The Real Cost of No-Shows

cost of no shows

Many appointment based businesses face at least one or two no-show’s a week in today’s busy and distracted world.  Often times clients have just forgotten or over-scheduled themselves and expect no recourse for their actions even though it was dedicated time for the service provider and therefore lost income for that service time.

Experienced industry professionals recommend that people charge their full rate when a current client no shows. It builds a sense of responsibility and professionalism. This means charging the client full rate if they don’t arrive or cancel within 24 hours, unless the therapist waives it at their discretion.

This rule seems a little extreme, especially for service providers who are working hard to build up a full clientele and who recognize that “life happens” and sometimes a little understanding and forgiveness can go a long way.

With that in consideration, it’s often an unsaid industry rule to not charge for a no-show when it’s a client’s first appointment. These are potential clients that have taken a while to acquire.

The Real Cost of Losing a “No Show” First Time Client by Charging Them:

  • Say a typical massage therapy client comes 6x per year at a rate of $100 per session. That means that they are “worth” $600
  • Imagine a massage therapy clinic has 10 new people that schedule per week and has a 50% no show rate for initial appointments, on paper this looks like a loss of $500 (5 people not showing up at $100 per session)
  • In reality those 5 people are actually a loss of $3,000 ($600 x 5)
  • If even one of those five people are lost because of a pre-pay policy or a full charge missed appointment requirement, that’s a loss of $600.


It’s completely understandable to want to get paid for what is scheduled, however, if your no-show rate is so high that pre-payment seems necessary, here are better ways to change that before requiring credit card numbers at booking (this can be a big turn-off for hesitant new clients).

  1. Have Automatic Text and Email Appointment Reminders

    This comes with most appointment booking software.  Using an online booking system also allows clients to manage their own appointments, so if they do need to make a change (more than 24hrs before the appointment) they can make the change themselves.  With automatic reminders, your clients will not only he able to add their appointments to their mobile calendars, but they’ll also get a text message (which they’re 76% more likely to read it immediately) and not forget their appointment!

  2. Online Booking

    If you’re marketing your online booking link and acquiring new patients directly from website traffic of marketing, make sure their booking process is very simple yet informative so they can easily find, book and confirm their appointment.  Remember, even their booking process is part of their treatment experience and it will reflect on their opinion of your service.  Double check your system and do some test bookings yourself so you understand how it works for your clients and if there’s any part of the booking process that’s confusing.

  3. Evaluate why they are not showing up

    Evaluate why people are not showing up.  Is it because their booking is unclear.  For new clients, take the time to make sure their booking reminder/booking card clearly states all the details they’ll need about their appointment.

  4. Empower the person that schedules

    Make sure that whoever is scheduling the appointment has access to a current calendar of the service provider’s schedule (online is best) so that they can accurately schedule the appointment and be able to confirm it immediately.

At the end of the day, it’s about building long term relationships with your new and existing clients.  It’s good to be firm with your practice rules and help your clients value your time.  This starts with you valuing both your time and your business.  Invest in the processes that will not only reduce your no-show’s but also help you take care of your clients better with less work!

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