Managing Cancellations and No-Shows in the Lash Industry: Strategies and Solutions

Managing Cancellations and No-Shows in the Lash Industry: Strategies and Solutions

In the lash industry, cancellations and no-shows can significantly impact your business, leading to lost revenue and wasted time. Managing these challenges effectively is crucial for maintaining a stable and profitable business. Here's how you can enforce cancellation/no-show fees and leverage the Timely app to mitigate these issues.

Understanding the Impact of Cancellations and No-Shows

Cancellations and no-shows disrupt your schedule, resulting in unfilled appointment slots that could have been allocated to other clients. This not only affects your income but also your ability to manage your time efficiently. 

What is a cancellation and a cancellation policy?

A cancellation occurs when a client informs the lash technician or salon that they will not be able to attend their scheduled appointment. The timing and notice given for cancellations can vary, and policies are often in place to manage these situations: 
  1. Advance Cancellation: If a client cancels their appointment within a certain time frame specified by your policy, such as more than 48 hours before the appointment, it allows you to potentially fill the slot with another client. Some businesses may charge a small fee (i.e. 30% of the appointment price) or allow a free cancellation within this period. 
  2. Late Cancellation: Canceling within a short period before the appointment, such as less than 48 hours, can disrupt the lash technician's schedule and result in lost income as it may be difficult to fill this appointment now with this little notice. This is why it is essential to have a deposit system in place.  

What is a no-show?

A no-show occurs when a client fails to attend their scheduled appointment without any prior notice or cancellation. This situation is typically more disruptive than a cancellation because it leaves no opportunity to rebook the appointment slot. Policies to address no-shows often include:
  1. Full Service Charge: Many lash salons will charge the full cost of the missed service to the client's account as a no-show fee. This policy aims to cover the technician's time that they would have spent doing the treatment. 
  2. Deposit: If you are not willing to charge the full cost of the missed appointment, then the client could forfeit their deposit as a penalty for not showing up.
We asked our lash tech customers about no-shows, and on average they said that they had one no-show per week. If on average you’re charging £50 per treatment, this amounts to a huge £2,400 per year, which is a large amount of money to miss out on by clients not showing up. This is why it is so important to have a cancellation policy and to stick to it! Please see an example cancellation policy below - you could add something similar to your Instagram highlights and/or website:

How do you avoid cancellations and no-shows in the lash industry?

There are a few things we would recommend doing to try and avoid cancellations & no shows;
  • Send booking reminders: Remind clients of their upcoming appointments, programmes such as Timely are great to use for this. Timely has a great text reminder feature which allows you to send out reminders automatically. Clients then can’t say they completely forgot about their appointment! - a common excuse for no-shows. 
  • Make sure your clients are aware of your policies: Make sure your clients are aware of your cancellation and no-show policies, post them on your Instagram story regularly and add it to your highlights. Add the policy to your website/booking system if you have one and include this when clients book with you, and when sending out appointment reminders. Clients will be less likely to cancel or not show up if they know they will have to pay for doing so. 
  • Have a Waitlist: If you’re fully booked, ensure you have a waitlist for any last minute cancellations so that you can try to fill the spaces as soon as they become available. This way you are less likely to miss out on any lost income. 

How to create a Cancellation Policy: Lash Tech Edition!

A cancellation/no show policy is essentially a set of terms outlining what happens if a client were to cancel or not show up to their appointment. Implementing a clear cancellation policy and utilising technology like the Timely app can help you minimise these disruptions. 
  1. Define the Policy: Clearly outline your cancellation policy, including the timeframe within which clients must cancel or reschedule appointments to avoid fees. A standard policy might require a minimum of 48 hours' notice, as this could still give you enough time to try and fill the space. Your policy may have two separate sections - one for cancellations and one for no-shows. Typically, the policy for cancellations will be less harsh than no-shows, which will encourage clients to tell you they need to cancel or reschedule their appointment rather than just not showing up.
  1. Set Cancellation and No Show Fees: Determine the fees for late cancellations and no-shows. This could be a flat fee or a percentage of the service cost. Make sure the fees are reasonable but sufficient to deter last-minute cancellations. There are 3 fees to consider and to detail in your policy. First is the deposit, the deposit will be the fee that you charge for someone to book in with you and secure a particular appointment time. Secondly you have your cancellation fee, this is sometimes the same as your deposit or slightly less. For example if you charge a deposit of 50% of the treatment price and you charge £80 for a full set of russian lashes, your deposit would be £40 you could choose to have your cancellation fee at this price too which would mean if someone cancels in effect they just won’t get their deposit back. Alternatively you might say that your cancellation fee is £20 as long as they cancel a minimum of 48 hours before their appointment. You could then refund the remaining £20 from their deposit or use it to transfer their appointment to another time. It is entirely up to you whether you set your deposit and cancellation fee at the same or different rates as both have benefits and drawbacks. Setting them at the same price is good as it will mean you get more money for the lost appointment especially if you will struggle to fill in that last minute gap. Equally having a slightly lower cancellation fee could reduce your risk of no shows as clients will more likely give you the heads up if they do need to cancel, and by transferring the remaining deposit to another date almost still guarantees that they will come for the appointment but at a later date. Lastly you have your no-show fee, we would recommend that you set this higher than both your deposit and cancellation fee as this is for people that literally don’t show up on the day or haven't given you enough notice to try and fill the gap. Many lash techs will charge anywhere between 50%-100% of the treatment price for a no show. This needs to be harsher to encourage clients to let you know if they need to cancel and to also cover your lost income. 
  1. Communicate the Policy: Ensure your clients are aware of the cancellation policy. Always display the policy clearly across multiple platforms (on Timely, your website, Instagram, etc.) and reiterate it when a client books in with you. You could also include it in booking confirmations and appointment reminders so that your client is well aware of the implications of canceling or not turning up to their appointment. 

