Do you know what your greatest expense is?
Wages and rent.
At least that’s the case for the majority of salon owners.
No wonder late cancellations and no-shows have a direct negative impact on your salon profitability.
If not managed right, it’ll eat from your income while costs remain constant. This is not an equation that rimes well with a profitable salon.
To run a successful salon business, it’s vital to know your booking schedule with as much notice as possible.
But, unfortunately, sometimes clients do not follow through or ask to reschedule last minute.
As a business owner, you will, of course, be as accommodating as possible. But it’s not always possible to find a new time. Neither is this a cost you can afford to carry.
By implementing a clear, direct, and easy to find salon cancellation and no-show policy, you minimize dealing with frustrated clients and protect yourself and your staff from costly last-minute changes.
But what should your salon no-show policy cover? And what’s the right salon cancellation policy wording to use to not sound harsh?
I decided to find out.
In today’s article, I’ll share a list of options to include in a salon cancellation policy. I’ve also put together a standard salon cancellation policy template and example that you can download and adapt for your salon.
1. The 24 Hour Policy
One of the most universal salon policies is the 24-hour policy. This policy asks for 24 hours notice when canceling or rescheduling an appointment to avoid being charged for a portion of their booked services.
This is achieved by requesting that the client leave a credit card on file when making the appointment, either by phone, in person, or via an online scheduling system.
This system can be made much more seamless by creating a client profile in your salon’s system for each new client, therefore keeping their credit card on file for when they – hopefully – become repeat customers.
If you don’t already have an appointment booking system that helps you with this, I’d strongly recommend you sign up for one right now. There are even free solutions available that will accept credit card details during the booking.
Additionally, having client profiles can help you as a business owner or manager track which services are most popular, which services are not being booked as often, and what time of the week/year clients are requesting certain services more so than others. This data will then be beneficial as you plan out your schedule with your staff so that you are neither over or understaffed.
The 24-hour policy is effective in the majority of cases despite its simplicity as it is both a blanket statement covering most situations, but also a reasonable policy client will not be frustrated with.
Being understanding in your wording also goes a long way so as not to come across as stuffy or inflexible. An example of the basic 24-hour policy is as follows:
Salon understands that sometimes schedules change and therefore requests at least 24 hours notice when canceling or rescheduling your appointment. A credit card is required to hold your appointment. Appointments canceled within 24 hours or for which clients are a “No-Show” for will incur a charge of 50% of the service amount.
2. The Tiered Policy
A tiered policy builds off the basic 24 hours policy in that it offers more flexibility and options for your clients, depending on the service they have booked with your salon. If your salon offers last-minute bookings or group bookings for parties and bridal events, implementing a tiered policy may be the best way to ensure complete transparency with your clients.
A tiered policy can and should remain simple and clear, confusing both your clients and front desk staff won’t be beneficial to anyone despite even the best of intentions. This means that while you are now offering different options for how much notice a client needs to give, having a different notice period for each and every service is not necessary and should be avoided. Instead, consider what situations you may need more or less notice for.
For example, group bookings take up much more time for your staff, so more notice will be required in order to refill those appointments slots. Alternatively, an appointment made that day won’t require as much notice since your staff was already scheduled to be in the salon that day regardless. An example of this added wording is below:
Please note that appointments made within 24 hours may instead be canceled or modified at least 4 hours prior to the appointment time in order to avoid a charge of 50% of the service amount.
Group bookings of four or more people require a notice period of 72 hours (3 days). For each guest that fails to show without required notice a charge of 50% of the service amount will be incurred on the card used to reserve the booking.
3. Lateness Policy
Another good specification to include in your policy is specific wording regarding lateness. When a client arrives late to an appointment they are technically not a no-show and may demand their full service, even if the service cannot be completed by your staff in the remaining appointment time.
Trying to explain this to the client in the moment may potentially lead to frustration for the client who has now made the trip out to your salon only to be denied service.
This can be avoided by incorporating clear definitions of what’s to happen in the event that the client is late into your booking system or on your salon’s website.
