Monday, August 01, 2005

Last-Minute Cancellations

A last-minute cancellation is defined as an appointment that has been canceled within the previous 24 hours. People do it all the time to dentists, doctors, hair stylists, and housecleaners. I've been guilty of it myself. The reasons range from understandable to just plain bad. The top five reasons include:

1. My daughter/son is too sick for you to come inside our house
2. Our plumber, handyman, or carpet guy is not finished with his work
3. I'm too busy, can you come back later this week?
4. Oops, I forgot
5. My husband forgot to unlock the door

I understand each of these reasons. Your schedule is busy and you lead a hectic life. Heck, that's the main reason that you hired us anyway. Your life can not revolve our schedule.

Here's what happens inside our office after a last-minute cancellation.

1. We spend precious cash on wasted gas and labor
2. We upset our valuable employee because she lost her hours
3. We provide even more reasons for our employee to search for another job
3. We declined another prospective client because our schedule was full

Currently, our policy is to charge our clients a $35 "lock-out" fee if an appointment is not canceled within 24 hours. However, we rarely charge a client this fee because it does two things:

1. Upsets the client and they refuse to pay the fee
2. Upsets the client and they cancel our service

As you can see, we have a big problem on our hands. We receive at least two last-minute cancellations per day. There have been days when we have received as many as five last-minute cancellations. To be fair, there have also been days when we did not receive any last-minute cancellations.

I don't know what to do about our problem, so I'm asking you for help. We currently contact each client the day before their cleaning. In addition, we distribute a letter after a client's first cleaning that informs them of the "lock-out" fee. Most of our clients are still not aware of the fee.

What can we do to control, prevent, or eliminate this problem? You can reach us by email at or you can call us at either office.


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