What’s better than a confirmed appointment with an enthusiastic client? Two confirmed appointments with an enthusiastic client!

Nothing can beat that feeling of watching a happy customer leave your office, knowing that their next visit is already booked and confirmed.

Here’s how to nail that return appointment before your customer steps out the door.

1. It’s all about the client

Here’s the truth: your client is not going to prebook their next appointment just because it helps you. They’ll prebook because it’s best for them. Your job is to explain why.

Make it totally clear that prebooking is in their best interests. Their lives are busy; they don’t want to have to remember to call you up or hop online to book the next appointment. Instead, they’ll get to sashay out your door knowing that there’s one less item on their to-do list.

Oh, that’s not all. You also want to remind them that the cost of maintaining their look or their health on a regular basis is a lot less than they’d have to pay if they wait too long and then have to fix new problems. Show them the price for a half-hour maintenance trim versus the 2-hour cut, style, color, they’ll need if they wait three months to come back.

2. Show that you’re in demand

Remember when you were in high school? There was always that wannabe kid who tried too hard to be “cool” and ended up being completely uncool? Keep that kid in mind.

It’s tempting to tell your customers that you’ll always be available for their appointment, whenever they like. You want clients so bad, you’ll do whatever they ask as long as they book another appointment! But that would be like the high school kid who tries too hard. Your clients will respect your time and your business much more if you point out that you’re in demand. 

Gently and politely, explain that you’d like to be able to guarantee their prime time slot, or make sure that their favorite stylist or massage therapist is available for their visit, but that you can only do that if they book now. Once again, make it all about what’s best for your client —  you really want them to enjoy the same great experience, but your prime time slots are reserved for prebooking customers. 

3. Share your secrets

Everyone wants to know the inside secrets of fabulous-looking hair, or how to maintain a regal posture. To your clients, you’re the keeper of that knowledge. Sharing some of your professional know-how strengthens their relationship with you, and it also helps you convince them to prebook their next appointment.

Educate your clients that the only way to get hair or skin that looks like Kim Kardashian’s, for example, is to care for it on a regular basis. Explain the science behind removing dead skin cells so your skin will glow, why frequent trims make your hair look better than less-frequent cuts, or how a monthly massage prevents your muscles from growing too tight to relax.

It’s an important way to provide more value to your client, and it also helps them understand the importance of prebooking their appointments at the right intervals. You want them to realize that they will be in better health or looks when they care for themselves properly, and that means getting a haircut, massage, facial, teeth whitening treatment, etc. at the right time.

4. Let the client keep control

You really, really want your client to book their next appointment before they leave, but you don’t want to end up sounding like an army commander ordering soldiers around. You have to walk a fine line between encouraging clients to prebook, and giving them control over their scheduling.

The best thing to do is to tell them the ideal frequency for return dates for different treatments, so that they have all the knowledge they need. For example, a client with a pixie cut should come in for a trim every 5-6 weeks, deep hair conditioning should be done every 3 months, etc.

This way, you’ve shared the information in order to help your client, and then your client can decide whether to rebook their appointment in 5 weeks or to push it to 6.

5. Feel the squirm, do it anyway

Asking a client to prebook their next appointment is kinda awkward, isn’t it? We all prefer to say nothing and just hope that they’ll love our service so much that they’ll come back again on their own.

We hear you squirm. We do. But hoping for the best doesn’t work. You need to ask your clients to prebook, and the only way to get over the awk is to make it part of your routine. Have your employees offer to book their next appointment as a matter of course when they come to pay. Doing some role-play practice can really help here.

To make it normal for clients to prebook their next appointment before they leave, don’t ask a yes-or-no question. Instead of saying “Would you like to book your next appointment?” say “When would you like to book? Tracy says that your color treatment will look best if it’s redone in 6 weeks.”

6. Accommodate the FOMO

“I don’t have my planner with me.” I bet you’ve heard that a million times when you ask a client to prebook. That’s not the real reason why they’re trying to get out of prebooking (because really, who uses a planner any more? It’s all on our phones).

People are just scared that something better might come along for the exact date and time when they have an appointment with you. What if Brad Pitt calls and asks for a date exactly when I have a hair appointment? I’d have to turn him down!

To overcome your clients’ FOMO, reassure them that if Brad calls, they can reschedule their appointment for another time. Show them that they can adjust their appointment online in a second, without waiting for someone to pick up the phone. Tell them that you always make time for clients who have a standing appointment. They are your priority clients, so they get priority treatment. If something happens, you’ll accommodate them somehow.

7. Make it worth their while

Look, we all know that prebooking their appointment is in your client’s own best interests, just like we said above. But sometimes we all need a bit of a nudge to get us to do the right thing, like ordering a salad instead of a cheeseburger.

Your clients are the same. They know they should book their next appointment now, they just need a small incentive to encourage them to do it. It’s a good idea to offer a small discount or a perk, like $10 off their next deep facial, or a complimentary hand massage when they book the next mani-pedi in the salon, only for customers who prebook before they leave.

And don’t overlook this as an opportunity to dole out branded merch to clients that prove their loyalty by rebooking. By working with a swag fulfillment company, you could sweeten the deal with wearable freebies that are only available to people who commit to coming back to use your services and facilities in the future.

8. Don’t wait till the last minute

If you’re like most small business owners, you think that encouraging your client to book their next appointment is something that happens at the end of this one, so you don’t want to spook them by mentioning it too soon. But that would be a mistake.

Don’t wait until your client is about to walk out the door before you mention rebooking. By that point, they’re already thinking about their next errand and wondering if they have time for a coffee. You want to plant the idea of prebooking much earlier than that.

In the middle of most beauty and health treatments, there’s some kind of a lull. That’s the best time to chat about the kind of service that you offer, why it’s important to have regular maintenance sessions, and what makes your business special. Your client isn’t rushing off anywhere, and has time to listen and take in everything that you’re saying.

9. Client left without booking? Not all is lost!

Obviously, some clients will still manage to “pull a Houdini” and leave your salon without booking the next appointment. What’cha gonna do about it?

Well, if you’re using vcita’s online scheduling tool, you can still save the day! vcita makes it possible to message clients and invite them to book the next appointment, online, at their convenience. Throw a little incentive like a special offer or a discount to draw clients back in.

Ready to fill up that appointment book?

Now you’ve got the script for getting your clients to prebook their next appointment before they leave your office, all you have to do is get over the awkward and do it.