A Plea From All Service Providers

December 21, 2023

New [minor] change (effective, like, now)


Please allow me to be vulnerable for a moment. It’s a bit of a lengthy read, but this is really important to me…

Would you believe I’ve received appointment cancellations every day this month?

Yep, every day—multiple per day. It’s gotten so bad that I’ve developed email-induced anxiety.

Check out my inbox:


It isn’t surprising; this happens every December.

But it is exhausting, and it makes me (and every other massage therapist I know) dread this time of year.

Every cancellation is both a disruption to my calendar and a financial setback, even with ample notice.

I was recently speaking to someone who was considering becoming a massage therapist. She asked me what the biggest con of my career is.

The feast and the famine, I told her.

I’ve had days where I’m fully booked with a lengthy waitlist and the phone ringing off the hook. I’ve also had plenty of empty days, or, worse, days that were once full where everyone cancelled.

Weeks like this, my schedule will go from completely full to wide open in a matter of hours.

Feast. Famine. Repeat.

I try not to complain. I chose an appointment-based career, and I chose entrepreneurship with all of its hardships (which are outweighed by the immense rewards, I assure you).

But when 75% of bookings get cancelled in a single month, something’s gotta give.

Whenever things go astray in my life, I always try to find a way to take ownership, so I can change the things that are within my control.

The blessing of having online scheduling software is that it’s really easy to book a massage with me. (Yay!)

The curse is that it’s equally easy to cancel that massage. (Boo!)

Every week, when my software’s automated appointment reminder emails get sent, I receive a wave of cancellations. (Now I have this song in my head).

Appointment reminders are a courtesy, so you can plan around your massage. These days, I’ve found that each reminder acts instead as a prompt to cancel or reschedule.

This leaves me scrambling to fill newly emptied spots, often to no avail. Because I don’t have a receptionist, filling gaps has become its own part-time job. I don’t enjoy this job and it doesn’t even pay. (WORST.)

What am I going to do about it?


My system currently sends three emails per appointment:

1) An appointment confirmation immediately upon booking
2) A 7-day reminder
3) A 3-day reminder

Effective immediately, I’m removing the 3-day reminder.

I’m hoping this will help reduce the onslaught of short-notice cancellations (while keeping the 7-day reminder so you don’t forget).

It’s neither a penalty nor trickery; it’s protection of my most valuable resource—my time. Life happens, but I can’t keep paying for it.

My aim is for this change to be small but mighty (like me!).

Can you cancel your appointment the week of?


Of course. I’m not a monster.

Just please don’t make a habit of it. I’ve unfortunately had to ban repeat offenders from booking in advance. I hate doing it, but I can’t afford not to.

The alternative is I’ll grow to resent you, and I have no room for resentment in my practice.

Should you cancel your appointment?


No! Please stop. I’m begging you. You’re making baby Jesus cry. (Just kidding. It’s me. I’m the one who’s crying.)

Most days, I love my job.

Weeks like this where all y’all cancel? That makes me consider closing up shop and investing in Bitcoin. (That’s a stable income source, yes?)

Can’t plan ahead?


Not a problem!

Message me to be added to my waitlist where you’ll get notified any time there’s a last-minute opening. It’s win-win.

Some clients only book on short notice (and I love you for it!).

What can you do to help?


When you make an appointment, put it in your calendar!!! And don’t forget to always double-check the date and time. You’d be surprised how often people get this wrong.

Treat it like it’s set in stone rather than a tentative placeholder. Move mountains to make it work. Sell a kidney on the dark web if needed.

Remember that every time you cancel or move your appointment, even with advanced notice, you’re likely one of many people that day to do the same. It adds up quickly, and it makes me scream Deftones lyrics into my pillow.

If you’re unable to commit reliably, I ask that you please refrain from booking in advance. Keep that spot open for someone else and check back when you’re 99% certain you can make it.

Pro tip: Apply these general rules to all of your appointments with other service providers. You’ll quickly become their favourite client, I promise.

Oh, and if I sound like a brat, I assure you I’m not the only one experiencing this. Just ask any of your friends who are healthcare workers or service providers.

Chiros, physios, hairstylists, estheticians, tattoo artists—their schedules are as chaotic as mine. I’m just the one talking about it.

I’m not saying any of this to make you feel guilty for having a life, but to shine a light on an industry-wide problem you may not have known about.

Remember…


I don’t ask for anything I don’t also provide.

If I ever cancel on you with less than 48 hours’ notice, for literally any reason, your next massage is free.

If I cancel with more notice, I’ll apply a partial credit to your account as a gesture of respect.

Integrity is my most cherished personality trait. I work my ass off (literally!) to exceed your expectations of me.

I save time for you. All I ask is that you save time for me, too.

Sound fair?

Ok, that’s enough seriousness for now. Back to cat-themed Christmas memes.

Thank yooouuu!

P.S. I received four more cancellations while writing this post. I can’t make this stuff up.

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Comments

  1. Kudos to you for calling this out, it is absolutely rampant these days!! And also for taking a clear and fair approach to handling the part you can control, the software and reminders. We, as a society, need to be mindful of this slide towards disregard for appointments and others time – its not only disrespectful but it will quite literally put your cherished service providers out of business.

  2. Got it! This isn’t a casual coffee date with a friend, it’s your livelihood. Thanks for calling it out. I hear your message as more, “This isn’t working for me,” and not like, ” you’re a bad person.” Also, thanks for modelling self-respect and setting boundaries. We could all do with more of that in many aspects of our lives!

    1. Author

      Yes! That’s exactly what I’m trying to convey—nobody is inherently bad or wrong for having an unpredictable schedule, but frequent cancellations definitely aren’t working for me. You hit the nail on the head. Thank you for understanding!

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