Business Training

How to Eliminate No Shows (Almost)

No shows waste your time and money.

But before we blame our clients it’s important that we have things set up in a way that minimise the occurance of no shows in the first place.

It just so happens that with the latest technology that is easier than you may think.


At my clinic, we have configured our booking system to send clients the following reminders:

  1. An Email 24 hours before the appointment
  2. A Text message 3 hours before the appointment

Just setting that up will almost eliminate your no shows.

Modern life is busy and my theory is that most no shows and late cancellations or rescheduling is caused by bad time management.

The client has simply forgotten about the appointment and made other plans or is just having a free flowing day and ends up committing to something that does give them time to get to your clinic in time for the appointment.

They may have fully intended on making it but once they realise that they can’t they turn into a ghost.

They may feel bad about standing you up but realise that if they get in touch you may want to charge them a cancellation fee and so they decide to just disappear out of your life forever instead.

I found that when I implimented the reminders that no shows and late cancels became exceedingly rare.

I really like the combination of an email at 24 hours before and then a text 3 hours before.

I can imagine that someone may check their emails just before going to bed at night.

They may be planning how their day will go the next morning and by landing that email in their inbox they will have it in their mind that they have a treatment the next day.

Then the text message three hours before I think is great because even if they went for a 1 hour drive to visit their grandma it will still give them time to get back to your clinic if they have just innocently forgotten about their appointment.

I’ve just found this combination works really well for us but for your own business you may need to experiment to find out what works well.

If your online booking system doesn’t allow you to schedule email and text reminders then you really need to upgrade.

I’d go so far as to say it’s essential that you have these in place.

Will you never have a no show or late cancellation again?

No, it will still happen and that’s why you need read my Cancellation Policy Article!

So what should your reminders say?

Here is the email one that our booking system Timely generates automatically for us:

Appointment reminder

Hi Alice,

This is a friendly reminder of your appointment:

Fremantle Massage Therapy
Mon, 23 Mar 2020
60 Minute Massage with Oak McIlwain at 2:30PM

At this location

Unit 10, 142 South Terrace, Fremantle
Unit 10
142 South Terrace
Telephone: 0449264980

Your details

Alice Doesntexist
[email protected]
Mobile: +61 00 000 000

Do you need to change or cancel your appointment?

View or change my appointment

Cancellation rules

Late (less than 24 hours notice) cancellations or rescheduling will incur a fee of 50% of the original booking value.

Last minute “no show” will incur a fee of 100% of the original booking value.

As you can see it contains the most important information:

  1. Their name and contact details
  2. The service they booked
  3. The date and time
  4. The practitioner they are seeing
  5. It also contains a link for them to change their appointment
  6. And of course it contains our cancellation policy

This is a top ten strategy that you need to use for your service business to be successful.

And here is our text message reminder:

Hi Alice, this is a friendly reminder of your appointment with Oak on Mon, 23 Mar at 12:00PM (Unit 10, 142 South Terrace, Fremantle) Many thanks, Fremantle Massage Therapy.

Our Text Message Reminder Format

I also like it how the text message reminder has the address in there so the person can click on it and their smart phone will bring the location up in their maps app.

If you haven’t done this yet for your business you need to get busy with the action steps below and let me know if it helps you!

Action Steps:

  1. Make sure your booking system supports email and text reminders
  2. If your system doesn’t support those reminders then upgrade asap!
  3. Have a think about the timing of your email and text reminders
  4. Add in all the important information
  5. Watch as you hardly ever have any more no shows!

Business Training

Why You Need a Cancellation Policy

Have you ever heard a saying like this?

“You get in life what you are willing to put up with”

And to a large degree I think it’s true.

I know that you are getting a lot less cancellations now that you have set up email and text message reminders that go out to clients leading up to their appointment but sometimes you will still get the following:

  • A late Cancellation or Reschedule
  • Or a Last Minute No Show (yes, I know. It’s the worst)

When you are first starting your service business you are probably going to be afraid to have a strong cancellation policy… let alone enforce it.

