Lately, we’ve been hearing a lot about booking and cancellation policies from our clients in the medi-aesthetic industry, and it’s become a hot topic of discussion.
One of the questions we often get asked by practitioners in this field is how to set up appropriate booking and cancellation policies.
These policies are like the backbone of smooth practice operations. They help strike a balance between what clients need and what practitioners require to run their businesses effectively.
From protecting valuable appointment slots to creating a client-focused approach, these policies are essential tools for excellence. They help you get super clear about the booking process so that everyone knows where they stand from the get-go – and that in turn helps you to avoid any awkward situations further down the line.
So, in this blog, we’ll delve into the nitty-gritty of creating booking and cancellation policies as part of your online bookings process. We’ll explore all the things you need to consider and the impact they can have, ultimately showing you how to enhance the overall client experience.
Defining your objectives
First and foremost, it’s essential to first establish your objectives.
What’s your main aim? Maybe you’re tired of repeating the same things to clients over and over. Maybe you want to be crystal clear about all new clients requiring a consultation.
You also may want to cut down on the pesky last-minute cancellations, especially if they are seriously denting your revenue. Just to give you an idea, in a recent report it was estimated that 67,000 no-shows can cost approximately $7 million a year.
What you may need is a policy that says clients must give at least 24 hours notice if they want to reschedule or cancel their appointment. That way, you’ve got a good chance of filling that empty slot and saving your hard-earned money.
It’s totally reasonable and fair for any practice owner in the medi-aesthetic world to want to protect their revenue like this. Here’s a quick summary of why you should have one:
Benefits of booking and cancellation policies
Helps to create clarity
Everyone needs to be clear on the booking policy – and that includes your staff as well as prospective and current clients. A booking policy states the facts, for everyone.
Saves your team time
Does your team have to explain to new clients that they have to book a consultation first several times a week? Putting it in your policy helps to reduce those repetitive conversations.
Protects your revenue
As we mentioned above, no-shows can have a serious impact on your business. Creating a robust booking policy can help protect you from revenue loss.
Create a sense of professionalism
A booking policy makes your business look professional. It’s firm but fair and lets people know that this is a professional business and you won’t tolerate time wasters.
Creating booking and cancellation policies
Think of your booking policy as a crucial part of your overall booking guidelines. These guidelines are like the roadmap for seamless communications between clients and your practice.
They should cover all sorts of things, such as:
1. Booking methods and channels
Consider offering multiple options to accommodate your clients’ preferences. This could include online booking through your website or a dedicated app, phone reservations, or even walk-in availability.
2. Whether you want payment upfront before the appointment
This part of the policy can help reduce no-shows and late cancellations. Make sure your clients are aware of your preferred payment methods.
3. How much you charge if someone doesn’t show up
Set fees for no-shows since it is crucial in maintaining stable revenue. Its financial impact can not be undone and should motivate you to remind clients of their scheduled visits.
4. How flexible you are with late arrivals
Define your stance on late arrivals. Decide whether there will be a grace period for latecomers and what actions should be taken if clients exceed that time.
5. What it costs if someone decides to cancel
Clearly outline the ghosts associated with client cancellations and the notice period required. Communicate this policy to clients during the booking process to minimize last-minute cancellations and scheduling conflicts.
Now, when you’re creating your cancellation policy, the goal is to keep it crystal clear and super easy to understand. This way, clients know exactly what they’re getting into when they book with your practice.
Key information to include in your policy:
1. Notice for cancelling
Clearly communicate to clients the required notice period for cancellations, for example, at least 24 hours in advance to avoid any cancellation fees.
2. Arrival time
Instruct clients to aim for arrival approximately five minutes before their scheduled appointment time.
3. Last-minute cancellations
It’s crucial to establish clear guidelines regarding last-minute cancellations, which can disrupt schedules and impact revenue. Communicate the specific timeframe within which cancellations must be made to avoid fees, as well as the associated charges for late cancellations.
4. Payment procedures
Define how and when payments should be processed to ensure a seamless transaction process. This might involve collecting payment upfront through online platforms, settling the bill at the end of the appointment, or following a specific payment schedule.
5. Share contact information
It’s important to tell clients how you would prefer them to cancel their appointment, whether that’s over the phone or whether an email is OK. The most important thing is to include your contact details – the phone number and email address they should contact.
Once you’ve got your policy all set, it’s time to make sure everyone’s in the know – yes, that especially includes your clients.
