I get a bit sad and frustrated for some clinic owners when their clinics are half empty and they don’t have any cancellation policy. It doesn’t need to happen! I think it’s because clinicians want to care for people and help them and forget that they are also a business. Your personality and attitude is that you’re easygoing and want to help people. When somebody calls to cancel right at the last minute,
I know some clinicians will say, “Okay. That’s fine.” Actually, it’s not fine because when you’re doing that, all you’re doing is damaging yourself, your profit, your clinic and its viability.
When someone cancels right at the last minute, that could have been a slot that somebody else could have had, somebody that you could have helped get better. Does that put a different spin on it?
It is about managing your clients and patients’ expectations. Once they realize that you will probably charge them if they cancel, say, within 24 hours, you know what? They won’t do it again.
The number of callers we have for a variety of our clinics that say, “Oh, I need to cancel my appointment later today. I just can’t get there.” And the minute we say, “Well, the owner may charge a cancellation fee for that,” quite often than not, I would say 95% of the time that caller will then say, “Oh, I’ll change my other arrangements and I’ll still come and see you.”
It’s really, really simple to manage your cancellations and no shows. If you use some type of clinical software like Cliniko, PPS, TM3, PracticePal or any of the other wide range of software that is out there. You just need a policy in place. Your terms and conditions then will be in an automated email and text which your client or patient will receive when they make the appointment and then everybody is clear.
Of course, there will be times that people are ill and are unable to come to the appointment. You can deal with that on a case by case basis. It does stop those serial offenders particularly on Monday morning when you think you have a full clinic and then 25% of your clients and patients cancel. These slots could have gone to someone else. A good system will also have a wait-list facility. You need never have empty slots in your clinic.
You could take your own advice when you’re helping other people and saying to them to look after themselves. Look after yourself too, and don’t let late cancellations and no shows ruin your day and the profitability of your clinic.