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What’s the true cost of no-shows?

£1 billion pounds. And that’s only the cost of no-shows to the NHS. We see this topic come up in the news every now and again, but perhaps we’ve become desensitised to big numbers and what their actual impact could be.

During the pandemic, it became the norm for appointments to be cancelled - most were Covid related and unavoidable. From holidays to doctors' appointments, and everything in between, bookings and prearranged events were being cancelled left, right and centre. Now, instead of cancelling, clients and customers simply don’t show up. Have we become desensitised to the impact this has on businesses of all sizes?

Maybe we’ll never know the true financial cost of no-shows, but we’re sure it must impact the economy into the billions. The hospitality industry alone loses over £16 billion a year from people not turning up to their bookings. How many hairdressers have you spoken to that have begun to charge deposits, due to no-shows? Gyms and fitness studios have seen a 29% increase in no-shows. Even the person who made Brett’s wedding cake took a deposit before she even got her mixing bowl out, due to the number of people making their excuses and dropping out just before their wedding, even though she’d bought all of the ingredients and started making their cakes by then.

At Novus, we book in meetings with potential clients and suppliers all the time, but one in every ten meetings is a no-show. Not turning up probably doesn’t cost that potential client anything, but it costs Brett his time. Time in which he prepares for the meeting, in which he travels to the meeting place, and from the missed opportunity that that same time could have been a productive and profitable meeting with another potential client.

Statistics show that appointment no-shows have increased by up to 5% across all sectors. The beauty industry alone sees 33.7% of clients miss their appointments without warning. No-shows constitute a real problem for businesses of all kinds.

Why do some people believe it causes no harm if they don’t turn up? Of course, things crop up that can’t be avoided, but it’s courteous to at least let the organisation know you can’t make your appointment. And, fair enough, from time to time, it’s not simply a case of forgetfulness if a booking isn’t fulfilled. There’s more traffic on the road nowadays, for instance, which can delay the start of an appointment so much if there’s an issue, that there may be no point actually trying to get there - again, keeping the business informed of what’s happening is simply good manners. It doesn’t stop the appointment being missed, but at least the person at the other end can turn their attention to another task and reduce the amount of time they may have wasted waiting for you.

With all the technology today, there should be no reason to forget or unintentionally miss an appointment; that said, they’re only as good as the information they hold - if you forget to add the appointment in the diary in the first place/when it’s booked, there’s no way any app could let you know when and what you should be attending!

The people that believe there’s no comeback on them if they miss an appointment aren’t necessarily correct - particularly in a B2B setting. If you’ve been ‘stood up’ in business previously, you’re not likely to think favourably of the person you were supposed to meet. This opinion could influence others in their network, who may also give you a wide berth if you were to ask to meet them. Maybe, if you don’t care about the impact your no-show has on the original business, you won’t care about being perceived negatively by their connections. If this is your approach, you may find your network shrinking quite rapidly.

Even in B2C transactions, the provider will eventually blacklist you if you continually fail to show up. Their competitors will only suffer a number of no-shows before they, too, blacklist you from their organisation. Eventually, you’ll have no options left.

There are processes businesses can put in place to remind potential clients of upcoming appointments/meetings; however, these only slightly reduce the issue, they don’t eliminate it altogether.

Maybe it’s just a cultural issue that we see in the UK. For example, Canada has 45% fewer no-shows than the global average. So, what do they do differently?

Over to you…how much do no-shows cost you as a business? Have you ever failed to turn up for a meeting/appointment? What do you think could be done about the issue?


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