One day last week, I decided to work at home since I had to head over to Rotary at noon. No one was home but myself and Blondie (the Golden Retriever/Husky mix), so getting work done was not a problem.
A little bit ago, a lady from the place where my wife gets her hair cut called to see if she was here. I told her she had left to go get her hair cut, then laughed and commented that my wife had indeed remembered the appointment this time.
You see, the last few times she had a hair appointment there, something happened and she forgot to show up at the right time. Rather than continue to tolerate that behavior, the hair place invested 2 minutes of their time to call an hour before the appointment to remind her.
Should they have to do that? Not really.
Is it smart business? Absolutely.
Why? Its your job as the business owners to groom your customers, train them and adjust their behavior as necessary.
How? Make them an offer that makes them want to be on time, or set things up so that missing that appointment is something they simply cant tolerate, or wouldnt dream of.
Any business that is paid for work done in appointment slots (like a hair salon or spa) has to do whatever they can to decrease the number of no-shows, or late arrivals because they cant get that time back. Sure, they can rebook that person, but the original slot still sat there unoccupied and that time was not purchased. Photography studios (a niche I spent quite a few years working in) struggled with this for years until it was suggested that they could get their customers to pre-pay for the sitting fee in order to hold an appointment. This sitting fee is not refundable if you miss your appointment, but it sometimes is credited against portrait print purchases.
Once people started paying for sitting fees (some call them reservation fees), they suddenly started showing up on time because they didnt want to lose the money they paid in advance. Now all of a sudden you have a more predictable income, because you know how much on average each family will spend on prints and other products once they’ve actually shown up and had their portrait taken – and you’ve gotten your customers to behave a lot better – because they actually show up for their appointment.
A little bonus thought
The sitting fee is an amount charged for the activity of coming in and having your portrait photographed. It DOES NOT pay for the printed pictures, just for the time (if justified poorly), equipment (ditto) and experience/expertise (BEST) to have the photographer there to make you look great.
Notice how I worded that. The photographer isnt there to take your picture, any more than the hair stylist is there to cut your hair. They are using their training, specialized equipment and experience to make you look great, not just catch you however you look that day and make the best of, uh, what you brought.
Feels different than a “hair cut” and a “picture”, doesnt it?
Train your customers to be better customers. Both of you will be better for it.