Round table discussion time!
Here's a common problem for massage businesses:
The Late Client Scenario
Despite having a cancellation policy in our brochures, telling clients when they call, and even taking credit cards for evening and weekend appointments, I would say our #1 issue that upsets clients is if they are running late.
We do tell all new clients to arrive 10 minutes early to "fill out paperwork and use the bathroom so that it does not cut into your massage time" and most do. However, on two occasions this past month, people call to say they are running late 10-15 minutes. Our response, "Ok, just get here as soon as you can and we will have you do the paperwork afterward so you can get the most of your time." Some are understanding, but there are others who ask if they will be cut short.
"Unfortunately, your therapist may be able to go over a few minutes, but she does have an appointment scheduled after you". (We do have 15 minutes in between to change sheets, say bye to clients, etc, not to go over on time.) This sends the client spiraling into why that's not fair, they want to reschedule, etc. I apologize and explain their appointment was scheduled from 10-11, and while the therapist does have some wiggle room, that time was reserved for them. "You were told at the time of scheduling about our cancellation policy. Unfortunately, if you want to reschedule, there is a $30 fee."
I obviously let things slide as much as I can and make it work in the clients favor when possible (and when they are kind about it) but I would be interested in how other therapists handle this.How have you handled this situation? What has worked well in your practice to enforce a cancellation or late policy? What do you do when a client gets upset over your policy?
Cindy Iwlew is co-founder of Bodywork Buddy Massage Software, a complete online management solution for independent massage therapists that includes online scheduling.
She continues to operate her own private massage practice of 13 years, and has been an associate instructor for Ashiatsu Oriental Bar Therapy since 2007. www.BodyworkBuddy.com