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Handling customers that book then cancel repeatedly

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Handling customers that book then cancel repeatedly

Post by snaggywoo on Thu Jun 20, 2013 2:00 pm

I knew I would eventually have to cross this hurdle but......

I have a customer who has booked her appointment 4 times now and has cancelled it (sometimes with a few days notice and sometimes with just 24 hours notice).

Three of these were due to her cancelling it (family emergencies and can we do it after payday type stuff) and one time she let me come to the appointment but her street was completely parked out due to an event on that evening. I guess this can't be helped but I did feel annoyed that she knew the street was parked out and didn't try to call me that afternoon to save me driving out to her address Sad Just a little courtesy and common sense would have been appreciated....

Anyway.. the dog is quite a difficult groom and I wont miss it either but I'm wondering about the best way to tell her to "find another groomer" that will not be antagonistic. I wouldn't want her to leave a bad review on a website or something.

A friend suggested telling her I would get back to her regarding another appointment (as she asked me for an appointment next week after she cancelled on me again!) and just not getting back to her or telling her I was busy.

I'm thinking though that this seems a bit unprofessional and could lead to this client telling people that I don't get back to people (of course the client wouldn't tell people she had cancelled on me repeatedly).

I am thinking it would be more professional to send the client a text (she texts me for communication as well as calls so I don't think this would be too rude) saying something along the lines of "it seems to be difficult to find a time that the appointment can go ahead. I am booked out next week and as a business I do need to prioritize these clients that could not get an appointment last week. Perhaps it might be best to take your dog to a salon when you are sure of your availability".

I know others on this forum have had to send such a message or have similar conversations with problem clients. Is this the best way to phrase it?

Any suggestions would be appreciated....
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snaggywoo

Location : Newcastle, NSW
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Re: Handling customers that book then cancel repeatedly

Post by Chase on Thu Jun 20, 2013 7:23 pm

if it was me to not call her back will be setting the wrong example. you want to keep communication open between clients and this could give the impression that its ok to cancel without notice. thats how i would see it anyway.

what i would do is give her an appointment but inform her that to make things fair for you and your other clients, their will now be a 50% cancellation fee payable at the next booking if she cancels with less then 48 hrs notice. i would make it sound like a new rule that will be enforced on all clients. that way if she does not want to pay the cancellation fee you will probably not hear from her again.

I always make a note on clients cards of the date and time they cancelled so i have evidence if they ever question it. i have also advised clients who repeat cancel that the only way they can get an appointment now is by ringing on the day to see if their is one free which usually does not give them much of an option.
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Chase

Location : Victoria, Australia
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Re: Handling customers that book then cancel repeatedly

Post by peke-lover on Thu Jun 20, 2013 7:49 pm

Im pretty tough on this. They get 3 chances, the first time I explain I need at least 24 hours notice of a change or cancellation and that usually cures 90% of them, the second time they do it, I explain Im simply not able to accomodate them if they cancel late again and if they do do it a 3rd time, their number goes in my phone under 'no show' and I dont answer the call but by then they usually have got the hint and don't call anyway. Ive tried doing the 50% cancellation fee thing and Im just too soft and cant charge when it comes to the crunch. For the new customers that dont show at all, they don't usually get back in.
It probably sounds really arrogant, but where Im from its quite hard to get in to a groomer at all, so they learn fast to keep their appointment.
You will learn to spot the repeat offenders quickly. At the end of the day it's my income that is affected and like all of us that needs to be protected. 
Seeing as this lady does give you some notice, the 50% cancellation fee would probably be more fitting. Usually the threat of it is enough to make her understand your situation.
Good luck!

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peke-lover

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Re: Handling customers that book then cancel repeatedly

Post by snaggywoo on Thu Jun 20, 2013 7:59 pm

Thanks for the suggestions.

The dog is particularly aggressive and was matted and full of fleas. I have only done this dog once before but I'm thinking that the extra time it takes to do this dog might not be worth it. Maybe take the opportunity to say no. I have done around 100 dogs now and this is only 1 of 3 I have done that I know will just take so much time it stops me doing other dogs. I know there are better dogs out there in my area. Or is telling the client u can't do their dog a no no as there would be too much resentment?
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snaggywoo

Location : Newcastle, NSW
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Re: Handling customers that book then cancel repeatedly

Post by peke-lover on Thu Jun 20, 2013 8:08 pm

It its taking you extra time, matted and full of fleas, then I hope you are charging for what your costs are. Perhaps you need to review what you charge the customer here.