It’s kind of like imposter syndrome.

How can I demand people pay me for wasting my time when I haven’t actually done a service for them.

Well, I’m here to tell you that if you want to succeed and have clients that respect you and don’t use you then you are going to need a cancellation policy and YES you are going to need to enforce it!

Now, let me be clear. You have to be human about this. Someone was in a car crash on the way to your clinic. Yes, you’ll let them off.

But they have to have a really good reason and there has to be a limit to how many times you are willing to let people off. I think in most cases that is just once.

When you first start enforcing your cancellation policy it will probably make you nervous so here are some things that make it easier.

Always call your clients as soon as they are 5 minutes late.

If they pick up then that is great as you can discuss it with them directly and explain your cancellation policy clearly.

If it’s their first offense then you can say:

“Look since this is your first time I’m willing to waive that fee for you today but I’d really appreciate it if you give us 24 hours notice in future if you need to cancel or reschedule your appointment”

Let them know that it’s serious. Be assertive but not aggressive!

This is a great strategy because you have not been angry or aggressive but have made it very clear to the customer that you will not let them waste your time for free.

If they don’t answer the phone, then this is the message I recommend leaving on their voicemail:

“Hi there, It’s Oak from Fremantle Massage Therapy here. I’m just calling to see if you are still coming in for your 10:00AM appointment that you have booked with us. I’m hoping that you are ok and that you are on your way and just running late but if not please let me know as soon as you can as I am set up and waiting for you to arrive.”

Message to leave on their voicemail

In addition to that, I also write basically the same message and send it as a text message to me.

“Hey Alice, it’s Oak from Fremantle Massage Therapy here. I just tried to call your mobile to find out if you are still coming in for your appointment today. If you can’t make it please let me know as soon as possible as I am set up and waiting for you to arrive.”

Text message to send them

You could also include a link to the cancellation policy in the text message which they would have agreed to at the time they made the booking.

While I’m on that topic, make sure that you have your cancellation policy as part of the online booking process.

Many booking systems will allow you to make it mandatory for a customer to agree to the policy before finishing the booking process.

Also let people know the policy when you take a booking over the phone.

That is really important so they can’t come back at you later and say that they didn’t know about your cancellation policy.

Some of this may be sounding a little bit ‘Hard Ass’ for you but remember I did say to be human.

If they really do have a good excuse then let them off considering the circumstances.

You can be both too lenient and not lenient enough but I think most small service businesses are probably too lenient and they get burnt as a result.

If you don’t have a cancellation policy at all then I seriously suggest you create one. It’s likely you are letting people waste your time and money.

So What’s Your Policy Oak?

Late (less than 24 hours notice) cancellations or rescheduling will incur a fee of 50% of the original booking value.

Last minute “no show” will incur a fee of 100% of the original booking value.

My Cancellation Policy

Late cancellations are annoying but at least they leave you a little bit of time to fill the slot with another client so I just charge 50% of the booking value for that.

Last minute no shows are super annoying. They waste my time and money and so I charge the entire 100% of the booking value.

People have to agree to my policy when they book online or by phone.

You may be thinking at this point that you will never hear from these people again if they don’t show up and you send them an invoice for the entire booking value and you would be correct 😉

But guess what?

That’s great! Because you won’t have to deal with time wasters any more.

Be assertive. It’s healthy.

You may feel empowered and proud of yourself the first time you enforce your cancellation policy on that client that continually fails to show up.

Please, start respecting yourself and do this.

You won’t regret it – Promise.

Come back later and tell me how you did and how your life and business has changed as a result.

I look forward to hearing from you!

Business Training

Follow Up Text Message Reminders

Here is another super important lesson that I wish I had known earlier when I started my service business.

You absolutely must have an online booking system but, just as importantly, it must be able to send your clients text messages (sms).

