Friday January 1st, 2010 20:45 About pricing and cancellations

To My Clients,

It bums me out to have to write this.   I want to keep pricing as low as I can, but I’ve hit a wall.

This is a bummer.  Strict systems are just not my style.  I’d rather just have fun and trust people to show up for their appointments.   When I was workin’ from home, I could roll with people making last minute changes… but now that we’re in the new offices, lost appointments mean **I’m** paying overhead for the last minute empty holes in the appointment book – because I can’t fill them again on short notice.  And people that would have booked into these slots are booked in later – because the slot wasn’t available – because it was being held for a no-show.   Aaargh.

When a client takes advantage of all of the rewards that I offer, she can get her work done less expensively here than anywhere else.   However, this doesn’t mean that it’s OK to blow off the appointment “because it was cheap, anyway”.  (I heard that one recently!)   That reasoning really stings – because it’s even more insulting and damaging to reschedule one of these type of appointments than a full price one.  Twice as much time booked off for a non-profit appointment turns it into a negative-income appointment.   Really.     ‘Nuff said on that.  :)

Continuing to be a “nice guy”,  and rolling with late reschedules & no shows, will cause one of three things to happen:  1- the cost of lost time will cause me to raise prices for everyone (doesn’t sound fair, does it?) … or… alternately… 2- if I do nothing, they will literally put me out of business.   :(   We don’t want that, do we?  :)   And heck… 3- I really don’t wanna get forced out of business and into a job like working at Starbucks!  :)

Here’s the problem:  It seems that a few too many clients think if they call in a few hours or the night before their appointment and reschedule within a few days that nothing was lost.   :(  Sadly, that’s just not so.

If your (or your husband’s) boss called you right now and said that there was no work for tomorrow and there’s only 4 hours of work the day after … but it’s all OK because there will be normal work 3 days from now… well… did your family lose money or not?   Of course you did.  Lost time is gone and can’t be “made up”.  How long would you stay employed at a place that repeatedly did that to you?  (Point made, I hope.)

And sorry to have to explain it that way, but just this morning a client told me: “But you didn’t lose me!!!  I came in a few days later!”    (See what I mean?!?!?  This is a difficult thing to handle – all while trying to be fair to dependable clients.)

I’m great at what I do…and I like giving value for what I do.  I want you to be thrilled with your end result and enjoy your experience here. And to be honest, some of the “flakey” clients (I say that in the most loving way possible!) are the most fun to have around… but some of them are killing me financially.

Allow me to tell you how I’m trying to give you all a great value: many reputable salons charge about $80 for an “hour” appointment for most services – but in reality, just like going to your psychiatrist (heh heh – just teasin’),  you get a 50 minute service and the other 10 minutes is for prep, cleanup and appointment setting time – OR – they may have services that allow them to “double dip” – meaning they can do a haircut while your perm is processing.

I, on the other hand, can’t “double dip”, nor do I choose to cram an hour into 50 minutes:  I book off at least 15  minutes more to accommodate “life”.  In reality, if you are paying for an hour’s worth of work, you’re usually getting more.   So while Salon X is billing $80 per hour, after all is said and done, I’m really only actually billing about $56.  This leaves no room for unnecessary problems.

And while we’re on that subject, just know that there are very, very few days that get a full 8 hours of billed time unless I’m here working a 14 hour day!    And relatively speaking… gee… what are auto shops billing these days?  $100?!?!?   An old Buick is worth $100 an hour to work on, but your face is only $56?  I bet the dude workin’ on the Buick doesn’ pay $140 a month for liability insurance, either.   Maybe I shoulda been a grease monkey, eh? – just kiddin’!

Now… take a client that moves her appointment three times (this happened recently) – without respectable notice.  She called in and missed 3 appointments within the same week before finally rolling in on a Saturday.  She has now taken up FIVE hours of time (that’s about $110 in overhead)  in order to accomplish what should have happened in less than 75 minutes.  Performing that service was done at a huge loss – which means that *I* paid to do her service.   :(

Then there are those that may think “Well, that’s just the cost of doing business!” (and it’s the “problem clients” that think that way!)   Well… No, it’s not.

So what’s a girl to do?   Without a fair cancellation policy as a deterrent, the losses have to get spread out over the fees charged to other clients to make up for reschedules/no shows like this.  I just don’t think that’s fair.

I could go on with about another 10 bad things that I have to cope with after last minute cancellations.. but I digress.

:::::::sigh::::::::::   This all sounds so harsh… I’m sorry for that.   Just know that I am so grateful for all of my clients… so many of you have become great friends….you’ve helped to grow my business…  just know I do appreciate your loyalty….. and sorry that some people have ruined it so badly that it made creating this post necessary .  :(  :(  :(


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