As a massage therapist, one of the most inconvenient occurrences is a no-show client. You have a busy schedule, and you left with a hole in your appointment book that is almost impossible to fill last minute. It can be tricky figuring out the best way to go about dealing with no-show clients, so here are a few things to consider before it happens.

First and foremost, establishing a policy for missed appointments will let clients know in advance what to expect if they don’t show up, and it will leave you with peace of mind knowing you won’t have to have an awkward confrontation with your client later on. It is much easier to enforce a policy that is already in place than create and enforce one after a missed appointment. Your clients should be made aware of your policy beforehand to avoid any confusion and stress.

Some massage therapists choose to set a time-limit for rescheduling a missed appointment. For example, if your client is a no-show, they have 24 hours to call and reschedule for another time. If they fail to reschedule during the 24 hour period, they will be billed for the appointment (either a partial or full fee) regardless of the fact they did not receive the treatment. This way, the client will have time to reschedule without automatically being charged, and you won’t lose any money from the missed appointment. However, this is entirely up to you – if you feel there should be no grace period and a client should be charged immediately for not showing up, establish that as your policy and let your clients know upfront as they are booking their appointment.

Many massage therapists are lenient about no-shows, to an extent. Circumstances that are often considered okay are serious emergencies or if it’s a client’s first time missing an appointment; some massage therapists won’t charge in these cases. Some will charge a partial fee, and some the full fee. It is important that you set your policy according to what you are comfortable with!

Regardless of the policy you choose, if a client doesn’t show up for their appointment you as the professional should make a full attempt to contact them as soon as it is apparent they are going to miss their appointment. Call them! If they don’t answer, leave a message, and try calling again at another time to see if you can reach them and reschedule. This will not only let them know you are serious about your business, but also that you are persistent and won’t tolerate a no-show.

Placing reminder phone calls or emails a day or two prior to the appointment will help reduce no-shows, although occasionally they are unavoidable. Handling no-shows can be tricky, but you will save yourself a lot of stress with a policy in place.