The great thing about running your own business is that you get to decide the rules!
Whether it’s deciding what hours you’ll work, when/if you take a lunch break or how you handle cancellations. It’s all your choice.
And my biggest suggestion for handling cancellations is to decide how YOU want to run that aspect of your business. Are you going to have a strict 48 hour cancellation policy for your students, where they will be charged if they cancel within that time frame? Or will you be more accommodating?
It all comes down to you. What you’re happy with and how you want to run your business. But decide what your policy is and implement it.
If you’re struggling to come up with a specific approach here’s some ideas:
- Get your students to check in 2 days before the lesson. They could do this by text or there are some apps that give them the option. Personally, I use GoRoadie. Inform them that if they don’t check in 2 days before, you will fill their slot. If they cancel after that time, they will be charged.
- Make them aware that the same rules apply to you. So, if you cancel within 48 hours, they will receive a free lesson.
- Send them a copy of your terms and conditions and get them to sign it.
- On the first lesson have a conversation with them about cancellations and lateness, so they know your policy. Let’s face it, even if they sign your terms and conditions, most of your students will only skim read them at best.
- Let them off the first cancellation. Tell them you understand that life happens, but you’ve just lost 2 hours wages. Next time there will be a charge.
- If there is someone who regularly cancels, consider letting them go.
- If someone regularly cancels, try to find out why. Perhaps they’re struggling with something. Maybe they don’t like your approach. Perhaps they would find it easier to be a floating students who fills in random gaps as they can’t commit to a regular day.
- Communicate with them. Message them a few days before your lesson to check they’re ok and good to go.
Not all of the ideas above will work for you. As I mentioned at the start, it’s your business and it’s up to you how you run it. Pick your policy and implement it.
Personally, I’m pretty relaxed about it. I rarely charge for a cancellation. But then again, I rarely get cancellations. I’m happy to run a flexible diary and encourage my students to communicate if they have a problem. Some times I’ll swap lessons around for them. Some times when they ask I’ll let them have the day off as I fancy a break. That’s the way I work. It’s right for me. But it might not be right for you.
As a final suggestion, track your cancellations. Get an A4 piece of paper and write Monday – Sunday for 4 weeks. Every day you have a short notice cancellation, write it in the relevant day. Do the same for longer notice cancellations, but in a different colour. Cross off any that you manage to fill.
Then write down any times that you cancel.
At the end of the 4 weeks, track it and see how much you were actually affected. How many driving lessons did you actually lose. How much money did you lose. How many were your fault. Did it actually cause you a problem. And then create an action plan to fix it.
If you’re loosing £30 a week, could a £1 per hour price increase fix it? How about booking one – two extra lessons a week? That way you’re covered for any cancellations. And if you work the extra hours, you could put that money aside to cover any future cancellations.
These are just some ideas. Choose what’s right for you and don’t be afraid to get creative and come up with your own ideas. It’s you’re business, run it the way you see fit.
Do you have any suggestions to share? Let me know in the comments. I love odd and new ideas, so if you do something out of the ordinary, let me know!