A Business Owner’s Quick Guide To Reducing Last-Minute Cancellations
Running a service business is exciting and fulfilling when your schedule is packed with jobs. When there’s a consistent workflow, your cash flow is good, and it helps you render better services and grow. This is normally what you want to aim for your business, but a packed schedule doesn’t always mean profitable work.
It’s entirely possible to have a week fully packed with jobs, only to find yourself attending only a few because customers keep cancelling at the last minute. This can have a significantly detrimental effect on your bottom line, as it makes it challenging to fill in the gaps since the notices are too short to plan for another job. While you can’t avoid cancellations altogether, there are ways to ensure that you get fewer of them. (1)
This article will guide you in the best ways to ensure your customers are not cancelling jobs at the last minute.
- Send out prompt reminders
It’s human nature to forget. Keep in mind that your customers are trying to juggle everyday life issues, and it’s possible that their boiler routine maintenance just slipped off their minds. The next thing you know, you dispatch technician, only to find that your customer isn’t home.
Unfortunately, this situation affects you more than the customer, as it destabilizes your cash flow. Take the initiative to remind customers of their upcoming services through email, text, or phone calls to reduce last-minute cancellations. Luckily, there are online tools and software, like the one offered by Jobber for field services like plumbing. This software can help you and your team to stay on top of your reminders, reducing the chances of customers forgetting and cancelling at the last minute.
- Make the reschedule process easy
Even with a genuine reason to reschedule, a customer might find calling or dealing with a text or email exchange too much work. They might ignore the job appointment, only to let you figure it out at dispatch that they need to reschedule. That’s why making rescheduling as seamless as possible makes business sense. When a customer needs less effort to change a job confirmation, you’ll experience fewer cancellations.
If you don’t know how to get started, you can look for helpful resources like those offered in the Jobber Academy especially geared towards plumbing, cleaning and other field service providers. Such resources help you get started and steer your business in the right direction on management tactics and improving customer communications. Remember, if a customer can reschedule without a hassle, they’re less likely to cancel the job.
- Be on time for the job
If you want your customers to stop canceling, keep time. When your teams show up late for a job, you risk a cancellation. It’s critical that you also look back at your operations and see if you’re the problem. If the finger is pointed back at you, take the necessary measures for you and your team to ensure customers aren’t becoming frustrated, leading to canceled jobs.
Your customers have other things to do, and they schedule a job at a particular time for a reason. It would be best if you didn’t let them think you don’t care about that. With the help of job scheduling software, you can organize jobs according to locations and dispatch your teams on time. (2)
- Establish a cancellation policy early
Forgetfulness isn’t the only reason customers cancel on you at the last minute. Sometimes, it happens because ‘something else came up.’ A customer wouldn’t mind canceling your job appointment for something else if it won’t cost them anything. Develop a policy for last-minute cancellations by adding a charge or penalty or requesting a deposit when a customer confirms a job. (3)
This is an effective way to encourage your customers to remain committed after confirming a job. It’s essential to establish such a policy when starting the business so that customers come on board with its full knowledge. However, you should remain committed to enforcing the policy as that’s the only way it’ll benefit you. If you are lax in implementing it, you’ll still have a problem with cancellations.
- Know when to let go
Sometimes, customers will still leave you hanging without saying why they’ve canceled even after you’ve taken the measures mentioned above. If this happens with a particular customer several times, it’s best just to let them go and move on. It’ll be beneficial for you to end a customer relationship that’s costing your business time and money.
However, you should consider situations where that move will amount to a contractual breach and take the necessary legal counsel and action to protect your business. But once you’ve investigated and noted that your customer is too unreliable to keep, in that case, it’s better to walk away. Otherwise, you’re risking losing money on a last-minute cancellation that’s more likely to happen than not.
Last-minute cancellations are such a buzzkill in field service businesses. They give you no time to slot in another job, causing you to lose time and revenue. Hopefully, this guide shares some insights to help you reduce cancellations, keep your schedule full, customers happy, and improve your cash flow.
- “Service Cancellations Affecting HVAC Contractors’ Bottom Lines”, Source: https://www.achrnews.com/articles/140637-service-cancellations-affecting-hvac-contractors-bottom-lines
- “5 Key Benefits of Automated Field Service Scheduling”, Source: https://www.hso.com/int/blog/5-key-benefits-of-automated-field-service-scheduling/
- “What to include in your cancellation policy”, Source: https://www.smallbusiness.wa.gov.au/blog/what-include-your-cancellation-policy