It's a beautiful morning in the dog grooming salon. The day is fully booked, the space is clean, and your supplies are ready to go.
But where is Fluffy?
You look at the clock and are surprised to see your four-legged customer's owner is running 10 minutes late. This turns to fifteen. Then, half an hour passes, all without a phone call or email to cancel or reschedule the grooming appointment.
It's a classic case of the dreaded no-show!
For dog groomers, a no-show appointment can range from an occasional annoying occurrence to a festering problem that has a devastating financial effect on your business. To help you stop no-show appointments in their tracks, here are proven ways to reduce your no-shows and explain why all dog groomers need a no-show appointment policy.
Negative Impact of a No-Show Appointment
Everybody runs late now and again.
Traffic, children, unexpected lineups at the grocery store, oversleeping – tardiness happens to the best of us. However, a no-show is different. According to this popular Dog Grooming forum on Reddit, groomers are seeing a big uptick in no-shows. Understandably, groomers can feel frustrated, disrespected, and unappreciated when a customer fails to keep a booking.
You might end up sitting around for two or three hours waiting on your next appointment (and fuming at the lost income.)
Why is this a problem for your business?
Less Stable Income
Let's be honest – time is money. In the dog grooming world, many of us are self-employed. When a slot goes unfilled, that hour or so becomes unpaid (unless we get a last-minute walk-in.) Suddenly, the monthly income you were expecting drops. Multiply this by 3, 5, or 10 no-shows over the month, and your bank account reflects your losses.
You could overbook yourself, but like overbooked flights, you risk having everyone show up, which is also stressful.
Scheduling Conflicts and Unnecessary Stress
Additionally, no-shows are problematic because they disrupt your schedule. Your customer may assume they can squeeze in later that afternoon, only to discover it's impossible to schedule between all the other dogs you must see.
Plus, waiting patiently for somebody who never arrives is stressful. Other dogs might be waiting, barking, and getting anxious. You're probably annoyed at the rude behavior.
So, what's a dog groomer to do?
The answer: implement a no-show policy.
Use a No-Show Appointment Policy
Luckily, there are several ways to deal with no-show repeat offenders. Believe it or not, many customers don't mean to be rude. They're just unaware of how their actions impact your business.
When you have a formal "No-Show Appointment Policy," you can use it as a communication tool with your customers, new and regulars. Include it as part of your onboarding package and reference it in your email newsletter.
A simple explanation of how disruptive it is when people don't keep their appointments can remind people you're running a service business with a tight schedule.
You can implement two or three of the below tactics to impress upon your customers the seriousness of no-shows.
- Ask for a 10% - 50% non-refundable deposit upfront ( at least for new clients )
- Have customers pre-pay in advance
- Implement a pre-booking policy
- Charge a late fee
- Charge a no-show fee
- Use automatic reminders
- If you reschedule them, offer them an appointment in a few weeks
- Keep notes on the files of no-shows and refuse to accept them
With a pre-booking policy, customers can schedule their appointments months in advance, and you can charge their credit card via recurring automatic payments.
Think about your own unique situation and which tactics might work best for your business.
Everyone is busy, and when finding a dog groomer, many people call around to find one with an opening. Then, they book multiple appointments with different shops and forget to cancel the others. If you have automatic reminders, you don't have to think about it, and they'll get reminded a few days before and again on the day of the appointment. Add a deposit, pre-pay, or no-show fee, and you'll have a good one-two punch to help people remember (and keep) their appointments.
Everyone needs a no-show policy. It's essential to running a successful dog grooming business. While it can be uncomfortable at first to establish and enforce such rules, you're worth it. It's even more emotionally draining to deal with no-shows and the financial hit they bring.
A groomer once told me that implementing dog grooming software almost eliminated no-shows because people received automatic reminders at intervals before Fluffy's appointment. He estimated reducing no-shows added $80,000 in revenue per groomer per location over the year.
What would it mean for your business if you could add $80,000 of potential revenue simply by eliminating or reducing no-shows?
Easy Busy Pets is dog grooming software that simplifies the business side of dog grooming. It offers automatic reminders and scheduling to reduce no-shows and much more. Try it for free.