An empty appointment book is the saddest thing in spa-land. Seriously name one other thing that is worst than an empty appointment book?
Exactly – nothing.
The empty appointment book is a sign of a day spa that isn’t working – that isn’t functioning at its prime level. And I promise it’s entirely preventable with some work. The first step is to identify the reasons why you have open appointments:
Summertime is naturally slower – so don’t panic too much. This time of year is focused on back to school, on getting kids to camp, and last minute vacation plans. A smart Spapreneur is going to see this trend and plan for next year to take continuing education, vacation, or spa refurbishment.
But, you’re also going to focus on the things you can do to fill your appointment books. These are the actual items that we use in our spa to fill our appointment books for 25 spa practitioners.
1. The weekly email
We’ve spoken about the importance of using email – in fact, we’ve created a fantastic course about spa email marketing you should check out. Okay, we’ll stop with the shameless plugging, but email works to fill appointment books. Especially when you use our weekly email formula that promises to bring clients.
Here’s what you do:
Take a look at the appointments that are open for that week – write down free times and the types of appointments you want in those spots for each service provider.
Then you draft an email for each service provider who has openings that week. Write down the specific times you have open and what service you can put there. Make sure you have easy request appointment now buttons.
Next, send that email to past clients of that service provider who do not have future appointments already.
It sounds like a super simple system, but it works. We started doing this in April, and we do it each week. Our service providers are responsible for sending in the open appointment times to our front desk team, and we send out the emails. We have decreased open appointments by 30% doing this – and it costs us nothing but a bit of time.
Try it out for a month and see what happens. Recently one of our most experienced massage therapists said that this system has brought in two clients she hadn’t seen in two years. They rebooked after those appointments.
Open appointment emails work – seriously you need to try it.
2. Cancellation Lists
You need one – for reals. I’m always amazed at day spas who don’t have them – because it’s a list of people who want to get into your spa. I think the problem is that too many spa front desks focus on them when there is a cancellation that day.
But if you have open appointments and a ready and willing group of people who want to get in you need to contact them. It’s a smart idea to look at the past two weeks of cancellation lists and see if you can get any of those people to fill the open opportunities. These should be a personal call from the front desk with an invitation.
You’d be surprised what a good cancellation list will do.
Also, if you’re not forming a cancellation list you need to work on that – it’s imperative to have one because immediate openings happen and it’s the easiest way to fill them.
3. Understanding Missed Opportunities
Another reason you might have open appointments is that you don’t understand the flow of your business. It’s easiest to fill appointments when you have openings that clients want.
Tracking missed opportunities means you take note when you can’t fill an appointment. The reasons could be the desired service provider isn’t open, they don’t work at that time, or all appointments filled. It could also be you don’t have enough rooms, resources, or service providers free to take the appointment.
Knowing these trends are so valuable for your business because it allows you to see if you need to hire another massage therapist, add on an additional skin care room, or if you need to add some service hours.
Sometimes an empty appointment book is due to the fact you haven’t discovered when clients want to come in and how to provide that. You do this you’ll have fewer openings
4. A Strong Cancellation Policy
The reason for having a cancellation policy is to prevent last second open appointments. It is to penalize clients and to keep them from making cancellations except for emergencies.
Your cancellation policy needs to be clear, concise, and enforceable – so that if you have a last minute cancellation, you charge them. Here is an article about cancellation policies we’ve written that gives more details.
5. Invite Them Back In – Before They Leave
Again simple but too many practitioners and front desk staffs skip this step. You must encourage the client to reserve an appointment before they leave the spa. Why we, as an industry are afraid of this, is a combination of our desire to not pressure clients and fear that it seems to sales.
Guess what you’re not serving the client fully unless you give them a concrete reason to come back in – our services are not a special occasion. They are designed to help with consistency of use. That means the clients have to get in beyond Christmas, Valentine’s Day, and birthdays. The only way to do that is to invite them.
Rebooking appointments need to be nonnegotiable for your spa – you need to focus on it not just to make your bottom line, but also because it’s in the client’s best interest.
The ONE thing I don’t want you to do to fill appointment books
There are many ways to fill appointment books – you could run a sale. But notice in none of these suggestions did I once mention discounting as a way to bring them in. There is no good from giving a discount to get someone in the door. You’re not going to get people in for the right reasons if you focus on discounts. You’re training clients to anticipate a sale when you do that instead of seeing that appointments are in their best interests.