I have had several folks on recent consultations ask me what to do about client cancellations, etc. My answer? Put some policies in place and write a Membership FAQ to give to newly onboarded clients (and existing clients). Without a dedicated policy in writing you will find yourself answering the same questions over and over and dealing with similar situations in a variety of ways, causing unneccessary headaches on your part and consuming your time that is already limited.
Simplify your life and save yourself time by creating a system or Membership FAQ, for how you handle member cancellations and membership holds. Be sure to answer all pertinent questions regarding how your memberships work, including questions about putting a membership on hold, cancelling a membership and the process to do so.
Things to include:
- A list of each of the different membership options
- Your membership cancellation/hold policy details. Do you require advance notice for cancelling a membership or putting a membership on hold? For example 30 days notice is fairly standard, you could also do 60 days or something else, your call.
- Any associated fees with cancelling or holding? Do you have a cancellation fee and a hold fee? Be sure to list these. (Again these are fairly standard if they aren’t in a month-to-month agreement. Something nominal to hold, like $25 and something a little more steep to cancel, at least $100-$200)
- How to go about cancelling or holding? Do you require this notification in writing? If so be sure to state that. Something to the effect of “please send all cancellation or membership modification requests to firstname.lastname@example.org.” I highly recommend requiring these in writing. Verbal mentions of a membership hold are likely to get forgotten resulting in stress on your part when you finally remember or even more stress on your part when you don’t remember and the person gets charged. Also, frequently a person will say “I need to hold my membership until Sept 1”. So Sept 1 comes around and they get billed. Then if they call/email to complain you just have to produce the email they wrote saying they’d be back on Sept 1 and you have an easy way to show them that this is what they communicated to you.
Aslo include any and all “what ifs” that you get asked, such as:
- What if I’m going on vacation and will miss 3 weeks of class?
- What if I want to increase my membership from 2x per week to 3x per week?
And so forth…
Appointments need cancellation policies too!
If you do any amount of Private training you will also want to have a cancellation policy in place for appointments. A 24 hour cancellation policy is fairly standard. State something to the effect that cancellations need to be received 24 hours prior to your appt or you will be charged for the appt. Have a signature line for the client to sign at the time of purchase of a PT package.
Now, you as the owner or trainer can decide on a case-by-case basis if you want to flex on it. For example there’s a death in the family and the person doesn’t give adequate notice…I personally wouldn’t charge the person for the appt. But having a policy in place helps protect you from the 10% of folks who are flakey and will abuse you if you don’t have one.
Having some simple policies in place can save you time and energy.
Hope you’re all off to a great start in 2012!