How to Reduce No-Shows in Your Holistic Health Practice: Part 2/2
We’ve been exploring how to reduce the number of no-show clients in your holistic health practice. Last week we learned why no-shows occur and how to handle them. Now let’s continue with how to…
Proactively Prevent No-Shows
The most common and most effective tactic to avoid no-shows is to make a reminder phone call and/or email two days before the scheduled appointment. If you leave a voice mail reminder, ask the client to call you back to confirm.
Why 2 days and not the standard 24-hours notice? 4 reasons:
1. This gives the client time to cancel before the deadline if you have a 24-hour cancellation policy.
2. It gives you time to fill the opening from your wait list. (Create a steady supply of clients so you always have a list of people waiting to see you: The Prosperous Practice Home Study System. http://wp.me/P42qnM-5r
3. If the client has forgotten the appointment and made other plans, it gives them time to change the other plans and keep their appointment with you, if they so choose.
4. Delegate reminder calls to an assistant and you get more client or marketing time! Many online appointment programs provide automatic email reminders, but a phone call is more personal and more likely to get the results you want.
Are You the Reason for No-Shows?
The longer in advance you book appointments, the greater the chance of a no-show. People often are disorganized or have short attention spans or simply forget! Reminder calls bridge the gap between appointments.
In addition to the pre-appointment phone call, you could also send an email midway between appointments, saying you’re looking forward to seeing them again. Briefly mention the benefit or result they got from their previous session and the possible consequences of missing their next session – to keep the perks of working with you fresh in their mind! And here you can remind them of your 24-hour cancellation policy.
Example: Hi [Name] – I’m so glad your whiplash injury felt better after your massage last week! I’m looking forward to seeing you again on [date] – to help you keep the pain under control and support the healing process. Remember – no-shows will be charged the entire fee and cancellations require 24 hours notice to avoid the treatment fee. See you soon! [Signature]
On the other hand, if a client is unable to book during conventional business hours, consider modifying your schedule to include some evening and weekend appointments. When I started doing this, many years ago, my client load increased by 25% in 2 months! Take a look at your current schedule to see when your least busy hours are – days or blocks of time when you consistently have few or no clients. Then eliminate those hours from your work schedule and use them for family, for fun or… for marketing – with The Prosperous Practice Home Study System!
Replacing those newly-liberated weekday hours with evening and weekend appointment times will grow your business, while allowing you to help more people who need your work!
Another proactive method is to have each client read and sign an agreement that clearly explains all of your office procedures, especially your cancellation policy. Most people sign a contract without reading it, so allow enough time at their first appointment to go over the agreement with them, item by item.
Brownie Points: Put a checkbox next to each item in your policy agreement and have the client initial each one to confirm that he has read and understands them. Receive a copy of our Policy Agreement: info@TheProsperousPractice.com
It’s a good idea to accept credit cards in your practice and keep each patient’s card number on file, so you can charge the no-show fee. It’s difficult to collect a cash payment from a no-show client, especially repeat offenders!
When scheduling a new client’s first appointment, inform them of your cancellation policy, ask for their credit card info and let them know they will be charged for a missed appointment. Someone who refuses to give you this info may not be your Ideal Client, if they don’t respect your policies before they even walk into your office.
This being said, I have a one-time-only “Get Out of Jail Free” policy, because anyone can forget or make a mistake. I don’t post or discuss this policy. But if someone doesn’t show up and then later they call to apologize and reschedule, you have the option of offering this or not, depending on their attitude and their reason for missing the appointment.
Giving people a little break like this goes a long way toward creating goodwill, earning their trust, encouraging them to become repeat clients and refer others to you. Just make sure they understand that this offer is good for only one missed appointment and they will be charged for any other no-shows or late cancellations.
Let go of bad clients to make room for the great ones that you deserve! Some people will take advantage of you and continue to miss appointments, thinking that you will let it slide. So you have to be firm. If they consistently show disrespect for your policy and your valuable time, just let them go – you don’t need clients like this! Be polite but firm and offer to give them a list of practitioners who may be more lenient than you about no-shows. Do not recommend any one particular practitioner because you don’t want to get a rep for referring bad clients!
Proactively reduce no-shows by following these 4 steps:
1. Start with evaluating your client intake and follow-up systems.
2. Reduce loopholes in your business practices where clients can slip through without being accountable.
3. Be clear and upfront about your policies and expectations. How you handle no-shows can make or break your bottom line!
There’s no reason to let no-shows jeopardize your healthcare business. Simply establish and implement clear policies, and set firm boundaries and enforce them!