Do You Need a Late Cancellation Policy for Your Massage Business? 

No-shows, short-notice cancellations, and or late clients are three top issues for most service businesses, including massage therapists. While the causes of these short-notice or no-notice cancellations vary, each comes at a cost to your business. When a client doesn’t keep their massage appointment or provide you with enough notice to fill that slot in your schedule, you lose time and money. We can’t prevent accidents or pandemics, but with a visible documented policy, you can reduce the no-shows and flakes. 

Here are the three steps of an effective late and no-show policy for your massage therapy practice: 

# 1: Set clear expectations

So, the first step to a cancellation policy for your massage business is to decide what you need from the policy—for most massage therapy practices, eliminating no-shows and latecomers is their top goal. These short-notice cancellations and late arrivals can disrupt your schedule and reduce revenue. 

Consider the following questions: 

  • Which types of behaviors, such as no-shows or same-day cancellations, will trigger the policy
  • What time frame in which clients must provide notice to avoid triggering the policy 
  • Under what circumstances will you waive a penalty or consequence
  • How your clients should deliver their notice of cancellation

#2: Outline your consequences

Some massage therapists charge no-show clients the full fee for their missed appointments. At the same time, others decide to charge a flat fee, such as $50 for no-shows and late cancellations. Remember, you are in charge and can override this policy for one-off crazy situations. The goal is to create a blanket statement discouraging “bad” behavior. Plus one that fairly compensates you for the loss of short notice or no-show cancellation causes. A cancellation policy won’t have much effect if no consequences exist for clients who break the rules. But you don’t want to drive your clients away with excessive penalties. 

Be sure to include a remark for repeat offenders. Will you need frequent no-show clients to pay for their sessions in advance? Or will clients who often cancel only be allowed to reserve less popular appointment slots? Like, book them for the last appointment of the day. That is so it doesn’t put a giant hole in the middle of your schedule, and you get home early.

#3: Tell them, tell them again, and get acknowledgment

It’s hard to enforce a policy hidden on your website without proof that your client saw it. Before imposing no-show fees on your clients, add them to your intake forms. And also to your booking links, and then gain acknowledgment. We’ve found that for online booking appointments, they must check yes next to “I have read and agree with the cancelation policy). For your existing clients, tread carefully. If you’ve never had a problem with them in the past, they may find this new policy off-putting. So explain to them it’s a new company-wide policy.   

Where should you add your policy?

  1. In-person when a client calls to schedule an appointment
  2. On your website
  3. In confirmation and reminder emails and text
  4. When leaving a phone confirmation
  5. In your office, voicemail recording and on-hold messages

Here’s a template you can use to build your notice:

Notice of rescheduling and cancellation policy

Your health and the health of all of our clients matter to us. To ensure that all of our clients are treated fairly and can receive treatment promptly, [Name of Your Business] asks that you provide at least 24 hours notice if you need to change, reschedule, or cancel your appointment. If you change or reschedule your appointment without giving us 24 hours advance notice or fail to keep your appointment (if you are a no-show), there will be a [Your Fee] fee charged to your credit card.

To change or cancel an existing appointment, please contact us at [email] or [phone] or reschedule your appointment online. Thank you for your consideration and understanding. 

I acknowledge receiving and understanding [Name of Business] ‘s cancellation and rescheduling policy. And I agree that I will be responsible for paying a [Your fee] fee if I fail to provide [Name of Business] with at least 24 hours’ notice before changing or canceling my appointment.  

Signed ________________ Date __________________

Include this acknowledgment in your intake forms. Require clients to acknowledge receipt of the written policy in writing or through a digital reply. Keep this acknowledgment in their file. 

In addition, your form must include enough information to notify clients of your intent to bill the fee to avoid credit card chargebacks. Avoiding cancellations it ensures that their treatment plan stays on track as well. The more you communicate your policy, the more likely your clients will get the message. And that your time and theirs are valuable.

Create a no-show and cancellation policy that keeps you and your clients on schedule. 

While your policy prevents you from losing revenue, preventing cancellations also ensures that all your clients can get an appointment when they need one. To avoid cancellations ensures that their treatment plan stays on track as well. And, the more you communicate your policy, the more likely your clients will get the message. And that your time and theirs are valuable.

Also, your policy should state what happens when you are the one who is late or a no-show. You can add extra time to their next appointment at no cost. Or a free service for a no-show on your part. So, you show mutual respect for a client’s time is just as important as yours.

Additional measures you can use in conjunction with your cancellation policy.

Equally, there are other approaches you can use with your massage cancellation policy. In order to reduce the impact that no-shows and cancellations have on your business, try some of these ideas:

  • Reward clients who keep their appointments with priority scheduling and free product samples.
  • Text your clients with appointment reminders. You can also request a reply to ensure they’ve seen the reminder.
  • Also, follow up with clients who miss their appointments and find out why. Is there a common theme that you can potentially prevent?
  • Create a waiting list of clients.
  • Consider selling discounted prepaid packages. When a client misses one appointment, you count the missed session as used.
  • Ask repeat offenders to prepay for their appointments.
  • Schedule new clients or repeat offenders for your last appointment of the day. It avoids gaps in your schedule.
  • It happens and is fair; also, state what compensation they get if you are late or a no-show.
  • Also, be prepared to provide screenshots of clients’ agreement with your cancellation policy to the credit card processing company if there is a charge dispute. 

Thank you for reading Do You Need a Late Cancellation Policy for Your Massage Business.

Michelle D. Mace, an LMT of over 20 years, founded The Barefoot Masters®—an NCBTMB Provider 403532. We develop unique massage CEs that save therapists’ hands. With over a dozen courses, there is something for everyone. For more information, go to The Barefoot Masters®. Or join our Email List for up-to-date info about massage issues or upcoming classes.

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