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How Do You Show Up for No-Show Clients?

I have had a number of no show coaching clients in June.  I could take it personally (and admittedly in the moment when it happens, I feel a certain disrespect).  But I know better.  It is not about me and my coaching.  It does, however, impact my coaching relationships and it certainly affects my business (though not in the dollars and cents way you may think).  For you see, my clients pay in advance and when they miss an appointment without giving 24 hours notice, I still get paid.   I don’t write this in a “laughing all the way to the bank“ kind of way.  On the contrary, as a loving business woman, it actually pains me to be paid for a session that never takes place.  And I have a hard time understanding how it can happen with regularity.

No-show clients affect many industries (think services like health care/ dentistry, beauty, restaurants etc.).   Reasons range from the most benign (forgetting) to the most serious emergency and everything in between.

In coaching (or therapy for that matter), one tends to attach more meaning to the no-show client.  Talk to any coach or therapist and he will tell you that clients who are up against something big/ on the verge of a breakthrough will often “forget” to show up for their appointment or will find themselves in an “urgent situation” that could not be avoided.

While this stock photo from Fotosearch shows the frustration I sometimes feel, I can assure you I do not do this when I have a client no-show!

While this stock photo from Fotosearch shows the frustration I sometimes feel, I can assure you I do not do this when I have a client no-show!

I approach missed appointments with curiosity (and do my level best to keep the ” X*&^%!!” to myself!).

Client, where else are you not showing up in your life/business? What is a metaphor for this missed appointment? What are you avoiding?”

Pain in the ass questions?…perhaps.  Important to ask?…definitely.  There is juice here. And sometimes the missed appointment really is just that.  A miss. The client’s daughter had an ear infection and her routine got thrown off because of it. End of story.

Of course, it’s not the end of the story for the business owner. For a massage therapist, one no-show per week is equal to thousands of dollars of lost revenue annually, not to mention the resulting unpaid time in follow up (i.e. contacting the client, rebooking, collecting a cancellation fee).

Per Se, a New York restaurant, supposedly charges $175 per seat for reservation no shows who do not cancel three days before.  The most sought after restaurants can do this while less in demand locals will alienate their client base.  In fairness, restaurants purchase food supplies to match the volume of meals they will serve and a few empty seats can be the different between surviving and profitability.

In the twists and turns of life and business, there will always be no-shows. Here are some ways to reduce the number of them in your business:

  • Have a missed appointment policy and stick to it–  it is great to have a flexible backbone but don’t be a jelly fish;
  • Clearly communicate your missed appointment/ reservation policy at the beginning of the client/ customer relationship and at every relevant opportunity;
  • Handle each missed appointment promptly by dealing directly with the client- a stitch in time saves nine;
  • Keep track-missing one appointment is human. Two is a trend. After two missed appointments, well known money coach Morgana Rae says “You’re Fired!”

You are in business to serve and to prosper.  Respect yourself and your business and your clients will follow suit.

{ 1 comment… add one }
  • tanyablog June 20, 2009, 5:39 am

    Excellent advice….it made me realize that I’ve not addressed this is my own practice…it’s been treated on an ad hoc basis. Yes, it gets addressed in the coaching (i.e. what’s here about reassigned priorities)…but from a business perspective, I need to be considering this in terms of policies and communication as such. Brill…thanks!

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