How to deal with Unscheduled, Off-Peak Appointments?

Almost 99% of appointment service providers face the off-peak problem. Customers are less interested in beauty, health or sport services at certain times of day. Off-peak appointments are hard-to-sell and are also known as „slow” because their income producing capability is less intensive. What factors are behind the off-peak phenomena and how can you make the most out of it?

Seasonality

Seasonality is mix of trends, fashion, weather and all kinds of other factors. Is doing sports currently trending? Yes, it is a fact, but the highlight is upon running, Pilates and yoga — so sports like swimming are undervalued today. There are two things you can do to ride that wave: always know what is trending — keep yourself professionally updated and be flexible — try to integrate those into what you are doing.

Payday proximity

It is rather a beauty marketing recognition than sport or health (thanks to their common monthly passes) that average customers tend to schedule appointments not too far from payday (last and first few days of the month). It is not hard to imagine that going to a spa for a relaxing, anti-aging massage or to a senior hairdresser for a party haircut feels the best when the pocket is full. As an appointment service provider you want to focus your opening days and hours on this period. As for your own holidays, aim for the middle of the month.

Daily working hours

Earlier I shared a story about a squash court owner who understood how greatly his income is affected by his customers’ daily digesting habits. If their stomach is full they won’t come to play a running-intensive, active sport. Not until they are incentivized to adapt. There is one greater power than lunchtime and that is daily working hours. On weekdays from 8am till 4pm almost 80% of potential clients are unable to come. On weekends the Saturday mornings are the more muted times. This leads up to an unbelievable vacancy rate at most salons and sport centers. They are open but the lack of clients leads only to facebooking…

I have a solution for you! Based on how far the payday spike is, try to experiment with different opening times. Instead of being closed Sunday-Monday, occasionally try a Monday-Tuesday “weekend”. You could serve clients who do not have time on weekdays but can save some for the weekend better.

My other tip would be to incentivize an alternative appointment for clients calling you. If a new-ish client tries to set her next appointment, instead of turning a page in your calendar to the next week, ask this: “Would you be interested in tomorrow 10 a.m. for a 30% discount?” It is last minute, it is off-peak but you have definitely made it more interesting with the price.

About the Author: Balazs Monos is the founder of Reserveline, a marketplace that lets service providers sell their unscheduled appointments to potential customers at discounted prices. Balazs has spent 7 years in sales and marketing in both B2B and B2C fields. He offers free consultations on client acquisition and pricing strategy for local service providers from and around London.

Also find him on Twitter! @reserveline


Originally published at reserveline-sp.blogspot.hu on May 6, 2015.

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