To charge or not to charge

What to do when clients miss an appointment.

The previous article looked at ways to ensure your clients remember their appointments. This one is about how to decide what to do when they fail to attend. In all cases you should make it very clear that you charge for every missed appointment, when the booking is made, when they get a reminder and by notices when they come into the premises.

Formulate a policy:

There are different reasons why people miss their appointments. Without a doubt if they have simply forgotten, or if they decide to get a haircut, you must charge. What about If they have to take their dog to the vet? Their car won’t start? Or you would need to be very strict to charge someone taken to hospital as an emergency, or a close family member involved in something similar.

  • Do you charge on the first offence? Do you charge if they rebook immediately?
  • It might be a good idea to print copies of the policy and display them in your premises.
  • When someone fails to turn up phone them.
  • If they have forgotten they will be apologetic and you can rebook.
  • If they are not there leave a message, state that they have missed their appointment today and would they call you.
  • If they don’t call you send a letter.
  • Speaking to them on the day will help them be aware that you are now sitting twiddling your thumbs. When you speak to them, do remind them that there will be a charge for the missed appointment.
  • Your letter should be polite, but make it clear that you have lost income. If you don’t receive a reply, and a cheque, send it again.
  • The legal position is that a client who makes an appointment has entered into a verbal legal contract with you. You do have the right to pursue payment from them.

Some of our clients at Real Time Reception are very strict about charging, some prefer to be less strict. Everyone has to find a policy that they are comfortable with.

You may possibly not always recoup the fee, after a second letter it is probably not worth pursuing, but you owe it to yourself to make some effort. Do you need a client who doesn’t value your service?