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How to write a compelling cancellation policy?

22 Mar 2023 0 Comments

Is your salon struggling with last minute cancellations or no show-ups? 

We know life happens and not everything goes according to plan, however as a salon owner, you need to be able to cover any financial losses to keep your business running.

Below I will explain the most common type of cancellation policies for you to consider.  

The Universal 24-Hour Rule

The most universal salon policy is the 24-hour policy. As its name implies, this policy asks for 24 hours notice when canceling or rescheduling an appointment to avoid being charged a cancellation fee.

To make this policy work, you would need to obtain your client's card at the time of making the appointment. 

This policy is effective in the majority of cases and simple to implement. Also, it is a policy that every client would expect (or assume) to be in place.

The Tiered Policy

I don't recommend having different notices for the different services your salon offers as it can be confusing for you, your staff members and most importantly your customers. 

Instead, if part of your services is to take on group bookings such as bridal showers and parties (let's say 4 people however this may be different for each salon), then your required notice could be 72 hours instead of 24 hours. Furthermore, for each guest that doesn't show up without notice, a charge of 50% could be incurred on the card used to make the booking. 

Make sure this policy is spelled out clearly and consistently.

The "I'm so sorry, I'm stuck in traffic" Policy (aka The Late Show up Policy)

It is also important to have some wording around lateness. Whatever wording you choose, please make it consistent throughout the year including those peak times to avoid any confusion. 

The allowance time for your clients to be late will depend on the size of your salon and the number of staff but a good general rule could be up to 15 minutes. It is important for the wording to show some flexibility to your clients without being a burden on your salon during peak times. 

What if a client can't attend due to an emergency?

As I mentioned before, it is important to show flexibility and that you care about your clients holistically. Everyone can have an emergency or become ill suddenly. 

To show that you really care about them, you could have a "Salon Policy Exemption" which would allow your clients to be "penalised free" for one no-show a year for example due to sudden illness or an emergency. 

Put yourself in your customer's shoes (or even think about when it may have happened to you), you become ill or sprained an ankle, you are in pain, frustrated, anxious and on top of that, your beauty therapist charges you 50% of the service fee! You wouldn't be happy, right? What would you tell your friends about "that" salon? Remember word-of-mouth goes a long way.  

Appointment Confirmation

Remember the importance of sending a SMS to your client 48hs prior to the appointment! I am sure you are already doing this but if you are not, I think it would be prudent to start thinking about it. 

I wrote another blog about "How to avoid 2/3  of your clients from missing their appointments" which completes this blog article. You can find it here

In your appointment confirmation message, add a link to your salon cancellation policy and offer contact information if clients want to rebook.

Displaying your Cancellation Policy

The Cancellation Policy should be visible and accessible to the client but without being too aggressive. At a minimum, I suggest having this policy included on your website. Since this policy should be simple and concise, maybe you could have it framed and presented nicely and displayed somewhere visible in your salon. 

Other ways of communicating the cancellation policy include:

  • Attaching the policy to your booking system
  • Attaching the policy to the Contact Details Form.
  • Mentioning the policy when a client books an appointment. 
  • Including a link to the policy in your appointment confirmation message
  • Having it displayed on your social media account

Main Take-aways:

  • Being understanding in your wording goes a long way so as not to come across as inflexible or harsh. 
  • Goodwill, doing all that you can to maintain positive relationships with your clients even during inopportune scenarios will encourage that positive word-of-mouth.
  • Select the wording carefully. Make it clear, concise, and firm.
  • Make sure your clients know exactly where to find you if they want to cancel in advance so that they can avoid the extra charges. You can give them alternatives such as text message, email, phone call, or social media DM. 

If you like this blog article, leave us a comment below and share it with your colleagues!

With Love, Ari xx


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