Dealing with common guest challenges at a Spa or Salon business

Every business has challenges but there are some which are fairly unique to spa and salon business like last minute cancellations, late client arrivals and constant rescheduling. Figuring out how best to deal with these issues is a delicate balance wherein, you cannot simply “let it go” time and time again and yet, if you are intending on keeping the problematic client, you cannot be overly punitive in your handling of the matter or they will, resentfully, look for a different spa or salon. Here we will go over some of the best ways to navigate the tricky issue of managing these challenges.


Cancellations are undoubtedly inconvenient for any spa or salon business but, when done correctly by the client, and managed correctly by the business, they are less inconvenient. Clients should be required to cancel at least 24 hours ahead of time and, if they repeatedly show an inability or unwillingness to honor this rule, you should avoid scheduling them during prime business hours in the future because, if you are constantly turning away other business during these hours for a client who rarely shows up, you are unequivocally losing money. Having this occur once in a long while with a client who is a regular and normally responsible about their appointments is one thing. However, having this happen over and over again cannot be tolerated. Therefore, you should decide on a policy which works for your spa or salon beforehand and stick with it. This leaves out questions or guesswork about how you should handle a problematic client. For instance, if a client cancels at the last minute more than twice in a year, you can consider implementing a cancellation fee for any further last minute cancellations or only scheduling that client for slower business hours in the future so that the opportunity cost of scheduling them again is greatly decreased.


Late arrivals, like cancellations, are challenging to deal with for a number of reasons. For one thing, if a client shows up a half hour late and still expects that they are attended to within the top slot that they were originally scheduled for, this could end up causing the next client, who does show up on time, to have their appointment started late. Obviously, this is unfair to the punctual client. Therefore, you are left with a couple of options. You can either reschedule the late client for a later time or you can take your chances on attending the first, late, client at the risk of offending the second, punctual client one with a late appointment. You could, of course, get “lucky” and have the second client come in late as well but, this isn’t really a bet you should be making. What is a better solution is to schedule people at least 15 minutes apart from when you anticipate the previous client’s service to end and have a policy that client’s should show up for appointments 15 minutes early. This creates some separation between appointments and also effectively erases any doubt about whether a client was just a little late or “too late.” For instance, if someone’s appointment was at 3:30, and they should have shown up at 3:15, but didn’t arrive until 4:00, they are technically 45 minutes late and need to understand that their appointment will have to be rescheduled for another time. As a last resort for dealing with clients who show up late, you could also call the subsequent client and ask if it is okay to move their appointment to a little later. However, whether or not this works is dependent upon them answering the phone and also agreeing to your request. If not, it is still best to simply reschedule the late client.


Rescheduling, when done appropriately, and well ahead of the time of the appointment, is less of an issue than cancellations and late arrivals. Yes, it still causes some inconvenience for a spa or salon but, with a few day’s or a week’s notice, you can easily schedule a new client in the time slot that the initial client vacated. Problems arise when, like last minute cancellations, clients want last minute rescheduling. In other words, a client barely calls ahead of time to notify you that they can’t make it to their appointment and then wants to immediately occupy another time slot when they have just caused your business to lose money. In these cases, much like when dealing with cancellations and no shows, you should have a plan and policy in place to guide you through the matter. Which plan or policy will be best will vary from business to business but, the policy should revolve around a low tolerance for this type of client behavior as you cannot allow your business to repeatedly lose money due to unreliable clients.


No shows are probably the most problematic client issue that spas and salons will have to handle with any regularity. Clients who don’t bother to call at all, even at the last second, to inform their hairdresser or esthetician that they cannot make it to an appointment are irresponsible. Yes, reliable people can occasionally have an emergency or simply forget that they had an appointment with your business. However, if this happens with any regularity, you should consider taking preventative measures. One such measure could be requiring clients who have “no showed” in the past to pay ahead of time for future appointments with the understanding that there are no refunds for missed appointments. This is probably the best resolution for the functionality of your business. However, you could also consider not scheduling them for future appointments at all.


Unfortunately, all spas and salons, and most businesses in general,  will have to deal with problematic clients at one time or another. The best thing you can do for your business is have a clear plan and policy outlined to handle each type of issue. Furthermore, make sure that all of your staff are knowledgeable and on the same page about these policies so they are dealt with effectively and without any confusion.