Managing Lateness, No-Shows & Cancellations


Chronic lateness, last minute cancellations and no shows – As beauty professionals, we have no doubt been impacted by all of these at one time or another. I know I have and all of those things have a negative impact on our business… if you let them.


First things first, do you have policies in place in your business? And do your clients know about them? Because if your clients don’t know your policies, how can you enforce them?


Or maybe you do have policies in place, but they aren’t serving your business how they should.


When you are putting your policies together, you need to decide exactly what should be included and what action will be taken when these things do come up, because if they haven’t already, they will. 

3 policies every beauty business should have:
1) Late Policy –  Do you have a lateness policy at all? If you do, you need to decide what is okay for you – Is five minutes okay to be late? Ten minutes? Is Fifteen minutes okay? When is the time that is no longer okay for you to do the service? At what point would you have to refuse the service? Because people that are late force you to be late for your next client, which isn’t fair to them because they showed up on time and it was the client before them that showed up late. 


2) Cancellation Policy – Realistically, how much notice do you need in your business to be able to fill a space? Is 24 hours enough notice? Or would 72 hours be more suitable?

You need to decide on a suitable timeframe and a reasonable amount of notice that will work best for you. 


3) No Show Policy – What about those who did not turn up to their appointment with no contact made? Are you going to allow them to re-book or will they be blacklisted? Will they be required to pay in full or part of the service, and when?



I know many beauty business owners are now starting to (or already do) take deposits from clients upon booking… I used to also but in all honesty, not only is it a complete logistical nightmare to deal with (not to mention sanity and time!), it’s actually not legal to hold a deposit and if the client protested with the bank or decided they were mad enough to go to small claims, they would win. Hotels can do things like that because it is reserving a physical space, but since we are a service-based industry, non-refundable deposits are not considered legal. 


Because of the reasons mentioned, I would skip the deposits!


Auto charging a client's card 

 Most online booking systems offer an option for card capture, which can be great for deterring last minute cancellations and no shows, but just be aware that it is now illegal to charge someone’s card without their consent. So regardless of what you decide, your client would have to opt into the charge. Something to think about. If you do have this enabled though, I suggest if they do not opt into the charge, they don’t get to rebook and you weed them out as a client.


All of these things cause stress and cost YOU time and money when you don’t have the right systems and boundaries in place, to begin with, but when you do, you can minimise all of these things and the good news is – you don’t need to take deposits or use card capture to do this!


We just need to be proactive about these things rather than reactive


So how do I communicate my policies?

Posting your policies on socials and your website is great… BUT how many of your CLIENTS or potential clients see them? And how will you know they have seen them….? 

The problem with this is, that not only will about 1-3% of your followers (let alone clients) see them, but even if they do, they can claim they didn’t. This makes it so much harder for you to enforce them.


Let’s have a look at some more effective ways in which we can handle them;


  • Signed, agreed & dated policies before every appointment – Automated forms through your online booking system is the easiest and quickest way to do this, but this can also be done in person in the salon on a digital or paper form, before their treatment. If clients have to physically sign and agree to your policies – you KNOW they have seen it. If they don’t sign, do not do their service!


  •  Reinstate your cancellation policy with new clients – Verbally mention your cancellation policy at the end of their first visit, when you are re-booking them. Maybe even hand them a printed leaflet with your policies, along with a welcome pack.


  • Waive the first offence – E.g, If Kate had to cancel her first appointment outside of your policy, that’s when you would make her aware for next time.


  • When you decide to charge – Only re-book a last-minute cancellation after you have received payment from them.

Do you need help enforcing policies in your business?

I have created a FREE Policy Enforcement Guide to help you with just that! 

This guide offers policy enforcing email templates to save you time & stress.


Want instant access RN? Click the button below!


I’m Hannah Clothier, Brow & Waxing Specialist since 2011, creator of the A-List Beauty ‘Biodegradable Exfoliating Washcloth’, Industry Educator and Founder of A-List Beauty.

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