There is not much that comes close to the frustration felt when people fail to turn up for your pilates class. You were looking forward to a full class that would have fully utilised your time and studio. A full class would have meant that you got the most return for your
time and effort. Had you known that there were people that were not going to come, you could have sold their places to people that you had to disappoint. Here are some ideas that you can use to prevent no-shows for your pilates classes. Your pilates business also looks better to your customers when all of your pilates classes are full.
Get payment first
Nothing shows commitment like money. If your clients are forced to put some skin in the game, they will be extra motivated to attend your pilates class. By requiring payment, you are making a statement that your time is valuable. You will only entertain people who are serious about actually attending your pilates class. Once you have collected a payment, you are less exposed to the financial consequences of no-shows. Taking a deposit will not fully protect you. But a deposit will still result in better class attendances. The best way to protect you financially is to require full payment. Don’t feel bad about this, remember, you know what you are doing. Your pilates classes provide great value to your students. Taking a payment when the client books also affect your student, in a positive way. It moves the thought process of your prospective student. It makes the student think about whether they are serious about attending before enrolling, rather than the day of the first class. You are actually saving them time! Why waste their time enrolling in your class if they are not attending anyway? Having payments taken care of before the first session will also lead to a better customer experience for your students. You won’t have to spend the first 15-20 minutes collecting cash and recording who has paid. You can instead, get straight into the class. Taking payments is the single most effective way to stop no shows for your pilates class.
Running a waiting list for your pilates class is a brilliant way to deal with no-shows. If someone has gone to the trouble of signing up to your waiting list, it shows that they are very keen to attend your pilates class. These are the kind of clients that make great students. Maintaining a waiting list clearly shows that your class is in high demand. It will make people think twice about not turning up to your class. It will also make people aware that they are depriving someone else of the class if they do not take up their booked place. Secondly, if you have a waiting list, you have a reserve of people to contact in the event of a no show. This may not be possible before the class. You will likely need to absorb the no show for the first session. However, after the session, you can make contact with clients on your waiting list. You should also get in touch with the no-show and let them know their place is now gone.
Reminders are a fantastic way to eliminate no-shows. It is cliche, but we all seem to have more going on these days. Sometimes, people just forget about prior arrangements. There are many ways to remind someone. You can send them a reminder email. This is great because it won’t cost you anything. The downside to reminder emails is that they tend to have low open rates. Also, if you are not using some kind of electronic booking system, it is likely that you don’t have the email addresses of your clients. SMS (text messages) are also a great way to remind people. They have very high open rates. If you use a web-text service, they are normally free. However, it can be laborious to send the message to all of your class.
Clear no-show policy
Having a clear policy when it comes to no-shows can also be a great deterrent to people not turning up. Your policy can include both hard and soft measures. For example, a hard measure would be to include an increased fee for the next class. A soft measure would include rules relating to the first refusal on your next course of pilates classes. For example, if your student has a perfect attendance record, they will be the first person you email to tell them about your new term of classes. If you are running a waiting list, you can also contact those people that have a perfect attendance record first. These are all small but effective measures. If your students are aware of these measures, they will know that there are consequences to not showing up. Put your no-show policy on a poster or in an email, and your no-show rates should improve.
Educate why no-shows are costly
Many, if not all of your pilates students will not have organised a class or event before. This will make it more likely that they are not aware of the issues a no-show can cause. Creating awareness of no-shows is something that can help to improve class attendance. So how can you raise awareness? Firstly, at the start of each class, let your students know that it is great to see them and that you are delighted they made it. Let them know that in a previous class, someone did not show up and it left others disappointed as well as cost you money. That’s it, no need for a lecture, just raise awareness. Secondly, after each session provides feedback on how the class went and the progress that they made. This indicates to your students that the last 60 minutes was well spent and reinforces the idea that turning up was beneficial!
Create a culture
This is not a quick fix. Rather, it is something you can work on over time. If you create a culture whereby your class feels more like a community than a ‘to-do’ item on your students ‘get healthy’ list, you should see a drop off in your no shows. So how can you create this culture? There are lots of ways. One is, in the event of a no-show, often letting the person know they were missed will help. Often a text, email or phone call will have the desired effect. But keep it light, you don’t want to scare them! A text like, “Hi John, sorry to not see you in today’s class. Hopefully, you can make it next week. Remember why you started Pilates in the first place!”. This will help foster a group spirit. It will also create more accountability. If the student knows they will be missed, they will likely think twice before bunking off.
Airline Method – Overbook
Back in 2017, airlines were in the news for the wrong reasons. Selling one seat to more than one person had become normal in the airline industry. From studying the figures and statistics of their previous flights, airlines had come to expect a certain number of no-shows. It all went badly wrong when one airline was overzealously dealing with a double booked seat. However, it could be a good way for you to tackle no shows for your pilates class. If you look at the numbers for your past classes, you will likely see a pattern. Perhaps it is normal for 3-5 people not to turn up for every one of your classes. If this is the case, you could think about increasing the booking limit of your class. Safe in the knowledge that on average, 3-5 people will not show up, you will ensure your class is full. Of course, you will need to be prepared for the entire group to turn up. Whatever your policy is on this, you should make it known to all of your students.
No shows have such a negative impact on your pilates business. You don’t have to put up with them. By far the most effective strategy to tackle them is to combine the above ideas. Using a system like BookingHawk.com makes this easy. It can send reminders, collect email addresses and phone numbers and most importantly, collect payments. You can also make clients aware of your no-show policy by adding your own terms and conditions. It will also make it easy for you to maintain and implement an automatic waiting list.
PS – Our pilates studio software system costs just €11.14 per month. Try it for free without giving us any payment details and make your no-shows a thing of the past!
Hi, my name is Niall Smith and I am the Founder and CEO of BookingHawk.com. I am an experienced software engineer and have worked with companies like AOL, Guidewire, Deloitte and SAP. I am a graduate of The New Frontiers entrepreneur development programme. I live in Dublin, Ireland with my wife. I love to meet other founders and learn from as many people as possible.