One simple tip that will help eliminate residential cleaning customers “missed appointments”…

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by Tom Watson on September 6, 2015

There is nothing worse than going to a SCHEDULED residential cleaning appointment only to find out upon arrival that “something came up” and they don’t need you that day.

That used to light my fuse when I first started out, and it was a major reason why I expanded into the commercial cleaning market (who tend to never cancel service for any reason).

When a customer cancels unexpectedly this means a wasted trip, wasted money because “time is money” (not to mention the gas to get there), a GIANT HOLE in the schedule plus if you have employees performing the work it just complicates things further. They lose hours, and money they probably desperately need too. Nobody wins.

This can also happen (and DOES HAPPEN) to first time cleaning customers as well. So the question becomes… HOW DO WE PREVENT THIS? Well, there is no fool-proof method, but there is a way to greatly reduce how often this occurs. Whenever you acquire a new account or book an appointment of any kind just ask them one amazingly simple question.

Do you prefer a verbal phone call, an email or a text message reminder the day before the cleaning?

Yes, it’s one more step for you to do the day before, but it sure beats driving out to the job and being disappointed. Now this may not work in every single case, as the client may claim they are “unavailable” for one reason or another, but it will work the vast majority of time.

To make this technique work even better, it’s a good idea to ask for a “reply to confirm the appointment”. This is especially true for a “non verbal” text or email reminder (or when you call but have to leave a message). A lot of doctor offices use this approach to reduce missed appointments (it’s actually where the I got the initial idea).

Now if you happen to have any customers that don’t want to agree to be contacted the night before (normally the serial abusers) you can always “make up” an excuse from time to time. Calling and asking if it’s OK to be 30 minutes early (or late) gives you the excuse to call and get that confirmation you seek.

If anyone out there uses this approach, or has another one they would like to share on how to reduce missed appointments I would love to hear what you have to say. Simply leave your thoughts in the comments below and get the conversation started.

{ 12 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Amanda September 6, 2015 at 10:00 am

Hi Tom! I truly appreciate your advice as it has helped me with my startup cleaning business. I started a year ago just using flyers and obtained customers.

After reading this post, I wanted your advice about charging a cancellation fee for those that don’t reschedule and they are a regular customer. I haven’t thus far as I don’t keep credit card info on file and I’m afraid they will be upset with me and leave altogether. Thanks!

2 Justin Burnet September 6, 2015 at 11:22 am

I use a program called The Customer Factor and use it to remind me to send reminders 2 days before. If you put in the reminder email that you will also call 30 minutes before they don’t feel like you’re desperate.

How did youake the transition to commercial? I would love to do that just not sure how to market differently.

3 Tom Watson September 6, 2015 at 11:31 am

Hi Amanda! I’m happy to help, and I’m glad to hear you are doing well. To your question… I never did a cancellation fee. I think it’s too much of a turn off, and you risk losing an account. Others may feel differently, so in a sense, there is no real “right or wrong”. It’s just a decision you need to make.

4 Tom Watson September 6, 2015 at 11:44 am

Hi Justin! THANKS for sharing that, that is great info. As far as the transition… I just started sending sales letters, business cards and flyers to my target market (smaller facilities that I could get my feet wet on. IE: Doctor offices, dentists, etc…). Commercial is done after hours, so you need to be prepared to work later hours. Generally you can get in most places (75%) by 6 or 7 pm. The work is all the same generally, though commercial accounts are easier to please in my opinion.

5 Justin Burnet September 6, 2015 at 12:35 pm

I am designing a pamphlet to hand out to potential commercial customers. Just not sure how to make sure it gets to the right person.

6 Jacques September 6, 2015 at 1:18 pm

Hi All,

Great advice.

I have been doing this since I have started my business.

A quick phone call the day before and you are assured of an appointment the next day. No wasted time!

At one time, though, I was very busy and neglected to phone and remind my clients – guess what happened? Missed appointments!

This is now standard opperating procedure.


South Africa

7 HP September 6, 2015 at 1:50 pm

That was very good advice/ibformation. Had’nt even crossed my mind about this particuliar problem. I will definately do a confirmation the day before going to clean.

8 Tom Watson September 6, 2015 at 2:03 pm

Hi HP! Some times you may not have that much of an issue, but other times it may be a good approach to take. THANKS for commenting!

9 Tom Watson September 6, 2015 at 2:06 pm

Hi Jacques! Thanks for sharing that, it helps beginners know IT DOES WORK!

10 Tom Watson September 6, 2015 at 2:11 pm

Hi Justin! There is no sure way to make sure unless you purchase a list off a list broker and pay a little extra for the name of the contact person. I did that once, and it didn’t improve my return rate, but I only tried it once, so it’s hard to say. Generally I just do this… If I mail it, I write ATTENTION: Office Manager, if I stopped in and handed it out in person I would just ask the receptionist to give it to the person in charge of hiring the cleaning staff (or give it to the Office Manager). The goal when handing out flyers and other marketing material is to BE BRIEF (no selling), just hand them the info and ask to pass it along.

11 Maria September 7, 2015 at 12:39 pm

Hi Tom, I send out the invoices by Email the day before and this acts as the reminder. I also charge the Credit Cards the day before and send their invoice with the Credit Card authorization number on it. I almost never get last minute cancellations.

12 Tom Watson September 7, 2015 at 1:43 pm

Hi Maria! That sounds great. That’s an idea that many people could try out as well. Thanks for sharing that.

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