One of the biggest pains when it comes to personal training is when clients unfortunately cancel sessions, but sadly it’s something that cannot be avoided. Cancellations at short notice mean a loss of revenue for your business, as it can be difficult to find someone to replace the empty session.
Having a solid cancellation policy is essential to stop you missing out on valuable money. We’ve outlined how and why you should create a cancellation policy to stop you and your business getting left in the lurch.
Make Your Rules Clear
When creating your cancellation policy, you need to decide exactly what you’re willing to offer. The most common policy for personal trainers is the 24-hour cancellation policy. Then if the client chooses to cancel their session less than 24 hours before, they will be charged the standard rate for the missed session. This also applies to clients who do not show up.
However, sometimes trainers do not feel comfortable charging clients who cancel. Therefore, you could alternatively offer incentives not to cancel. For example, if a client goes 5 sessions without cancelling, then they get the 6th session at half price. This will then encourage them not to cancel, without the need for an actual cancellation policy.
Another alternative is that you could offer a ‘first time grace’, where the client isn’t charged for the first time they cancel.
But whatever your cancellation policy is, you need to make it clear to your clients. You can have the best cancellation policy possible, but if your clients don’t know about it, you will still get conflict. Like our websites, which we build for fitness professionals, we make sure the cancellation policy is clearly stated.
On a clients first session, get them to read the policy or go through it with them, and get them to sign it to prove that they have read it and have a clear understanding. This will stop any possible confusion further down the line.
Be Honest and Fair
Just because you have a last minute cancellation policy in place, it doesn’t mean you have to stick to it. You need to be fair with your clients. They might cancel a session due to a family emergency or an accident, and it wouldn’t be fair to charge them for that. Assess any cancellations and remember to be fair.
Not being flexible can make clients feel under pressure to come to the session, when, for example, they might not be well enough to train. If they’re unwell, then that won’t be good for them or for you as you could get sick too. As a professional, you need to bare in mind that these things do happen.
Dealing With Repeat Offenders
Clients who repeatedly cancel on you last minute are sadly not respecting you or your time. It may be a good idea to start booking them in on a week-on-week basis so cancellations are less likely.
Ultimately, if they continue to cancel, then you may just have to ‘fire’ them, letting them know you can no longer train them due to this. As we are sure you will agree, your time would be better spent with a client who is a lot more dedicated.
Respect Should Be Both Ways
Some trainers forget to realise that the cancellation policy isn’t just for your clients; it’s for you too. If you do have a 24-hour cancellation policy, then this applies to you as well as your clients. Therefore, if you need to cancel on a client within the 24-hour period, you should give them their next session for free. This will not only keep your clients happy, it will also show that you have respect for them and value them as a client.
Making Use of Cancelled Sessions
Don’t think that, with a cancellation policy in place, clients will no longer cancel. Cancellations are just a way of life in our industry. Plus, when sessions are cancelled with less than 24 hours notice, it can be difficult to fill that slot, but remember you can still use this time wisely.
If you’re looking to fill the slot with another client, offer it at a discounted rate. Let your other clients know there’s a free spot available at half price or something along those lines. Yes you may not be getting as much money as you intended, but it’s better than no money at all right?
If you can’t fill the session, then use this time to benefit your clients. You could create personalised meal plans for them or possibly send out a promotional newsletter. This will all show that you’re committed to their goals and are interested in helping them get there. This will ensure you keep clients and keeping you firmly sat on the PT throne in your area!