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Does anyone have any advice on lowering our cancellation rate? We generally get one or two people a month that cancel (out of about 200 - 300 service calls) now we have about 1 or 2 people a week canceling. Usually we don't find out until we give them a thirty minute courtesy call. Then they give some lame "oh, I need to cancel that..." response. The cancellations are really bad for our company because it makes scheduling very difficult and most days we are booked solid so we turn away good leads only to get dumped when we run a call. 90% of our calls are scheduled for the same day or next day of the phone call.

Does anyone have any advice? Is this a scheduling issue? Are people getting cold feet? Are my competitors wooing them away? Is a 1%-2% cancellation rate acceptable?
 

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I would charge a cancellation fee, in order to cancel an appt you have to give 24hrs notice, or pay a cancellation fee of 50 bucks or whatever amount you choose.
 

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Does anyone have any advice on lowering our cancellation rate? We generally get one or two people a month that cancel (out of about 200 - 300 service calls) now we have about 1 or 2 people a week canceling. Usually we don't find out until we give them a thirty minute courtesy call. Then they give some lame "oh, I need to cancel that..." response. The cancellations are really bad for our company because it makes scheduling very difficult and most days we are booked solid so we turn away good leads only to get dumped when we run a call. 90% of our calls are scheduled for the same day or next day of the phone call.

Does anyone have any advice? Is this a scheduling issue? Are people getting cold feet? Are my competitors wooing them away? Is a 1%-2% cancellation rate acceptable?
Dr. Robert Cialdini has a great tip for this--and uses a restaurant taking reservations as an example.

If you have the time, check out his audiobook on Itunes:

Executive Briefing: The Power of Persuasion (Nonfiction)
Dr. Robert Cialdini
Genre: Business
Price: $1.95
Release Date: January 01, 2001


It's only about an hour long. The principle that applies is "Consistency and Commitment"

Here's a blog post I came across that sums it up, but you'll get more out of it if you listen to Cialdini himself:

http://trevornashkeller.com/misc/cialdini-knows-the-power-of-persuasion/


Try making a change to the way your people end the appointment call with your prospects:

Instead of: "Please call if you need to cancel",

Try: "Will you call us the night before if you need to reschedule?"


The bottom line is people are more likely to act in a way that is consistent with what they have previously committed to.
 

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Maybe you could secure a credit card payment before scheduling. If they cancel you keep the payment.

I don't really have this type of problem, as my biz isn't geared towards service calls, but that's what i would do in that case, in my case when I get a job i charge a non-refundable fee to move forward after the estimate. this way if they cancel after that i hopefully am not out anything...
 

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Dr. Robert Cialdini has a great tip for this--and uses a restaurant taking reservations as an example.

If you have the time, check out his audiobook on Itunes:

Executive Briefing: The Power of Persuasion (Nonfiction)
Dr. Robert Cialdini
Genre: Business
Price: $1.95
Release Date: January 01, 2001


It's only about an hour long. The principle that applies is "Consistency and Commitment"

Here's a blog post I came across that sums it up, but you'll get more out of it if you listen to Cialdini himself:

http://trevornashkeller.com/misc/cialdini-knows-the-power-of-persuasion/


Try making a change to the way your people end the appointment call with your prospects:

Instead of: "Please call if you need to cancel",

Try: "Will you call us the night before if you need to reschedule?"


The bottom line is people are more likely to act in a way that is consistent with what they have previously committed to.
Good info thanks Chris:thumbsup:
 

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New and Remodel Carpentry
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I dont think that taking a payment ahead of time would work well for a service call company. It may actually turn people away from hiring you even if they dont plan on calling anyone else. Some people are just like that. I think the best way to do this would be send out an invoice for secretarial/schedule time. Send them out to everyone that cancels and see how many send in the check.

Of course make it look official and state the reasoning for the bill.
 

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Does anyone have any advice on lowering our cancellation rate? We generally get one or two people a month that cancel (out of about 200 - 300 service calls) now we have about 1 or 2 people a week canceling. Usually we don't find out until we give them a thirty minute courtesy call. Then they give some lame "oh, I need to cancel that..." response. The cancellations are really bad for our company because it makes scheduling very difficult and most days we are booked solid so we turn away good leads only to get dumped when we run a call. 90% of our calls are scheduled for the same day or next day of the phone call.

Does anyone have any advice? Is this a scheduling issue? Are people getting cold feet? Are my competitors wooing them away? Is a 1%-2% cancellation rate acceptable?
How about a couresy call 24 hours in advance? Docs do it. That gives you time to rearrange the schedule:thumbsup::thumbsup:
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
Thanks for the advice. We have thought about taking credit cards when we get a request for service but with the way our industry is going its becoming commonplace for our competitors to go out to the home for free and we sometimes struggle to get customers over that huddle much less paying for it in advance.

We currently don't say anything about rescheduling while we are on the phone now, maybe we should add that to the script.
 

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It may suck but a 1-2% cancellation rate is not bad at all.

Is this for work already agreed upon at a rate quoted over the phone?

If they agreed to it already I might charge a small fee or collect CC info but if just for an estimate I wouldn't change anything.
 

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We generally get one or two people a month that cancel (out of about 200 - 300 service calls) now we have about 1 or 2 people a week canceling.

Does anyone have any advice? Is this a scheduling issue? Are people getting cold feet? Are my competitors wooing them away? Is a 1%-2% cancellation rate acceptable?
It's a sign of the times. Have you done anything differently? Nope. It's just what is going on right now. Sister Mary Rosen-paper calls you up today to have you come out and look at cleaning out her belfry on Wed. On Tuesday night she watches the news and sees something she doesn't like that gets her stomach all knotted up over the economy and decides she better not spend any money for the rest of the year.
 

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you could try raising your rates by a quarter to compensate for the lost time. hopefully you have the opportunity to move on to another call (as in do you ask prospects "if we have an opening earlier would that work for your schedule"? )

now if your lost meeting results in the tech not working for the rest of the day, that's costly.
 

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I'm with framer. I like the idea of the 24 hour courtesy call. If your company is running that type of volume, then (though labor intensive), you can move any new calls into those cancellation spots.
Like CS, my work isn't centered around service calls either so I am no expert on this. However I have found people get a little wierd when you request money in advance, and there will always be someone else who will "be the hero" make the call with no promises.
I would chalk it off to a "neccessary evil" of the business.
 

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Discussion Starter · #17 ·
Hi Ohmy, Maybe for a period of time (say one month) you could ask why the person is cancelling. The data may give you some insight into whether or not it is an issue you can manage and how to do so.
That is very helpful. We do that now when they cancel. The reasons are generally along the "dog eat my homework" vein so its hard to know for sure.
 

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How are your jobs scheduled? Weeks, days, hours in advance?

Weeks in advance, a couresy call is a neccesity the day before. Otherwise, I really don't know what else you can do, well except I could have you come to my house and do some of my work>G<
(might be a long haul)
 
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