Implementing a cancellation policy in your business – even if your business is small, or ‘just’ your side hustle – is so important to building your client relationships, and your business confidence. And while a cancellation policy might seem “too corporate” or big-business like for a wellness business, we’re here to say it is absolutely necessary, right from the get-go if possible. 

Join us to take a deeper look at why and how to set up a cancellation policy in your wellness business. 

Setting Easy Boundaries

A cancellation policy is essentially a boundary in your business and with it, you are letting your clients know a few things:

  1. That your time is valuable, and you are committed to good service.
  2. That you have realistic expectations of your clients, to meet your business needs.
  3. That you respect timeframes and will respect theirs in return.
  4. That your business is organized (and potentially has a waitlist).

A cancellation policy is also, importantly, a mutual agreement between you and the client. When you set this boundary, you are establishing a relationship of mutual respect that honours each other’s needs, and time. The client understands that your time, your business and your services are valuable to both them and to other people. They understand that if they need to change or cancel this booking, that you need to adjust your business accordingly. Your policy should also outline that you in turn will give your client adequate notice and respect their time and their needs if the booking needs to be rescheduled.

Supporting Your Business 

Once you have that cancellation policy in place, each client understands what is expected of them. When we don’t have these expectations clearly laid out, clients might believe that you are ‘easy-going’ or don’t mind no-shows. And once someone understands they can cancel without penalty, they will likely do it again, even without bad intentions, as you have basically told them that it’s not important to you. 

So by having a policy in place you are respecting your own business too – you can recoup losses as well if you create a waiting list. You are showing your clients that your business is successful and organized. 

Human nature also dictates that we don’t like to pay for things that we don’t receive and so putting a financial penalty in place for missed bookings makes it much more likely that clients will keep their appointments, or cancel in good time.

How to Design Your Cancellation Policy

Your cancellation terms are so specific to your own business that you need to decide what is acceptable for you and for your clients. Here are some guidelines:

  • Consider how much prep time you put into your bookings, and when does this start? This could guide the timeframe you need a cancellation by. 
  • What is the likelihood of getting the appointment re-booked? Usually, a couple of hours is too short notice for this. Would a 24 hour cancellation period feel reasonable?
  • You might have different levels of cancellation: 
    • For a full refund, cancel with 24 hours notice.
    • For a partial refund – cancel with a few hours notice
    • No show means no refund.
  • Are there any exceptions to your cancellation policy? Since the COVID-19 pandemic, many businesses are obliged to offer short-term cancellations due to illness. Bear any exceptions like this in mind.

Implementing Your Cancellation Policy

Implementing the policy can feel somewhat uncomfortable when you are the sole proprietor, here are some ways you can make the policy clear and minimize the chance of misunderstandings (and no-shows): 

  • State the policy clearly when clients sign up. This could be in an email that goes out with the booking confirmation and receipt, or detailed in your offering description – or both. 
  • Post the policy on your website in an accessible place, so that if someone needs to cancel and is trying to find your terms, they can easily find them. 
  • If your policy is new to your existing business, it is a good idea to have clients acknowledge that they understand it, and have read it. You can do this by emailing it to your client list, and asking for a reply. 
  • You can post it to a social media group that your clients share with you, asking them to acknowledge it with a response in the comments.
  • If you own bricks and mortar space, have the cancellation policy clearly visible, this is usually near the reception desk. 
  • Talk to clients about it during class or appointments. 

Cancellations will inevitably happen. The key part of a cancellation policy is your confidence in it, and your confidence in sharing it. Don’t shy away from talking about it, or from implementing it with a client that doesn’t observe the policy. Perhaps you give existing clients the benefit of the doubt on it once, if they forget, but not twice. As we said above, human nature tends toward learned behaviour so if a client is repeatedly ignoring your policy, you should act on that. Perhaps they aren’t clear on it, perhaps they haven’t seen it – either way you can address it and lay it out so the policy is observed in future. 

OfferingTree has made cancellations much easier in your business. With our cancellation feature, you can choose a policy that suits your business. We have three levels of cancellation varying between automatic refunds to a credit card when the client cancels (and you set the time frame for that cancellation window) all the way to ‘No Automatic Refunds’ which means they need to contact you to cancel. Let us know what you think of this feature in the comments below!

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