Let me first start by saying, you should have a calendar cancellation policy.
Whether you use your calendar to book appointments with customers or schedule meetings with your team, last minute cancellations aren’t just frustrating. They’re also costly, time-consuming, and can throw your entire schedule out-of-whack. But, that’s just scratching the surface.
Here are the 10 reasons why should have a calendar cancellation policy and how to get started.
1. Protects your valuable time (and income).
Protecting your time is the main reason why you have any cancellation policy. Whenever someone cancels a meeting or appointment at the last minute that’s wasting your time. The actual block of time set aside for the event is essential, but you will also need time to prep and commute. How infuriating is it to find out the meeting was canceled while you’re traveling to the location — and you weren’t informed?
Additionally, cancellations eat into your income. You would have spent this time working on work factors, like marketing and networking. That commute has now eaten into your profit. If you’re in the service industry, you now have an open time slot where you’re not bringing in any money.
While emergencies happen, and they’re often unpredictable, they are rare. Cancellation policies encourage others to follow through with their commitments to you. For example, you could charge a fee for anyone who cancels within 24 hours. While this doesn’t address emergencies, this policy will help drastically reduce no-shows. Even if someone does have to cancel — at least you can recoup some time and it’s not a complete loss.
2. Reduces late arrivals.
Canceling a meeting or appointment is costly. However, so too are late arrivals since they’ve just pushed everything else on your calendar back. For instance, if a customer arrives 30 minutes late, that means all of your other customers are forced to wait. Tardiness will impact you, other clients and all of their schedules.
You could have an option where if the other party is late — let’s say by 10 minutes — then their time slot will be forfeited to someone else. If an employee is running late to a meeting, then they could be charged cash, budgets, or bonuses. Or, you could remove them from the meeting invite and proceed as planned. While you may be able to share the minutes with them, they could be missing out on crucial information and discussions — it also doesn’t give them the appearance of being a team player.
3. Gives you a chance to plug holes in your schedule.
The sooner someone cancels an appointment or meeting, the more opportunities you have to fill that time slot. For instance, you could generate a waiting list so that if a customer cancels the day before an appointment, you have someone that can be booked into that slot. Doing so is another way to protect your time and money.
What if you can’t fill the time slot? You could then rearrange your schedule so that you can finally get around to tasks that you’ve been putting off. Maybe you could use this time to clean out your inbox, organize your workplace, or do a little networking on social media. Even though you no longer have an appointment or meeting, at least your calendar can be filled with productive activities.
4. Holds everyone accountable.
When everyone knows that there are repercussions for missing a session or meeting, then they’re less likely to cancel at the last minute. These consequences could make accountability through cancellation fees. Another option would be a loss of privileges. For example, if a team member has rescheduled a meeting on several different occasions, they could be taken off the calendar invite.
In short, having a calendar cancellation policy keeps you, your employees, and customers on-track.
5. Establishes mutual respect.
In a perfect world, everyone who requests your time would honor that obligation. Unfortunately, we don’t live in such a world. While not always the norm some people believe that their time is more valuable than yours. As a result, they have no qualms in backing out on a meeting or appointment as they see fit.
Establishing a cancellation policy clearly sets expectations and lets them know that your time is just as precious as theirs. It informs them that you’re a professional whose expertise, knowledge and time should be respected. What’s more, it also lets them know that you will follow through with the commitment and are respectful of their time. As a consequence, this creates mutual respect and builds trust.
6. Allows you to vet others.
Whenever you add events to your calendar, you’re creating a document that you can refer to for future scheduling. For instance, you can generate recurring team meetings or appointments with customers. Even better, smart calendars that harness machine learning can automatically add these repeating events to your schedule.
However, there’s an added benefit. It maintains a record of canceling and rescheduling appointments. If you are aware that you have a client, customer, or employee who has a track record of rescinding appointments, then you can choose to no longer conduct business with them.
7. Lets you incentive regular attendance.
On the flip side, you can reward those who always honor their appointments with you. For example, if you have a customer who has never canceled a meeting then you could thank them with a discount on future services.
Not only will this show your gratitude, and reward them for their excellent behavior, but it will also encourage them to continue supporting your business. You may even notice that they schedule even more appointments than anticipated.
8. Adds flexibility.
We’ve all had one of these days when everything that could go wrong does. Instead of punishing people for something that was entirely out of their hands, you could be more empathetic.
Let’s say that a client got a flat tire while on their way to meet with you. You could have it in your policy that if there if is availability on the same they can book that time slot with you without any consequence. They’ll not only appropriate this courtesy, which builds rapport, it also ensures that you’re still maintaining cash flow for that day.
9. Controls how others can share calendar information.
Using a shared calendar keeps everyone on the same page, avoids surprises, boosts productivity and manages workload, deadlines, tasks, and milestones. But, what if that shared calendar is no longer relevant?
For instance, your team just completed a project, or a team member is no longer with your organization? You can then remove their access to the shared calendar. It’s a simple way to avoid sharing the wrong information with the wrong people and controlling who has access to the information included in the calendar. Additionally, it eliminates any confusion regarding the shared calendar.
10. Ensures that you keep control of your schedule.
Finally, whenever someone commits to following your specific scheduling rules, you’re able to take full control of your schedule. That may not sound all that important. But, when you permit others to take charge of your time, it prevents you from addressing your priorities.
Setting your calendar cancellation policy.
If you’ve never created such a procedure, here’s what you should keep in mind when establishing your calendar cancellation policy:
Understand why and when most people cancel.
If someone cancels because of an emergency at the last minute, a fee will only make them more upset. At the same time, if people are missing a lot of appointments then consider if it’s on your end. A simple resolution could be sending them SMS or email reminders. I would track when people cancel so that you can identify patterns. Maybe a 24-hour reminder isn’t enough of a notice. In this situation, you start issuing reminder 2 or 3 days in advance.
Figure out if you will charge a cancellation fee and how much. Also, determine how much notice is required for a cancellation and rescheduling time slots.
Clearly state your policy.
It should be short, easy to understand, and include relevant information like a timeframe for cancellation and preferred communication methods.
Make sure the policy is visible.
Post your cancellation policy in your office and website. Include it in all documents. And, attach the policy to the reminders that you send.
Communicate the policy with your team.
You want to make sure that there is consistency. When your team isn’t on the same page, this can create confusion within your organization and customers.
Is your calendar public or private?
Regardless if you’re using an online calendar or appointment scheduling software or not — you can determine if you want your calendar to be shared publicly or privately. What’s more, you can control how much information you want to share. For example, there’s probably no need for everyone to know what your schedule is like outside of work. In this case, you would only want to share your work calendar.