Stop the No-Show Problem

People can be rude. It’s annoying.

The lawyer wrote to me complaining about the “no-shows” for initial consultations. Not only do these people fail to show up, but they also don’t even call to cancel.

It’s annoying to get your desk cleared off and ready for a consult and have the prospective client fail to show up. It’s worse than annoying. And it’s worse than just cleaning up his desk.

He wears different clothes on the days when he has consults. He makes sure to wear a dress shirt and tie. Otherwise, he might have worn a polo and khakis. It costs him $2.25 to get that shirt cleaned and pressed, and that’s at the discount place that takes another eight minutes of driving.

On top of the desk cleaning and shirt wearing, there’s the mental disruption. Before the scheduled consult, he spends 30 minutes being distracted, knowing he has an upcoming consult. He avoids getting on a long call. He’s careful not to start something he can’t finish. He puts most of his work on “pause” as he gets himself organized for the meeting.

Then, when the consult fails to show up, he loses another 30 minutes being agitated. He walks around the office venting, he gets some coffee, and he kills a few minutes calming down by watching a video or something.

A no-show costs him an hour of productivity and often damages his energy for the rest of the day. It truly is more than annoying. It’s expensive.

Of course, he could just do some mindfulness mediation or something and calm himself down. After all, mindfulness is trendy. He could meditate his way right past worrying about no-shows.

But, instead, he asked me how to stop the no-shows. He sent me an e-mail.

Here’s how to shop the no-shows:

1. Stop the Free Consults

Free consults are important to some practice areas. But, mostly, they aren’t a good idea. People equate your value with your fee. Free equals minimal, if any, value. That’s why they don’t bother to drive over. It’s not worth coming: it’s free. When you ditch the free consults, you’ll do fewer consults, but those who schedule will mostly show up. You’ll save yourself the cost of the no-show, and you’ll end up with just as many paying clients.

2. Extend the Intake Call

The longer the intake call, the better. It’s a bonding experience. No-shows are reduced when the call goes way beyond essential information. Your intake person should be building a relationship by asking open-ended questions. You want your prospective clients showing up and asking to meet the intake person because they connected so well. The intake call is about building trust. At the end of the call, the client ought to feel so connected to the firm that hiring you is a formality.

3. Get the Client in Quickly

The sooner you schedule the meeting, the lower your rate of no-shows. We maintain a 48-hour rule. We do everything possible to get them in today, tomorrow, or the next day. Today or tomorrow is better. Making this rule work might involve committing time for consults on schedules even when consults aren’t yet scheduled.

Eliminating free consults is a quick and easy fix. It’ll solve the bulk of the problem for firms that have been giving it away for free. Extending intake calls and moving quickly to schedule the consult will fix it for others.

Yep, people can be rude by failing to show up or cancel an appointment. However, you can solve the problem, and they’ll start showing up. Then, after they arrive, they’ll find new ways to annoy you. Rudeness is just the tip of the iceberg.

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