No Shows. This is the term I use for clients who call us, schedule an appointment, and then don't honor their appointment. And by "honor their appointment", I mean show up with a dog or cat. To add insult to injury, these No Shows do not call, email or otherwise reach out to us to let us know they will not be coming in.
When they don't show up for their appointment, I will call their contact number. Sometimes the phone rings and then goes to voicemail. Other times, it immediately goes to voicemail. Usually I reach the client, explain why I'm calling, then wait for the excuse. I've heard the basics like "So sorry, I forgot" or "I got called into work" to the infuriating "I'm in bed and don't feel like getting up" to the downright frightening "My brother was just shot, I'll have to call back to reschedule."
Hey, things happen, I understand that. Emergencies do occur, getting called back to work may really have happened, and I'm sure some clients do truly forget they made an appointment. Nonetheless, an appointment is a commitment by both parties. The client is committed to showing up with a dog or cat and money; Best In Show is committed to being available and providing the client with the grooming services they request.
My strategy for coping with No Shows? Overbook. I have to assume a small percentage of clients will not show up, so instead of booking 8 appointments, I'll book 12. Usually this works out because of No Shows. However, there have been a few days – particularly on weekends – when every appointment showed up. That made for very long days.
I've considered implementing a cancellation fee. I know some groomers charge a fee (or at least say they do on their website), however, I'm not there yet. Most of my clients are wonderful, well-meaning people, and even if they miss an appointment now and then, they eventually do show up. If I implement a cancellation fee, I may never see them again, or if they do show up and pay the fee, I'll encounter hostility, resentment and possible complaints about the haircut and service.
I don't want my relationship with my clients to be hostile or adversarial. I work hard to maintain a calm, professional and efficient demeanor with all client interactions. Letting any client relationship degenerate to a finger-pointing dispute about fees is bad for business, is not reflective of my character nor what I want for my business.
I am very interested in hearing back from other groomers on how they deal with this problem. Does this happen to you? How do you cope with it? Do you charge fees, and if you do, is it effective in correcting behavior without losing customers?
To my current and prospective clients, when scheduling a grooming appointment, please treat the appointment as seriously as you would when scheduling a doctor's appointment or making a hotel or flight reservation. Remember, when you schedule an appointment, I'm reserving space for you; I'm turning away other business in order to accommodate you. When you don't show up, I lose money…money from your appointment and money from the appointment I could have scheduled in your place.
My advice? If you're not 100% sure you can commit to the appointment, don't schedule it. Call us on the day you want to come in and see if we can take you in as a "walk-in" appointment. Under most circumstances, we can accommodate walk-ins. Thank you and I hope to see you soon.