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

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.