Don’t get frustrated. Get a Cancellation Policy

What is your cancellation policy? Do you adhere to it?

So firstly – if you have no shows or last minute cancellations, how does it make you feel?
As a complementary therapist we need to have our patients’ best interest at heart, however we also need to take care of ourselves. Part of this is having a clear boundaries, to include a clear cancellation policy; so we know we can pay the room rent, the mortgage and bills whether our clients turn up or not. If we are running a business we need to be business minded in order that we become successful practitioners and then remain so.

If you are paying room rent at a health centre, advertising costs, promotional literature, parking and or child care, you have tangible expenses before you start giving a treatment, without forgetting the investment you have made in your qualifications. So without a cancellation policy you are selling yourself cheap. I only know of ONE therapist who once an initial booking is made emails out terms and conditions, which the patient has to acknowledge receipt of. See below:

Terms & Conditions: “As the client, by signing below you agree to the following: treatments cancelled within 24 hours of the appointment will be charged for at the full amount, with NO EXCEPTIONS. Cancellations are accepted by telephone, answerphone or texts (NOT EMAIL).”
I personally do not get clients to sign anything, but I do make them aware of my policy.

If you don’t have a cancellation policy perhaps it’s time to start thinking about one. Will you charge the full fee if, someone does not show, or half the fee? Or at LEAST your room rent. Choose your words carefully, and phrase it how you like; a sentence like this might work for you: “Please give at least 48 hours’ notice if you wish to cancel or change an appointment, or the full fee will be charged – remember, someone else may need your appointment”.

If you have no cancellation policy is it because you not feel you don’t deserve to have one? I know of therapists who have paid room rent – for the privilege of not treating patients! Does this seem fair to you? Do you think your patients would think it fair if they really thought about it? If you have a full clinic and a waiting list and you get a no show, not only have you lost out on income, but someone else has missed out on the chance to receive a treatment – perhaps when they most need it.

Just like branding make sure your policy has exactly the same wording and is written on all your literature – business cards, leaflets, website and in email correspondence, plus clearly displayed in your treatment room, preferably on headed/ branded paper.

If you have a cancellation policy in place do you adhere to it? There are always times when we need to be compassionate, our client may have a very sick relative they suddenly need to tend to, or may be sick themselves in which case we might not feel comfortable charging the full amount, but we still need to at the very least cover our costs. However if someone has forgotten, I think it is acceptable to ask for the full fee.

So perhaps it is time to be kind to yourself, be professional and get a policy in place. Respect yourself and ensure that you are respected by your patients and the wider community.

As a community of healthcare professionals I strongly feel we should support each other by all putting in place and adhering to our policies. Please tell me any thoughts on the above, or policies that you have in place, I would be really interested to know.

Don’t get frustrated, get a cancellation policy!