Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Reducing Cancelled Appointments - Part 2

by Bill Cates

Referral Coach International

I gave you some ideas as to how to reduce your percentage of cancelled appointments with new prospects. I had a number of readers suggest some other strategies in this area. So, Tip #1 in this issue will show you some more ideas from our readers to help you reduce appointment cancellations.

From John Strange - Cairns - Australia

"Our kept appointments run at around 90%, with about a 2% cancellation rate and about 8% reschedule. Our system is to send an e-mail to the prospect, confirming the date, time and place as well as what will be dealt with at the meeting.

"When gaining the appointment, we also make sure we get their mobile phone number. The day before the appointment, one of my team sets up text messages to go to all appointments for the next day. These messages are generally scheduled to be sent between 2 to 3 hours before the appointment. These messages are sent from the team member's computer, using preset messages, so she has minimal input, so the process is very fast and effective. We have found that this works much better than phone calls. We have been doing this for about 3 years and have dropped our no-shows down to the current level. Naturally all prospects are referrals."

Scott Miller - San Diego, CA

"For a new prospect or referral, I generally ask that they send any statements they want me to review in advance of the initial appt. If they send them, I know they are serious. In most cases we've already had a few discussions and I've done some initial fact finding so it's not totally unexpected.

"I LOVE it when a prospect legitimately forgets about an appointment or has to reschedule on short notice. It's almost a guaranteed close the second time around if for no other reason than out of remorse. I also never leave my office for an appointment without confirming first. If they don't confirm, I don't show up unless I happen to be in the area anyway. Of course I prefer to meet in my office.

"If a prospect keeps me waiting more than 10-15 minutes, I won't hesitate to tell the receptionist that I'll have to reschedule as now I don't have enough time to devote to the appointment and still be on time for my next one. Only ONCE in my 27-year career has the prospect refused to reschedule under that scenario. Clients and prospects need to understand that we are busy professionals and our time is to be respected as is theirs. They're generally very apologetic and understanding."

Are You Getting Inter-generational Referrals?

Joe Gemmill is a loyal Referral Minute reader (Thanks Joe). He shared this idea with me a few weeks ago. Perhaps you will find it helpful.

"I am 25 years in the financial advisory business and that means some of my clients were pre-retirees and now they are not so young. When we discuss "legacy planning", NOT "estate planning" I ask them 'Of the children you've listed on the data organizer, who would be the first to call me if you became ill or were in the hospital and needed money? Would it make sense to coordinate a time when you and your daughter/son could meet with me, so I would be a friendly face when they need me most?

"It can be tricky to schedule a time and you DO have to be very clear as to how much information will be shared as part of confidentiality. It is very proactive in serving our clients and has gained participation in the process, rather than a distressed, defensive call from an adult child with an incapacitated parent.

"And, we walk through the financial planning process and once the younger generation gets it...they have become clients too."

What are you doing to build loyalty and generate referrals? I'd love to hear your ideas! Also, are there any topics you'd like to see me address in future issues of The Referral Minute? Maybe I can help. I'd love to hear from you. Send your questions and best practices to me at: Info@ReferralCoach.com.

Get High-Quality Referrals from CPAs

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