The Optimal Late Cancellation Policy for Yoga Teachers
With studio management software, like ours, it is now easier than ever for students to look at your weekly class schedules and book in advance. In an ideal world, your students would all attend your classes and those that do not would give you notice in advance so you can free up their spot for another student.
But that’s not how it always works out in the real world.
That’s why class cancellations policies exist. But how can you come up with the right policy to make sure that your classes are protected and that your students are happy? How do you currently deal with students backing out of yoga class reservations?
You may not have a good late cancellation policy in place because it can be tricky to come up with an optimal one that works for everyone.
Worry not, we will provide you with 5 ways to implement (and stick to) a flexible late cancellation policy. But first, let’s talk about why you need one.
Cancellations Mean Lost Revenue and A Missed Opportunity for Your Regulars
Most students book your classes to make you accountable for their health and wellness, as they typically are not passionate about yoga in the same way that you are. Even though they’re booking your class for that very reason, you should not be surprised when students find excuses to avoid a class.
Many yoga teachers avoid implementing cancellation policies to avoid upsetting their students. They also worry that it could result in lost business and fewer yogis.
However, without a proper cancellation policy, a cancelled session means a loss in revenue.
Furthermore, when a student is not sensitive to your time, it could ruin your relationship with that student, in addition to hurting your business.
And while we understand that most yoga teachers are not motivated by money, it is important to remember at times that you are running a business; and that it is the livelihood that makes it possible for you to teach what you love and live the life you are passionate about.
Besides a loss on revenue, a last minute cancellation or no show presents a missed opportunity for your other students who may have wanted to sign up for your class. It could also mean that a student is missing out on taking a class at their favourite studio.
It helps to think of a good late cancellation policy as a courtesy to other students.
So, here are 5 ways you can implement an optimal late cancellation policy.
1. Implement a 24-Hour Cancellation Window
You should encourage students to notify you of a cancellation ahead of time while also offering some flexibility in case something comes up.
You could perhaps put a policy in place with a 24-hour window, or less. For example, you could offer a 12-hour cancellation policy – anyone that cancels within that time frame could lose a credit if they purchased a class packet or a €15 no show fee if they are a monthly member.
It is important that you include it in your terms and conditions on your website and as a disclaimer in your confirmation emails.
However, you should be sympathetic to students who have last minute issues like sickness or other emergencies. You can encourage students in those circumstances to call or email you instead of penalizing them. It’s a good way to build good will with your students.
2. Stick to Your Policy
It’s natural to feel guilty and cut or waive cancellation fees. However, if you are too flexible with the policy, some students may take advantage of it.
You need to make them prioritize your class: with a cancellation fee, a student would have to be very certain that they have more pressing priorities than your class.
Again, it is imperative that you stick to whatever cancellation policy you choose to put in place. Be firm in sticking to the policy, because remember, you want to be courteous and fair to all your students, as well as yourself.
But on another note, be understanding.
3. Be Understanding
Listen to your students when they have an issue making it to your class. Yes, the policy is there for a reason: mainly to prevent students from making frequent late cancellations and taking up spots in the class that other students could have booked. But, as mentioned earlier, emergency situations come up that could prevent a student from making it to a class.
It is important to take those situations into account and make exceptions to the policy when needed.
The key is to make sure that every student is aware of your policy and understands it. If they are aware of it, it makes them accountable and also makes it hard for them to push back on it.
4. Provide a One-Time Exception
Consider offering each student a one-time exception to your cancellation policy. That serves as a reminder to your students that it is important to stick to their commitment and also shows that your cancellation policy is fair.
So have a single exception in place, as well as waiving emergency situations.
5. Follow a Detailed Procedure and Plan
You can follow a procedure like the following:
Remind your students about your late cancellation policy as soon as they book their first session.
As soon as a new student enrols in your class, give them a hard copy of your cancellation policy.
Ensure that new students sign off on a student information questionnaire which has the cancellation policy on it.
A flexible cancellation is important in that it provides fairness to both you and your students. It also represents a more stable revenue stream.
And while not every scheduling conflict can be foreseen, with enough advanced notice, you can plan so that you don’t have many free (and unpaid) spots in your class schedule.