Do You Have A Standard Cancellation Policy?
It’s 2:00 on a Saturday afternoon, and so far, everything is going smooth, and you’re excited it’s going to be a record day in the hair salon.
You walk up to check your last guest out and look around to see if Karen, your next client, has shown up.
You ask the front desk if she has arrived or if they have heard from her?
The answer isn’t what you want to hear!
It’s now 2:15, and maybe she is stuck in traffic, so you shoot her a courtesy text asking if everything is ok?
” Hi, Karen, is everything ok? We have an appointment today at 2 pm, and it’s now almost 2:20. Please let me know everything is ok or if you are running late? thx Jill”
It’s now 2:30, and Karen has not shown up, called, or text you back.
There goes your record day!
Luckily you have a cancellation policy.
Why Have A Cancellation & No Show Policy Anyway?
Why should you have a cancellation policy or no show policy?
We are in the service industry, and for us to make money, we require customers in our chair every hour.
As the old saying goes, time is money.
Having a salon policy ensures you get paid for your time, even if it is a partial percentage of the service fee.
I know some people who charge the full-service amount for no-shows.
It does require having the client’s payment card on file, which we will cover shortly.
Every hair salon or independent hairstylist should have a cancellation policy and enforce it.
There is no need to have one if you don’t hold clients accountable.
And if you don’t hold them accountable, you are losing money.
How Having A Cancellation Policy Shows You Mean Business
- Professionalism: By having a cancellation policy, you’re telling your customers you have a value set on your time. You are a business owner, and you are serious about how you run it. You are a professional and deserve to be treated as one by giving you adequate notice they will not make their appointment.
- Responsibility: When you run your hair salon, you are responsible for many people, even if you are a one-person business.
- You have a landlord to pay, family to provide for, and even clients who need to see you every month. When someone books with you for a service, it is their responsibility to show up. If they don’t, it’s their responsibility to pay you for the time they took from you and other clients who needed to see you. A detailed policy outlined on your website can save you time and money.
- Financially Balanced: If you are like most business owners, you know what you need to make every month to cover your expenses. You have everything planned out down to pricing, product cost, and marketing budgets. Having a policy and procedure in place can ensure you cover those monthly expenses.
- Scheduling: Make sure you clarify your timeline on cancellations. Most salons ask for 12-24 hour notice, but it’s not unheard of to ask for 48 hrs. This will allow you to send out an email or make a social media post to let other clients know you have a last-minute cancellation.
- New Client Acquisition: More times than not, it’s a new client who will no-show or cancel last minute on you. Maybe it’s the anxiety of trying a new salon or hairstylist. No matter the reason for informing new clients of your cancellation policy during the booking process will usually eliminate them from booking or canceling the appointment.
Can A Salon Legally Charge For A Missed Appointment?
Now I’m no lawyer, but I have researched this topic thoroughly.
As a business owner, you have the right to ask for a deposit from your clients to reserve your time.
Wedding venues do it, doctors do it, and hotels do it.
It’s a widespread practice in today’s business world.
When the client shows up for their appointment, the deposit goes toward the service, and a remaining balance will be due upon completion of a salon visit.
If the customer no-shows or doesn’t cancel the stated time frame, you are free and clear to run their credit card on file.
I would avoid running the card when they schedule the appointment.
I would check your local laws or with your merchant services provider to validate if you can legally keep someone’s credit card on file.
It is best practice never to keep a written copy of their information.
Always store in the merchant account software or a secure server.
If you use an online booking service like Vagaro, you can store clients’ info in your account, but you must use them for CC processing.
The same goes for Square and most online scheduling systems.
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What Are Some Ways To Not Have To Use Your Cancellation Policy?
Hopefully, having a salon policy will hinder client no-shows and excessive cancellations, but just in case, here are some tips to help you eliminate them.
- Have your policies on a page that is easily found in your menu on the website.
- If you offer online booking add space just above the schedule, so they have to read it before booking.
- In your confirmation email, keep it brief but add a policy and link back to the page on your website.
- Make a courtesy confirmation call three days before their appointment. If they know they will have to cancel, you have time to reschedule someone else for that time.
The best way to eliminate cancellations and no-shows are to plan.
Implement systems and structures in your business and stick to them, and you will see positive results.
General Policies For Your Hair Salon
It might be a good idea to offer a general page on your website, outlining your policies in one place for your customers to view. Here are some ideas for your salon policy page.
- Cancellations: Well, we have gone over this one but make sure to set a time frame for cancellations. Also, offer them the best ways to cancel, such as phone, text, email, or an online app if you provide this option. Ensure it’s evident if they cancel after a set time frame, you will be charging their card. It’s essential to put in place at least 24 hours notice for clients. An appointment without giving 24-hour notice will result in a fee you choose for your salon.
- Late Arrivals: We have spoken a lot about no-shows and cancellations, but what about those who show up late? It’s good practice to set up a period you consider not-serviceable. At most salons, it’s 15 minutes. Then clarify what happens after that. Will they are charged as a no show or ask to reschedule? There are no rules here; it’s your time, and you need to feel good about what you decide.
- No-shows: No-shows should be defined separately from cancellation to keep everything clear. Where cancellations are typically charged a 50% fee, no-shows are usually the full amount of services and time. But write it out, or it doesn’t exist.
- Deposits: If you require a deposit, let it be known—state when you will need a deposit and that you will keep a credit card securely on file.
- Waivers: If you require a waiver for chemical services or minors to receive hair color services, put it here. It’s good practice to offer waivers on their first visit, and then you never have to worry about it again.
- Refund Policy: Do you offer a refund on services? Most salons don’t give refunds on services these days but extend seven days for redos or corrections. I would highly suggest you be very clear on this topic.
- Product Returns or Refunds: What is your policy on product returns? A lot of salons don’t offer and reimbursements on products that have been opened or used. Outline your policy and procedures when it comes to refunds.
Flexibility & Understanding For Special Situations
We have talked a lot about our salon policy, but what about the unique situations that come up for our clients?
In a perfect world, the customer books an appointment and shows up, and you work your magic.
Like us, they are human, and occasionally something may interfere with them being able to make their appointment.
I know what you will say; the customer should call you ahead of time or have someone else call for them.
I get it, but emergencies happen, or last-minute situations come up.
It happens to all of us. I promise you. We need to be considerate, flexible, and understanding sometimes.
There is a human factor to what we do as providers. Relationships are made, and some for long extended time frames. Take every situation for what it is.
I will close with this!
You are a business and service provider; your time has value. If someone takes your time, they should always pay you for it.
In most cases, I have had in my career if when my client has had to cancel, they will offer to pay me for my time. In other cases,
I ask them for a credit card with no hesitation.
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