When I started my coaching and consulting practice, I wanted to make people easy to decide on the first coach-session. So, my offer was: “Book a coach-session and pay after the coach-session is finished. And if you don’t like it, tell me about it and don’t pay at all.”.
I hadn’t encountered a single case when people didn’t pay after the coach-session, but I experienced massive cancellations.
Just imagine 5 minutes left to the start of a coach-session; I put on my headphones and waited for the client. And, unexpectedly, I got a message “Sorry, I can’t be at the meeting,” “Alex, regrettably, I can’t make it to the meeting,” etc.
I was down and frustrated. I had planned my day around to be available at the time. Moreover, I counted on the money I would have received for the coach-session as I had to pay my bills or rent.
Can you imagine how my day followed after this disappointment?
Some prospects canceled the previous day, some a few hours before the coach-session, and some didn’t cancel it at all and didn’t show up. I called them 10 minutes after the scheduled time and got no answer – very disrespectful towards me.
Why did people NOT show up?
They didn’t commit to coming as they didn’t pay upfront.
They were not 100% sure they needed a coach-session. They just booked it because of some inner impulse at the moment, but the next day they had different plans and different mental states. They could have just forgotten about the appointment.
Of course, later, I found the way around it, and my cancellation rate dropped from 30-40% to 2-3%.
What did I do to make people show up?
I started to book a coach-session only after receiving a payment. Obviously, amount of bookings dropped considerably, but those who booked showed up guaranteed. And those 2 – 3 % of prospects who didn’t have informed 1-3 days before.
What if you can not make people upfront? What if your industry’s rules are different?
I understand you. I worked with beauty industry service providers like hair stylists, barbers, cosmetologists, and others. They could not implement the upfront payment as everybody in the industry charges after providing the service.
The approaches are:
- Talk to the client the next time they come and tell them what inconveniences the cancellation has caused you. Make them feel your pain as you felt it. Clients will rethink their behavior, and if they value you as a specialist, they won’t cancel again. I’d use this approach after the first cancellation.
- Let prospects know the consequences of the cancellation. But first, you need to think about and decide to follow them. For example, there is a cancellation fee or “best hours to the best clients” or no discounts for clients who cancel.
- Take a small non-refundable deposit (10-20%) for the booking. Use this if the second method hasn’t worked out.
- Warn them you will reject them if they cancel once again.
The main thing – don’t be afraid to lose a client. They feel your fear, and the more you fear losing them, the more they take advantage of you.
Stop and think: why do you need clients who stress you out?
I understand you think, “I lack clients, how could I reject clients?”
I created a belief “another will come instead.” And every time I lost or rejected a client, I told it myself. And really, shortly, a new, more committed client signed up.
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