5 Ways To Reduce Client Cancellations For Dietitians
Read how to reduce client no shows at wellness businesses and how to reduce client cancellations at wellness practices using Healthie.
Client cancellations and no shows are a common occurrence for wellness professionals. These last minute schedule changes not only cost your practice time, but money, and can be a major inconvenience.
Establishing the right policies and practices for your wellness business can reduce client cancellation rates, and protect your practice from revenue loss. Moreover, putting these practices in place will allow your clients to have a clear understanding of your business policies. By being transparent and upfront with these policies, clients are more likely to respect your time and retain their appointments.
Here are 5 strategies you can take to reduce client cancellations and no shows in your health and wellness business:
1. Have a Client Cancellation Policy
Creating a cancellation policy reinforces with clients that your time is valuable. Without it, clients are free to cancel appointments at their convenience — leaving the door wide open for last minute cancellations. For your practice, this means lost revenue. Over time, last minute cancellations add up and can cost you a significant amount of time and revenue.
Apart from cost savings, having a cancellation policy in place also helps clients feel accountable for keeping their sessions. Making consistent wellness changes is difficult, and when clients find themselves struggling, they often look to back out of their sessions. Partly from shame and disappointment, clients feel that if they don’t have good progress to share, it isn’t worth checking in with their wellness providers. As a wellness professional, you know this can’t be farther from the truth. Clients make the most progress when they follow-up at times when they are struggling. This allows you to help them troubleshoot the challenges, and establish the right next steps. With a cancellation policy in place, clients will find themselves attending their sessions even if they are feeling hesitant about coming.
Most importantly, although many practitioners have a cancellation policy in place, they may not enforce it. If a client has signed your cancellation policy and has failed to give the proper notice (ie. 24 hours in advance) then you have the right to enforce your policy.
2. Require a Credit Card on File for Clients
If you do not require clients to put a credit card on file, they you’ll only be able to invoice a
client the cancellation fee. The likelihood of your client paying is slim, as they will probably choose to not follow-up. As a best practice, you may want to consider requiring a credit card on file for all of your clients. Even if you have an insurance-based practice, requiring a credit card on file is important for collection cancellation fees, copays, deductibles, and any other client-owed responsibilities.
Tip: Be firm but transparent with your clients on fees or how their credit card will be used. Spell your practices out clearly in your new client paperwork and be sure to review the policies verbally with your clients. In your appointment reminders and/or in the footer of your business emails to clients, you may want to include a reminder about your cancellation policy.
Of course, client emergencies do occur, and you can use leniency at your discretion. If you do pardon a late cancellation, you may want to reinforce with your client that the fee cannot be waived a second time.
3. Automatically Send Appointment Reminders
One of the main reasons you’ll find that clients no-show to their wellness appointments is simply, they forgot. Even if your client had good intentions of attending, no-shows cost you time and money. This can be especially infuriating with new clients who had initial appointments scheduled, and you’ve set a significant amount of time aside to see them.
Your no-show and late cancellation rates can be easily improved simply by sending out appointment reminders.
Manually sending out appointment reminders requires a major time commitment from your practice. Going through all of your appointments for the upcoming week and sending out individual emails takes time — time that you are not generating revenue. By automating your appointment reminders, you can be assured that all of your clients have received one (or more) communications about their appointment.
Automated appointment reminders can be sent by using a client scheduling tool with appointment reminder capabilities. Healthie’s calendar feature allows nutrition and wellness professionals to customize appointment reminders for their practice. Choose if you’d like clients to receive appointment reminders via email and/or text message, and select how frequent you’d like reminders to be sent.
Client’s also have the ability to confirm their appointments, which helps providers know that a new (or follow-up) client will be attending their session.
Appointment reminders via email through Healthie can be fully customized to reflect your wellness brand and practices. By editing your emails to include your cancellation policy terms, it helps to be fully transparent about your policies.
With these customized and automated appointment reminders, you can feel confident that your clients were 1) informed of their appointment in advance 2) understand your cancellation policy.
4. Offer a Virtual Session in Place of a Cancellation
Often times, clients cancel sessions at the last minute due to a meeting or other obligation that has popped up on their schedule. In these cases, your client may not be able to attend an in-person session, but they may be able to have a phone or video chat session.
For insurance-based clients, telehealth services may not be a covered benefit under your client’s insurance plan. The best way to know is to call their insurance provider directly and verify if telehealth benefits are included, and if there are any specific requirements. If your client is not covered for telehealth, then you may want to consider offering telehealth services at a self-pay rate. One suggestion is to price a phone/video chat session at the same rate as your cancellation fee (ie. $50). This will help incentivize your clients to book a virtual call in lieu of cancelling their appointment altogether – and they may appreciate the flexibility.
Note: Collecting no show or late cancellation fees from clients with Medicare is not allowed. It is CMS policy that doctors and non-physician providers cannot charge Medicare patients for time or services that have not been rendered. However, you can enforce a late cancellation policy for clients with private insurance.
5. Build Client Packages for Your Nutrition and Wellness Services
For wellness professionals, there are typically two ways to market your services to clients: either a-la-carte (i.e. a one-time wellness consult) or bundled into a client package (i.e. a 3-month counseling package). Although both pricing models can be successful, building out client packages can serve as a more profitable strategy in the long-term.
Generally speaking, if a client books a one-time visit, they can only achieve so much change in your one interaction. However, a package of visits will allow clients to make real strides towards change. Purchasing a client package is an investment in their health, and provides them the timing, accountability and resources to achieve their long-term wellness goals. By committing to a package, your client will be less likely to miss their appointments — and the onus will be on you as their wellness provider to allow any reschedules for missed appointments.
In Healthie, creating client packages makes it easy for clients to purchase your wellness services, whether they are buying one session or several months worth of sessions at a time. You can also automate weekly, monthly, quarterly, or annual charges too. Clients can purchase sessions and packages with you through the platform, and money goes directly to your bank account.
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