There is such a thing as “time boundaries” in a massage business, and this boundary goes both ways. This means you need to be ready for your client’s appointment when their time is scheduled and they need to show up on time for their appointment in order to received their full scheduled time. So what happens when a client does not show up on time, or at all?
I remember my instructor telling my class about problems he had with chronic no-shows. He would send out a bill and the absent client would send a check back. It sounded like a simple and great idea at the time. When I opened up my business I printed off a cancellation policy for each new client. I had people sign the form and thought that would be the end of my problems. However, I had a VERY difficult time enforcing it. By very difficult time, I mean I have yet to charge a single client to this day. Most of my clients were my teachers, or friends of my parents, or parents of friends (dual relationship problems all over the place). At first I did not want to offend anyone, especially my new, precious, clients. I let people cancel, reschedule, and cancel again. Sending off that bill was much harder than I thought it would be. After a few months I stopped having a form. I did not like the loss of income, but I could see my business was steadily growing. As I got busier, people who were late had to deal with a reduced session time or wait for the next available appointment if they did not show. I figure if they want to reschedule and wait for my next available opening, I would let their absenteeism slide. Honestly, this made people remember their appointments because they knew they would have to wait a long time sometimes to get back in. In the end I am just fine with the fact I have never charged anyone. All of my clients have been quite forgiving when I have needed to reschedule their appointments through bouts of morning sickness and parenting emergencies. I still do not like having no-shows or last minute cancellations, but I have found ways to use that time effectively. I relax, run errands, call people on my cancellation list, or market my business. This is what has worked for me, but I know it is definitely not for everyone. I am not trying to advocate that you let your clients take advantage of you and your time, or that you not discuss chronic cancellations or tardiness with clients who are problems. Some people need cancellation policies.
Do you have a cancellation policy? How is it received? Do you enforce it often? Do you have problems enforcing your policy? Has it ever caused problems? Have you lost clients because of your policy or gained clients? Do you require a credit card on file to charge for no-shows? Do you have a cancellation policy for yourself?