My step-by-step guide on why you need a cancellation policy, how to manage cancellations and how you can implement a system I use with my clients.
One thing I’m always asked about is what I do about late cancellations. The last time someone asked me, I said I should probably write a blog post about it.
Here it is and thanks for the inspiration, Rebecca Atkinson!
I have found that having a clear client-therapist agreement goes a long way towards minimising late cancellations.
Taking payment in advance helps a lot too.
But life is life and people are busy and late cancellations are inevitable sometimes. Then we have to decide what to do about it.
It really helps if you have a cancellation policy and it is shared with your client.
If you have a policy but you haven’t told them what it is, they might be surprised and not in a good way.
My policy is to charge 50% of the fee unless I am able to fill the session from my waiting list.
Next, is how this looks in practice.
Walk Through My Cancellation Policy
First and foremost, I want to know the reason for the cancellation.
If it is a complete emergency then I contact my client to say that I hope everything is okay, and I thank them for letting me know.
Otherwise, this is what I do:
- I write a careful and thoughtful email to my client thanking them for letting me know.
- Next, I remind them that I have a late cancellation policy which is outlined in my client-therapist agreement and attach it to the email for their reference.
- I suggest we take the session by Skype or phone if they can’t make it into clinic.
- I also offer them my availability for the rest of the week and if they can rearrange within the same day or the same week, then that’s the problem solved!
- If they still have to cancel, I explain that I have to charge half the fee to cover the room rent and the time that could have been used by someone else.
- If I have someone waiting to take the appointment then I write and explain that I usually charge a fee but this time I don’t need to as I have someone on my waiting list.
As I take payment in advance for homeopathy consultations, even with a late cancellation I am rarely out of pocket.
If by any chance they have not paid in advance I send an invoice for the late cancellation fee.
If the invoice is not paid within a week, I send it again.
It still hasn’t been paid? Then I telephone.
The number of times I have had to take it to telephone is one.
The number of times I have had to resend the invoice is only one or two.
Mostly what I have is people who offer to pay.
Guess what I say when they offer to pay?
I say, ‘Thank you. I really appreciate that.’
And that’s it.
The Key Thing
I think the reason that this system works is because I share it everywhere!
It’s on my client-therapist agreement, my website, my booking system, my auto-respond and it is also provided as a summary for my new clients to sign when they first come to see me.
Basically we all know it exists.
Anyway, that’s my late cancellation policy.
I hope you find it useful.