I’ve run a small business for 9 years now and have learned a lot. I’ve also screwed up a ton and am thankful there is no one here to fire me. It surely would have happened by now, I’m a terrible employee. It seems that one of the most hotly contested issues of being in the service industry is a cancellation policy. Lets be real, cancellation charges suck when you’re a client, and canceled appointments suck when you’re a business owner. Its not a win for anyone. You may have been charged a cancellation fee before and thought “Sure, easy for you to say, you just made $60 without having to do the service.” Actually, I lost money, and you’re probably pissed at me for the charge. Pull up closer and settle in for a bit, I’d like to explain.
Heres the short list of why cancelled or no show appointments stink for our small business-
Most clients tip at their appointment. This is great and much appreciated, especially for my employees who work hard and depend on those tips to make up a good portion of their wages. A no show or cancellation charge means there is no tip for them, and that appointment could have gone to another client who would have been here and tipped. Bummer.
Sales Tax. Guess who pays it on your cancellation charge? We do. So we have lost a potential gratuity and a few bucks in sales tax that we now pay. No big deal right? Multiply that by hundreds of cancellations a year. It adds up. We would much rather have you here than take the cancellation charge. No one revels in lost revenue.
Imagine planning your whole day around your clients. There is no 9-5 schedule, you fit things in when you can between appointments. You’ve got one small sliver of time for lunch. You’ve put off a doctors appointment for weeks because you don’t have quite enough time to get back for your next client. The gym is so close but so far, and your ass is widening by the day you swear. You cant have dinner with your boyfriend because you’re working until 9pm. Ask any hustling small business owner, this is life, this is what we signed up for. So when I have arranged my entire day, down to 15 minute increments in order to fit the rest of my life into it, a cancellation policy is the only way to protect my time. I can not even count how many people have called me to cancel or move their appointment 5 minutes after it should have already started. Now imagine that was my only client of the day, and its Saturday, and I just arrived at my shop after dragging myself out of my warm bed, in the middle of winter. Been there, done it, and just no. Nope. Can you imagine your boss making you come into the office on a Saturday, telling you never mind once you got there, and then not paying you? Welcome to Sweetheart Tan, thanks for joining us on this ride.
Reschedules- See above. My whole day (or when my employee is scheduled to come in) has likely been planned around you. Yes, you are that special darling. Sometimes its no big deal, we are here already and the schedule is open so you can come in later or earlier. However there will likely be a reschedule fee. WTF, Audrey why?! This is really quite simple- because you have now occupied two different appointment times on our schedule that may have been booked by someone else. This is mostly an issue on a busy day or with late notice. If you call me at 5pm, and have a 6pm appointment, and move your appointment down to a 7pm, and its my last slot of the night that could be booked by another client, guess who has lost on that deal? Did you guess Sweetheart Tan? Re-read if you still feel like the 25% reschedule fee was too much. We lose 100% of a potential appointment, 25% is covered by you for the (in)convenience. We feel like its fair, and as always, we would rather you just keep the appointment you’ve already made for the time you’ve made it.
We have a 5 minute late max policy. If you’ve been here you’ve likely always been taken at or before your appointment time. One of the biggest complaints Ive heard about other tanning businesses is the wait time, as long as 45 minutes after your appointment time! This is unacceptable to me as a business owner and as a client and I do value your time, and ours. If we allowed clients to roll in at any time they chose, only bad things will follow. I don’t want angry clients waiting 45 minutes past their appointment throwing waves of shade and daggers at me on my little waiting room couch. I can hear the Yelp review now “Why bother making appointments if you can’t even stay on time for them?!” Instead we choose to be consistent with our policy and take the heat about that instead. Alas, you can always count on us to care about your time, and take you when we are supposed to. To do this, you can’t be later than 5 minutes, nothing personal. Call if you will be, like a perfectly nice and polite human being.
So you’re running past 5 minutes late. You’ve (hopefully) called to let us know. Its a busy night and we are back to back with clients. You have options- lose $60 on a cancellation charge, which is super lame, or you have a shortened appointment which means losing some of your drying time. Recently someone complained that their appointment was rushed after they were late. I wonder if they would have preferred the charge instead? Of course not, so something has to give. If you are running late to the extent that it will affect my next clients appointment, those are your only two choices (Unless we can fit you in later which will incur a reschedule fee). You forfeit your full 15 minutes when you show up late to it and I will now have to give you a speedy tan with abbreviated dry time. If you prefer a leisurely pace and extended drying time you should show up on time for that. If you need to wash your face and take an extra few minutes for using the bathroom, you should show up early for that. Your tan should start at your appointment time, otherwise the session is abbreviated. Again, nothing personal, this is strictly out of respect for my client after you who has shown up on time. And the one after that, and the one… you get the idea.
My hope is that after reading this you can empathize just a little with how challenging it can be to run a business efficiently and keep everyone happy. Unfortunately its impossible to make everyone happy, but we try, and we bend rules when we can or when it isn’t hurting our small business or employees. Otherwise we love having a well oiled machine that gives you consistent results and makes you feel like a valued client. We hope you appreciate that about us too!