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No-shows and late cancellations can be a polarizing topic in the beauty industry, and policies can be challenging to enforce. However, they do serve a purpose and, ultimately, can strengthen the client-stylist relationship. Expert stylist, colorist and cosmetologist Crystal Rivenbark owns Hair Architecture in the Midlothian, Virginia Sola Salons and is not shy when it comes to implementing a no-show policy. Here, she opens up about why she thinks salons can benefit from implementing their own. Her straightforward tactics, which have been in place for 12 years, state that no-shows or appointments canceled without 48 hours’ notice are subject to a fee equal to the cost of the scheduled service.

According to Rivenbark, the policy is in place as a common courtesy to everyone’s valuable time. “I can't speak for other salons because many factors go into determining a policy,” she says. “In my case, I keep a tight schedule and am currently booked through the end of the year. Last-minute cancellations and no-shows make it difficult because my time is at a premium.” With more than 48 hours’ notice, Rivenbark can turn to her waiting list to fill the spot.

She understands other salons and stylists may take a more lenient approach towards no-shows and late cancellations. However, she says the policy is important to her personally because she works by appointment only, and it “encourages guests to keep their appointments or plan ahead.” Rivenbark acknowledges there are some exceptions and says, “I generally allow people one missed appointment at no charge.” Subsequent missed appointments will incur a fee if she is unable to fill the spot. She continues, “There are times when a missed appointment is unavoidable, so I encourage guests to send a friend or family member to receive service instead.“

While Rivenbark stresses the importance of having a no-show policy, she admits it isn’t always easy to enforce. “Technically, you can't force a guest to pay the missed appointment fee,” she says. Because her clients typically wish to continue to see her, she explains she won’t schedule an appointment for a no-show or late cancellation until the missed appointment is paid for.

On occasion, the client still insists on not paying the fee, thus ending the relationship. Rivenbark says she is “willing to accept that loss, as I've chosen to only work with people who respect me and my time.” For stylists who feel nervous about enforcing a policy, Rivenbark suggests taking “some time to consider what you want out of your business.” Look at factors like how often clients don’t show or arrive late and the potential amount of lost revenue each time this happens. “If those numbers are minimal...then you don't need to worry about it,” says Rivenbark. “[But] if you have habitual no-showers, it's time to clean up your book, so to speak. Enforcing a no-show or late cancellation policy is a great way to get rid of the deadbeats and make room on your schedule for those who will respect and pay you.”

Crystal Rivenbark. Photo by Tammy Harrison.

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