There are various ways to go about wording this depending on the flexibility you have with your staff and schedule, however, it is important to note that this wording should remain the same once written, rather than modifying it for peak times of the year, so as not to switch it up on your clients. Due to this, the wording should give your clients a bit of flexibility with traffic and other timing issues, without it being a burden on your staff during peak times. An example of this is as follows:
Please note that if you are over 15 minutes late for your appointment we may have to reschedule your service if it cannot be completed in the remaining time frame. All attempts to reschedule in a timely manner will be made. If we do not hear from you 15 or more minutes into your scheduled appointment time it is considered a “No-Show” and your card will be charged for 50% of the service scheduled.
4. Policy to Protect Clients
Perhaps your business is located in an area with volatile weather that may require you, as a business, to close your doors for a day every so often. Waiting until road access to your salon is safe or electricity can be restored is, of course, paramount, and sometimes these things simply happen despite ample preparations.
If this is the case, ensuring that goodwill is maintained with your customers is a top priority throughout the salon closure. After all, word-of-mouth is the absolute best form of marketing a business can get, and doing all that you can to maintain positive relationships with your clients even during inopportune scenarios will encourage that positive word-of-mouth.
In order to maintain this goodwill with your customers, you can easily add in language that simply reverses your policy to benefit the client. Doing so tells your clients that you value their time, schedules, and patronage, not just their money. See below for an example of this wording:
Salon values your time and feels that it is fair to honor the same policies we hold to our clients. Should Salon need to cancel on a client due to unsafe weather conditions weather, power outages, or other unforeseen events with less than 24 hours notice we will honor 50% off your next identical service and do all we can to reschedule your appointment in a timely manner.
5. Salon Policy Exceptions
As touched on earlier, keeping track of your clients via a Customer Relationship Management System (CRM) or other appointment system is helpful in numerous ways.
Another way to incentivize clients to make an account in your system is to include a policy that provides limited exceptions for last-minute appointment changes or cancellations. By incorporating this wording you are coming across as very understanding of your customers’ needs while building your database and keeping track of their appointment history.
It is due to this that you can even offer this flexibility as you can make sure that they are only taking advantage of this feature on rare occasions. If you choose to add this flexible policy to be precise in your wording like so:
Here at Salon we understand that accidents and emergencies happen that prevent 24-hour notice for canceling or rescheduling your appointment. Salon members are given one (1) grace appointment a year for last-minute scheduling changes, cancellations, or no-shows. Please inquire at our location on how to sign up for free today!
6. Flexible Salon Policy
If you are managing a small, local salon with plenty of repeat customers, the best policy for you may be the most flexible of them all.
Reminding your clients that while you may send confirmation calls/texts/emails for each and every appointment even if it is still the client’s responsibility to remember their appointment.
Your salon software should be able to help you with this. If not, you can sign up for a solution which allow you to send text and email reminders.
An important note about that, it is incredibly important that you get in contact with your clients around 48 hours before their appointments to confirm! In today’s day and age, this has become expected by clients and is easy to implement either as part of your front desk staff’s daily routine or by automation within your CRM or scheduling system.
A flexible policy is a fine line to walk and can open you and your staff up to last-minute changes, however, it enables you to be the most accommodating to your clients and build those strong, positive relationships. A flexible policy can be worded as such:
Here at Salon we will do everything we can to accommodate appointment changes and cancellations as required. Please give us a call at your earliest convenience to modify or cancel your appointment.
Get the Right Software to Support Your Appointment Management
Having the right salon cancellation and no-show policy in place is crucial. But to reinforce it, you need to be able to accept bookings with credit card upfront as well as send reminders to your clients ahead of their appointment. I’ve put together a detailed guide to help you find the right salon software for you here. A good salon software doesn’t cost much and you’ll soon earn the money back you invest in it. In fact, the best appointment schedulers are actually free for individuals.
Download Your Salon Cancellation Policy Example & Template
Ultimately, the amount of detail you provide in your salon policy is up to you and what your business needs at this moment in time. With that being said, the more detail you provide in your policy the clearer the expectations are for your clients when they book their appointments and the clearer the timing expectations are for your staff.
A comprehensive salon policy with all of the options above (aside from the stand-alone flexible policy) is included below. Just download your free salon cancellation policy template PDF here and adapt the details to fit your salon.