Plans might not always go as planned, a simple fact of life. However, that does not make getting stood up any less pleasant, especially when it is in your livelihood. As an appointment-based business owner reliant on clients making appointments, no shows are not only disheartening but a financial liability. The fact booking clients is such a time-consuming process to boot is the cherry on top.
While the no show issue is inevitable, hope is not lost as there are measures you can take to reduce them. The technologies and tactics we are covering today will not only help to reduce your number of no shows, but they will also make the whole booking process more efficient and flexible. Before we list off all the solutions, let’s take a deep dive into the issues. Better the devil you know, after all.
The 5 biggest mistakes appointment-based businesses make.
Not offering add ons.
Add-ons are typically a discounted option for bundling multiple services. For example, a beauty salon may price its eyebrow sculpt and tint service at a discounted rate to entice people to book both services. While add-ons may never be the primary source of your business’ income, offering additional products or services on top of an original booking can drive up your revenue.
Not filling in the gaps.
If your team is already on-site, ensure you are getting the most from them by avoiding several hour-long gaps between bookings. There are many applications, like Mindbody, that can help you get a bird’s eye view of your schedule gaps. These apps will enable you to prepare your marketing and sales strategy to fill them instead of letting them go unfilled.
Not tracking your expenses.
If you are not effectively tracking your expenses, how can you stick to a budget and stay on track to reach your business goals? There is a simple solution to this issue, a solid accounting system such as Xero. An accounting system will allow you to be proactive in your bookkeeping by analysing your numbers in real-time.
We have already touched on this one, but the negative impact of no shows can not be understated. Clients cannot always make their appointments as circumstances are notorious for changing. That leaves you with wasted time and lost income with no opportunity to find another customer who would have loved the slot.
Not streamlining your booking process.
Unless they are a lover of athletics, chances are your client does not want to jump through hoops to make a booking. Making the booking process overly complicated, difficult to navigate and find is a tried and trusted method of reducing your overall bookings.
Staying on top of your appointment-based business.
Do not worry – it is not all doom and gloom. All of these hurdles are manageable, if not completely fixable. The main factor is technology, as it not only increases your engagement and accessibility to clients but it also frees up your time to focus on your areas of expertise.
From spending time with family and friends to general life admin and hopefully a spare second to dedicate to your hobbies, most of our lives are chock-a-blocked with commitments. It is no wonder most of us do not know what we are doing tomorrow – let alone a month from now. That makes accidentally missing the occasional appointment far too easy. So give your customers and clients a helping hand by making the process effortless and impossible to forget.
Don’t you forget about me.
If you are not already doing so, ensure you send your clients a friendly reminder before every appointment. We are not suggesting you manually send an appointment reminder for every booking; this is where automation comes into play. All you have to do is set up an automated reminder system when selecting your appointment scheduling application and voila. Extra points if you choose an app that places the booking straight into your clients’ calendars.
Don’t do yourself a disservice.
Cancelling an appointment with a charge vs one with no charge both hold different weights, with the former leaving your clients thinking twice about cancelling. So do yourself a favour and provide a consequence to clients who leave you in the lurch.
Requesting a non-refundable deposit or implementing a cancellation fee policy can cover the essential costs for your staff time which at the very least means you are not at a loss if a customer cancels. If that does not sit well with you, consider having exemptions for long term clients or utilising a three strike policy instead. If you roll this out and take the time to explain why these policies are in place, you may be surprised how understanding your clients will be.
Cater to their needs.
Booking appointments over the phone is fantastic for adding that personal touch. However, it is not the best option for efficiency, and beyond the fact that it requires staff time, it is also difficult for customers that work through your opening hours. Let us introduce the best thing since sliced bread, a 24/7 booking system that is not only automated but provides your customers with the option to book whenever and wherever suits them.
A great place to start implementing this is your website and social media, where you can create an online booking tool and provide people with the option to leave messages. Bonus credit for linking your appointment page on your Google My Business account too. Just when you thought you could not get more efficient, Timely offers a booking system that integrates with Xero for seamless bookkeeping. If you still want to offer that personal touch, you also give your clients a bell to confirm the appointment later down the line when it is convenient to you.
Create a Plan B.
Do you have a process to fill available slots in the event of a cancellation or slow periods? Seeing as some cancellations are inevitable in the COVID-19 world, introducing a strategy to fill those vacancies is a great way to stay on top of your appointment-based business. Flossie is one of the many applications out there that takes information from your online booking system and mirrors it to potential clients. Clients can also quickly book appointments, allowing you to fill in any of those empty slots.
This rostering is automatic, it’s systematic.
Changing appointments = changing rosters. If mapping out your staff roster is chewing up your time, allow rostering management tools like Deputy to take it off your plate. Deputy reconfigures timetables to suit any changes in appointments and part-time staff availability in addition to adding any new employees.
Get off the hamster wheel.
You do not have to miss out on running a well planned and streamlined appointment-based business simply because technology and efficiency are not your areas of expertise.
At Orbit, we have the people, the knowledge and the specific expertise to give you back the time to do what you do best. And the time we spend in your business means the more time you will have with your clients to drive more revenue from your own core business. If you want to learn how our powerful tech-tool-kit provides proven solutions for automation and efficiency in your appointment-based business, book a chat or get in touch today.