What Do I Do When a Client is Late or is a No-Show?


I know, it's the WORST, right? You're all set to go, doing your terrific bodywork, wanting to help your clients that you care so much about.

And you're even using the tips you learned here about setting your schedule so you stay on time, delighting your clients and giving you peace of mind with a sustainable schedule.

But then, a client is late -- 5 minutes, 10 minutes -- and your thinking goes into a tailspin: "Should I contact her? I hope she's OK. This is going to screw me up because I'll be behind all day. Oh man, I bet she won't even show up, and that will mess me up and irritate the heck out of me. What should I do?"

This part of running your own bodywork practice can be a bummer -- no doubt -- but with a few routines in place, you can minimize the negative effects of late or no-show clients.

1. First, you can do your best head it off at the pass. One of the best ways to deal with this situation is to avoid it in the first place by doing all you can to make sure your client is on time.

I send appointment reminders in the morning the day before appointments -- I send reminders to all my Wednesday appointments on Tuesday morning, as soon as I get up.

This does two things: it reminds my clients that yes indeed, they do have a session the next day, so it acts as a confirmation for them.

It also gives me plenty of time to replace them with someone on my Wait List, if they can't make it for some reason. Because, you know, Life Happens, and things will come up. But if I have some notice, I'm much less frustrated and disappointed because I'm almost always able to fill the slot.

I send these reminders via email, from me personally, not from a scheduler.

I find that personal touch resonates with my clients, and they are more likely to read the email and keep the appointment.

I've heard people say that reminders are a bad idea -- that I'm just training my clients to rely on the reminder. I don't see it that way. I see it as a WIN-WIN: they get a personal note from me, and I'm less likely to be frustrated if they don't make it the next day.

2. Next, if you're in your office, and someone is late, give them a little time. This can be particularly difficult if you're like me and like things to run as smoothly as possible.

But like I said earlier, Life Happens -- there's traffic, and last-minute snafus, and the general crazy pace of our world.

So, give your clients 10 minutes. After 10 minutes, either call or text, saying something like: "Hi Sally, it's Mindy. I've got you down for an appointment beginning at noon, and I just wanted to make sure that you are OK, and that we didn't get our wires crossed."

Usually, they'll respond that they're stuck in traffic, on their way, or that they totally spaced it (which is why the appointment reminder above is great).

My rule of thumb is that I'll see them if they can get at least 30 minutes from their appointment. If not, they're responsible for the session fee, and we'll reschedule.

(I know charging for the full session can be uncomfortable and freaks many of you out. You can check out a blog I wrote all about cancellations here. Be strong, Sister, you can do it!)

3. Finally, and most importantly, DON'T GO OVER YOUR SCHEDULED TIME.

If your noon client doesn't arrive until 12:05, that's OK, you can still work with her. But her session ends at 1:00. Period.

Your clients will respect your healthy boundaries and will learn to be on time if they want to get the most from their work with you.

The goal is to charge a premium price for a premium service, and that includes not only the bodywork that you do, but also managing your clients and your time.

Stick to your schedule using these simple routines -- personalized appointment reminders, a call after 10 minutes, and ending the session on time -- and your late clients and no-shows will all but disappear.

Your days will unfold more smoothly, your clients will get more from their work with you, and you won't finish each day an hour later than you thought you would.

And that will feel so, SO good!

For more ideas to help you build your ideal practice, download my checklist of 100 Ways to Grow Your Bodywork Business, and you'll be on your way to creating a successful business that you love.