I particularly don’t like 24 hour cancellation policies, in fact they can often make you sick! Literally. Since some clients will still come when they are sick; not good for them to be working out and potentially not good for you as well.
Instead, my alternative policy is somewhat complex but it works well for me.
I don’t have a “cancellation policy” as a primary policy for this type of situation. I combine a “rescheduling policy” (mine is only 60 minutes!) and a rewards program.
For example, instead of charging $$$ for 6 sessions, I charge $$$ for 5 sessions, and give 1 bonus session when they show up for the first 5 without cancelling.
If a client cancels prior to 60 minutes before their scheduled session, they lose their bonus session, but they can reschedule the session they can’t make. If they are training with me less than 3 times per week, they must reschedule their session within 7 days, otherwise I simply extend their program/package an additional training day.
If a client no-shows or cancels within 60 minutes of their scheduled session, they lose that days session plus their bonus session.
If a client cancels greater than 10% of the time, then everything applies as above but they must cancel their session within 24 hours.
And then… here are some other ideas:
– Sell program packages that last X number of days, and institute a reschedule policy (subject to your availability) in which clients have to make up the session within the appropriate time otherwise the sessions expire.
– Leave one set hour open each day for paperwork/study/administrative/etc; then use this as your only time for rescheduling clients who cancelled the day or two prior. When you fill that hour with a rescheduled session, use the time you would have been in session for those other duties.
– Institute a 24 hour cancellation policy, but in addition if a client cancels within 24 hours then charge the client for a late cancellation but do something for them during that time: research something they wanted to know more about, print out an article, create a meal plan, create a video and email it to them, etc.
– Institute a no cancellation policy except for emergencies/exceptions (and define in contract what would be considered an emergency/exception) but offer an end-of-week semi-private training session only for those who cancelled during the same week for make up. This way clients feel they can cancel and still receive value for the investment they’ve made.
Have a 24 hour cancellation policy but be flexible to your great clients. We have a 24 hour cancellation policy but we know life happens. So what we do first, if possible we try to reschedule the clients. We charge them for the cancellation BUT if they make up the session this week or the following week. Then we give them a FREE session to make it up. Our clients who are phenomenal, harder working, never cancel for them we don’t charge because they might cancel just ONCE every 6 months.
Our clients who cancel often and very last minute, like within the hour of their appointment then we definitely charge them!
General rule is, charge those who make it a habit, work with those who never do it (you also have to be flexible).
Best of luck,