Why I have an Iron Clad 24 Hour Cancellation Policy…and why you should too…

Do you have a 24 hour cancellation policy with your private clients?

You should. {Yep, it’s that simple.}

You should have an Iron Clad, No Questions, No Emergencies, No Just-This-One Time We’ll Let It Slip 24 Hour Cancellation Policy.

I do. I always have. I think it is really important in creating the boundaries that allow meaningful work to be done in the sessions. It is also important in supporting the health of your business.

If my clients need to change or cancel an appointment, they know they must do it before the 24 hour mark, or they will be charged for the full cost of the session.

It doesn’t matter if they are canceling for reasons beyond their control {sick kid, meeting running long, etc}. They are not being charged as punishment. I love them, and love teaching them, and would much rather be teaching them then killing time at Starbucks {which in NYC is what I usually get stuck doing when a client late cancels….}

They are being charged because when they book a session with me, they are taking responsibility for that hour of my time. It is not their fault if their meeting runs long, but it is not my fault either, and they know they are the ones responsible for the time and cost of the session, even if they can’t make it.

The only exceptions I have made for late cancels are birth and death in the immediate family.

Here is why I am so clear about this::

I have identified several different kinds of boundaries that exist between teacher and student in a private lesson situation. The first two I consider to be the “root chakra” boundaries. These are the boundaries of time and money. If these first two are not clear, there is no hope for the rest of the boundaries to be clear.

Clarity in relationship boundaries allows for meaningful work to be done in a private session. Having wishy-washy boundaries will limit how deeply you are able to work with a student. {Click to tweet!}

{Also, since I have a wait list at every time slot, if students cancel at the last minute and I can’t slot someone else in there, I would really be losing a lot of money if I didn’t charge them.}

Having this clarity around money boundaries is one of the many reasons I do not accept payment at each session. I invoice my clients at the end of each month for the sessions they had {including any late cancels…} and then can avoid the awkward late cancel conversation…”oh you actually owe twice the amount of cash you are handing me right now since you late canceled last week…”

What do you think y’all? Can we do it?? Can you clearly and confidently implement a late cancel policy?

16 Responses to “Why I have an Iron Clad 24 Hour Cancellation Policy…and why you should too…”

  1. Christine

    Great article and great analysis of the issue as a foundational boundary. I’m guilty of the “just this once” and will be crafting a new policy this week! [I have one client notorious…. and I guess that makes me so, as well, for continuing] I charge up front and do both individual and package rates, so it’s a quick punch on the card. I wonder if that makes it somehow more palatable than if they’re anticipating an invoice – any thoughts? Thanks for your excellent writing and fab ideas!

    Reply
    • Francesca Cervero

      Fantastic Christine. I’m so glad it was helpful! There are definitely pros and cons to both methods of payment {packages upfront, or invoices at the end of the month.} Maybe it is worth a discussing on a future blog post? If you feel good in the system you are currently using, good on ya and stick with it! 🙂

      Reply
      • Shivaun Meleisea

        Hello 🙂 I’ve only just found your website Francesca and I can’t thank you enough for all the amazing things I’ve learnt already! Really helpful article, it’s a little push for me in the direction of feeling more comfortable with these kinds of things (strict 24 hr cancellation rule, no refunds etc). I’m with Christine, I would love to see a blog post about the pros and cons of both pre-paid packages and invoices at the end of the month. Francesca have you ever had an issue with a client not paying, paying late, or disputing the invoice? Thanks again x

      • Francesca Cervero

        Welcome Shivaun! I am so happy to have you here! I have a blog all about money coming up, so I will add some of these issues to the list as well. Thanks for your questions!

  2. Sarah Farnsworth

    I love this. These are the kinds of things I wish I learned in my teacher training. Were I not on the complete other side of the country, I would be at your Teacher Training in a heartbeat! I learn so much from you!

    Reply
    • Francesca Cervero

      Yes, you’re so welcome Sarah. These are the kinds of things I wish I had learned in my first TT too! I had to learn the hard way, just like all of you 😉 I can’t wait to have you in my teacher training in the future! <3

      Reply
  3. Juli Jamison

    Yes- Great points! I found this out the hard way. It is so true that the time/money boundary is fundamental and failure to be firm with this results in a shaky teacher client relationship. I broke things off with 2 prior clients because I felt they disrespected my time by repeated last minute cancels and no-shows. Of course at that time I had no official cancellation policy and it was this (as well as the fact I charged well below market rates thinking that being humble was good; instead I was inviting lack of respect for the service I was offering…another good blog topic for you

    Reply
    • Francesca Cervero

      Yes, I hear ya Juli! The place where money and yoga meet is endlessly tricky. This is why it is so important for us all to keep talking about it, and bringing these shadow topics into the light. XO

      Reply
  4. Carrie

    Great advice, Francesca! Based on years of experience as a therapist in a fee-for-service office, I learned how to respect my own time so that others would as well. Not only does it create a clear boundary, but also cuts out any potential resentful feelings. Now that I teach 1:1 yoga, the need for structure still applies, and helps establish a professional relationship. Thanks again for another helpful post!

    Reply
    • Francesca Cervero

      You’re so welcome Carrie! I love having you hanging around here. <3

      Reply
  5. Juliet

    Great advice from the master of setting boundaries that benefit both the student and teacher. I loved the mention of the “awkward late cancel conversation”, been there. Loving your advice!

    Reply
    • Francesca Cervero

      Yay, thanks Jul! You know I am only the Master of Setting Boundaries because I have been through it all… 😉

      Reply
  6. sarah

    The idea of connecting money and time to root chakra is brilliant! THANK YOU for sharing this. I once read a cancellation policy that included (from the therapist/teacher) “If I cancel on you with less than 24 hours notice your next session is free”. Yeah, I adopted that too.

    Reply
    • Francesca Cervero

      You are so welcome Sarah! I’m so happy we are on the same page about this! 🙂

      Reply

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