It’s inevitable. Every business owner will eventually feel the sting of a client no-show or last-minute cancellation. Things come up and life happens. But for appointment-based businesses, one client cancellation can mean a major hit to your bottom line. So, having a solid cancellation policy in place is extremely important. Despite this, there seems to be lingering tension between clients and business owners when it comes to charging no-show, late & cancellation fees.  

“Why is everybody so upset about this? 99% of the time they make their policies VERY clear for you to read while you’re booking your appointment. You agree to pay a cancellation fee if you last-minute cancel or no-show and you’re … mad?” @dsb_esthetics 

As the saying goes, communication is key. And when it comes to having an effective cancellation policy, a good communication strategy is at the heart of it. Likewise, having a reliable scheduling software that will help manage client bookings is crucial.  

Let’s look at ways to identify potential no-show clients, and some strategies that can help reduce missed appointments. 

Client No-Shows: What, Who & Why?

According to, a no-show is, “a person who has made a reservation, and neither uses it nor cancels it.” For stylists & barbers, new clients are often the ones who don’t show up or cancel their appointments. Customers who have less ties tend to feel more comfortable with not calling or coming in. To help circumvent this, business owners should enforce a clear cancellation policy. Having one will help provide a sense of security for both customer and entrepreneur, as well as a level of protection against lost revenue. 

“If you have your policies set on your booking page then they can’t dispute it.” @beautyy_nerdd

How to Reduce Cancellations 

Having a cancellation policy is the best way to reduce the stress that can come from late arrivals, last-minute cancellations and no-shows. The policy should be simple to read, and easily accessible to clients. It’s the responsibility of the business owner to bring customers’ attention to a cancellation policy. A good idea is to have your policy listed on your website, or in the reception area of your business, or send reminder links via email & text notifications. 

A cancellation policy is, in essence, a contract that clients should read before they book an appointment, especially if cancellation fees are involved. Entering a contract can be done by: 

  • Signing a document 
  • Acknowledging a verbal phone agreement 
  • Clicking an “I agree” button on a web page 

For businesses with several staff members, be sure the whole team is on the same page about implementing policy procedures. 

What a Cancelation Policy Covers 

A cancellation policy can be unique to each business, but a good policy should include the following: 

  • A timeframe to cancel a service with or without penalty (e.g.: 24-hour cancellation) 
  • A late cancellation penalty or fee 
  • Contact information for cancellations 
  • A place for a signature 

While it’s important to have a penalty/fee attached to late or missed appointments, it should be at a fair cost, and allows for enough time to rebook or receive a percentage of what was lost.   

Cancellations and no-shows are often unavoidable situations. Accidents, emergencies, and illness can lead to missed appointments. To keep you and your customers happy, communicate your cancellation policy up front and frequently. Encourage open dialogue to help avoid any messy situations and missed financial opportunities.