Charging Customers For Not Honoring Appointments? - Business

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Hello,
I'm a bit new here, so go easy on me
My husband and I run a small electrical business in Canada. We do everything from small calls to multi-family. Sometimes I come across people who schedule appointments and later don't bother to cancel them and just don't show up to their appointments. I had an employee wait for such a customer yesterday and eventually give up after a half hour.
I called this lady and left her a message, but I don't expect to hear back, so the time was basically wasted and our employee could have been somewhere else.
When this happens to others on this forum, as I'm sure it does, do you simply let it go and figure it's a part of the business, or do you actually send an invoice for 1 hour?
I have similar issues with some quote appointments, but that's an ever tougher one and I don't think there is recourse for us here.
Would appreciate some thoughts.

Have the employee call ahead 1 hour and make sure at appt time they know you will call and if they dont answer, next...
Or charge for consultations...

We usually call on the way there. We ask for the best phone number to get a hold of them (usually a cell) if the homeowner is coming from work to the site, etc... But if they happen to not pick up the phone and we're the ones that don't show up as a result, then the blame is on us.

Call before and if they don't answer, don't go.
Do you really want to work for someone who is that unreliable.?

"My guy should be there between X and Y p.m.. What's the best number to reach you at? He will probably call before he heads out".
Call. No answer. Don't show up.
"I called, you didn't answer".
Why is the blame on YOU?
NEXT!

The blame is on us because the customer "is always right".
I can tell them we will touch base before showing up (and I always ask for two phone numbers) but if they happen to not pick up the phone and I miss the appointment I can have a screaming (it happened) customer call me 10 minutes after the booking.
I guess what I'm asking is, would you send them an invoice for one hour? Chances are, they won't pay it, but I can at least write it off. What I don't want is a huge uproar after they're received the invoice..., so I was looking for some thoughts. It just seems like a lose-lose situation.

Good luck on collecting on this, I know I wouldn't pay it. Like it's said above, courtesy call an hour ahead, no answer, go to the next.

When you set the appointment, why not explain that a phone call will be made 1/2 hour before the scheduled time and if there is no answer, the appointment will not happen.
I don't think you can charge for a missed appointment unless you spell it out in advance.

If you charge them yes you might be able write off the lost one hour, but how many people is that costumer going to tell about this experience. In the long run you will lose clients.

Call before you go and if they don't answer leave them a kind message. Let them know you will not be showing up unless you hear back from them within the next 10 minutes.

A bad reputation can really hurt a small company. Take the high road and make up the loss on the next one.

Thank you. I think that is the best course...

It's all about setting up expectations. You need to set the expectation in the initial conversation that the tech will call before they come and will need you to confirm with them otherwise they won't show up.
Do you send a bill for the hour of lost time if you're not going to confirm with the client prior to going over? No, unless you set the expectation (and hopefully you have this in writing and signed by them) that a missed appointment will cost them $x. A good rule of thumb is you never bill the customer for something that they're unaware of the charge. Be it for a missed appointment or having to do additional work outside of your scope of work within a contract. If the customer doesn't know it's an extra charge up front and preferably how much of an extra charge, then it doesn't get billed to them on the back end. Professional companies don't surprise clients.
So put the confirmation call system to work and if they don't answer, move on to the next one.

And a sure way to burn the bridge.

I'lll wait fifteen minutes on anybody, but not sixteen. I would rather have a few extra minutes of quiet time once in a while than bug the 99 out of 100 people that do what they say there going to do.
Plus I don't want the hassle of calling those other 99.

How about getting a $5,000.00 dollar deposit from them first!
Then I'm sure they will be there waiting for you.

You don't want to charge them for that hour. It's bad PR. You take those on the chin. You go if they don't show up, leave a door hanger that says politely we were here for your scheduled appt. Please call the office to re-schedule. If they call great( if they re-schedule then somehow build that lost hour in!). If they don't reschedule they might call back and apologize. I also think calling ahead is a lost venture because the customer becomes relying on that phone call to get them home. You forget to call and it's your fault again.

Do like the doctors profession does. Charge a missed appointment fee, usually about $35. This is something that you mention to them during your phone consultation. No, it won't cover all your costs, but what it will do is make sure the client has a firm understanding that they need to be at that appointment at the appointed time. The call ahead thing works very well too. Just make sure to tell them that both things will happen and ask if they understand this. It will usually take care of most missed appointments.

We all get busy in life & things slip our mind. I give the client the benefit of the doubt & have a conversation after the fact. I always leave a card in the door so they know I made it to the appointment. Usually, I get a very apologetic phone call after the fact & set another time to see their work. IMO, the job is that much closer to sold when they feel bad about standing me up.
If I've made a special trip & then later get the work, my time for the missed appointment is factored in when I figure their bid. It's just not known to them that they paid for my time.

If your prospect missed an appointment, unless its an emergency on their part ...

1. Its your failure to set it up properly with an explanation you call ahead and you are not able to make it if you are not able to confirm half hour before. Take responsibility for your flawed and impractical system by making it better instead if blaming the customers whom wont all get it without a better, more realistic effort from you.

2. Charging for it creates collection issues and conflict with a potential client for starters and it would not happen if you improve your process

3. Rather than a casual approach it appears you have now, you need to convey some level of value for your time and get the customer enthused about the appointtment. Seldom does a potential client blow off a meeting they are excited about. Take a look at the approach you are using when setting the appointment to get the customers respect for your time and some enthusiasm generated for your own good

I always call before I go to confirm. Usually the day before, only been burned a few times. Wish I could say the same for a few of my EX subs!!! JAW

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