Let’s get right to the point. When you waste time, you waste money. When clients show up late, that is money out of your pocket. Time=Money

You’ve probably set up a No-Show Late Cancellation policy by now, (if you haven’t, what are you waiting for?) but sometimes clients are just plain late and you still need to hold them accountable.  


  • They throw off your schedule. When clients run late, all your other appointments run late. This makes you look disorganized to other clients. Why ruin your reputation with clients who actually respect your time?
  • They force you to rush through the appointment. Don’t compromise your quality of work for these people.
  • Butterfly Effect. It pisses off your other clients who managed to come in on time.
  • Makes you look unprofessional. See above.

What can you do about it? How can you deal with this situation in a professional way?


  • It’s an industry standard to allow you clients a 5 min buffer time each appointment.
  • If you have a loyal client who shows up 15 min late once, no big deal. It costs money to acquire a new client, they can be late once or twice – life happens.
  • Once they show up late for the third time, you’ve got yourself a chronically late client. This is the reason the “late cancellation fee” was invented.


When clients call 10 min before their appointment to tell you they’re going to be late, have your answers prepared.

  • Ask them what time they will be at the salon. If their answer is vague, “I’m at the store – I’m leaving in a second,” Ask again. Let them know you have back to back appointments and need to be mindful of your other clients. They get that.
  • You can also ask where they are – this helps you determine how long it should take to get to your location: There is no point in you sitting around wondering when they’ll get there.
  • If they ask, “Will I be able to get my full session?” don’t make promises. Answer, “Once you get here, we can see how much time we have to work with.”
  • End the conversation with, “OK, drive carefully, I’ll be waiting for you, see you soon”. They need to understand that your schedule is on hold until they get there.


Your main goal is to build a loyal clientele and get paid. By charging a late fee, you are training clients to respect your time.

  • If a client constantly shows up late, it’s time to enforce your late cancellation policy.
  • If you are afraid of losing that client, don’t be. Loyal clients don’t leave you because they messed up. If the client is worth it, they will stick around.
  • You should be more worried about the effect that late clients have on your prompt clients. They could cost you a good client.

Tell them:

  • “My calendar is fully booked and unfortunately, I will not be able to finish your service in this short of time.”
  • If you want to start with a warning, tell them, “I can waive your late cancellation fee this time, but I won’t be able to do it again in the future.”
  • Offer to reschedule their appointment.


  • Charging your client a late cancellation fee for the first time? Reschedule their appointment and offer to tack the cancellation fee onto the price of the new service at a reduced rate.
  • This makes them feel like you’re giving them a break and you can lock in that next appointment.


  • If you charge your client the late fee and they continue to show up late, it’s time to block them.
  • StyleSeat allows you to block bad clients. When they go to book with you, it will seem like you have no appointments available.

We’ve covered late clients, but what about no-shows? Check out this article for tips on dealing with clients who are M.I.A.

Get StyleSeat for protection against no-shows and late cancellations. 

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