How to combat
No-shows are no fun. In this article, we’ll dive deeper into why it happens and what you can do as a business owner to combat it.
In this article...
Ever had a date stand you up? You know, you're sitting there, nervously fiddling with your drink, glancing at the door every five seconds, and...nothing. Well, as a small business owner, you're probably all too familiar with a similar scenario, only your flaky date is your customer, and the stakes are your bottom line.
"Ghosting" is not just a dating phenomenon; it's a real issue in the business world, too. We call it the "no-show" problem. You book an appointment, save a spot, prepare for the service, and... crickets.
Why no-shows happen
What gives? Why do customers do this? Understanding consumer behavior is the first step in addressing the issue and, let me tell you, it's an art as much as it is a science. So, let's try to decode some of this behavior, shall we?
Forgetting or miscommunication. Despite working with any booking system, and reminder emails, some consumers forget about their appointments due to busy schedules or miscommunication. This is the hardest one to deal with since there’s no real bad intention behind it, but with the automated reminders and Apple Wallet support from Vev (where the appointment shows up on your phone's lock screen), you can at least try to avoid it.
Lack of personal investment. When customers don't have to make a significant upfront investment, such as prepayment or a deposit, they may feel less committed to following through with the appointment. (Vev allows you to accept pre-payments, and will soon allow you to also opt for a deposit payment of a fixed amount or percentage)
Last-Minute Changes and Emergencies. Life is unpredictable. Emergencies, changes in schedule, or even a change of mind can lead to no-shows.
Impersonal Experience. When customers don't feel a personal connection with the business, they might feel less obligated to show up.
Perceived Consequence. If customers believe that there will be little to no consequence for not showing up. Basically, implying that they are doing no harm to your business, since “you’ll help somebody else”. Which is often not the case.
Ways to combat no-shows
Make sure that all orders are in the Vev system. Vev sends out an email confirmation right after the reservation has been made. We also send an email on the morning of the appointment on your behalf with the subject line “See you soon”. Vev also offers support for Apple Wallet. This way, a few hours ahead of the scheduled time, their appointment with you will show up on the lock screen.
Check your cancellation policy. Under Policy in your Vev dashboard, you can select the cancellation policy that is applicable to your business. Giving your customers enough flexibility ensures that they can reschedule an appointment themselves if needed. It for sure an “I tried, but couldn’t reach you”-type of argument. So allowing customers to make changes 12-24 hours before the appointment, could be all they need.
Accept advance or down payments. In select markets, it’s now possible to connect Stripe to your Vev page. This way, you can accept payments in full or down payment (percentage or fixed amount) to confirm the appointment.Seek customer feedback. Regularly ask for and review feedback from your customers. They may provide valuable insights into why people might not be showing up, which you can address specifically.
Despite your best efforts, a no-show still might happen. We talked to many business owners, and they are clear about it:
Follow up with the customer. Even if they didn’t answer your calls, texts, or emails earlier. You should still reach out to them, informing them about their actions. Regardless of their intention, your time was “wasted”. If you do charge a ‘no-show fee’, this is also the time to include a digital payment link for them in that same message. It’s best to reach out anyway and not let it slide.
And finally, don’t be hard on yourself. We hear from many business owners that it feels like a punch in the face when it happens. Take it easy on yourself and try to let it not influence the rest of your day.