Aggressive as well? I know what Id be doing. 

Personally I wouldnt say I 'dont want' to do your dog, but you do need to be honest with her and say that her dog is difficult and the cost needs to increase significantly. Im not the one to ask how to say things as I tend to be too blunt, coming across as rude although that's not my intention. But I would be honest and tell the owner of the dogs difficulties and put the ball in her court and let her decide. If, over and above that, you still really don't want to groom her dog and its knocking your confidence, then walk away. Make yourself unavailable to her and dont take her call.

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Re: Handling customers that book then cancel repeatedly

Post by snaggywoo on Thu Jun 20, 2013 8:19 pm

When I did her dog the first time I was only charging a student price so she got an absolute bargain!

I do feel confident enough to do the dog but do I want to when there are better dogs out there? It would also be difficult when I have charged such a cheap price first time to charge the proper price for a difficult dog now. I guess I have dug my own grave on this one but the first time I did the dog as back when I had just started...its been that long with all the cancelled appointments!

I guess I just don't want to risk someone badmouthing my fledgling business or maybe I'm just being overcautious? I'm not afraid to push back I guess I'm being cautious as a relatively new business owner.
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snaggywoo

Location : Newcastle, NSW
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Re: Handling customers that book then cancel repeatedly

Post by UNM on Mon Jun 24, 2013 12:07 pm

You are being overcautious. Even the best businesses get bad  reviews. Everyone knows that. 
Deleting bad reviews gets noticed, so if you get one, let it stand, but make a comment in response that you want to resolve their concerns and will contact them to discuss. Then handle any further communication privately.

For this sort of situation, I am also a bit of a softy and not as strict as I should be.

The way i try to play it is:
Everyone gets one  chance as stuff happens we can't control.
Second time they get a warning that I am very busy and require at least 24 hours notice of cancellations (I schedule appointments at short notice, others may use longer-  just choose a suitable time).
Third time I send an invoice for the full amount and only take future bookings if they pay the invoice, which they usually don't.

As for aggressive dogs. If either owner or dog is nice, I will take them as clients. If both are horrible, they can find another groomer.

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UNM

Location : Glen Waverley, VIC
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Re: Handling customers that book then cancel repeatedly

Post by snaggywoo on Mon Jun 24, 2013 2:41 pm

Thanks. I agree I think I am just being overcautious as a relatively new business owner.

I have come up with a script that sounds quite polite but firm so I'll give it a go. Long term it is just not a dog I can do and be profitable due to the dog and the location. I can't be driving to her address and finding I can't park or always have the threat of having the groom cancelled at the last minute due to either parking or the client!

Thankfully I have found that 90% of the dogs I am seeing are quite good and I even got tips from every client I did on Saturday Very Happy cause they were so happy so I know there are more respectful owners and dogs out there and they are the ones I need to prioritize.
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snaggywoo

Location : Newcastle, NSW
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Re: Handling customers that book then cancel repeatedly

Post by snaggywoo on Wed Jun 26, 2013 10:41 am

Just an idea....

Has anyone tried a system with their clients that instead of booking at the end of each groom for 4 weeks, 6 weeks or 8 weeks time that they simply say they will text the customer in 4 weeks as a reminder and ask them then when they would like to book?

I'm not getting so many cancellations that its a massive problem but it is annoying and I have noticed that the only customers that want to reschedule a booking are ones that booked say a month ago. Even when I text them around a week before their appointment I still get the odd request to reschedule with 24-48 hours notice which still usually results in a lost groom. People who ring usually want to book it in in a few days time not the very next day to fill a cancelled gap.

Has anyone tried this approach or do you think it would result in losing the customer anyway? I would of course tell customers when I complete their groom that I will contact them in 4 weeks to see if they would like the dog done again and they can tell me there and then if they don't want to be contacted.
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snaggywoo

Location : Newcastle, NSW
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Re: Handling customers that book then cancel repeatedly

Post by UNM on Thu Jun 27, 2013 10:17 am

I try to do what works best for each individual client.

That is very hard at first until you get to know them, then gets easier.
Some are regular as clockwork  and never forget.  I have one  guy that texts me for  an appointment the next day and still forgets unless I remind him first thing in the morning.

I tend to assume people are reliable until proven otherwise, but usually text a day or two before appointments if they are more than four weeks apart. Over time I get to know which customers need different approaches.

About half my time is booked with reliable regulars, the rest either call/text  me, or I remind them.

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