Appointment Times 🕰 When did the culture change?
At what point did it become ok to arrive late to your scheduled appointment?
Having worked in service industries for many years, it is something I have seen develop or unravel more and more often as time goes on. People are now arriving later to their scheduled appointments than ever before and then behave as if it is the Service Professional’s fault if treatments have to be cut short or rescheduled.
It would seem that as our society becomes more insular, more aggressive and people become more self righteous, consideration, politeness and common courtesy is becoming … well … less common.
I was always taught that it was polite, professional and respectful to turn up for appointments, job interviews and invitations at least 5 minutes early to your scheduled time. You are showing respect for the inviter so that you are prepared and settled as soon as they are ready to begin the reason that you are there.
When you attend a performance at the theatre you are given a starting time that you must be there before they lock the doors. Out of respect for the Professional Performers, late-comers are locked out of the opening number or scene. You have to wait for a predetermined, less distracting and more considerate time of entry. You miss some of the service but you pay the same amount for a ticket.
Many Health and Beauty businesses run to a tight schedule so it is not only polite but expected that you should arrive on time. Planes don’t wait. You are encouraged to get to the airport early to check in and get all your incidental bits done before take off. Trains don’t wait for your tardiness. They have to get to their next station (appointment) at the expected scheduled time.
When you are rushing to a medical, beauty or hair appointment – you know, something that is more of a hands on service – when you arrive exactly on your appointment time or even a few minutes late, your technician, health professional or hairdresser, beauty therapist or Brow Artist now have to contend not only with your distracted state of mind and flustered repartee but also possible shortness of breath and tensed muscles – which may have needed to be in a relaxed state for best results. Then there is the sweatiness, clammy skin, body odour or excessive radiating heat from rushing – which is not only unpleasant for the operator but can also hinder the effectiveness of the oncoming treatment.
Moisture, heat and body oils all have a direct impact on every wax, cream, physical or chemical treatment hair and beauty technicians perform. It’s like going running before your podiatrist appointment and then presenting him with hot sweaty feet. There are many more factors at play here than your self-indulged and poorly managed time.
Also worth mentioning is stale cigarette smoke which has travelled inside with you – in your hair and clothing – without you giving it time for it to dissipate. Could you also use a mint?
Arriving slightly earlier for your appointment gives your body time to relax, fall back into place and cool down to a sense of ‘reset’ before your actual ‘being’ can react in an expected fashion to the treatment at hand.
Parking the car right on appointment time believing you’re on time.
I recall the conversation with a client who mentioned that she thought her previous service might have been a little rushed. I agreed that it was, as she had arrived late to her appointment and the following client had arrived on time for theirs. She stridently retorted that she was always on time for her appointment. I politely informed her that this was not always the case and that she was actually frequently a little late. Shocked she responded
“I was on time today for my 6pm, wasn’t I?”.
I coyly shook my head to politely indicate “no”. In disbelief she responded
“I looked at the clock when I was parking the car and it clearly said 6pm”.
I paused at that last statement and could almost see the light flickering on in her eyes as she realise that there would also have to be walking time from the car to her actual appointment location.
As professionals in our field, our time is valuable. Rushing the service has a domino effect. Not only does it mean that you may not be performing your fully intended service, it can make us potentially late for our next client and possibly the one after that. It is selfish to assume that your time is more valuable than the next client – or indeed your paid Professional.
Being notoriously late; Ignoring courtesy late calls; Arriving 20 minutes after your appointment has started but with a freshly poured barista-made coffee in your hand and then expecting the same full service when you have finally arrived; Arriving late and still expecting a full service and also insisting that you are needing to leave early to get to another appointment or to pick up the kids from school – This kind of shared or projected stress is now making us look incompetent.
We know how long our service takes. This is why we have scheduled appointment times.
Sometimes, in busy salons and studios we might have to cancel a client if they are too late for us to be able to perform the required service, as it then impinges on the following client’s time. As much as we would like to service everybody to make them happy, we also need to be fair to everybody to keep them happy.
Entitlement verses Tardiness.
I remember the time when I first started managing a beauty salon in one of Sydney’s more affluent inner western suburbs. We were doing back to back appointments and running to a tight schedule. Quite often I would have to call a client to inform them that their appointment started 20 minutes ago and as now they were too late, we would have to reschedule. I will never forget the time when one lady responded with
“Yes that’s right. I’m just leaving the house now”.
I’m not sure what the previous culture was in this salon, but a few of the continuing clients acted with much self entitlement. It was as if we were to wait around all day for her to graciously arrive and her appointment began when she felt like getting there.
People forget we are running a business here. On one hand, I guess this could be misconstrued as a form of compliment. You might be coming in for a chat and some pampering but we are working and our time is valuable. If common sense prevails, then “quickly” grabbing something to eat, “quickly” going to the bathroom or “quickly” making that phone call should all be done before your allotted treatment time. There are many minutes in the day so why would you choose exactly this time to carry out these tasks? You are paying me for my time. Now you are just wasting it. Your time is no more important than mine and the next person’s money is just as good as yours.
In 2018 I am reading more and more articles regarding salons who have decided to place a ban on clients bringing children to appointments. This is due to the many distractions hindering technicians from being able to perform tasks to their full capacity. Then there is the occupational health and safety risks – but that is a whole other conversation.
Arriving late without a courtesy call is generally deemed as disrespectful. However we do understand that sometimes you just can’t get to your phone – especially when driving. Service Industries are usually populated by creative people with an immense sense of empathy. We’re not all complete “Time Nazis”. We know there are often extenuating circumstances – just perhaps not EVERY time.
The bottom line :
If you are late to an appointment you must expect an abridged service due to the new time constraints you have now placed on your service technician.
We are all professionals trying to give our best professional service and a little courtesy goes a very long way.
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