The problem of late clients is a difficult one. These late clients can range from the regulars who tend to think they can get away with it, to new ones who are not used to your strict time keeping.
Is there a solution for such behaviour and where do I start?
1: Have a policy in place
Without a policy you cannot set expectations. If you have a policy in place whereby the client is charged for a no show they will be inclined to take you more seriously and turn up on time. A policy of this kind sets the tone for both clients and staff.
2: Implement your policy
It’s easier said than done. Yet implementing your policy should become your priority. If it isn’t, it will not happen.
Warn your existing clients a month before you put your policy in place in order to set expectations.
Any communication with your clients should then contain your policy, whether you email them or they're sitting on your chair. The policy needs to be seen for anyone to take it seriously.
3: Train your staff
Handling late clients can be very awkward. Ensure that some training is in place to avoid confusion.
Everyone has their own way of dealing with late clients, what matters is the message you put across.
A confirmation text message is a great way to prevent lateness. An even more efficient and personalised service is to call each client as well - this way they can tell you directly whether they need to change their appointment. This is also a good way of up-selling other treatments.
4: List of the offenders
A list needs to be set up in order to find out whether there is a pattern of behaviour from certain clients. Without a list containing date, time and reason, you might make unfounded accusations. It also enables you to check what happens when you're not in.
5: Follow up
The only way the policy will function is if there is a follow up. Of course we can be more lenient if something has occurred that's out of the customers control. However, after the 2nd offence, you should be talking to them and discussing their lateness. It's a business after all and they need to understand the importance of your policy. After the 3rd time they should be asked to pay in full for their appointments. The likelihood is they will stop their behaviour before it comes to that but your aim in applying such a policy is to ensure you have respectful clientele. Otherwise things can become both chaotic and frustrating!
The follow up on the offenders has got to be your priority. Think of it as a way of training your customers to behave the way you want them to. Your staff will follow that too if you take it seriously enough.
Late clients can be detrimental to your business and generate a very negative atmosphere. It's important to assess what you want to do and ensure you focus on it fully over a period of 6 months minimum. After that It will become common practice.
Valerie Delforge - Founder and CEO of Delforge + Co
Judge, Key Note Speaker, Commercial Trainer & Coach for the Beauty Industry
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