Whether you’re a spin cycle studio or personal trainer, you’ve almost certainly dealt with no shows and late cancellations. They cost you revenue, cause cash flow problems, and are an inconvenience to you and your paying members. Here are four tips to help cut down on the no shows and late cancels plaguing your business.
1) Establish a solid cancellation policy and stick with it
Are you charging a fee for no-shows and late cancellations? If not, why? No show fees are the most effective method to encourage members to prioritize their commitment to you. Even a nominal fee will give people pause before signing up for a class or appointment they’re not sure they can attend. First, you need to establish a clear and easy to understand refund policy. If you commit to creating a sound policy but are lax in enforcement, you’ll find yourself on a slippery slope to keeping cancellations under control.
A good refund policy will explain how a client may reschedule or miss an appointment without incurring a penalty. Standard procedure is to let them reschedule with no penalty as long as they cancel with 24-hours notice.
You may consider offering a “freebie” for a client’s first missed appointment or late cancellation but will expect the client to pony up the full price for every missed appointment following. Some studios employ a sliding scale of penalties, incurring a higher no show penalty for each subsequent missed appointment. We’re not a personal fan of this method since it will be more difficult for your customers and staff to remember. Other business owners may opt not to charge full price for a missed appointment, but do retain a small, non-refundable deposit. Keep it simple. We recommend either giving one free pass or no refunds at all.
Whichever route you decide to take for your business, consistency is key here. Ensure all of your team members are briefed on how to sympathetically approach complaints and excuses while still enforcing policy.
2) We all need a reminder
Life happens. Your clients are people who need to juggle with the day-to-day stressors and hurdles of life just like you. Take initiative by lending your customers a helping hand and remind them about their upcoming lesson via phone, email, text.
They can typically opt-in to these reminders if they use a system like One Fit Stop. Email and text message reminders are usually the most effective method of getting their attention, but a personal phone call is always a nice touch!
3) Upfront payments
If your refund policy expects full payment for no shows or cancellations without at least 24 hours notice, how will you be able to collect those payments if you don’t have access to your clients’ payment information? Requiring upfront payment from your client when they schedule a lesson accomplishes two things: it ensures you can charge the client in the event of a no show and it makes the client less likely to miss the appointment if they know they already have a financial stake in the class they booked.
Additionally, collecting upfront payments from selling class packages benefits you and your customers. Clients enjoy a sweet discount for buying in bulk while you receive a cash flow bump and the security of knowing those appointments are paid upfront.
4) Communication is key
Presenting your new cancellation and refund policy to current members will set the tone for how they respond. It’s important that right in the opening paragraph you clearly explain what is changing, why you’re making it and how your members will benefit from the new policy.
You’ll want to include a few sentences that stress this new policy is not about making more money or shaming your members for doing something wrong. It’s about fairness to the community and respect for the instructor’s time and resources.
If you are a personal trainer, your new policy agreement can include a line on how an essential part of your role is to hold clients accountable to their fitness goals. Your refund policy reinforces your core values as a fitness professional.
What are your best practices for dealing with late cancellations and no shows that weren’t mentioned here? One Fit Stop offers a variety of features to help minimize no shows and late cancellations for your fitness business including class packages, text and email appointment reminders, and payment collection.