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I am moving the latest discussion listed below to here so people can comment directly and then follow it more easily.

It is so important to have a cancellation policy and enforce it right from the beginning.  I have it on my intake form and have people initial that they read it.  I charge the full amount - $85-$110 for an hour massage.  My time is too valuable to sit there.  I used to not have one and just let it slide but the more I enforced it the more successful I became.  It is just part of doing business.  Why should you sacrifice your income for their issues with getting there.  I do let people slide when they are sick but I don't tell people that when I tell them about the policy.

What is your cancellation policy and why?  Do you enforce it?  Why or Why not?

Julie
www.massagepracticebuilder.com

Views: 112

Replies to This Discussion

Here Here Julie.
If a therapist has a stated cancellation policy, it should be followed allowing for those special exceptions when you know the client has a legitimate excuse. In our business time is money. Make sure clients know the value of your time!
good job Julie. I agreed our time is precious and so is our services.
Hi Julie.
I totally agree with you that it's very important to have a cancellation policy and to stick to it. If we don't value our professional time, then how can we expect our clients to respect it? If a client fails to show up for an appointment, that hour of time is gone and cannot be replaced.
I have surveyed therapists where I work (Ontario, Canada) and almost everyone does have a cancellation policy. The most common one I see is "24 hours notice or pay full fee". Therapists tend to enforce it with discretion. If a long-standing, reliable client cancels at the last minute due to a legitimate emergency, most therapists will forgive it. However, the policy is there to help deal with repeat offenders or clients who just don't respect the therapist's professional time.

Like you, I make my policy clear on the first visit. It's posted on my fee schedule as well as on my health history and the client signs that they have read and understood it.
I emphasize to new clients that if they are not able to keep their appointment, another of my clients would like to have it and I must have enough advance notice so that I can call another client to offer them the appointment. People do seem to understand this.

The only therapists I have talked to who do NOT enforce a cancellation policy, are new therapists working in areas where there is a lot of competition. They are afraid that if they charge a cancellation fee, the client will just book elsewhere and they will lose this client completely.

My feeling is that "repeat offenders" who fail to show or who cancel without notice, are no loss to my practice.
Thanks Eve. You are so right. It's not just that our TIME is precious, but the SERVICE we are offering has great value.








lee kalpin said:
Hi Julie.
I totally agree with you that it's very important to have a cancellation policy and to stick to it. If we don't value our professional time, then how can we expect our clients to respect it? If a client fails to show up for an appointment, that hour of time is gone and cannot be replaced.
I have surveyed therapists where I work (Ontario, Canada) and almost everyone does have a cancellation policy. The most common one I see is "24 hours notice or pay full fee". Therapists tend to enforce it with discretion. If a long-standing, reliable client cancels at the last minute due to a legitimate emergency, most therapists will forgive it. However, the policy is there to help deal with repeat offenders or clients who just don't respect the therapist's professional time.

Like you, I make my policy clear on the first visit. It's posted on my fee schedule as well as on my health history and the client signs that they have read and understood it.
I emphasize to new clients that if they are not able to keep their appointment, another of my clients would like to have it and I must have enough advance notice so that I can call another client to offer them the appointment. People do seem to understand this.

The only therapists I have talked to who do NOT enforce a cancellation policy, are new therapists working in areas where there is a lot of competition. They are afraid that if they charge a cancellation fee, the client will just book elsewhere and they will lose this client completely.

My feeling is that "repeat offenders" who fail to show or who cancel without notice, are no loss to my practice.
So Julie, what's your take on me not having enforced my cancellation policy with this client of mine yet? Aside from the one where she didn't have transportation and didn't want to walk in the rain, the other short notice cancellations seemed like unforseeable circumstances... Maybe I should've cracked down with the no transportation one. ?
You have to decide for yourself and what you feel most comfortable with. It isn't right or wrong what you did with this person but you are learning what you do want. I would just start now and say, you know I do have this cancellation policy....and I haven't enforced it yet with you but I am going to have to now because I have other clients waiting to get in and I have reserved this spot exclusively for you and don't allow others to book that time.

It took me many years to get solid on my policy. I wish I had done it much sooner. It is a learning process. Hopefully I can help spare people the agony I wnt through in learning to enforce it by talking about it more like places like this.

I had one person read something on one of my websites saying he would just about breakdown and cry when people didn't show up. he didn't have a cancellation policy. He gave up trying to build his business but recently had thought about it again and didn't realize he could have a policy that made people pay.
I also had a client write a bad review on a directory site who was mad at me because I made her pay full price for flaking out and missing her appointment. It is also about telling people up front before you enforce it so they will think twice about canceling. They have to know about it before you enforce it.

I even have a friend who has her voice mail say something like if you are calling to cancel in less than 24 hours notice you will have to pay xamount.

Rachel Sheard, LMT said:
So Julie, what's your take on me not having enforced my cancellation policy with this client of mine yet? Aside from the one where she didn't have transportation and didn't want to walk in the rain, the other short notice cancellations seemed like unforseeable circumstances... Maybe I should've cracked down with the no transportation one. ?
My cancellation policy is right on my intake form. I am not currently in the habit of reading it back to them, I've thought about making it a habit, and have done it a couple times. I guess once it is a habit, it won't feel so awkward. I guess I just figured people always read it. Combined with my disclosures of the actual massage (non-sexual, therapeutic, no dx, no rx, etc..), it's only 8 lines of regular-size font at the bottom of my intake form just above where they sign.
I agree Julie. And my cancellation policy is 48 hours notice. It is very difficult to try and fill an appointment in 24 hours. Of course, for regular clients who call in and clearly have an emergency or are sick, I will let it slide a little bit.

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