If you are a small business owner who provides a service to customers, one of the things that you may struggle with the most is last minute cancellations. Customers cancelling appointments last minute handcuff you significantly, as it’s likely too late for you to fill the slot with somebody else. You end up losing money without there being much that you can do about it.
Last minute cancellations are nothing new. And it’s something that every service-based industry must overcome. The best way to do so is by being proactive. Below, we’ve listed a couple of the things that you can do to help prevent customers cancelling appointments last minute.
Setup A Reminder Strategy
As a service-based business owner, one of the first things you should do is set up a strategy to minimize the chances of cancellation. Perhaps the best approach is to send your customers an upcoming appointment reminder.
When doing so, you’ll want to find a balance between giving yourself enough time to replace the customer but also not letting the customer know so far in advance that he or she will forget.
You’ll want to try to remind the customer of the upcoming appointment a day or two ahead of time. That way, if the customer cancels, you have time to fill their existing slot with someone on your cancellation list.
Assign Someone to Communicate with Customers
The next part of your strategy is figuring out how you’re going to communicate with your customers. There are three standard forms of communication by which you can do so:
- Telephone call
- Text message
There are software systems that allow you to automate all of these processes. If you are going to go with automation, we recommend doing so when sending a text message or email. You can put someone in charge of overseeing the software without it taking too much of their time.
These options are useful because they don’t require many working hours. They also allow customers to respond at a time that’s convenient for them.
Telephone calls could be useful if you’re looking for a more personal touch. However, there are a couple of problems with relying on phone calls. First off, one of your employees is going to need to spend considerable time each day calling the customers for the next day. Second, there’s no guarantee that the customer will pick it up. The employee may have to leave a voicemail and then drop everything they’re doing when the customer calls back later.
Create a Reminder Template for Customer Appointments
If you choose to use automated software, the process to do so is straightforward. You should select one member of your team who will serve as the point of contact. This person will be in charge of making sure that the reminders go out in a timely fashion. They may also be in charge of answering any questions a customer may have or rescheduling canceled appointments.
You should provide this individual with a template that they can use to send to customers. Taking the time to draft a template is well worth your while. A template makes your company appear more legitimate. It also reduces the risk of grammatical or spelling errors. Consider the following email and text templates that we’ve provided below.
Hi [customer name],
This is a reminder from [your company name] that you have scheduled an upcoming appointment.
If you have any questions or concerns, please don’t hesitate to get in touch with me at [point person email address] or by phone at [point person phone number]
[point person name]
[your company name]
[point person phone number]
Text Message Template:
Hi [customer name],
This is a reminder from [your company name] that you have an appointment on [appointment date and time]. Please give us a call at [point person phone number] with any questions.
You can draft anything you’d like when crafting a template. Just remember to always include contact information, along with the date and time of the appointment. Also, be sure to keep the template concise and to the point. Otherwise, the customer may close it before reading the entirety of the message.
When to Send Service Reminders
As mentioned, you’ll want to find a time to send a reminder that works for both you and the customer. If you send it a week in advance, the customer may forget about the appointment.
The point of the reminder is to provide the customer with enough time to change the appointment while accounting for anything that popped up that they may have forgotten.
On the other hand, you need to give yourself enough time to reschedule the appointment as well. For instance, if you send a reminder the morning of the appointment, it’s practically useless. You can find a time that works best for you.
We recommend sending your appointment reminder 24 – 48 hours in advance to ensure customer feedback.