Making this one change to your business can be a game changer and it costs hardly anything.

People are so busy these days. They may have full intentions of using your service regularly but they simply lose track of time and get overwhelmed with other things competing for their attention.

I recommend setting up a gentle reminder message to send to your clients at regular intervals to remind them how long it has been since they used your service.

Here is an example of what that might look like:

It’s been a while since your last massage!

Hi Oak

It’s been a month since we last saw you so we just wanted to touch base.

We really believe that a monthly massage is an essential element of a healthy lifestyle that can support you in achieving the peak condition you need to acheive your goals.

Remember to keep in mind some of the following benefits a regular massage can provide:

– Reduction of anxiety and depression
– Reduction of muscle tension
– Increased circulation
– Improved skin tone
– Stimulation of the lymphatic system
– Reduction of stress hormones (Adrenaline, Norepinephrine and Cortisol)
– Increased range of motion in joints
– Increased rate of healing for soft tissue injuries
– Heightened mental alertness

Your previous booking:
60 Minute Massage with Reception Fremantle
Unit 10, 142 South Terrace, Fremantle
2 Apr 2020 12:02PM

Book Now

Hope to see you soon,
Fremantle Massage Therapy

This message is sent by text to the customer’s phone exactly 4 weeks after they last visited if they don’t have another booking scheduled.

The important things to include:

  • What’s good about the service
  • What service they had when they last visited
  • Which practitioner they saw
  • A call to action to book again

I have these set up to send to customers after 1 month, 2 months, 3 months, 6 months and 12 months.

You may be worried that such regular messaging may be annoying for your customers however it is easy for them to unsubscribe from receiving them and many customers will be greatful for the reminders and most importantly they will BOOK AGAIN.

Trust me, it’s worth offending a small percentage of your client base in return for having lots more people come back in to see you.

In your case you may wish to write a totally different message and send it at different intervals.

Perhaps you are a hairdresser and you know that after 6 weeks the person may be likely to need a new cut then that may make sense for you.

How you impliment this is entirely up to you but this is definitely in the top 10 things I would recommend for a service business.

Once it is set up it takes NO TIME AT ALL and you will see a big boost in the number of return customers.

I really feel this is one of those essentials so if you have a booking system that does not allow you to set these messages up I really recommend you move over to a more fully features system that allows you to do this.

You may be surprised how much more money you make just making this one change so make it today and reap the benefits!

Action Steps:

1.Find out if your online booking system can schedule these messages (you may have to ask the support staff if you can’t find it)

2. If the booking system doesn’t support it, you need to upgrade.

3. Create messages that remind your clients at regular intervals how long it has been since they used your service.

4. Make sure there is a “Call to Action” in there asking them to book again.

Business Training

Google My Business Listing

One of the fastest ways to start attracting new clients is to focus on Local Search Marketing.

Local search results are the results that show up above the normal search results on Google.

Let’s look at an example.

Suppose I type ‘Massage Fremantle’ into Google – this is what I see:

That business listed at the top there Fremantle Massage Therapy – that’s my business! And being listed in that position is worth a lot of money because it brings me lots of customers each and every week.

As you can see, Google has realised that you are searching for a specific service “massage” in a specific location “fremantle”.

Google only chooses 3 businesses to display that it thinks are likely to fulfil your ‘search intent’

The people making these types of searches on Google are usually ready to purchase.

If you can show up here, then you will get more leads and sales and that’s what you really need.

One of the first goals for your business should be to show up here.

And that’s what this lesson is all about.

In order to have any chance of showing up in these results, you must get your business listed.

So, let’s jump in and get something done!

Action Steps:

1. Go to

2. Click the ‘Manage Now’ button

3. Login to your Google account (if you don’t have one you will need to create on)

4. Enter your business details starting with the Business Name

Tip: If your business name is just your own name make sure to add your service and location to the name as well.

