by Yolanda A. Facio | Featured Contributor
Here’s the answer… it depends…
Now, before you get all excited about that answer, thinking that I might just be giving you the run-around, hang with me… there is a definitive answer.
My process is this:
Two strikes and yerrrrrrrrr OUT!
If you miss or are late for your appointment, you get one reschedule.
The second time, I’m done.
I am very, very, very, very, VERY adamant about time respect. It is a big deal to me. It means that I don’t think tardiness is acceptable, it means I think being late or missing appointments without a call or email is rude. In business, time does equal money. If I’m waiting for you then I can’t be helping someone else. If you miss an appointment, I miss an opportunity to fill that block of time with another paying client or work.
You might be different…
THAT is the definitive answer… You.
When it comes to establishing boundaries for our work lives, every person and situation is different. Only you can decide what is tolerable or acceptable to you.
Wherever the “line” is for you, that is the place to start.
Your boundaries need to reflect how you feel about your business and yourself.
It is often times easy to hand out advice about what someone should be doing based on what we do ourselves, but our businesses are all different.
So how can you determine what’s best for your business?
Start with your own non-negotiables. When it comes to making appointments with people, what really gets you frustrated, angry, or fired-up? What raises your blood pressure? What just doesn’t work for you?
Use those things to create a list of non-negotiables, the list is specific to you and your business. These are things that just aren’t acceptable to you.
And hear this… explaining it is not necessary.
Whatever place you come from, whatever your personal and business “why”, it’s yours – own it.
I don’t make excuses for my policies, rules, or boundaries. I certainly don’t apologize for them and neither should you.
More importantly, NO ONE should make you feel guilty or bad for your choices.
The deal is this: there’s lots of fish in the sea and they all have businesses, if someone doesn’t like your style they can find another school of fish.
BUT what if…
Okay, so I got a little excited and stern for a minute, and sometimes that makes people uncomfortable. They say, “well that might work for you, Yolandaaaaa but…”
If you’re thinking that by not rescheduling one appointment 15 times you might be losing money or a customer, have you thought of the real cost of 15 reschedules?
Let’s break it down:
First, you lose the time that gets rescheduled. You’ve set it aside for someone, they don’t show, it’s lost. You can’t generally put someone in that spot at the last minute.
Second, you open yourself to more of the same. Now that you’ve made it okay to reschedule, more rescheduling happens, more lost time.
Third, you’ve set a standard. Because you teach people how you do business, and one of those things is constant and unfettered (did I just use that in a sentence?) rescheduling, more rescheduling commences. You become THE place for the folks that can’t get it together.
If you want to have a business you love and if you want to achieve real balance in your business, establishing boundaries is a critical and necessary component.
Happy workdays come from having a balanced business, a business that doesn’t wear you out or overwhelm you.
So before you start to worry about whether or not you should continue to reschedule that “no show” client, determine your own boundaries around time. And, if you are still a little bit unsure, figure out the real cost to your business.
Yolanda A. Facio is an Entrepreneur, Consultant, and Writer who helps small business owners run their businesses better so that they can get more done, make more money, and have more life. A seasoned business owner, Yolanda has spent 20+ years starting, building, and operating successful businesses; she has in-the-trenches experience that she shares through her work as a consultant and writer. Author of two bestselling Kindle books, when she’s not blogging at Balance Driven Entrepreneur, Yolanda divides her time between her clients, businesses, writing, and her two furry girls.
6 Replies to “Should You Keep Rescheduling Missed Client Appointments? by @yolandafacio”
Thank you Yolanda for your excellent sharing on this topic and for each of you who added to the conversation. My husband and I are both learning about setting boundaries in this area. Like most of you, if someone cancels, it’s last minute and we can not offer that time spot to another client. We have a strict “no refund” policy and so when one client cancelled at the last minute right before Christmas, we thought that she understood. A few weeks later, she wrote requesting a refund. We gave it to her, but let her know that we would not be open to future appointments, due to the last minute cancellation. She wrote back, further explaining her reason for canceling and telling us that she had heard that we were “understanding people.” She was shocked that she wouldn’t be allowed to book with us in the future.
I love what Chevan brings up. I think we all have to come from that “I’m rich” mentality, so that we don’t break our own rules. I also understand what you were saying about the illusion of “I’m rich” and how that affects how clients treat us. There’s something to that psychology, I agree!
This is true, I don’t have rescheduling policies in my contract & I have clients that think their purchased sessions are infinite, that they can pay for x # of session a week or month & just skip out on a week sometimes 2 or 3 weeks! & they come back & want to train & think those sessions are still good. Circuit training gyms don’t allow this & im learning neither can I moving forward. & they never give me 24 hours heads up it’s always no show or a hour or 2 before the scheduled time. The thing though is you have to be in a situation financially that you can take the loss of firing these clients without having your business go in the hole. My clients know me & ppl pretty well & I think they only do this sort of behavior to providers they know can’t afford to lose their buisiness. So now I’m going t have to find a way to make them think I’m rich… it sounds crazy but trust me they don’t do it to ppl they know can afford to cut them lose.
Just my 2 cents
I learned this one the hard way last year, with a client who rescheduled every meeting several times. I didn’t want to walk away from a multi-month project by “firing” him, and I had to take responsibility for not having a policy in place at the time (because it had never been an issue.)
Explaining straightforwardly that it was impacting my revenue by taking billable hours off my schedule didn’t help, so I specifically wrote my new policy into all new contracts.
And now if someone is late to a meeting or misses one without advanced notice I bill them for the entire time, starting at the meeting’s scheduled start time, because that’s how much time they took from the billable hours on my appointment schedule.
Billing for the time is the most effective preventative measure I’ve found, and I’m OK with applying it because (1) it was clearly communicated in advance, and (2) now I’m being compensated for the time I reserved for them.
I like what you have to say about establishing the boundaries that work for us as individuals, and for our businesses, and then not apologizing for them, Yolanda. Still a work in progress….
Megan, excellent approach! Writing or formalizing our boundaries makes it easier to enforce them. I try to remind people to think about what, about a process, causes pain or discomfort or even anger. When you can pinpoint it you can create a new boundary around it and communicate it in your materials so that you can avoid having to have a difficult conversation. Communicating boundaries can be very positive, just like saying our work hours are 9 to 5, it simply is what it is. Customers can then self-select. If a policy doesn’t work for them they likely won’t work as an ideal client for you!
Judy Yaron PhD
The key, Yolanda, is as you say that it is YOUR business, YOUR policies and YOUR boundaries – no GUILT and no APOLOGIES. Not easy, especially for women.
One solutions (although not necessarily easy) is to have clients pay for missed sessions if they fail to let you know in time. If they really want your services, they will respect the rules. This policy needs to be made clear from the start and handled with compassion.
In some cases, it works both ways … if YOU have to cancel last minute you offer a free session.
Thanks for the inspiring and informative post – reminding us that it’s business and it’s OURS! HUGS <3
YES! Judy, there are so many ways to handle rescheduling, charging for missed appointments is one good way to do so. Do what works for your business and don’t be afraid to be a little bit uncomfortable, there’s always a bit of fear is layin’ down the law. I say feel the fear and do it anyway!