Reducing salon no-shows and last minute cancellations

Are no-shows losing you thousands of £££ a year? Read this blog to get the top tips and action plan.

Reducing salon no-shows and last-minute cancellations

As a salon owner you want a full diary, 0 no-shows and 100% re-booking but it is often the no-shows & cancellations we over-look but this is profit that is walking out the door.

You can’t realistically expect to eliminate salon no shows and last minute cancellations completely. However, with bills to pay, it is so important we tackle this and there are plenty of  tips for reducing them to the real emergencies only.

So let’s look at:

  • The cost of no shows
  • Tips from our experts to reduce them
  • Helping your team deal with no-shows

How much do no-shows cost your salon business?

Do you know how many no shows and last minute cancellations your hair or beauty business has in the average month? How much profit you’re losing?

The first step to tackling no shows is to monitor and measure how much your salon or barbershop is losing from clients missing their appointments. You can see this in your Slick KPI report broken down by staff member

Now look for no show trends and patterns:

  • Which services? Expensive colour services or lower value cuts?
  • Are some team members getting more no shows than others?
  • Then are they the most junior or the most expensive staff members?

It’s important to calculate the cost to your business. Our data shows that, salons lost over £2k a month due to no-shows and cancellations*. That’s £2k that would go to paying your team, bills etc. Can you afford to be without that?

If you are reading this and saying that’s wrong then let’s do the maths

On average salons have 11 no shows or last minute cancellations a week in your salon… If your average bill is £42 (net of VAT) x 8 no shows = £462 per week

That’s £2002 a month

Which is  £24,024 net per year.

What would you do with £24k? That’s your receptionist salary! That’s a salon refurb! That’s your rent bill!

3 ways to reduce salon no-shows and late cancellations

1. Remind hair & beauty clients about appointments

There are 2 main ways to remind your clients:

  • Appointment cards
  • Reminder text messages

So which should you choose?

Both. Whilst there is a cost think how much profit you gain by preventing just one no show.

Reminder One: Appointment cards

It doesn’t matter if you clients say “Yep i’ll add that to the diary in the car” you should still send them a confirmation message or Digital Appointment Card. Don’t rely on paper appointment cards! Most clients will pop into their purse where they will never get seen again.

You have blocked out an hour for that client, you need them to do the same. Slick will send a Digital Appointment Card to every client 10 minutes after they book with you. They can click on the time/date and add straight to their phone’s calendar! No more lost card in their handbag!

Reminder Two: Text messages

Luckily Slick gives you unlimited free reminders so that is one less thing to worry about and this will save you a fortune on last minute cancellations and no shows.

However if the client doesn’t have the appointment in their diary in the first place then a reminder will be useless. This is why it is important to use both Appointment Cards AND reminders

2. Good client relationships reduce nshows

Obvious but often overlooked.

Encouraging your team to build strong relationships with your clients will reduce no shows because they increase a client’s commitment to their beauty therapist or hair stylist. Clients don’t want to ‘let Claire down’.

There is another reason:

One of the major reasons for no shows is that the client was unhappy with their last visit. If there was a problem then you need to know about it.

Not all clients will feel comfortable talking to you as the manager so it’s important to check in with a client after their visit.

A simple message after their visit to ask them to leave a review or tell you about their experience will flush out any bad experiences.

This allows you to call the client and resolve the issue. The client goes away feeling appreciated and loved which makes them far more likely to attend their next appointment as you have shown you care.

Learn more about Google reviews

3. Have a clear salon cancellation policy

Why are so many hair and beauty businesses frightened of a displaying (and enforcing) a cancellation policy?

It is not something to be ashamed of – you’re in business.

Write a polite but firm policy and display it on your salon website and on your salon price list.

It is to remember it’s a two part process:

  1. Give them a reminder 48 hours before  the appointment (Slick does this automatically).
  2. This gives clients a chance to make their changes if they do have a legitimate reason to change.
  3. In your policy, tell them a fee will be incurred if an appointment is missed or substantially altered within 24 hours of the appointment time.

The important point is to leave time between the reminder and the fee being applied: this is fair.

What does a good policy look like??

Something as simple as:

We ask that you pay a 50% holding fee to secure your booking. Should you cancel within 48 hours of your booking start time or no show on the day, your holding fee may not be refunded and we may charge the full 100%.

Tell your team, especially anyone taking calls so they know:

  • What to say.
  • How you expect last-minute cancellations to be handled.

And of course you can exercise your discretion and waive the cancellation fee if you want to for your best customer

FREE Cancellation policy templates

4. Deposits

Should you take a deposit?

If you want to be paid for coming to work then the answer is YES

Have you ever no-showed to a pub booking? In the past, yes i have…

Have you ever not turned up to a flight you booked? Unlikely….

If you have paid money in advance then you are going to attend.

Post-COVID, most service industries (pubs, restaurants etc) now take deposits as they can not afford to have tables sat empty and turning away bookings.

Salons are no different.

If your clients respect you and value you then they will be happy to pay.

If a client protests about paying a deposit then ask yourself why? If they are planning on attending then what is the issue with paying 25% up-front. The people that protest are the people than book 3 appointments and no show to 2 of them.

What to do when hair & beauty clients fail to show up?

Even if you follow all these tips you will always get some no shows. So, what should your team do when they realise they have been stood up?

1. Call your client

A phone call diffuses any embarrassment if they have made a genuine mistake or are caught up by events beyond their control.

Remind your team to remain polite, calm and not show their frustration. Their goal is to reschedule if at all possible, so they may need to be persistent; if the client doesn’t answer always leave a pleasant firm voice mail and follow up with another call and/or text.

2. Repeat no show offenders

If you have hair and beauty clients who regularly cancel last-minute or don’t show up in spite of your texts and calls then I’d fire them as clients. Does your salon or clinic really need this type of client?

Remember how much no shows cost your business. Can you afford to be out of pocket? Can you afford to have frustrated and irritated team members? No.

3. Stay flexible

On the other hand if a good longstanding client has to cancel late in the day then don’t throw the book at them. We all have emergencies (and memory lapses) so evaluate each no show individually.

4. Use a waitlist

Slick can offer you a waitlist column to book in clients who are able to come in at short notice. A great way of storing clients who are keen to visit and fill any empty slots that may open up due to a last minute cancellation.

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