My client forgot to show up! What do I do?

My Client Forgot to Show Up or Came at the Wrong Time! What Do I Do?

My client forgot to show up! What do I do?Last week’s blog post was about accidentally double booking two clients (see post here). This week, we’re going to take a look at the “flip side” of this.

First, what do you do when a client mistakes their session time and shows up unexpectedly? Second, what about when a client forgets they have an appointment and doesn’t show up?

These are two situations that are bound to happen from time to time. But there’s no need to panic – we’ll show you how to handle these situations calmly while keeping your clients satisfied.

First, let’s try to avoid these situations by confirming appointments

We discussed in the previous post that one of the best things you can do is to either text or call your clients the day before to confirm and remind them of their session time and location.

Sometimes clients schedule months in advance, and it is very easy to forget about their session or get the date wrong.

This is exactly why your doctor calls to confirm your appointment – their time is important and valuable, and they do not want to be left sitting there because you spaced out about your checkup. Your time is just as important, so be sure to do just as a doctor would and confirm appointments with your clients!

TIP– if you do hear back from your client directly, whether you leave a text message or voice mail, it’s a good idea to ask them to confirm that they received your message.

For example, “Hi [Client Name], this is [Your Name] from [Your Studio]. I’m just calling to confirm your session tomorrow at [TIME] at [LOCATION]. Please give me a call or text back to confirm that you’ve received this message!”

This will take away the “I didn’t get your message” excuse, and if you don’t hear back from them, you are at least aware there may be a potential problem.

Handling the unexpected guest

Even though you just spoke with them the day before, every once in a while you will have a client get their wires crossed and show up at your door unexpectedly at the wrong time or date. Of course, this seems to happen most often while you are photographing someone else.

Basically the solution here is the same we suggested when accidently double booking – if you can accommodate this client, then do so, even if it throws off your day a little. They’re already there and ready to go, so it’s doesn’t make much sense to send them home.

You can just check your schedule and show them the time they were actually scheduled for, and tell them if they are willing to have a seat while you finish up with your current client, you will photograph them after that originally scheduled session.

Of course, if someone is already scheduled right after your current session, you will just have to show the client politely that they made a mistake, and explain that you’re booked solid and can’t squeeze them in, however you look forward to working with them tomorrow at their scheduled time.

A recent experience of mine – dealing with no-show clients

A couple weeks ago, we drove to a local park to meet a high school senior for a session that was scheduled at the park.

She had rescheduled her appointment twice already – from a local beach to a different beach and now to this appointment at the park. She had decided that she wanted more of a green, forest-like location rather than the beach.

We arrive at the meeting spot to find no one there. After waiting 15 minutes, Barbara called our client to find out where she was, and it turned out she thought she was to be photographed on the beach later that night – that’s after she called us to change her appointment! How can that happen?

Take a deep breath

Needless to say, it is frustrating to drive a half-hour to a location that your client selected less just a few days ago and find that they aren’t there and seem to have forgotten that they even changed their appointment in the first place.

However, it’s does you no good to scold or get snarky with a client. Situations like this happen once in a blue moon (if it happens more than that, then you are not confirming your appointments or something is broken in your process,) so we don’t want to blow this out of proportion. Just like we may make a mistake double booking, sometimes our clients get busy with life and things get messed up somewhere along the line.

With this client, we explained that we could not meet them on the beach tonight, as we filled their slot after they moved their session to the park. We told her that we will have to find another day that will work for her. We kept things light and friendly, and simply set up another appointment.

Don’t create tension with your client

Even though you know you are in the right in a situation like this, you can’t win an argument with a client.

Remember, we want them to enjoy the entire process with us. If we make this unpleasant by telling them how important our time is and how we sat here for an hour, blah, blah, they might simply take their business elsewhere or at the very least will be a bit on guard when you meet them in person for their session.

Why waste more time having to take that wall down, brick by brick, just to regain their trust and only be back where you are right now? Better to keep the client happy, because when they enjoy the entire process, they will like their portraits more and that opens the door for larger orders.

Worst Case Scenario

If one particular client continues to miss rescheduled appointments and offers poor or no excuses, then you may need to become more firm. We have policies in place that state that cancellations with less than 24 hour notice or no call/no show appointments will be responsible for paying a new session fee if they choose to reschedule.

The majority of the time, you won’t have to enforce your tougher policies, but they are there to serve as some type of remedy when needed and so that clients will take responsibility for their actions.

Key Takeaways

Ok – now they we’ve outlined how to handle two different type of client errors, let’s recap!

  • Always confirm sessions with clients a day before their scheduled appointment in order to drastically cut down on missed appointments and timing mistakes
  • Always try to accommodate clients!
  • If a client doesn’t show up, take a deep breath and stay polite when talking with them.
  • If a client repeatedly misses their appointment, be sure to have studio policies in place that hold them accountable and allow you compensation for your time.

Your Turn!

Have you ever had to deal with a client mistake like the ones we outlined above? How did you handle it? Let us know in the comments below!