When you receive a booking ensure that you receive:
their full name
Booking online: When you’re up and running and have regular days of work, I recommend a book online button on your website. In todays busy world people often think of booking sessions outside of work hours. Either email or calling is usually the way people will book with you. To avoid ‘email ping pong’ and ‘phone tag’, a book online button allows people to check their schedule with yours - making the process seamless for every body! “Bookeo” and “Cliniko” are 2 common ones for practitioners - though new ones are popping up every day! “Sartori” is great if you do your sessions via Skype/online.
It is important (and expected) to confirm appointments with clients at least 2 days prior. A confirmation should include: Name, date, time, where and a cancellation policy reminder. For example: “Dear …… confirming your …*therapy*…appointment on …day the … at ……. Please reply YES to confirm or call…. to reschedule. A friendly reminder that a cancellation fee applies if under 24hrs notice is given. I look forward to seeing you soon. Warm regards…….
When you are just beginning, this can be done manually via SMS. Many programs such as cliniko or Bookeo now include an automated confirmation system.
CANCELLATIONS: Having a clear cancellation policy ensures client accountability and that you are not left with empty spaces in your day! Ensure that people are aware of it when they book and when the appointment is confirmed.
Enforcing a cancellation policy can be a whole different matter. I have a 50% fee for cancellations under 24 hours. If a client or their child is genuinely unwell I won't charge this fee- thats a personal choice and the beauty of having your own business is that you get to decide if that system works for you or not. Another common excuse to cancel is that they have to work. I have to work as well, my work happens to be in service, so in this case I will charge the 50% fee if under 24 hours notice is given. You do have to prepare yourself for the fact that many people will never get back to you if you have charged them for a service they have cancelled. For me, it’s an energetic exchange. I’m letting them know that my time is important too, I’m there for them but I won't be taken advantage of. If they choose not to pay and to never get in contact with me again (which can happen) then I know that client wasn't for me. When I was starting out, I didn't want to charge because I didn't want people to ‘disappear’. What happened instead was that there would be times where I would turn up to work with no-shows and last minute cancellations (it tends to happen in groups!). An acupuncturist friend of mine encouraged me to charge (it will change the energetic respect around he said) so I did. “Coincidentally” I received less cancellations!
For ‘missed appointments/ no shows’ I charge the full amount.
I charge by taking a credit card number on the spot or sending them an invoice with my bank details. Again, you do have to be aware of them refusing to pay it, which comes back to the energy exchange part. If they aren't going to pay it, I won't rebook them.
I have to be honest, there is a part of me that always wants to say 'it's ok' instead of asking the person to pay - but it's quite simply not the energy I want to attract into my business, so I get 'brave' and make a kind but clear request.
Times in which cancellations and missed appointments are common are school holidays and the 1-2 weeks leading up to. Election time (still don't completely understand why!). Tax time (people feel financially stretched all of a sudden). Mercury Retrogrades and December! You may find during these times that a few people cancel in a row.
You can prepare in advance by upping your marketing and creating a waitlist and/or confirming 7 days and then 2 days in advance. It is also a good time to create “call to action” on your marketing - reminding people of the importance self care plays in their lives.