Charging for Missed or Late Appointments? Let's think about this.

Time is money, especially in our industry. Missed or late appointments completely throw a wrench in the efficiency of a salon, so should we charge a portion (or full amount) of the service to the guest? Let’s look at the pros and cons of this policy.

After racking my brain I can think of only one “pro” to this action:

  1. You are compensated for that missed appointment.

Now let’s look at the “cons”:

  1. It’s probably the last time you will ever be paid from that client. Being charged for a missed appointment will likely burn the bridge between you and the customer. Even if it’s their fault, they will have a bitter taste in their mouth from this transaction. If they ever come back at all, their time with your company will end sooner rather than later.

  2. You have to store credit card info. The largest, most technologically advanced companies in the world have a hard time keeping data safe from hackers, so you or your salon software company are at extreme risk. This is a liability that should not be shouldered by small business.

  3. You are putting up roadblocks. Requiring a credit card to book for a new guest will make them pause. They’ve never even met you, yet you want a credit card in order for the potential of a long term client? Choosing a new salon is a very emotional, scary thing for some people. Asking for a credit card is the best opportunity for a potential client to bail out before even stepping foot into your establishment.

  4. The potential for an influential bad review. It’s very hard to get a guest to write a good review about your business. It’s EXTREMELY simple to get them to write a bad one. You can either jack up their hair or charge them for something they didn't get, and they will write a negative review as fast as their little fingers can type. Reviews are forever, so don’t give them the push they need to write one about your business that is totally avoidable. Yes, you lost money on that slot of time, but dodging a bad review will make up for it immensely.

As consumers ourselves, things come up. Children get sick, traffic slows you down, you can’t get away from work. We wouldn’t want to be punished financially for missing or being late to an appointment, so our customers don’t either.

We should be thoughtful and full of grace for our valuable clients and be able to eat a missed appointment from them occasionally. The goal should be a lifelong relationship and many appointments through the years.

If you have a client that is consistently no-showing or late, then you can figure out an alternative. But don’t throw the baby out with the bathwater and have a draconian policy that throws a hand grenade at a long term client relationship.