It’s every service based small business owner’s biggest frustration.

You spend the time to make sure your calendar is up to date. You set your business hours, and plan your day around your client appointments, and then…

You have a no-show.

A client has skipped an appointment, causing you to lose out on potential new clients, revenue, and productive time on other tasks as you chase them down.

Skipped appointments are a huge headache for every service based entrepreneur, so the question remains: how do you avoid these nuisances?

Here are a few ideas of how to ensure your clients never no-show again.

1. Send Out Reminders

Your clients want to keep their appointments.

After all, they booked you for a reason. But sometimes life happens and things get in the way, and all of a sudden their appointment slipped their mind and they don’t show up.

That’s why reminding your clients can make all the difference.

It may sound obvious, but not a lot of service based small business owners do this. Some assume this is a right reserved only by large companies.

However, sending out a simple reminder can make a huge difference to your bottom line.

If you want to make sure your reminders reach your clients in time, the best way to send reminders is through text. Schedulicity offers a text message reminder function for appointments to make it easier for you.

You can also remind your clients with a simple phone call or email.

2. Make it Easy for Clients to Re-Book

Clients don’t feel the pain of having missed appointments like you do.

They don’t always understand that you could have filled their skipped slot with another paying client, so they don’t consider the impact of skipping and booking a later date.

But sometimes, they find a conflict in their schedule.

One of the best ways to make sure you aren’t in the dark is to make it as easy as possible to cancel and rebook appointments.

Allow them to do so right on your calendar instead of requiring them to phone in.

You’re more likely to have advance notice of their cancellation rather than a no-show if the client is able to deal with it when they think of it, instead of having to remember to rebook when they have a minute to phone you.

3. Secure Their Appointment in Advance

If your clients know that they have an appointment with you in advance, they’ll be able to plan around it, and secure the appointment that works for them rather than the leftovers that may conflict with their schedules.

This also provides them with ample time to rebook if they have a conflict, so they’re not rushing at the last minute or resorting to the dreaded no-show.

Try booking their follow up appointment during their current appointment and suggest a slot during the same time of day and day of the week they usually book.

Just be sure to send a reminder before the appointment.

4. Consider Skipped Appointment Fees

If you notice that one client is particularly casual about keeping his or her appointment and it causes you a lot of missed revenue, consider setting up a system where they have to pay a fee if they miss their appointment more than once.

If you choose to take this route, make sure you implement this gracefully:

• Communicate why you’re putting the fee in place: When people know why a policy or fee is in place, they’re far more likely to accept it and work with you to cancel and rebook appointments that don’t work for them with advance notice.
• Ensure your clients are aware of the fee ahead of time: You don’t want to surprise anybody by slapping them with a fee they weren’t aware of. Make sure you communicate that there’s a fee for skipped appointments without advance notice during the booking process.
• Give the client a grace appointment: You want to retain the clients you worked so hard to attract, and in the Relational Economy, sometimes that means giving them some concessions. Take a gradual approach to introducing these fees. Allow new clients one “warning” appointment before they are charged the fee. This will keep your clients happy and appreciative (even if they don’t use it).

A year ago, I completely forgot that I booked a dentist appointment and I had a scheduling conflict. I forgot to phone in and rebook, so I ended up no-showing. I had a courtesy call from the office letting me know that they’ll re-schedule this time, but next time I’d have to pay a fee.

I’ve never no-showed again, not only because of the fee but also because of the courtesy call and how they handled it.

This can be a great way to keep your clients coming in when they’re supposed to.

5. Ensure Open Communication

In the Relational Economy, you build relationships with your clients.

Your clients come to like and care about you, as you do for them. Most clients don’t want to hurt your business or cause any frustrations for you. But sometimes, they just don’t think of the impact of a missed appointment.

Let your clients know that, as a small business, every “no-show” is an appointment slot that another client could have booked, and that means you can’t serve your business as well.

You may find that communicating the impact to your business with every missed appointment reduces them substantially.

No-shows are frustrating. That’s time you could have used with another client, or scheduled as time off to relax.

But you don’t have to put up with them forever. Taking these small steps should greatly reduce the amount of no-shows you see.

And that should keep your other clients – and your bank account – happy.