image of man talking on phone to customer


With the new restrictions on how many clients you can have in your spa or massage practice at any one time due to COVID-19 restrictions, time management is more critical than ever before.  Not only do you need to limit the number of people in your shop, but you also have to allow for time to disinfect tools, treatment and reception areas, countertops, and back bars in between appointments.  You’ll also be taking temperatures of clients on intake.


Trying to maintain your target revenue stream with fewer clients each day and more time needed between appointments to prepare for the next appointment adds more challenge to running your business.  And making matters more difficult, all your planning can go out the window with clients who take up too much of your time or show up late. While you don’t want to lose clients, you have to set and stick to your ground rules and keep appointments moving.


Put the brakes on clients who take up too much time. Clients can throw off your schedule for several reasons, and running late may have nothing to do with it. Some clients are:

Indecisive: No matter how much information you provide, the client can never decide on a treatment or retail product. With things as they are today, make sure you determine the treatment before clients come in or very soon once they arrive. Even with the client’s go-ahead, make sure you get some agreement or buy-in on what you are proposing so you don’t have to redo a treatment later or take back products.


Looking for more: No matter what the service or treatment is, some clients always want something extra.  They may routinely ask for just 10 more minutes of a massage. Explain that you can’t accommodate their request because you must stay on schedule to avoid having too many people in your spa or massage practice at one time. If you run late, another client may arrive for their appointment, and you don’t want them to have to wait outside.


Controlling: Clients that think they know more and want to tell you how to do things. They may even undermine the treatment's success by demanding you do something that won’t get the desired results. Explain exactly what you will do and why when they book the appointment and on the intake, so you don’t waste time doing things over.


Chatty:  Especially now, as people are limiting their social interactions, many clients may look forward to time with you to talk about their lives or “just talk.” As much as you’d like to engage in a conversation, it would be best if you stuck to your schedule, so you have to remain in control. A few things you can do to avoid a “conversation sinkhole” start by listening and asking direct questions that require concise answers. If your clients don’t get the cue that you are trying to move the session along, apologize sincerely and point out that you’d love to talk more. Still, it would be best if you were mindful of the time because you can’t have a crowd of clients waiting inside for their appointments for everyone’s safety.


Dealing with late arrivals and no shows

People run late for appointments. A few minutes may not make a huge difference, but with keeping on schedule critical in these times, you really can’t allow for folks to show up “at their convenience.” Establish a policy on how much time you will allow someone to be late. If a client calls and gives you a heads up, you still think that you can’t accommodate them, be polite and offer to rebook. 


No shows hurt your time management and, of course, your pocketbook. Establish a policy for dealing with no-shows. Your policy may involve 24-hour notice or notification before a certain time in the morning or a set number of hours before the appointment.  Make it clear that you plan to charge clients who fail to show up without calling to cancel unless there is a legitimate emergency.  Post the policy somewhere, so they are sure to see it, such as the reception area and even in the changing areas. Explain your policy clearly with each new client and, if necessary, periodically remind your current clientele about it.  At least 24 if not 48 hours ahead, call or have one of your staff call the client as a reminder.


Now more than ever, everyone needs to cooperate for the sake of everyone’s health and well-being and, of course, so you can continue to run your business profitably. Being clear about what you are doing to provide the best care and what you expect from clients is not only reasonable, it’s good business.


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