For example, my name is Oak McIlwain but rather than entering just

“Oak McIlwain”

It would be much better to enter the following:

“Oak McIlwain – Remedial Massage Fremantle”

This is very important as it clearly shows the person searching for you what you do and where you do it.

5. Fill in the rest of the business details as accurately and completely as possible.

Tip: In future lessons, you will be adding your business to other websites such as Yelp and Facebook.

It’s important that your business details are exactly the same on all your listings.

The most important ones to keep the same are the Name, Address, Phone Number and Website.

Business Training

Accepting That You Can’t Please Everyone

This is one of the most powerful things that I have learnt in business.

It’s different to many of my other lessons which are more practical in nature.

This is more of a realisation and a psychological shift that needs to occure within you.

If there is one single lesson that you could really GET and take away with you from this site, make it this one!

And the reason for that is that understanding and accepting this will remove a whole bunch of unecessary stress from your life.

And rather than get you less clients, you may be surprised to find that you actually end up getting more.

So let’s make a start.

If you are just starting out in business, perhaps you graduated recently and have decided to go out on your own and start out as a sole trader.

Then the chances are high that you are going to be eager to take on as many clients as possible regardless of what their problem is.

What I mean is, you are going to start out as a ‘generalist’.

It makes sense, you don’t want to be turning anyone away because you really need the cashflow to keep your business alive.

So, it’s probably a painful experience for you when you have a client and they are not amazed by your service.

You tried your best to help them but you were unable to do so.

I’m saying this because it’s exactly what happened to me in the early days.

I took it very personally – I wanted to impress and help every one!

And of course, it’s a noble goal to have to help everyone but here’s the catch….

You will NEVER be able to help everyone.

It’s simply an impossible and unreasonable expectation to have of yourself.

And on top of that, it’s going to actually hamper the growth of your business.

So what should you do about it?

The answer isn’t easy but it’s crucial to your health and success.

You have to accept that you are not going to be able to help everyone. In fact you may not even be able to help half the people that come to you but…

Half is actually plenty.

Something strange happened to me when I deeply accepted that I wasn’t going to be able to help everyone.

I became much more relaxed and I felt much more comfortable being myself in front of my clients.

So here is the paradox:

If you are trying to convince yourself that you are going to be able to help everyone then you are lying to yourself and this is probably making your feel more insecure…

And guess what, people are very good at detecting that insecurity.

So when you accept that you are limited in your capaciy to help people, suddenly you will be more accepting of yourself and as a result you will be less stressed, more relaxed, more honest, more… Yourself.

That’s called being genuine.

Trying to be perfect when you know deep down that you are not is phony and many people can spot it a mile away.

So please, do yourself the biggest favour you could ever do.

Don’t expect yourself to be perfect and accept that you will not be able to please everyone.

There are some clients that come to see you that you will not be able to help. Fullstop.

The sooner you can accept that, the better.

Does that mean that you will stop trying your best to serve your clients.

Not at all.

In fact, being a more authentic person, you will be more able to serve them.

For example, if something is out of your depth, you won’t hesitate to refer that client to someone else who you think may get them better results.

You never know, that person you refer them to may end up sending some clients your way later on to say thanks…

It’s not unheard of, it’s actually quite common.

And the person you referred may respect the professionalism you have shown. The transparency and honesty.

“Look I’ve tried my best to help you but I think perhaps you need to see so and so practitioner”

The may be more accepting that you are not perfect than you realise.

They may appreciate your willingness to be vulnerable and open about your limitations.

So don’t assume that people will call you a fraud for being human.

You may just find the opposite to be the case.

Don’t beat yourself up when a client leaves your premisis not 100% impressed with your serivce.

It will do nothing for anyone.

Simply do your best and accept that it’s going to happen.

I can PROMISE you that if you can do this one thing it will transform your business and your life.

Acceptance is a most powerful force.

And you need to use it to see your business flourish.