How to Enforce Cancellation Fees

  1. Be Consistent:Apply your cancellation policy consistently to all clients. Consistency reinforces the seriousness of the policy and ensures fairness.
  1. Use Secure Payment Methods:Require clients to provide card details at the time of booking. This enables you to charge the deposit, cancellation & no show fee automatically if they violate the policy. This makes the whole process a lot more automated and is less awkward for you as a lash tech as you don’t need to ask for them to send you money if they cancel! Programmes like Timely are great for this as they can store the card details securely for you. 
  1. Handle Exceptions Thoughtfully:While it's important to enforce your policy, be prepared to handle genuine emergencies with empathy. Having a case-by-case approach for exceptional situations can help maintain client relationships. In these cases you may charge your standard cancellation fee rather than keep the whole deposit. You may also want to have a separate policy - i.e., a 3-strike policy to help avoid the same client canceling on you multiple times. For example, your policy could detail that if a client cancels three appointments consecutively, that you will not be rebooking them without full payments up front.

Leveraging the Timely App

The Timely app is a powerful tool that can help you manage appointments, cancellations, and no-shows effectively. Here’s how:
  1. Automated Reminders:Timely sends automated appointment reminders via SMS or email, reducing the likelihood of clients forgetting their appointments. This feature alone can significantly decrease no-shows.
  1. Online Booking with Integrated Policies: Timely allows you to set up online booking with integrated cancellation policies. Clients are required to agree to these policies before confirming their appointments, ensuring they are aware of the rules.
  1. Secure Payment Integration: Timely supports secure payment processing, enabling you to collect  deposits or full payments at the time of booking. This not only secures your income but also makes it easier to enforce cancellation fees.
  1. Waitlist Management:In case of a last-minute cancellation, Timely’s waitlist feature can help you fill the slot quickly. Clients on the waitlist can be notified of the available time, ensuring your schedule remains full.
  1. Client Management:Timely keeps detailed records of client appointments and their history. This data can be useful in identifying habitual offenders and addressing the issue directly with them.


Tips for Implementing Timely in Your Business

  1. Training and Familiarisation:Ensure that you and your staff are well-trained on how to use Timely. Familiarise yourself with all its features to maximise its benefits.
  1. Promote the App to Clients:Encourage your clients to use Timely’s online booking system. Highlight the convenience of receiving reminders and the ease of rescheduling through the app.
  1. Regularly Review Policies and Procedures: Use the data and insights from Timely to regularly review and adjust your cancellation policies. This ensures they remain effective and relevant.

Pinkfishes x Timely 

Signing up for Timely is easy and comes with great benefits. You can get started by using our affiliatelink or by entering the code “PINKFISHES50” at checkout to receive 50% OFF your first three months with Timely. Plus, everyone who creates a Timely trial account within 90 days using this link or code will automatically be rewarded with the referral benefits. Additionally, Timely offers a free 14-day trial to help you become more familiar with its features and see how it can transform your appointment management. Don’t miss out on this opportunity to streamline your business withTimely. Learn the basics of Timely here. 
Managing cancellations and no-shows in the lash industry requires a combination of clear policies, consistent enforcement, and the right tools. By establishing a robust cancellation policy and utilising the features of the Timely app, you can minimise disruptions, secure your income, and maintain a smooth-running business. Embrace these strategies to enhance your salon's efficiency and client satisfaction.