Client cancellations are a problem for any business selling services. As a coach, you are an expert who sells your services and your time. You plan out your days to deliver a quality service to your clients.
Any business can deal with the occasional cancellation by a client. We can all sympathise when someone has a problem and needs to occasionally cancel a session. Perhaps they are ill or have a family related problem? So, what happens when the same client keeps cancelling their sessions without a good reason?
One of our clients, let’s call her Mrs White, had exactly this problem. Mrs White’s business ran individual coaching programmes for her clients. Each session was one to one. A typical programme runs over 3 months and includes:
- A 2-hour session at the start of the programme and
- 8 one-hour sessions
Mrs White had
- 2 clients who had each cancelled 3 sessions in the previous month and
- one client who had cancelled at least 5 sessions. It meant his 3-month programme had now extended over 11 months and he still had 4 sessions left.
All the clients had cancelled with less than 24 hours’ notice.
It might not sound like much, but it was 7 cancelled hours in one calendar month. That left Mrs White:
- Finding 7 extra hours for work in the next month for the sessions she had to rearrange. Mrs White’s working time was often fully booked in advance
- Rearranging her own childcare arrangements
- Having 7 spare (unpaid) hours at the last minute. The late cancellations meant that there wasn’t enough time to arrange other sessions
Mrs White wanted to stop this happening. She realised that she had nothing in her coaching agreement or business terms to cover this situation. So, this is what we included for Mrs White in her new coaching agreement and business terms.
(1) Cancelling sessions:
We included a section in Mrs White’s business terms to explain her cancellation terms to her client. We explained that
- You can cancel by texting or emailing Mrs White
- If you contact Mrs White at least 48 hours before the session, you can rearrange that session. So, your client session is at 2pm on Thursday and you cancel at 1pm on Monday, you can just rearrange.
- If you contact Mrs White with less than 48 hours before the session, you can rearrange that session. So, your client session is at 2pm on Thursday and you cancel at 1pm on Monday, you can just rearrange.
- If you contacted Mrs White with less than 48 hours before the session, Mrs White will decide whether you can rearrange the session or forfeit it.
How did this help?
This gave Mrs White some control over cancellations. If it was the first time the client had cancelled with less than 48 hours’ notice Mrs White could choose whether the
(2) Programme extensions
Mrs White was concerned that one client’s programme should’ve been run over 3 months. The cancellations meant that it would take over 12 months. Mrs White felt that this was too long for the client to benefit.
We included a section in Mrs White’s business terms to explain that programmes must be completed within 6 months, unless they had agreed something different.
How did this help?
It meant that
- clients understood how long programmes could be extended
- Mrs White was able to extend programmes if she wanted to.
Mrs White felt that one of her clients was not really committed to the coaching programme. So, we included a section which made it clear what happened if a client repeatedly kept cancelling sessions. The section allows Mrs White to suspend or end the programme without a refund.
So, if the client had a reason to cancel, Mrs White could simply rearrange or even suspend the programme. This would work well if, for example, the client was ill. Alternatively, if Mrs White felt that the client wasn’t committed, and was cancelling without a reason, she could end the programme without losing any money.
How did this help?
Again, this gave Mrs White some control over cancellations. It meant that after 3 cancellations Mrs White could talk through the situation with the client.
It allows Mrs White to help any clients who she felt were committed but stop wasting her time with clients who clearly didn’t want her help.
How did Mrs White feel?
At first Mrs White was a bit concerned at how her clients would react. Would it put people off her programmes?
After conducting a survey, Mrs White found that it wasn’t a problem for her clients. Most client felt that this was fair and that they knew where they stood.
If you are looking for business terms and all the essential legal documents you need in your coaching business see here