Setting Policies and Setting Boundaries: why having clear rules in place gets you ahead in business
When you’re just starting out as a lash tech, it’s super common to do lashes for our friends and family to build up our portfolio. Something else that’s common as a direct result of this is that we get used to letting people off the hook for things like showing up late or canceling at the last minute. Maybe that’s fine when it’s aunt Marjorie, but those things can have a serious impact on your business if you allow that behavior to spill over into your clients. Before long, you’re losing out on hundreds of dollars in missed appointments, you’re waiting around for some clients and making others wait while you finish the set of said late person - none of that is ideal at all, but what can you do? You have to make your clients happy, right? Well yes, but what if we told you that one disgruntled client who can’t have the super mega volume they want in the 45 minutes you have left after they showed up late again is better than the 5 disgruntled clients that you kept waiting as a result? The fact is that clear boundaries and strict policies are essential to the success of your business, to the happiness of your clients as a whole, and your peace of mind. So, what policies should you have in place as a lash technician, and how can you enforce them?
Sometimes the car won’t start or there’s traffic on the way - while it’s usually avoidable to be late, sometimes it just happens. If a client calls ahead and lets you know they’re running 5 or even 15 minutes late, there’s no problem with just doing their lashes - there are a few things you can do to ensure they get a look as full as they’re after without running over on time or cutting corners on your pretreatment routine or stickie check (use a few premade fans rather than hand making them all, cover the bottom layer fully, 75% on the middle layer and 50% top layer, use some wider fans to cover gaps etc.)
What you need to decide, however, is how late is too late? Once it passes a certain point does lateness become a no-show? We’d advise anything more than 30 minutes late becomes a no-show for a full set - of course that will be different in the case of infills or removals (sometimes lash removals take a long time…) so it might be that you want to make it so that anything more than a quarter of the treatment time counts as a no-show, and will need to be rebooked.
A no-show is just that - a client that doesn’t show, though it can also be a client who was so late you simply weren’t able to facilitate their appointment. This is frustrating for a number of reasons, least of all that you now have at least an hour to fill. Sure, you can get on with some much-needed admin, or place your lash order without feeling rushed, but when it comes down to it, you risk losing out on a chunk of your income if you don’t have a policy in place.
It’s not unusual to charge clients a fee if they don’t show up for their appointment - how much you charge is up to you, but consider that it should cover your time if nothing else - you’re still going to be working after all, so why should you have to work for free?
That’s where a deposit policy comes into play!
If you have no other policies in place you should definitely have a deposit policy. This goes at least some way to covering your time in the event of a no-show, and actually reduces the chances of someone not turning up.
How much you charge for your deposits is up to you, but we’d highly recommend charging at least 50% of the treatment price to protect yourself. Remember that the price of your treatments don’t just pay for your products, they pay for your expertise, your time, your rent, your bills and they put food on your table - don’t sell yourself short!
This one is quite similar to a no-show policy and this is again where those deposits are so necessary - if someone cancels on you with less than 24 hours’ notice (the exact time frame is ultimately up to you, but remember that you’re looking to cover your time and protect your income.
We get it - we know policies can feel scary, especially when you’re just starting out, but putting them in place and enforcing them nice and early on in your career can only set you up for success! The vast majority of clients will be completely accepting of them and those that aren’t tend to be the ones who are a little bit on the unreliable side… Of course, there will be times where you may choose to waive the cancellation fee, but this should be very occasional, at your discretion and only in exceptional circumstances!