How to Talk to the Late Arrivals, No-Shows and Time Hoppers!

How to Talk to the Late Arrivals, No-Shows and Time Hoppers | Badass Bodyworkers
I’m late! I’m late! For a very important date!
— the White Rabbit from "Alice in Wonderland"

We ALL have been there, for whatever reason. But let's be real here, badasses.

YOU ARE RUNNING A BUSINESS, NOT A CHARITY. DO NOT LET CLIENTS TAKE ADVANTAGE OF YOUR TIME.

Everybody who showed up on time should not be punished because of someone else's irresponsibility & inconsideration. Their lack of planning does NOT constitute an emergency on your part.

I apologize for shouting, but I know we are natural givers in this industry & REALLY want to accommodate everyone as best as we can. But set your boundaries, and stick to them! Your ideal clients will NOT arrive late unless it's a dire emergency. When you say no to someone who doesn't appreciate your precious time, you are saying YES to another one who will adore you.

I always leave a 15-30min leeway for new clients JUST in case. (You will need to check with your malpractice insurance provider / insurance regulations for charging in case that's highly regulated in your state) The best solution is for the therapist/ spa technician to speak briefly with the client and let them know you appreciate being able to know them and care for their needs & help them reach their goals, but that their chronic late arrival is hurting this therapeutic relationship and is not fair to other clients on the schedule who are kept waiting.

Set the tone by emphasizing the importance of respecting each other’s time. If this continues to be a problem, then scheduling them near the end of the day will minimize the impact on subsequent patient appointments (but don’t schedule them for the last appointment or you will be made to wait for them).

Before we get started, do your homework! And do it well! If you work for someone else, you may want to consult with their policies and whether you will get paid regardless of they show or not.

GOAL 1

• Create your facility's late and no show policies. (I like to call it a “RESCHEDULING” policy to avoid the negative term “cancellation” which encourages disrespect.)
• Get your policies clearly stated on your website & software system's main page so there is absolutely no room for excuses. Your clients MUST know what your policy is BEFORE you can enforce them.

For example, here is the EXACT Spa Etiquette that's on my website: ARRIVING & RESCHEDULING

GOAL 2:

• Send a reminder email out to all of your existing clients with your (new/updated) policies.
• You can word the email along the lines of: Get the Most Out of Your “Me-Time”! Or “Before Your Well “Kneaded” Spa Day” etc
• Bullet or number formatting works well and makes it streamlined & super easy to digest and understand.
• Encourage future bookings by including your website links & review page links, so they do not consider bailing out by reading your amazing reviews.

GOAL 3:

• Modify the policies and include them in your confirmation calls.
• Add the policies to your email reminders in the info section (usually at the footer)
• PLEASE let your clients know EXACTLY how to arrive. I always text them a pic of my building since it's a little hard to find, and where to park.
• Make sure you have a system to get credit card numbers to encourage timely arrivals. If clients know you are confirming with a credit card, then they will most likely not back out. Let them know the card number is to HOLD their appointment, and it will only be charged for the rescheduling in case of a no show or cancellation within 24 hours.

So, WTF Do I Actually Say When They Are Late?!

I usually give clients 5-10 minutes, then call them. If they do not answer, I leave a VM and/or text.

PLAN A

See them regardless but shorten their time. That's why having a few mins leeway just in case. “I'm so glad you made it – I was worried about you! Come on back and let's get as much done as we can with the time we have left.” Any reasonable patient will not expect you to do everything you had planned to do originally.

Prioritizing means that you don't have to rush through anything or compromise your standards, but that you use the time you have to its best purpose. Example: "Unfortunately, we only have X minutes left to the session. What areas would you like the focus to be on?" And then charge them the full treatment amount after.

PLAN B

Reschedule them so they can get their full treatment time. Perhaps to offer if they pre-pay for their next session today then you will wave the fee. If giving benefit of the doubt, PLEASE approach it with professionalism because you don't want your client to feel weird, awkward, or uncomfortable. Also, you don’t want to come off as a hard-ass and rash or rude. You want them to come back!

I personally tell clients (if I charge them the fee) that it will be applied towards their next appointment. For example: “Hi Jane Doe, this is Rebecca from Vida Pura Spa and you have a 2pm appointment for a massage, and it is now 2:10. I wanted to call to make sure that you’re ok, or help you with directions. My clients and their goals are very important to me, so I am calling to check on you. Trust me, I know that life can throw us some curveballs. I have a few minutes to spare, so if you arrive by 2:30, we can continue with the full treatment.” (This lets the client know that I'm not upset or angry, and that I care about their well-being. STAY POSITIVE and be empathetic, because truth is we really have NO IDEA what a client is going through. And we want them to come back to us!

Then I say: “Please feel free to call or text me back and let me know everything is OK and if there's a more convenient time in your schedule so we can reach the goals we talked about. I look forward to pampering you and am grateful you chose Vida Pura Spa for your me-time. If a staff member doesn't hear from you via phone, text, or email, the no-show fee of $30 which was discussed upon booking will be invoiced to you via paypal. You can reach us at (555) 555-5555 or spa@noshow.com (Find a billing platform that will allow you to send an invoice with the letter. I personally use PayPal or Square’s invoicing system.)

Example script for a regular client: “Hi Jane Doe, It’s Becca from Vida Pura Spa. I had you confirmed for your noon massage, and it is now 12:15, oops! Please call or text me at (555) 555-5555 and let me know all is well, and if we need to reschedule you for another time, let me know ASAP. I am looking forward to pampering you and hearing about {mention something personal you talked about during the last appointment}.”

Suggested wording for the repeat offender: I only give ONE free late pass, at my digression. Sh*t happens sometimes, but if you continuously let clients disrespect your time, then they will always think it's ok to do so. Habits are formed for a reason. “Hello, Jane Doe, I know how life can be crazy sometimes, but I don’t want you losing out on your appointment time. I care deeply about your goals and you and when you’re in the spa, I want you to feel completely taken care of by me. When you're running late, I'm unable to spend the treatment time with you because it's imperative that we accommodate the next clients at their booked time. So, how can I help you arrive in a timely manner?

OFFER SOME SOLUTIONS:

• “Is there a better time of day for you, such as mornings/afternoons or evenings/ weekends that will allow you to take advantage of the full treatment?
• “Is there a better day of the week for you? Wednesdays are more flexible for me.”
• “Do you want a reminder call with the automated text confirmation the day before or the morning before?”
• “Do you prefer to be on my first call list in the case of a cancellation?”
• “Would you prefer to see the other therapist who works X days/ times?”
• “Please let me know because you are investing in the spa treatment and I want you to get the most from your investment and reach all of your therapeutic goals.”
• “If you are currently unsure of your schedule, let's book a tentative appointment a few weeks from now and follow up to see how it's looking then”

A huge part of becoming successful without burning out and avoiding overwhelm is to have systems & policies in place BEFORE the issue arises. Check out our blog post “The Power of Cancellation Policies” here.

Don't be a pushover. 's ALWAYS a good care of your business and cleanse the inconsiderate clients from your badass biz to make room for your ideal clients. And DO NOT DWELL on the fact that clients arrive late. It happens. We attract into existence what our thoughts create.

************************************************
(From the AMTA website: “A no-show client who doesn't call to reschedule isn't likely to pay a bill you send them for the missed appointment, so billing for no shows in these instances can be costly and futile. A more effective policy may be to keep a record of clients who miss their appointments. Inform them when they call to reschedule that, if they wish to make any future appointments with you, they must pay your cancellation fee. Don't waste your time or postage expenses chasing after a lost cause.” )