Emergencies happen, and we all have crisis from time to time; you can’t realistically expect to eliminate no shows and last minute cancellations completely. However, there are plenty of ways to reduce them.
So let’s look at:

  • The cost of no shows
  • Five ideas to reduce them
  • Dealing with no shows
  • Why you’re getting no shows
Counting the cost

Have you worked out how much no shows and late cancellations are costing your business?

Let’s say you have 3 no shows a week for private lessons.
If your average hourly rate is £30 x 3 no shows = £90 per week
That’s £360 a month
Which is a staggering £4,680 per year.
That’s a huge loss!


Trends and Patterns

After you’ve recovered from the shock of the financial cost of no-shows or last minute cancellations, it’s time to look into the patterns so you can work out how to reduce the no-shows.

  • Do you get more last minute cancellations at certain times/days?
  • Are some team members getting more no shows than others?
  • Are the same players the ones cancelling at the last minute?
  • Once you find patterns you can start to tackle the problem.


Five ways to reduce no shows and late cancellations
1. Reminders about appointments

Most coaches tend to have their players have a regular slot and then presume they are going to turn up each time. However school holidays and other events clash and the routine is disrupted. In an ideal world coaches would remind players/parents EACH WEEK that they’ve a lesson or group booked. Yes, it does take time and money but think how much profit you gain by preventing just one no show.

Reminder One: Text messages/WhatsApp

Electronic reminders are so common these days that they are expected good business practice and customer care. Texting or WhatsApp is easy to set up and can save you a fortune on last minute cancellations and no shows. Alternatively you could set up a broadcast list on WhatsApp for regular groups. It costs nothing and all the parents are reminded each week and can easily be contacted if the group has to be cancelled… or if someone left a nameless hoodie behind!

Keep the message simple:

Lesson Reminder Hockbridge Tennis Club @ 10.00am on 16/06/2019.

Ideally you’d send the reminder the previous evening, or that morning as it gives plenty of time to rearrange if they’ve double booked, and gives you a little more time to fill that last-minute gap.

Reminder Two: Phone calls

This is particularly important if you’ve a new player coming to see you. By calling and having a conversation you’ve broken down the first barrier of communication and means that when they turn up to their first lesson it is less intimidating as you’ve already spoken.

Best practice for me is:

  • Call the new player 24hrs before they are due to come in for their first lesson.
  • Leave a voice mail reminder if they don’t answer.
  • Either way, follow up immediately with a reminder text.
2. Strong relationships

I would encourage you/your team to build strong relationships with your players. This will reduce no shows because they will be an increasein the player’s commitment to their coach.  Players won’t want to “let Alex down”.


Another reason for no shows is that the player is unhappy with their last lesson. It’s far easier to just not turn up than to voice their dissatisfaction.

It’s human nature. Very few of us like making a fuss at the time; we would rather not complain and just don’t bother going back to that restaurant if the food was cold...  A no show is the easy route.

However if you’ve a strong relationship with your players and their parents, they won’t be afraid to voice their concerns and will find a way forward and keep having lessons with you!

3. Respecting one another’s time.

Show your players that you value their time by:

  • Ensuring your groups/lessons run to time.
  • Don’t reschedule groups/lessons unless you really can’t avoid it.
  • Thank clients who arrive in good time.
  • By showing you respect your players time then they are much more likely to respect your time.


4. Have a clear cancellation policy

Why are so many businesses frightened of a displaying (and enforcing) a cancellation policy? It is not something to be ashamed of – you’re in business.

Write a polite but firm policy and display it on your website and on your club noticeboard.

The trick is to remember it’s a two part process:

  1. A reminder 48 hours prior to the appointment which gives clients a chance to make their changes.
  2. A fee will be incurred if an appointment is missed or substantially altered within 24 hours of the appointment time.

The key point is to leave time between the reminder and the fee being applied i.e. there’s a 24 hour window for clients to call and reschedule or at least let you know.

What should your cancellation policy say?

Something as simple as:

We understand you may occasionally need to change or cancel your lessons. Should you need to do so we ask for at least 24 hours notice or 50% of the lesson will be charged. Thank you.

If a client has a genuine reason to cancel then they will feel more comfortable knowing where they stand.

5. Online booking

A club owner told me last week they didn’t want to use online booking on their club website as it made cancelling too easy. I pointed out it also made booking and re-booking easy too!

Is your website letting you down? We’re website specialists who write and design easy to use attractive sites tailored to your tennis business. Take a peek at some of our work here.

What to do players fail to show up?

Even if you follow all these tips you will always get some no shows. So, what should you do when players fail to turn up to their lessons?

1. Call the player/their parent

A phone call diffuses any embarrassment if they have made a genuine mistake or are caught up by events beyond their control.

Remain polite, calm and not show frustration. The goal is to reschedule if at all possible. If the player doesn’t answer, leave a pleasant, but firm voice mail and follow up with another call and/or text.

2. Repeat no show offenders

If you have players who regularly cancel last-minute or don’t show up in spite of your texts and calls then I’d move on and find another individual to coach.  Do you really need this type of player?

Remember how much no shows cost your business. Can you afford to be out of pocket? Can you afford to feel frustrated by having an hour of downtime? No.

If you can’t bring yourself to lose them as clients then book them in on the quieter days.

3. Stay flexible

On the other hand if a good longstanding player has to cancel late in the day then don’t throw the book at them! We all have emergencies (and memory lapses) so evaluate each no-show individually.

4. Stand-by for cancellations

Create a list of players who are able to come in for a lesson at short notice.

Why aren’t they showing up?

I recommended above that you analyse your no shows and look for trends. Can you see a pattern? Ask yourself if the client was happy:

  • with their results last visit?
  • the quality vs value for money?
  • the customer service and care?