Have you ever had a client make an appointment and then never show up? I bet it has happened more than once. Even if you use automated reminders and take vaulted credits cards, there’s still the opportunity for clients not to bother showing up and blocking payments. Actively taking deposits gives your clients investment in showing up.
What is the cost of missed appointments?
In purely monetary terms, missed appointments could cost your business up to $10,000 per year. However, that doesn’t account for the potential clients that you turn down in favour of a previously booked appointment. The money factor doesn’t account for the wasted time when you have prepped a room or event for a person that doesn’t show up. The more your clients have invested in arriving for their appointments, the more likely they are to show up. When you take a non-refundable deposit, your clients show up or lose out.
How to take deposits when your clients book online
It has long been a common practice for businesses to accept credit card details in place of an actual deposit. While it is sometimes useful, circumventing the process is easy enough with a bit of forethought and a willingness to cancel a card.
With the SimplyBook.me deposit feature, your clients will actively pay their deposit to confirm the booking. It is their choice. When the client has paid the deposit, they will automatically receive an invoice for the amount that they have processed. At the same time as the invoice is sent to the client, the system will create an open sales order for the remaining amount on completion of the service.
Once the client has received their service, the rest of the payment is due, and you can process that payment through the POS system that is integrated with the SimplyBook.me system.
How to set up taking deposits in your SimplyBook.me system
In your SimplyBook.me dashboard, you will need to navigate to Custom Features > Business Enhancements and activate the Accept Deposits feature. If you don’t already have the Accept Payments feature activated, then you will be prompted to enable it. Otherwise, you won’t be able to use the Accept Deposits feature – How can you start taking deposits if you can’t accept payments, right?
Once you have activated the Accept Deposits feature, you can then go to Manage > Services and select the service(s) for which you want to enforce a deposit.
In the image, I want to request a deposit for the booking of a ladies hair restyle. In service details, scroll down to the price of the service details and below that, you’ll see the field for setting your deposit amount.
The fixed deposit amount should be less than the full price. Save and close the details and then navigate to your booking page to check how the deposit feature shows to your clients.
What your clients will see
When the client chooses this option, they will navigate through the booking process in the same way, as usual, selecting the service, date and time. The difference becomes apparent when they reach the booking confirmation page, where it will indicate the amount of deposit required to confirm the booking.
When the client clicks “Book Now” it will take them to a payment page – remember, you will need to have your payment gateway set up to receive payments online.
Here, the client will pay their deposit, and it will also show them how much is outstanding and payable upon completion of the service. If the client wishes, they can still choose to pay the full amount in advance, as well as applying coupon codes, gift cards and packages.
And it’s done! You have taken a deposit for a service.
Flexibility is still an option – even with deposits
Everyone has emergencies. Life happens, and sometimes we have to make changes to our schedules. It’s true for you, me and any of your clients. Now, a first-time client might push the boundaries a bit with spurious excuses for why they can’t come to their appointment; usually trying it about half an hour before their appointment. No one is saying that you have to accommodate them, especially if you have detailed that the deposit is non-refundable. However, we’ve all had loyal clients that have faced problems and difficulties, don’t know when they’ll be able to reschedule their appointment, and are not able to commit.
The bonus to this system is that you can still make changes to the schedule when there is a deposit involved. The client can’t make alterations themselves, but as the administrator of your account, you can make adjustments to the schedule from the admin panel.
If necessary, you could refund one of your favourite clients in a dire emergency, but don’t make a habit of it. Otherwise, everyone will expect the same treatment.
Benefits of taking deposits
Taking deposits has proven to reduce no-shows to the absolute minimum, which accounts for emergencies. While you can sympathise with the person who ‘forgot’, the one whose child they had to rush to the hospital or the one whose car broke down, their misfortune is also yours when you have a wasted appointment time. By taking deposits, you incentivise attendance for your clients, and you also safeguard a part of your income, that you could have achieved by booking someone else in the missed slot.
It’s not rude to ask for some commitment to an appointment that they have booked. Your clients’ time is valuable, but so is yours.
From a different perspective, paying a deposit incentivises people to attend services that they might otherwise put off, trips to the dentist, having a hair cut or any other easily-dismissed act of self-care. It also allows for someone to spread the cost of more expensive services over two paychecks.
When you look at deposits from both sides, the benefit is to both your business and to your clients.
For more details on using the Accept Deposits custom feature, you can check out our help centre