You’ve got to spell out the conditions that might lead to clients forfeiting their deposit or facing a cancellation fee.
Let’s say you charge a $250 consultation fee and ask for a $100 deposit when they book. It’s crucial to explain what happens to that deposit if they need to reschedule or cancel.
First things first, put your policy up on your website. A great place to place it is on your online booking portal or contact page. And if you’re using Pabau, consider yourself lucky because it lets you create policy pages right on your booking portal.
If there are any big changes to your policy, you can include the information in an email campaign created directly on our software.
Also, double-check that your website’s terms and conditions are all in order. Businesses with crystal-clear online terms and conditions, covering booking and cancellation policies, see a reduction in disputes and chargebacks.
Different types of cancellation policies
1. 24-hour cancellation policy
This one’s great because it lets clients cancel without a fee if they do it at least 24 hours before their appointment.
2. Late cancellation policy
When it comes to dealing with last-minute cancellations, you might wonder about the fees involved. Consider charging a flat rebooking charge, a percentage of the service cost, or maybe the full cost of the service.
This policy typically outlines any associated fees or penalties for cancellations made after the designated notice period, helping your practice to minimize revenue loss due to last-minute cancellations.
3. No-Show cancellation policy
No-shows can be a real headache and costly. Here’s how to tackle it: require clients to add a payment card when booking, or you can notify them that in case of a no-show, they will be charged 50% of the service cost.
Recent surveys among practitioners have shown that implementing deposit requirements can reduce appointment no-shows by as much as 60%.
4. Flexible policy
This type of policy creates some shared responsibility between you and your clients. You’ll remind them, but it’s ultimately up to them to make it on time. Implementing the policy is at your discretion and you can choose to do this (or not) depending on your circumstances.
Clients love flexibility in cancellation policies, making booking stress-free. While strict policies have fewer cancellations (around 15.7%), they also get far fewer bookings.
When should you charge a cancellation fee?
So, when do you actually charge a cancellation fee? Well, here’s the scoop according to your business cancellation policy:
- If a client cancels an appointment outside of the cancellation period.
- If the client can’t get into the property for some reason.
- If the fault is on you – such as there’s been a double booking
- And of course, when a client doesn’t show up at all.
It’s important to follow through with your cancellation policy. It not only maintains the integrity of your practice but also fosters a sense of trust and professionalism with your clients.
Ultimately, a consistently applied cancellation policy can contribute to the overall success and reputation of your business.
When shouldn't you charge a cancellation fee?
Not every cancellation calls for a fee. There are circumstances where you wouldn’t charge a fee – or at the very least it would need to be decided on a case-by-case basis.
- If the client canceled within your cancellation guidelines
- If the client hadn’t been informed about your new policy for whatever reason
- If the appointment was canceled before your cancellation policy came into play
- If your client is genuinely under the weather or has a true emergency
It’s worth pointing out that you shouldn’t feel ‘bad’ about charging cancellation fees.
You’ve invested a lot of time and effort in getting your business to where it is. Being firm about your booking process via your cancellation policy is crucial and it’ll help you filter out the flaky clients who are just going to cost your business money.
Booking and cancellation policy tips from Camille Armstrong
Camille Armstrong is the owner of Secret Enhancements, an aesthetic clinic in Milton Keynes. Secret Enhancements offers a range of skin treatments, dermal fillers, and anti-wrinkle injections, as well as offering Hydrafacial treatments.
“Taking deposits irons out who’s serious about an appointment and who isn’t. I was spending so much time chasing people for deposits and having to check my bank all the time.”
Camille reached her breaking point when she found herself spending way too much time going back and forth with clients about pre-payments.
Clients were constantly changing or canceling their appointments, and she had to deal with all the paperwork and hassle that came with it.
How did Pabau help her practice?
- Enables clients to book appointments 24/7
- Take deposits to reduce last minute cancellations and no-shows
- Set clear cancellation policies at the time of booking
“Pabau also enabled me to display my terms and conditions and booking policy in the booking form. Patients have to read it and accept the terms before making a booking.”
Since using Pabau, Camille has seen a great improvement in her business. She’s had fewer no-shows, and it’s been a real time saver.
The best part is that Pabau lets her set deposits for each booking, making the whole booking process much easier. Plus, it takes care of sending out reminders automatically.
Key takeaways - booking and cancellation policies
- Start by defining your objectives for implementing these policies.
