Last minute cancellations, Lateness, & no shows

I debated about writing this in fear it would be too negative or too whiney, but it's a topic I would like to get off my chest.  Most practitioners don't like it when clients cancel at the last minute, or when they are consistently late.  Even worse, clients who do not even make the time to notify the office that they will not be coming in that day.  Of course that should be obvious, but let me go more into detail.

There was a client that I fit in last minute to accommodate her schedule.  It required me coming in to the office earlier than I normally would, but hey she was in pain, and I wanted to help.  That morning I struggled to make it out of the house on time (I'm so not a morning person) and made it to the office with 10 minutes to spare.  I hurriedly prepared everything and was happy I was all set by the time of the appointment.  When I checked my phone, I noticed that the client left a voicemail on my phone while I was setting everything up.  In her voicemail, she stated that she couldn't find her car keys and had miscellaneous other issues.  She also made it sound like she was doing me a favor by not coming in by saying "now you can spend the rest of the day off".  

Now I understand life happens, and people do need to cancel last minute.  I'm generally very understanding, but that last minute cancellation bothered me.  If she called a half hour before instead of 5 minutes before her appointment, I could have stayed home and helped my wife with a crazy teething baby.  Instead, now I had to wait 90 minutes until my next appointment.  She must have figured she was the only person I massage in a day and now she gave me a "day off".  I guess it's the thought that counts.

During my busy times, I generally have full days at 6-8 massages in a day.  I still have clients that want to come in, so I do have "waiting lists" for them in case I do have cancellations.  That way if someone gives me proper cancellation notice (I'll get to my 24 hour policy) I can fit someone else in that time slot.  That way everyone wins.  I get to keep massaging, and I can fit people in my schedule.

Missed appointments that I hate the most is when a client doesn't bother to call to cancel and doesn't return my phone calls.  I have an e-mail/text reminder system put in place so there is plenty of opportunity to give me a heads up that the client will not be coming in.  Not only do I lose income, you may have deprived someone else of getting a much needed massage.  It's the same as if you went to work and the boss say's "sorry there's not enough work here, we'll just pay you for 6 hours instead of 8 today".  Pretty sure that wouldn't go over well.

When you make an appointment, you are paying for that time slot, not how many minutes of massage you're guaranteed.  I have a schedule to maintain, so if you are late, I will have to cut the session short in order to not punish the next person who may have arrived on time.  If you are super late, and only get 30-40 minutes of a 60 minute time slot, you will still be charged for a 60 minute massage.  Again, you pay for the time you set in my schedule, if you're late, that's on you.  

That is why I have a cancellation policy.  If you have an appointment at my office, please give me a 24 hour notice at least if you do not plan on coming in.  If you're getting sick or may feel sick, do not wait until the morning of.  It's always just better to reschedule and I can put someone else in your time slot.  For no call/no shows I automatically charge for the missed appointment.  That may be through an invoice or the next time you come in for an appointment.  In any case, I wanted to write this to back up my cancellation policy.  Thanks for your consideration in advance!