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Manage Last-Minute Cancellations With Effective Field Service Management.

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A close-packed calendar is a sight to behold for any field service provider—ensuring a consistent stream of work and a continual flow of revenue is exactly what you dream for. 

But don’t count your chickens before they hatch, sooner or later, you may receive a call from your customer requesting cancellation at the last moment. It’s a bummer, but you shrug it off and move on to your next order, then you get another …and another, and the cost begins to add up. 

It’s a deflating experience affecting not just your profits but also your overall reputation. Last-minute cancellations are last-minute—making it hard for you to find alternative jobs to fill in the gaps they leave. 

You are probably thinking, “Are last-minute cancellations avoidable?” Well, not always! But there are ways to manage and prevent them before they become the norm. In this article, we’ll guide you through different ways in which you can manage and prevent last-minute cancellations from becoming a regular occurrence. Let’s get started.

Impact of last-minute cancellations on your business 

As a service provider, you expect your field technicians to be continuously tied up with work. But remember, last-minute cancellations are inevitable for any service-based business. So it is important to take a step back and understand the impact of last-minute cancellations on your business.

Financial setback: 

Last-minute cancellations are frustrating. But beyond that, cancellations could cost you an arm and a leg. When your customer cancels the appointment, the revenue expected from the jobs disappears—creating a financial setback.

Let’s say you are a plumbing service provider, and your technician has an appointment to fix a leaky faucet. Just before he knocks on the door, you get a call requesting cancellation. Not only do you lose out on the $200, but there are other financial costs to a canceled service: employee time and wages, mileage on your vehicle, and gas.

Wasteful spending of resources

Cancellation at the last minute can be a real pain. Imagine fueling your vehicle and reaching a customer’s destination just to realize that the customer had canceled the appointment—Leading to frustration for you and your team. 

Wasteful spending can be a persuasive loss for the business, which can never be recovered. When a customer calls with a last-minute cancelation, all the time, effort, and resources you spent go to waste.

Harm to reputation

Last-minute cancellations can erode your reputation over time. When your customer sees that people are constantly canceling their appointments with you. It creates a sense of unreliability, and they are less likely to book appointments in the future—forcing them to switch to your competitor. 

Read More: Keep Employees And Customers Up-To-Date In Real-Time With Notifications And Alerts

How to effectively manage last-minute cancellations of your field service business?

Automate communications to reduce last-minute cancellations 

Let’s understand the root of why last-minute cancellations happen: Humans have the tendency to forget things easily, and your customers are human. To minimize these oversight, it is important that you keep them in the loop. Sending reminders prevents last-minute cancelations by helping customers keep upcoming appointments in mind, giving them the opportunity to cancel calls well in advance. 

Send a confirmation immediately after booking.

Sending confirmations and reminders at different intervals, ahead of the jobs, helps customers to be prepared for the appointment or cancel in advance if necessary.

There are different ways you can send confirmation:

  1. A phone call 
  2. An Email 
  3. Text message

Make sure to send a confirmation reminder immediately after the successful booking of appointments. This help customers remember the date and time of the appointment. Then set follow-up reminders to keep your customers informed. 

Sending multiple reminders and job status jobs

Have you ever worried about your Amazon package after placing an order? In most cases, the answer would be NO. That’s because Amazon excels at keeping you informed every step of the way. From order placement to delivery, they send you updates at every stage. 

Try implementing the same technique. Keep your customers informed. Send them a notification as soon as the booking is confirmed, and depending upon how far in advance the service was booked, set up automatic reminders. Make sure you send at least three reminder messages—one confirmation, one reminder at least two days prior to the job, and another on the morning of the service call. 

Speed up confirmations and reminders with automation software.

Automation software can help you save time and resources by automating repetitive tasks and improving accuracy. This can free up your teams to focus on more important tasks.

Leverage the power of automotive software like Zuper. Zuper is a comprehensive field service management software platform that helps you to streamline your field operations. Using Zuper’s alerts and notifications feature, you can create personalized notifications for all assigned employees, supervisors, and other team members. 

Learn how Zuper’s notifications and alerts bring you operational efficiency.

Create a last-minute cancellation policy to prevent no-shows

Nobody likes paying additional fees for cancellations, which is why having a cancellation policy is a good idea. Having a cancelation policy helps prevent those pesky last-minute cancellations. Cancelation policies give customers a fore-warning of any fees or penalties that may apply to an unexpected cancelation while also providing a measure of predictability of income to the company. 

The purpose of a cancellation policy is to limit when and how customers can cancel an appointment, as it is an inconvenience to the business. At the same time, you must consider your customers’ needs and value their sentiments to provide a great customer experience. 

Here are: five approaches to creating an effective cancellation policy that you can use immediately to improve your business. 

How much should you charge for a last-minute cancellation?

Remember, these are still your customers, and they are the ones that can take your business to the next level. Building a customer-centric business helps you prioritize customer satisfaction over profit. So be as transparent as possible. If they schedule an appointment, make sure you inform them about the policy in place.

The fee you charge may depend on the type of service. Be reasonable with your charges, 10% of the total service cost will be an ideal amount if it’s a quick maintenance job, and 30-50% if it’s a job that requires additional parts to be brought. 

When should you charge a cancellation fee?

For deciding the timeframe consider the time that it takes you to fill in the gaps they leave. It may vary from business to business, but be mindful before deciding how much time. Have a progressive plan, so you charge less for customers canceling early on and more for last-minute.

Be prepared for the worst! Have ready-to-use templates

Even with all the measures you take, you may still receive some last-minute cancellations. It’s an inevitable part of business, so it’s better to be prepared. Customers canceling appointments an hour before service can be frustrating. But if you have a plan in place, you can quickly reschedule the appointment and minimize the impact.

One way to do this is to have ready-to-use templates. This makes sure you’re not out of the game. With these templates, you can quickly send out emails by just feeding customers’ information. These templates help you stay connected with your customers, ensuring you don’t lose them in the shuffle.

The takeaway on how to handle a last-minute cancellation

Last-minute cancellations are inevitable in field service businesses. But don’t worry, there are plenty of things you can do to reduce your no-shows. Automating communications can help you to set up timely reminders and follow-up messages to keep your customer in the loop. Creating a cancellation policy can help you to limit and reduce no-shows.

Automation software like Zuper can help you manage these situations easily, with alert and notification features, you can set job alerts and send customized notifications to your customers and employees. Intelligent scheduling features enable you to easily reschedule appointments by navigating to the nearest technicians to the nearest job. Learn how Zuper can transform your field service operations. Schedule a free demo now. 

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