Cancellation policies can be tricky, but with the correct approach they don’t have to mean lost revenue and they don’t have to mean upset clients.
The following simple steps help us avoid most of the issues that can arise when a client cancels after our predefined cancellation deadline (24hrs). This can work for you too!
Step 1: Proactive CSRs (Customer Service Representatives)
Whenever booking an appointment, always remind clients, “If, for whatever reason, you need to reschedule please give us 24 hours notice so we can schedule someone else into that time slot”. This will regularly remind them of the importance of advance notice and the value of your time and that you have a policy in place.
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Step 2: Ask all of your trainers to review your cancellation policy with their clients.
Have your trainers explain the importance of the cancellation policy during each comp session. Also, make sure that your cancellation policy is included in the documentation your clients sign when they first start working with you.
Step 3: Short notice cancels don’t have to mean time and money wasted for your clients.
When someone calls and short notice cancels, we always ask “Is there anything specific that you would like your trainer to work on during that time?” That information is then relayed to the trainer who MUST use the time for the client since the client is paying for that time!
Step 4. What to do when a client is clearly upset….
Listen to the clients’ concern.
Paraphrase & Empathize with the clients’ concern.
Then it’s your turn to explain your standpoint by…
First, letting them know how much we appreciate them as a client and would never want to do anything that upset them so much that they didn’t want to train with us anymore
Then, ask questions, state facts etc…
- “Did you understand our cancellation policy?”
- “Did you know that we used to have a 48 hour policy but in order to meet our customer needs but still maintain our viability as a business, we adjusted it to 24 hours but needed to be firm in that we could not waive the fee for whatever reason”
- Can you understand how difficult it is to judge whose cancellation fee is waived and when ie “She’s a good client, so we shouldn’t charge her” or “Well we shouldn’t charge if someone is sick but should if their kid is sick or there is an emergency at work or they have car troubles etc…” We didn’t want to be the judge in any of these situations so we have a firm policy but always agree to do something for our clients during that time so they don’t feel like they are paying for nothing…
- Can you understand the difficulty in maintaining a viable business if without a cancellation policy we would lose 25-40% of our revenues each week due to cancellations?
- Is there anything that we could do better for you when you do have to short notice cancel so you feel you still get value from the time?
Hopefully, by this point, they feel like they’ve been listened to, that you understand their concerns and they better understand your situation. Try finishing the conversation by repeating how much you appreciate them as a client and will continue to do whatever you can to take care of them and ensure they are getting fabulous results.
It is important for your clients to remember that even if they do need to “late” cancel, their trainer will take that time to work on their file, email alternate workouts etc.
This approach normally does the trick. We receive the 24 hour notice we need to run a successful business and our clients understand why we must stick to our policy.
Yours in health, fitness & business,
With Guest Presenter Helen Vanderburg
(4 time winner of the CanFitPro Presenter of the year & 2005 IDEA Instructor of the Year)
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