Selling a service, be it counseling, personal training or hairdressing, can be a hugely rewarding experience. The service sector is booming and new opportunities are opening up all the time. However, there is one huge source of frustration in the service sector and that is the failure of clients to attend.
The ‘did not attend (DNA)’ or ‘did not show’ client causes huge problems and results in businesses losing a lot of money. If you are just starting out, this is money that you cannot afford to lose! There are many challenges facing new businesses in the service sector already but this does not have to be one of them.
Whilst there will always be some clients that cannot make their appointments due to genuine emergencies, there are others who are simply careless or rude. You cannot avoid DNA clients all together but you can cut down the numbers that your business suffers and save yourself some money.
Make it easy for clients to cancel and re-book
If a client is ill or needs to dash to the hospital with a sick child they do not have the time or energy to call you and have a long conversation about why they are not going to make their appointment.
If you make it very easy for them to book, cancel and re-arrange then you will be kept informed of what they are doing more often. Open up your calendar of appointments so that your clients can access it easily. You still get to control what appointments are available but you do not have to be the only one entering the information!
Remind them of their appointment
Everyone needs a gentle reminder now and then. Set up a schedule of sending out reminder emails the week before the appointment. This gives them plenty of time to confirm their availability. Then send out reminder texts 24 hours before the appointment. You can even ask them to reply with a simple ‘ok’ if they are available to attend. If you do not get an ‘ok’ you can text them again.
If you have reception staff that are free to make some calls, a reminder phone call the day before the appointment works very well too.
Schedule in regular appointments
If you book a series of appointments at the same time and on the same day, your client will put these in their diary and it will be a regular feature for them. They will make a mental note that every Tuesday lunch time is a personal training session or every Friday evening is a physiotherapy appointment. This prevents them forgetting that they need to attend.
Start charging for missed appointments
This is a controversial area and works for some businesses and not for others. It can make you look as if you are ‘grabbing’ for money rather than eager to provide a great service. If you do go down this road it is essential that you make sure that your client understands that this policy in place. You could offer one DNA appointment for free to show good will.
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