I’m sure every single one of us has been in a position where we had a client simply not show up, right? Or maybe they told us they weren’t able to make it so close to their appointment time that it was impossible for us to book someone else in that spot. At best, this is super annoying; at worst we’re sat wondering how we’re going to pay all of our bills and put food on the table.

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Whether you’ve had your beauty business for a while or you’re just starting out, implementing a cancellation or no-show policy is fundamental, and will take away at least some of the stress that comes with these types of situations.

What should your policy be?

The terms of your policy are ultimately down to you as a business owner, but a deposit is amust – 30-50% of the treatment price is ideal. That might sound like a lot, but let’s think about why that’s a good idea from a business point of view, and for the client.

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  • Let’s say a full volume set with you costs £150: £50-£75 for your time is FAR BETTER than £15 if your deposit is 10% – £15 is lunch, £75 is at least part of your water bill.
  • A larger deposit ensures you’re being paid for the time you’re at work because, let’s face it, you won’t sit and do nothing – you’ll update your social media, clean, work on new content, look for a new course etc.
  • I don’t know about you, but if I pay £75 for something I’m going to show up. If I only pay £15 and then stumble across another plan, I might just forego that £15…
  • If payment platforms such as Klarna are anything to go by, we like to pay for things in smaller instalments. Paying for a lash set in two halves, or 30/70 even, might actually entice new customers who are unsure about the cost or can’t pay the full price upfront.

In terms of cancellation time, this will largely be dependent on how quickly you can fill that slot again – if I cancel an appointment with you 24 hours prior, will you be able to fill it? Or do you need 48 hours? This is the timeframe you’ll want to focus on.

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Should you refund a deposit?

Ideally no, otherwise what’s the point? It’s better to transfer the appointment than to refund – if I have an appointment with you tomorrow at 10am and I cancel today at 2pm because my elderly relative is unwell and I need to go round and stay with them for a while,you are well within your rights to keep my deposit, and I won’t find it so harsh that I’m not getting back that £75 because now my appointment has moved to next week. You and I still have a good relationship, I’m still getting lashes, you are still being paid for the time I’ve kind of wasted, and old aunt Mary is still getting her pillows fluffed – it’s a win for everyone. If you’re rescheduling the appointment with short notice, it’s worth thinking about having a cancellation fee.

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A cancellation fee will usually be a bit smaller than deposit, for example if your full set of lashes costs £100, your deposit is £50 and cancellation fee is £30.

There are 2 options when you might consider asking the client to pay the fee:

  • If they want to reschedule an appointment that they paid the deposit for with short notice, as a gesture of goodwill (due to emergency circumstances) you might just take the cancellation fee, rather than making the full deposit non-refundable/non-transferable.
  • If they want to cancel/reschedule their appointment for which you don’t take deposits (for example infills, or regular customers). This way you’re at least partially covered for your time.

A very common practice is to not book a client until the fee is paid in full - don’t be scared to ask for it! This is your time and your livelihood, and it is fair to ask your clients to respect it.

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Of course, sometimes things happen which we can’t predict or plan for – if a long-time client can’t make it to one appointment due to illness, injury, family emergency etc., then you might consider refunding that deposit or not taking a cancellation fee. Just remember, it’s important you stick to the rules you set up yourself, otherwise if you just refund the deposits to everyone or don't take a cancellation fee more than once, you might as well just let it go in the first place and not be bothered at all!

Things to consider

  • Your policy should be SUPER CLEAR. Write it in a very accessible language that is easy to understand and translate if necessary – we’re not applying for a mortgage, we’re just getting lashes.
  • Your policy needs to be communicated to your clients. If you have a website, have a section for your cancellation and rescheduling policy. If you’re only on social media, have a post such as this one:
Include it in their booking confirmation text/email and in their appointment reminder text/email. Have it printed out in your salon. Whatever you do, make sure it is visible and understandable.
This is your livelihood – you can implement whatever policies work for you and keep you, your staff, and your family fed, clothed and safe.
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    Can I Have A Different Policy for Cancellations and No-Shows?

    Absolutely, yes. It’s advisable to have a non-refundable deposit for either circumstance but you might consider having a harsher policy for no-shows, i.e. they are required to pay the full price of treatment in the event that they don’t turn up at all – this is particularly effective for repeat offenders. Sure, it’s difficult to enforce, but it should make them think twice!