- Understand that well-defined policies offer benefits such as clarity, time-saving, and revenue protection.
- Detail your policies with cancellation notice periods, arrival times, fees, payment procedures, and contact information.
- Ensure your clients are well-informed about your policies.
- Consider the best policy variation suited for your practice’s needs.
- Consistency is crucial. Implement your policy firmly but fairly to maintain trust and professionalism.
- Filter out unreliable clients while providing exceptional service.
By keeping these takeaways in mind, you can enhance the overall client experience, safeguard your business, and ensure long-term success in the medi-aesthetic industry.
Booking policy template
Here’s an example of a booking policy template that you can use in your clinic.
[Clinic Name] Booking Policy
At [Clinic Name], we prioritize the safety and satisfaction of our patients. To ensure a smooth booking experience, please take note of the following:
- Age Requirement:
Patients must be 18 years of age or older to receive treatment.
- Consultation Process:
We require all new patients to have a consultation with our qualified practitioners before any treatment. This ensures a personalized approach and addresses your questions and concerns.
- Right to Refuse Treatment:
[Clinic Name] reserves the right to decline treatment if it is deemed unsafe or if patients provide misleading information or engage in inappropriate behavior.
- Payment and Fees:
Payment is due at the time of treatment, as discussed during your consultation. Additional costs will be communicated before proceeding. We also require deposits before booking.
- Policy Updates:
[Clinic Name] may update this policy as necessary. Patients will be notified of any changes through our official channels.
Clients who repeatedly no-show or cancel appointments without proper notice may be required to prepay for future bookings.
We value your time, and our goal is to provide the best service possible. By adhering to these policies, we can better serve all our clients and maintain a smooth appointment schedule.
By booking an appointment at [Clinic Name], you acknowledge and agree to comply with these policies. Your cooperation helps us maintain a secure and welcoming environment for all patients.
For any questions or concerns about our booking policy, please contact us.
[Date of Policy Last Update]
Cancellation policy templates
Strict cancellation policy
Dear Valued Patient,
At [Clinic Name], we strive to provide the best possible service to all our patients while respecting everyone’s time. To achieve this, we have implemented a strict cancellation policy:
Canceling and Rescheduling:
Patients are required to provide a minimum of [X] hours’ notice for appointment cancellations or rescheduling.
Failure to provide the required notice will result in a cancellation fee of [Amount], which must be paid before scheduling another appointment.
Multiple late cancellations or no-shows may lead to suspension of booking privileges.
We understand that emergencies and unexpected circumstances may arise. In such cases, please contact us as soon as possible to discuss your situation.
Your adherence to this policy helps us maintain efficient scheduling and ensures that we can accommodate all our patients’ needs. We appreciate your understanding and cooperation.
We appreciate your understanding and cooperation. If you have any questions or need assistance with your booking, please don’t hesitate to contact us. We look forward to pampering you at [Your Salon Name].
Flexible cancellation policy
Dear Valued Patient,
At [Clinic Name], we understand that life is unpredictable, and sometimes plans change. We aim to provide flexibility while ensuring the smooth operation of our clinic:
Cancellation and Rescheduling:
We appreciate a minimum of [X] hours’ notice for appointment cancellations or rescheduling.
There will be no cancellation fee for appointments canceled or rescheduled within this timeframe.
Late cancellations or no-shows may incur a nominal fee of [Amount], which will be discussed during the rebooking process.
Emergencies and unexpected situations happen. If you need to cancel due to such circumstances, please contact us at your earliest convenience.
Your comfort and convenience are important to us, and we aim to strike a balance between flexibility and operational efficiency.
Moderate cancellation policy
Dear Valued Patient,
At [Clinic Name], we value your time and strive to accommodate your needs while maintaining the smooth operation of our clinic. Our cancellation policy is designed to find a middle ground:
Cancellation and Rescheduling:
We kindly request a minimum of [X] hours’ notice for appointment cancellations or rescheduling.
Appointments canceled or rescheduled within this timeframe will not incur a cancellation fee.
Late cancellations or no-shows may result in a nominal fee of [Amount], which will be discussed during the rebooking process.
Life can be unpredictable. If you have an emergency or unexpected situation, please contact us as soon as possible so we can assist you.
We appreciate your understanding and cooperation as we aim to balance flexibility with the efficient management of our clinic’s schedule.
Feel free to adjust the timeframes and fees on any of these templates to match your clinic’s specific needs and preferences.