implement clear cancellation policy
Implement and communicate your cancellation policy. For example, you may decide to charge anywhere from 50 per cent to 100 per cent of your massage therapy fees for any no-show or cancellation with less than 24-hour notice. You can communicate your cancellation policy using a poster at your place of business, on your website or even in your appointment confirmation emails.

Clear and repeated communication of this policy does wonders to bring awareness to the cause and provides clients with a sense of responsibility. For added protection, you may also request a deposit or credit card number at the time of booking. If you go this route, however, be sure to use a payment processing tool that can securely collect credit card information.

2. Confirm. Confirm. Confirm.
Being proactive and reminding clients of their appointments are proven to reduce no-shows. Try scheduling a 15-minute break in the morning and another in the afternoon dedicated to confirming your appointments for the day after next. Make this a priority. If you don't schedule time in your day for this task, you may never get it done.

If calling patients individually isn't your thing, try email or text messaging. Some massage therapists even use social media. Choose whichever way allows you to get a confirmation from your customer that they will be attending their next appointment. If you are looking for a timesaving option, try an application that automates or allows you to pre-program reminder emails and text messages.

3. Maintain a waiting list to fill cancellations
While it is not always possible to avoid cancellations, confirming appointments will allow you to find out sooner, giving you a chance to fill that gap in your schedule. That's why it's important to maintain a proper waiting list. Documenting which clients are waiting for an appointment, as well as their date and time preferences, is key to quickly filling those empty time slots. Be sure to collect contact information that will allow you to easily reach those clients at a moment's notice.

4. Offer a promotion to fill empty time slots
If you've called everyone on your waiting list without luck, try offering a promo. While discounting your services may not sound appealing, making 75 per cent of your regular hourly rate is definitely better than nothing, especially if you're already at work. You can maintain a list of clients with flexible schedules that would be interested in last-minute appointments, or just try posting the time slot with a promotional rate on Facebook or any other social media account where you have a presence.

Getting organized and introducing these small suggestions into your routine can significantly reduce no-shows and limit the income loss associated with last-minute cancellations.

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Dominic Iafigliola is the founder of CalendarSpots.com, an online scheduling software for sole practitioners and businesses of all sizes. Dominic works closely with massage therapy professionals and other health and wellness practitioners to help them collaboratively manage staff schedules, client appointments and room availability.

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