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Expert Answers to Biz Questions

Listen in! Pick up some expert advice to a reader's question that we selected from CyberSchmooz.

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The Biz Question

I'm a self-employed manicurist and have struggled for years to maintain and build up a strong clientele for my biz. My customers are my bread and butter, and most are wonderful personalities who I enjoy interacting with, but one thing that drives me to distraction are the last-minute cancellations or no-shows that occur throughout my week. These cancellations and no-shows cost me time and money and lost opportunities for booking prospective walk-in clients. I was wondering if anyone had any suggestions on how I could try to cut down on this practice without alienating my customers. Any feedback would be great.

Karen

Answer from our Guest Expert Donna Hall of The Right Answer, Customer Service Consultants

Dear Karen:

I know where you're coming from! I've had my fair share of no-shows in my line of work too -- pretty darn frustrating, isn't it? But, don't despair, you can get some control over this problem. Some customers just need more finessing than others.

"Variety is the spice of life!" And I've learned to spice up my customer service attitude with creativity and good ole-fashioned originality to get what I need from them. You too can put together a mixture of ideas that can nip those no-shows' bad habits in the bud and get them to polish up their acts! Here are some insider customer service tips to add to your spice rack:

One Ringy Dingy! Two Ringy Dingy! Call your clients the day before their appointment and remind them they have a nail date with you. We all get a little harried at times and your no-shows are probably dealing with a bear of a schedule, or are simply one of those poor souls who can't remember where they left their keys. But with your quick "remember me" call, I bet they'll be thanking and praising you profusely for taking the time to call and remind them. And best of all, you'll be seeing their bright shiny faces the following day.

Get your creative juices flowing on reminder ideas. How about finding or making your own nail-friendly do-dads to pass out to clients to help them remember their appointments? You could hand out some small, personalized stickers for clients to paste in their day books and calendars. Or what about complimentary nail files with your biz name on it so they can carry it around in their purses. Every time they need to file those nails, they'll think of you (and their next appointment)! Think of ways to keep your name in front of them in between appointments.

Use flair; be bold! Have some fun and let your imagination run wild! But get their attention! If your designs are really unique, your customers will probably show these little reminders to friends and family, helping you to get more business along the way.

Consider giving your "was my appointment today?" customers their own special ongoing slot of time. Let them feel like they own "Thursday at 2:00" with you. It may feel as if they're taking you for granted, but this could possibly lessen their tendency to let you "slip their minds." Once they get into the habit of being with you at that day and time, and should they miss it, they'll probably get that nagging feeling that they've forgotten something very important. Eventually, the lightbulb will come on and they'll keep that special time in mind and won't forget.

Don't be ashamed to let your customers know you're in demand. Offhandedly mention you have a waiting list -- even if it might be a teensy weensy little fib -- give them the impression if they keep missing, they'll lose their time slot or have to take a second seat to others. Then, they'll be more apt to think, "If I want this time, I better get there, pronto! I don't want to be the one who's missing out."

Use give-a-ways. Everybody loves getting something for free. For those good gals who make it to the shop on time on a regular basis, reward them with a "freebie" every now and then. How about a free fill-in job or providing them with a new nail design or new innovative nail product on the house? You kill two birds with one stone -- motivating those no-shows to keep coming back and showing off your talents and wares to boot.

You know, "Old habits never die; they just fade away." And hopefully, you'll be able to faze-out the no-show behavior. Finding solutions to customer problems isn't always easy, but adding a bit of fun and adventure can produce exciting answers and rewards for both your biz and your customers.

Thanks for your great customer service question. Good luck!

Donna Hall of The Right Answer

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