Cancel your appointment, PLEASE!

I heard once (from a reliable source) that only three things motivate human action:  fear, comfort, and love.  I think this is something advertising people use to promote products; writers use to create believable characters.  Assuming this is true, how do I motivate people to take their appointments as seriously as I do?

Don’t get me wrong, I don’t think a massage appointment is as serious as a court date or anything.  Everyone’s time is valuable, however, and I get REALLY protective of the massage therapists who work with me.  Some of these people drive in from the suburbs, put gas in their beaters, and give up OTHER work to be here for appointments.  When we have a no show, I really feel bad for wasting their time.

I also believe that in a face to face interaction, most humans are reasonable.  My sister never used to tip baristas until I explained that the tip jar is a significant part of their income.  She understood why she should tip after I explained that a barista actually does much more than a server (making the food and drink, bringing it to you, busing the table, washing the dishes).

So maybe what’s missing here (in addition to those ne’er-do-well clients) is a little understanding.  I can’t speak for every massage therapist, but I can shed light on what is a very common situation.  When you make an appointment, we reserve that time for you.  In reality, if you make an hour long appointment, we commit two hours (we allow time to ready the room, greet early clients, fill out forms, use the restroom, finish up cash transaction with client, and reset the room after use).  Here’s a real world example: Bob wants a 1pm hour long appointment.  We arrive at 12:30, and finish with Bob at 2pm.  We don’t book our next appointment until 2:30pm.

So if Bob doesn’t show up for his 1pm hour long massage appointment, we have wasted two hours of our work day.  And we don’t have a time machine either people.  If the average work day in America is eight hours, you can see that losing 1/4 of our workday IS significant.  If we don’t have 24 hours notice, we can’t fill that time with work.  If we are not working, that’s right – we don’t get paid.  Most massage therapists are independent contractors, which means that we only get paid for the work we do.

In addition to the two hours we plan to spend at the shop, some therapists travel 20 or 30 minutes for a single appointment.  Yes, you are that important to us!  We love what we do so much, that even if we only have one appointment we will commit a total of up to three hours for it.  We don’t mind doing this, but we need to know if you’re not going to make your appointment.

So back to “fear, comfort, and love”.  If we look at what motivated my sister to change in the case of tipping baristas, I’d call it understanding.  When she understood the value of her action, she changed it.  I think if clients understood the value of a cancellation call, they’d be far more likely to make it.  Perhaps understanding is a form of love.

– Kip

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