It’s no secret that missed appointments are a source of frustration for any practitioner. Not only is your valuable time being wasted, but the financial impact on your business can be significant. While not every no-show can be eliminated, there are a number of steps you can take to reduce the number of no shows occurring in your clinic.
This blog will outline the impact no-shows can have on your business and what you can do to tackle them.
How much do no shows cost your business?
Have you ever considered how much you’re no shows are costing your business?
Let’s say you have ONE no show appointment each week for an anti-wrinkle treatment in two areas of the face. A conservative charge for this appointment is £150, that’s £600 a month and £7,200 a year!
Can you really afford to turn a blind eye to this? Maybe it’s time to address the number of no show and late cancellations your business has on average every month.
So, what can you do about it?
The first step to tackle no shows is to monitor the amount you are experiencing. If you use a clinical software, you’ll be able to run a missed appointment report which will highlight your no show and cancellation levels.
You should also consider if you are experiencing any trends in your no shows.
– Do you get more no shows on a certain day or time?
– Is there a certain treatment you are getting more no shows for?
– If so, is this treatment the cheapest or most expensive?
Whilst these patterns can help you to understand your business and patients, they will not eliminate the no shows you are experiencing. However, once you have reviewed your no-show rates, you can start taking action to improve the situation.
1. Remind Your Patients
We’ve all been there, booking an appointment months in advance and completely forgetting until a few hours before when a notification pops up from your phone calendar. By sending your patients a reminder
48 hours before their appointment, this gives them adequate time to rearrange their appointment within your cancellation window.
Whilst email is great, you should consider setting up SMS (text) reminders for your patients. The open rate is significantly higher for SMS messages compared to an email. With 98% of SMS messages being opened vs only 20% of emails, you could be missing a trick to reduce your no-show rates.
Allowing your patients to reply to your SMS reminders can also prevent missed appointments. Asking to confirm their attendance at the end of your reminder message gives you the opportunity to ring any patients who have not confirmed to double check their attendance.
2. Making it easy for patients to manage their appointments
Online booking systems are a great way to streamline your business and allow your patients to manage their own appointments. You may be hesitant about introducing an online booking system to your business as it can make it easier for a patient to cancel an appointment. However, it also makes booking an appointment and rescheduling a lot easier too. If someone can no longer attend their appointment. Surely, it’s better to know in advance, so you have the time to fill the appointment slot.
Sometimes, patients can feel uncomfortable ringing to reschedule or cancel as they do not want to feel like a pain to you or are letting you down, instead they may choose not to communicate and instead just not turn up. By not offering an easy self-serve way for patients to reschedule or cancel their own appointments, you could actually be increasing the chance of no-shows.
3. Document A Clear Cancellation Policy
Do you have a clear and concise cancellation policy displayed on your website and online booking page? Some practitioners avoid or don’t consider displaying and enforcing a cancellation policy. However, this is not something to shy away from, you’re running a business. By making your patients aware of what you expect and being clear about it, this will help them to understand your time is valuable and should not be abused. Consider the following:
– Sending a reminder 48 hours prior to the appointment gives patients a chance to make their appointment changes either through your online booking page or via yourself.
– You may then choose to charge a fee if an appointment is missed, altered, or cancelled within 24 hours of the appointment.
This allows patients a 24-hour window to call and reschedule or at least let you know they are unable to make their appointment. Of course, you can always exercise your discretion and waive the cancellation fee if the patient has a genuine reason for missing their appointment. Your cancellation policy is there to protect your time and business.
4. Charge Deposits
After a no-show appointment, do you often wish you’d taken a deposit? As a service-based business, your time IS your business, and this should not be wasted by a patient with no intention of attending. Charging a deposit can sometimes be a difficult decision for practitioners out of fear that patients will stop booking appointments with you.
However, consider introducing deposits dependant on trends you have seen in your no-show appointments. Treatments that have the highest no-show rate or take up a larger amount of time, start taking deposits to secure the patients booking. This is an excellent way to prevent loss of your income and time.
Charging deposits is not just something for big, established clinics. It can make a huge difference to your business from day one. Even if you are only just starting out or growing your patient base, having a deposit system in place will prevent no-shows from becoming a problem in the first place.
What to do when your patients fail to show up
So, what steps should you consider if a no show does occur in your clinic?
1. Always Message Your Patients
You should always follow up with a patient that has missed an appointment. You can reach out to them by either calling or texting your patient. It usually help you to understand why they hadn’t turn up, also giving them the opportunity to rebook their appointment with you. This helps to acknowledge the fact they did not turn up without souring the relationship.
Some patients may feel embarrassed about missing an appointment or may have completely forgotten. Sending patients, a polite message gives them reassurance that you are happy to rebook their appointment and want to see them again.
2. Monitor Who Are Your No-Shows
Review who regularly cancels last minute or doesn’t show up despite your reminder messages. As practitioners we all understand that sometimes patients miss a bus or oversleep their alarms but for repeat offenders you might need to consider, if you need this type of patient? Remember how much your no-shows are costing your business. Can you afford to be out of pocket for a patient who does not turn up regularly? Consider booking this patient in on a day which is not in high demand or insist on a deposit for their treatment. As a last resort, you are well within your right to turn this patient away next time.
How can Aesthetic Nurse Software help with your no shows?
ANS gives you all the tools to say goodbye to your piles of paper and hardback diary and focus on the growth of your business. Within ANS, you can introduce SMS reminders, set up an online booking system, and even charge online deposits.
Here at ANS we want you to be able to track your business growth with a number of reports within our software, allowing you to be able to monitor your no-show’s month on month, saving you time and money!