Cancellation policies are a must. In fact, if you do nothing more when you set you your business but charge your worth and have a cancellation policy you will likely do better than most businesses who have don’t have that but have a business plan. And with a virus spreading across the globe there will be few who are not faced with the question of canceling a session, workshop, event or something like it. So, what do you do if you have to cancel?
To talk about how to end something we need to talk about how to begin it!
You need a cancellation policy. This is a must and if you roll your eyes or want to stop reading please follow to the end. Your policy will be challenged. And, it’s only as strong as you uphold it. When it comes to your sessions you need to have a policy that not only protects you but the other clients as well. And, when people ask to not be charged the late cancel this is your moment to train them. So many teachers fear this moment. But, this moment is key. If they are someone who is likely to cancel all the time they will learn from the get-go that they can you are simply going to charge them. If you haven’t been upholding your cancellation policy then times like these are going to be really hard for you. Because, of course, you don’t want people coming if they feel sick right now. Those who were already upholding their policy have clients trained to cancel early.
For events, workshops, retreats: there is a lot to think about when it comes to a cancellation policy. There are more expenses to these. Many are not insurable if they don’t happen. Payment in advance holds people accountable. But, what happens if they need to cancel. Did you put in your T & C’s what their options are? You may have different policies depending on how far out in advance the cancel. Or you may have a flat no refund policy. This is absolutely fine. I got to many amazing events that are expensive that have a zero refund policy. And, they won’t let you transfer to the next one. However, many will allow you to transfer your spot to someone else by a certain date.
For my retreats, we have a no refund policy, non-transferable to another event or retreat. However, we do allow people to send someone in their place.
I highly recommend you speak to your attorney who drafts up your waivers and contracts to help you verbalize your cancelation policy. This is not something you want to copy off the internet.
Ok, now that we’ve discussed briefly you having a policy in place for your clients and customers. That you will promise yourself to uphold!!!! It’s time to discuss what happens when you have to cancel.
In your business, I hope you never have to cancel more than a session or two. This will not be that costly in the end. And, it’s super easy to own up to. Fewer people are let down. I used to have a policy with my clients that if I late canceled on them I owed them a session. This helped them see that I treated me canceling on them as highly as them canceling on me. It also allowed me to emphasize how much them coming to their session sick could cost me. While only costing them a session if they got me sick I might miss an entire week of work.
And that system y’all worked for quite some time. Because I rarely got sick. But, with travel and meetings, my schedule has become increasingly busier. So I changed it. If I can provide them a sub then I don’t owe them a free session. They don’t have to say yes but it does solve me having to ever work for free. And, I let them send a friend in their place for their sessions too. I highly recommend this option for studios where there are multiple teachers. It is great for you, the other teachers and the clients too.
But, let’s say you have to cancel a workshop or retreat. If you had a cancellation policy in place you would have ideally put in that you can do this. And, what happens if you do. This is key. You hope you never have to but what if you can’t get to where the event is? What happens if a storm tears down your retreat space? What about “an act of God?”
You cannot control everything. So, having things put in place that you can fall back on or refer to is key. And also provides you with an out.
When canceling: Apologize. It is an inconvenience to your attendees too. Yes, it’s going to cost you money. Even a lot. But, they were just as excited to attend your thing as you were. Yes, you may have spent a year planning, marketing and selling it. And, you’re losing all that time and their money and likely more with fees, flights, reservations you cannot get back. But, they too have been planning their life around your event or workshop.
Hold space for them as you would hope they would do for you.
Be mindful of what you post on social media about it. Your emails/calls/text canceling may have been beautifully articulated but if you then go to social and moan about it people see that. You are going to be sad, frustrated and more. That’s ok. But your attendees will also. And, when you do have another event you are going to want them to want to try again. Have a friend you can cry to the old fashion way. It is important you feel your feelings.
Make sure refunds happen as timely as possible. Let people know when to expect them. Be as communicative as possible. Yes, I know you’re losing money and you’ve got tons of other things going on. But, it’s super important that you remember they only know what you tell them.
If you handle canceling with as much grace, professionalism, kindness, and humaness you will be able to rise up again. You will. It might not feel like it in the moment. And, you might not want to. But, know that people will always remember how you made them feel. And if while canceling you can make them feel loved and seen they will remember that and be more excited for your next adventure.
Go check all your cancelation policies for all your things! Don’t wait. Do it today. It’s going to save you maybe even your business.
If you need help and support at this time please contact us here. We have been collecting best-written emails for not canceling and for canceling events. And, while we hope to not cancel a single event on your calendar this year. There are no guarantees for us either. And, while it would cost us more than any event took in to cancel we have policies in place for if/when we have to ever make that decision. And we want that for you too.