Reducing No-Show Appointments
A single missed appointment can signal the beginning of a ripple effect through the entire organization for a business that depends on those appointments for most of its income.
When you stack one missed appointment on top of another, those missing clients are suddenly the difference between making payroll and having to dip into savings or take out a short-term loan to keep your business going.
Whether the appointment is a presentation for a sale or the sale itself, it’s important to make sure you retain as many appointments as possible.
You might think that following through with appointment reminders is forward or pushy, but it's not. It's just one additional step in the sales process.
Once you have them on the hook, you want to keep them there. Strategies to reduce no-show rates like reminding customers about their appointments is part of that.
Don't Schedule New Customer Appointments Too Far in Advance
It might seem like a sign of success if you have to schedule appointments one or two weeks out, and in a way it is. It shows your service is in demand and your hard work is paying off. But it also gives your customers time to do several things:
- Talk themselves out of doing business with you
- Spend the money earmarked for your product or service on something else
- Talk to your competition and get a similar deal sooner
If you are unusually busy because of a special promotion or sale, then scheduling that far in advance is acceptable as a short-term solution. But if you are constantly scheduling appointments like this, consider bringing on an associate who can help with the increased demand. People might want to do business with you, but they're also fickle. If they can get something similar faster, they just might go for it.
Again, this advice is for new customers. Existing customers are different, and have different rules.
For Existing Customers: Rebook
Repeat customers already know how great you are, but they still might need a nudge or two to keep them coming back on a regular basis. Before they walk out the door, ask them if they want to schedule their next appointment and give them a reminder card.
A simple statement like, “Hey, since your here and my appointment book is in front of me, let's set your next appointment,” is generally enough to get them to cooperate.
If they say no, it's no big deal. But in many cases, like with hair and nail salons or other services that typically require repeat visits, customers are willing to book in advance and just make it part of their routine. They’ll have a reminder in their pocket or purse already, and you’ll have a steady customer back on the books.
Consider Charging Skipped Appointment Fees
Ever notice the sign in your doctor's office that states the office might charge a fee for missed appointments? Some offices actually follow through. It might seem unfair, but look at it from their point of view: by setting an appointment, you agreed to be there. And by not showing up, you robbed another patient of the chance to be seen at that time.
Now apply that thought process to your own business. When customers miss appointments, they cost you money and keep you from helping someone who would have actually shown up.
Charging a fee for that kind of inconvenience isn't an outrageous thing, just as it's not outrageous to expect people to keep their appointments.
Reducing No-Show Appointments with Appointment Reminders
If you want to add a bit of automation to your strategies to reduce no-show rates, use appointment reminders. Yes, you can actually pick up the phone and call your customers and remind them of their appointment, but do you have time for that?
Why take time away from what you need to do or tie up an employee with the task when there is software that can do it for you?
Use a system such as AppointmentReminder.com to easily send reminders to your customers. Once you’ve connected your contact list from Google Calendar or Outlook into the system, the software takes it from there.
No awkward conversations with customers when they are considering canceling. Each customer just receives a reminder through a phone call, an email, or a text.
Reducing no-show appointments is an important part of doing business. After all, if people don’t show up, then you can’t close the sale. And that means lost profits. If a gentle nudge from you a day or two before the appointment can help remind your customers and get them in the door, then some discomfort of asking them to book in advance or sending a reminder is worth it.
So, take the leap and send those reminders. Your customer no-show rate will get thinner, and your bottom line will get thicker. And that’s never a bad thing.