Why do you charge for missed appointments?
I've seen a few therapists of late posting about people booking but not turning up for appointments, and they sound rather upset about it too, with good reason. Doctors have these signs up as well, have you noticed? - there have been xxx missed appointments this month - it seems very much a problem if you work in the service industry - so, it goes with the territory I guess?
I'm very lucky and usually have few issues. The majority of my clients turn up, are very good about remembering when their appointments are, do pay any missed fees, and generally let me know if they aren't going to be able to make it in good time. You know I love you all :)
You will always get the odd, genuinely mortified, "oh no I forgot", or "I overslept" (you know who you are 😂), or someone who genuinely mistook the day or time - I've certainly done that one myself before now! And, of course, there's the unexpected happening that you just can't plan for. In these circumstances, it's never an issue to reschedule an appointment, and personally, I would never charge for this, especially for regular my clients.
However, when someone you've been supporting by giving free advice to over a period of time books an appointment, only to decide that she'd rather pay someone else a heavily discounted rate, and just doesn't bother turning up to your full-price appointment with no notification because of it, well, that's a different issue entirely.
This happened to me just before Christmas. I offered to re-book, as the client then wouldn't need to pay the no-show fee as a gesture of goodwill. Nothing. I sent the terms & conditions, which clearly states that there is a no-show fee payable for every missed appointment. Every excuse was given including, "I'll pay when I have the money". And my thanks, well, blocked on Facebook, as the client had no intention of paying anything, ever. A lesson there in making sure you take people's contact information and credit card details if ever there was one!
As it says above, as much as you wish to be nice and therapists are definitely caring human beings, at what point do you have to draw the line and say, this is a business & I need to starting thinking like a business woman too?
So, having said that, what exactly am I charging for? Well, there are often lots of hidden costs that people don't think about.
Firstly, I have premises and therefore overheads like rent and electricity to pay for. Plus the washing and drying of towels, purchasing of consumables like bed roll, cleaning equipment etc., and my own costs, of course, in getting to and from work by car.
The heating needs to be on at least three quarters of an hour before any appointment, so that clinic can warm up sufficiently. These expenses don't go away if an appointment is missed. I guess I am lucky that I don't have any perishable food to worry about (like resturants); however essential oils do have a shelf-life once opened, and cost quite a considerable amount of money, so if I've opened or bought a bottle of something especially for your treatment...
This is an actual picture of me btw in winter, rocking up first thing in the morning to open up 😂
Secondly, if a slot of time is booked, this time is exclusively reserved for that client. If the appointment is not cancelled or re-arranged with enough notice, it cannot be given to anyone else and I lose that time from my work schedule.
As I've put it in our policy*:
We are sure that you will understand that booking an appointment is like buying a ticket to an event. If you miss that event, it doesn’t matter why you missed it, or even if it was your first time, you can’t return your tickets for a refund. As our client, we will always treat you with the greatest respect and we therefore only ask that you value our time in the same way.
Of course, at the moment everything is going up too. Heating, petrol etc. And you just can't keep on absorbing these costs indefinitely, so price rises are inevitably going to have to occur, especially if appointments keep being missed and payments owed ignored.
I don't think I will every truly understand why a minority of people see some appointments or services as less valuable than others, and treat them accordingly. Or why they have such little respect for other people's time, training & expertise. All I know is that by charging for missed appointments, it stops people continually messing you about. It also demonstrates that you take your business seriously. After all, if I don't value my time, why should anyone else?
Stay safe, as always,
* Our late arrival/cancellation policy can be found here: