Mar 14, 2022

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3 Simple Steps To Handle Last-Minute Client Cancellations & No-Shows


An earthy salon with brown chairs in front of sinks and a textured cream wall. There are green plants hanging from the ceiling and draping down over the sinks. Text overlay reads "Your word-for-word salon cancellation policy"

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It’s not your clients’ job to enforce your policies

I’m so excited to be hanging out with you! This is the start of a mini-series about one of my absolute favourite topics: last-minute cancellations and no-shows.

Be honest, is there anything that spirals you into MORE anxiety and stress than someone no-showing for their appointment or giving you a BS excuse as to why they can’t make their appointment last-minute?

We’re going to dive deep into how to deal with last-minute cancellations and how to enforce your policies in your business.

Over the next few posts we’ll also be covering how to deal with angry and pushy clients, how to charge for a no-show and so much more. You’re not gonna wanna miss those.

It’s time to say goodbye to the stress of last-minute cancellations. Keep reading to hear my exact cancellation policy.

1. Having a Policy

The first step to dealing with last-minute cancellations is having a policy.

Now that might sound silly, or sort of obvious, but let’s be honest, not everyone has a set-in-stone policy.

I’ll use myself as an example. In my early years in business, I had a cancellation policy (or at least I thought I did). It was written in minuscule text at the bottom of my booking page on my website. Obviously, my clients all saw it, that’s where they went to book.

Then the no-shows started and the texts with, what felt like, excuses. And of course, I didn’t do anything about it.

I just got increasingly more and more frustrated with my clients as time went on. 

I started to add up the amount of money the no-shows and late-cancellations were costing me, which helped to fuel my frustration, but still didn’t motivate me to actually do anything about it.

I remember getting really short and snippy with a client telling them something passive-aggressive like “as per my cancellation policy” Only for them to reply: “well… yeah…  it says that, but you’ve never charged me or made me pay.”

Talk about an eye-opening moment: it’s not your clients’ job to enforce your policies. 

Having a policy is important, but it’s not everything. It’s the first step.

Ensure that your policy is straightforward without emotional language. If you start putting exceptions or clauses into a policy it will get so long and wishy-washy. You need your policy to be clear and straightforward.

You can absolutely make exceptions, but you don’t put all the exceptions into the policy.

2. Communicating Your Policy

So now you have a straightforward and emotionless policy, the next step is communicating your policy with all of your clients. And not just in the teeny-tiny text on your website, booking page or confirmation email.

I know you’re like me and you avoid conflict whenever possible. Even going so far as to do things in a roundabout way simply hoping that people pick up on our cues.

But you need to communicate your policies to your clients face to face (not just having a sign in front of their face on a mirror or a desk), you need to have the conversation.

The easiest way to do this is by starting the relationship with a client by having that conversation. But you need to have the conversation with your existing clients too.

3. Agreement of Your Policies

So you have a clear and straightforward policy, you’ve communicated it with your clients, now it’s time to have your clients agree to it.

When you make eye contact with your client and ask “do you understand?” or “do you agree to this?” and they look you back in the eye and say “yes”, there is a bond that is created between the two of you. This bond reduces the likelihood that they’ll try and exploit your policies.

Remember, you still have to enforce your policies. 

You can have the policy, communicate it perfectly, even have them agree to it and they can still late-cancel.

The policy is in place to protect the revenue in your business. It’s not necessarily to avoid late-cancellations completely. Things are still going to happen, unexpected plans can come up, priorities may need to shift.

Now your clients know the policy and they’ve agreed to it so they’re okay with the consequences, but you have to enforce the consequences.

My Exact Cancellation Policy

Feel free to use my word-for-word cancellation policy or change it up to fit your own business.

I understand that special circumstances are unavoidable and cancellations may be necessary. If you find yourself unable to keep your appointment I request at least 24 hours notice. All cancellations must be done online through Schedulicity. Cancellations through email or social media will not be valid. Clients who do not honor their appointments may be charged the cancellation fee as follows:

  • 24 hours notice: service or services may be canceled without charge

  • Failure to show: entire service will be charged

  • Cancellation under 24 hours notice: service/services are subject to a charge up to the full amount of the service(s). 

This is so important to have and communicate and have your clients agree to. You need to make sure that you have a clear policy, that you communicate your policy, that you have your clients agree to it and that you’re ready to enforce it.

I know that the biggest part of this is the confidence to enforce it. The fear of pushback. In the next post I’m going to be talking about how to deal with angry and pushy clients when it comes to enforcing your policies.

I want you to know that I believe you have the confidence in you to enforce your policies (even if you don’t believe it yourself right now).

Yes, your voice might shake and your hands might be sweaty the first time you enforce your cancellation policy, that’s okay. Be proud that you did it! Remember, you can’t be good at something until you suck at it first.

If you wanna dive deeper into how to create your policies, how to communicate them and how to confidently enforce them I’d love to invite you to my FREE 2-day workshop where I’ll be walking you through it all.

Dawn stands wearing blue jeans and a leather jacket with her hands outstretched towards the text overlay which reads "join now to reserve your spot free 2-day policies and cancellations workshop starting march 27th"


You know I always love hearing from you, if you’re working on your policies shoot me a DM over on Instagram @dawnbradleyhair so I can cheer ya on.

Until next time, friend!

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I am just a small-town, Canadian gal from the prairies who teaches thousands of creatives around the globe how to earn 6-figures stress-free!

Hey, I’m Dawn!

“Rock Your Business” Course Creator, Host of “The Anxious Creative” Podcast. Named by Salon Magazine as Canada’s #1 women of influence.

Get to know me! :-)

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