When clients don’t show up for their massage as promised, who do you blame?

It doesn’t matter. Because just five no show appointments every week can cost you more than $12,000 a year.

That is if you charge a minimum of $50 per hour for a massage therapy session. Consider the losses in revenue if your service costs are higher - or if more clients missed their appointments.

But set the monetary value aside, being ‘stood up’ so to speak just feels bad.

It can affect your morale as you see the hours being wasted away.

As it takes its toll on your patience, you may end up feeling disrespected or worse, disliking your clients.

The good news is, there are ways to protect yourself and your business from no-shows clients.

Enforce a Polite yet Powerful No-Show and Cancellation Policy

First, accept the fact that missed appointments can’t be helped. The annals of Family of Medicine published a study explaining the common causes of no-shows: work overtime or a hectic schedule, commuting (traffic) problems, child care, and sudden illness.

Life is just full of twists and turns and so are client appointments. Hence, the purpose of a no-show policy: to protect you from the losses of the unexpected.

Communicate the Consequences

At least 41% percent of the participants in the above study claimed they did not know what would happen if they failed to show up for their massage, hence the lack of effort to give notice or feel guilty.

So it’s best to come up with a no-show and cancellation policy that politely explains the consequences and the need for penalties.

Some massage therapists require a non-refundable deposit system. Others demand a cancellation fee. Others set three, four or five strikes of missed appointments before blacklisting a client.

Whatever method of penance you choose, don’t forget to require a 24 or 48-hour notice to cancel or reschedule an appointment. If this doesn’t work for you choose the window you think is possible for you to fill the gap.

One secret to a powerful cancellation policy for massage therapists is clearly defining rules, making it sound polite yet authoritative. Your policy should be well-communicated. Something that clients can’t easily miss.

All of your no-show terms must be detailed prior to booking. Announced politely on your website, in your social media accounts, even in your business card.

Remember - the words you use are very important and must come across as professional and reasonable. The clients will both understand and respect you.

Another secret to a powerful no-show policy is rewarding flexibility which leads us to the next topic.

Reward Loyalty

What’s the sense of a punishment if there are no rewards?

Use a common learning practice, when you want to discourage bad behavior, you can reward good ones. Like the client who regularly books a massage and never misses an appointment.

Would you punish that favorite client of yours for missing an appointment or two? Probably not.

So how about giving the long-time regulars some gift certificates for being on time? What perks do they get for becoming your loyal prompt clients?

When you announce a no-show policy run it side by side with your rewards policy, which you look both fair yet still friendly. This way you don’t intimidate some clients who are sensitive with commitments.

Use Effective Appointment Reminders

If your no-show policy is not to blame for some missed appointments then it’s time to evaluate your booking system which may be the culprit why some clients ‘forget’ their appointments.

Are you still depending on the old pen-and-paper system to schedule appointments? Do you still manually call clients to make appointment reminders?

We respect that. But you may be missing out on what the best appointment systems out there can offer today which is mainly, convenience, productivity, and business stability.

The absolute secret to reducing no-show clients is by automating your appointment reminders but still enjoying the flexibility of the classic manual appointment system.

When Kaiser Permanente automated their reminders, the company saved at least $150 per appointment and dramatically improved their no-show rates.

This means an effective pre-appointment reminder really works wonders in confirming bookings. Many clients do book appointments in good faith but some just tend to forget, unless you remind them.

The good news is with a reliable automated email or SMS reminder you won’t have to stress or spend a chunk of your time making follow-up calls. You can send a gentle reminder via email or SMS message less the time and effort.

Here at MassageBook we offer a reminder system using text and email reminder notifications as part of our all-in-one practice management software. This reduces no-shows and saves you money and stress!

Create a free MassageBook account and start reducing no-shows in your massage or bodywork practice now!