I agree with Jocelyn, that above and beyond your client understanding the cancellation policy is trying to find the real reason. I would have a discussion with your client and see if there is a barrier preventing him/her from attending the next session. Family, time constraints, and stage of change can all be factors. It could be that your client is just not ready to make a change, but having a conversation will allow you to come up with solutions to overcome any barriers.
In addition to a conversation, I would send confirmations to the client prior to your sessions. It’s also your time, your effort, and your business that you need to focus on as well.
I interviewed many personal trainers, tennis coaches and therapists for an app that I am building and found that cancellations is one of the biggest worries independent instructors have. I would not say that our app completely solves this problem (customers will still try to cancel) but what we figured out is that by sending out confirmation emails after rescheduling (showing the new time & details of the session + mentioning the cancellation policy at the bottom), customers become more aware of things. This could help reduce cancellation frequency. Our app (for iPad) produces automatic confirmation emails after booking, rescheduling and cancelling sessions so this is effortless.
This said, I am curious how you guys as experts value this functionality. Could you have a look at the demo video and give me feedback? If you don’t want to view the entire clip, start at 1:00 where you see the automatic email confirmation step.
Thank you and good luck with taming the cancellation beast.
You’ve received great answers so far, the flip side is to have a conversation with the client at their next session. It doesn’t have to be confrontational, a simple “Over the last few weeks you cancelled X number of sessions and we’ve had to reschedule. Is there a timing issue? Are you too sore from your last session? I want you to get the most out of our sessions so you can reach your goals. If there is an issue with scheduling of your sessions, lets see if we can come up with a solution that works for your schedule and allows you to reach your goals.” You may learn more about what is going on with the client, creating more of a personal relationship and they’ll find that you’re more engaged in them as a person, than just a money making client.
If that doesn’t work or the setting an expiration date, you may want to have a direct conversation about keeping to sessions as your programming is designed with certain rest days, to meet goals, etc.
I would change my cancellation policy to 48 hours in advance
I would also enforce a expiration date of sessions along with payment upfront.
I would also not be overly accomodating to get that person back in the schedule. If you are constantly accommodating them they have learned that it works and will keep expecting it.
Hi Meryl. I agree with Jonathan and Harris; the best way to handle the situation that you describe is to have a ‘expiration date’ on purchased sessions. Of course, one of the drawbacks to having that policy is that you may find that your clients no longer purchase any of your longer packages for fear of losing money. So if selling those types of longer packages is part of your marketing plan that may be something to think about 🙂
I hope that this helps.