Setting Policies And Setting Boundaries: Why Putting In Place Clear Guidelines Will Help Your Business Succeed
It's fairly typical for new lash artists to perform on their friends and relatives in order to gain experience, confidence and build a portfolio. Another common result of this is that we become accustomed to letting people off the hook for things like arriving late or cancelling at the last minute. That may be fine when it's Aunt Marjorie, but allowing that behaviour to spread to your clients can have serious consequences for your business. You'll soon be losing hundreds of dollars in missed appointments, waiting for some clients while making others wait while you finish the set of said late person - none of this is ideal, but what can you do? You have to please your customers, right? Yes, but what if we told you that one disgruntled client who can't have the super mega volume they want in the 45 minutes you have left after they showed up late again is preferable to the 5 disgruntled clients you kept waiting because of it? In reality, clear boundaries and strict policies are critical to the success of your business, the happiness of your clients as a whole, and your own peace of mind. So, as a lash technician, what policies should you have in place, and how can you enforce them?
Sometimes the car won't start, or there's traffic on the way - while being late is usually avoidable, it can happen. If a client calls ahead and says they'll be 5 or even 15 minutes late, there's no problem just doing their lashes - there are a few things you can do to ensure they get the look they want without running over time or cutting corners on your pretreatment routine or stickie check (use a few premade fans rather than hand making them all, cover the bottom layer fully, 75% on the middle layer, and 50% on the top layer, use some wider fans to cover gaps etc.)
What you must determine is how late is too late? Is lateness considered a no-show after a certain point? We'd recommend that anything more more than 30 minutes late becomes a no-show for a full set - of course, this will differ in the case of infills or removals (sometimes lash removals take a long time...), so you might want to make it so that anything more than a quarter of the treatment time counts as a no-show and must be rebooked.
A no-show is simply a client who does not appear, though it could also be a client who was so late that you were unable to accommodate their appointment. This is infuriating for a variety of reasons, not the least of which is that you now have at least an hour to fill. Sure, you can get some much-needed admin done or place your lash order without feeling rushed, but if you don't have a policy in place, you risk losing a portion of your income.
It's not uncommon to charge clients a fee if they don't show up for their appointment - how much you charge is up to you, but keep in mind that it should at the very least cover your time - you're still going to be working, so why should you have to work for free?
That’s where a deposit policy comes into play!
If you don't have any other policies, you should definitely have a deposit policy. This at least covers your time in the event of a no-show and actually reduces the likelihood of someone not showing up.
It is up to you how much you charge for deposits, but we strongly advise charging at least 50% of the treatment price to protect yourself. Remember that the price of your treatments not only pays for your products, but also for your expertise, time, rent, bills, and food on the table - don't sell yourself short!
This is similar to a no-show policy, and it's where those deposits come in handy - if someone cancels on you with less than 24 hours' notice (the exact time frame is ultimately up to you, but keep in mind that you're looking to cover your time and protect your income).
We understand that policies can be intimidating, especially when you're just starting out, but putting them in place and enforcing them early on in your career can only help you succeed! The vast majority of clients will be completely accepting of them, and those who aren't tend to be the ones who are a little bit untrustworthy... Of course, you may choose to waive the cancellation fee on occasion, but this should be very rare, at your discretion, and only in exceptional circumstances!