Insight for Stylists

How to Deal With (and Prevent) Missed Salon Appointments


There’s nothing more frustrating than a last-minute cancellation, or worse yet, a no-show. Unfortunately, since there’s no hard-and-fast rule on how to handle these, many salon owners and stylists are left to wonder how to manage them.

We’ve put together the following guide to cover how you can minimize no-shows in the salon and what to do when they occur.

How to Limit Cancellations & No-Shows

Although no-shows are common, salon owners do have various tools at their disposal to help prevent them.

Implement a Cancellation Policy

Cancellation policies are a good insurance policy and don’t have to be as scary as they sound; use them at the salon’s discretion to discourage repeat offenders and gently remind clients that everyone’s time is valuable.

Use a Reminder Schedule

Salon owners can put a dent in the number of no-shows and last-minute cancellations they see by using a reminder schedule. Whether it’s an automated system or just part of the daily to-do list, send clients a quick text or give them a call 24-48 hours before their appointment time.

Be sure to keep client contact info up to date to avoid sending reminders to the wrong person.

Build Strong Client Relationships

Clients that have a good relationship with their stylist are much less likely to not show up for an appointment because they respect their stylist’s time and know that their stylist will miss them (though everyone legitimately forgets once in a while).

Let clients know they are genuinely valued; work on relationship-building techniques, like remembering to ask them about something they mentioned at their last service. Thank them for coming in, and let them know you’re looking forward to their next appointment.

If a client does miss their appointment, follow up to make sure they’re okay and reschedule their session; they’ll appreciate it!

Be Prepared for Cancellations

It’s important to accept that even in the best salon, there will always be some no-shows. So when last-minute cancellations or no-shows occur (and they will), have a plan to make the most out of them.

Keep Calm

First things first, remember to be understanding and not react to reflect poorly on the salon. Life gets in the way sometimes, and there’s no way to prevent unforeseen circumstances—maybe they were unexpectedly ill or got into a car accident. Even if clients simply forgot, they’ll genuinely appreciate a compassionate response and will likely make it a point not to do it again. So keep it professional and cut first-time offenders a break, especially if they’re already a loyal client.

For those who have made a habit of missing their appointments, be honest and ask if there’s anything that would help them not to miss their appointments in the future. For example, perhaps an extra reminder call would solve the problem, or booking further out to get a time that is likely to work better with their schedule. You don’t know until you ask!

Use a Waiting List

Depending on how last-minute the cancellation is, there may still be time to fill the slot. Make it a practice to ask clients if they want to be notified if a slot opens up earlier than their booked appointment time and keep a list. Or go through the upcoming schedule and see if anyone would like to take the time slot.

Advertise It

For last-minute appointments, advertise the opening on social media channels and consider using an incentive to fill the slot if needed.

Depending on the number of cancellations and the length of the time slots available, consider putting an “openings available” sign in the window or out on the sidewalk. This can not only fill the slot but brings in clients that might not otherwise have come through the door. Even if the available time slot doesn’t work with their schedule, they may take the opportunity to schedule an appointment for later in the week.

Have a To-Do List

Keep a running list of tasks and projects to do around the salon. Then, if worse comes to worst and you cannot fill a missed appointment, don’t miss a beat: Use the time to get something done!

While last-minute cancellations and no-shows are frustrating, salon owners and stylists can help to prevent them by implementing a cancellation policy, using a reminder system, and building strong client relationships. Be prepared for when they do occur by keeping calm, using a waitlist, advertising the opening, and doing something constructive with the time.

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