In the fitness industry, last-minute cancellations are an unfortunate fact of life. Therefore, it’s important that you not only factor cancellations into your budgeting and planning, but actively take steps to minimise the likelihood of last-minute no-shows.
However, the issue of cancellations delves beyond mere revenue loss. It involves proper communication with your members or clients, making it one of the most crucial yet sensitive aspects to address. At its core, this isn’t just about accounting; it’s also rooted in customer service, reflecting your business culture, values, and operational effectiveness.
We’ve all encountered scenarios like this: Rise at 5 AM, hastily dress, and arrive just in time for a 6 AM client session. As you check your emails a few minutes ahead, you discover an email from your 6 AM client, announcing their cancellation at 5:40 AM. A frustrating start to the day, right?
That’s why safeguarding yourself and your business through a well-defined policy is imperative. Now, depending on your business type—be it classes, semi-private training, or one-on-one sessions—variations in cancellation policies can be substantial. For personal training clients, a 24-hour cancellation notice, transmitted in writing from the client to the studio owner or trainer, often proves effective. Failure to provide a notice within 24 hours results in a charge—simple and direct.
In class settings, the spectrum widens. Some businesses allow cancellations within a window of 4 to 10 hours before the class without penalties. Exceeding this time frame could incur a minor fee ($5-$20), depending on industry norms. If cancellations extend beyond the permissible limit, several fitness enterprises impose a stringent “no-show” policy, billing participants $15-$30, or even more.
Though policies vary, establishing a cancellation policy is vital. Resist the temptation to be overly accommodating, especially when clients attempt to evade charges.
Handling late cancellations for your fitness business
Josh Leve, the founder & CEO of the Fitness Business Association (FBA) and SUCCEED! conducted research within the Fitness Business Association (FBA) member base and engaged with diverse fitness businesses to outline four strategies for discussing cancellations with clients or class participants.
The research concluded that fitness business owners should promptly integrate the below strategies when it comes to cancellation policies:
- Set clear expectations: Clearly communicate your policy in every email communication, ensuring no ambiguity. By eliminating confusion about the policy, you preempt potential questions or challenges.
- Emphasize professional integrity: Convey that the cancellation policy protects not only your time but also that of instructors. Stress that subjective judgment on cancellations would compromise professional integrity, promoting consistency.
- Be transparent in communication: Provide clients with a concise explanation, framed in a courteous tone. Explain that the 24-hour cancellation policy safeguards your time, clarifying that uniform application ensures fairness and professionalism.
- Provide flexible rescheduling: Display understanding and flexibility by allowing clients to reschedule canceled sessions within the week. This approach showcases client-centricity while maintaining business integrity.These examples reveal the sensitive nature of the topic. The goal is to avoid embarrassing clients and ensure private resolution of cancellation matters. Conversations of this nature should always remain confidential.
Remember, whether you operate from your home, a studio, or a gym, as a business owner, protecting your enterprise is vital. It’s never too late to implement a cancellation policy. If last-minute cancellations plague your business, it’s time to adopt a cancellation policy and safeguard your earnings.
Cancellation strategies for your fitness business with automation
The truth is, last-minute cancellations and no-shows are the true challenges. These not only impact your revenue but also hinder the opportunity to fill vacant slots with new attendees.
Cancellations and no-shows may be beyond your control, but their effect on your business and morale is undeniable. Two core strategies can help:
- Encourage responsible behavior: Guide your clients to adhere to responsible scheduling and timely cancellations, reducing no-shows and cancellations.
- Mitigate financial risk: Protect your business from cancellations through upfront payment at booking and a well-structured cancellation policy.
Research demonstrates that businesses adopting upfront payment experience 40% fewer cancellations. Human psychology dictates that once payment is made, commitment increases. Despite potential concerns about card fees or admin tasks, the benefits far outweigh the drawbacks.
Consider automating tasks through booking software to enhance efficiency and reduce no-shows. Embrace proactive measures to diminish no-shows effectively.
Automating waitlists and refunds streamlines the process and promotes responsible behavior. While cancellations can’t be eradicated, clients adhering to a straightforward cancellation process enhance the odds of minimizing financial loss.
A comprehensive cancellation policy is a necessity for any business. Tailor your policy to your business’s nature and location. Ensure clients comprehend your cancellation and refund policies by incorporating them into the sign-up process, fostering understanding and commitment.
In the dynamic landscape of fitness, cancellations are a challenge, but not an insurmountable one. By embracing strategies to incentivize responsible behavior and adopting a robust cancellation policy, you pave the way for a smoother business journey. Don’t be apprehensive about setting firm terms—stringent policies underscore the value of your offerings, making clients appreciate the privilege of participation.
Integrating a cancellation policy is never too late. Streamline your operations and safeguard your business with Gymcatch’s online booking software and management system, customizing cancellation policies to match your business needs. Embrace these strategies, stay proactive, and keep cancellations from dimming your business’s shine.
Josh Leve is the founder & CEO of the Fitness Business Association (FBA) and SUCCEED! the FBA Virtual Fitness Conference & Expo. With 4 Virtual Conferences a year and an internationally known association, the FBA’s collective audience has grown to nearly 80,000 with more than 50 industry partnerships.Its success has translated into Josh being featured in all major fitness publications and a spotlight speaker at IHRSA, Athletic Business, Mindbody BOLD, Club Industry, NSCA, NASM, EMPOWER!, ZUMBA, and many more.