Last Updated on January 20, 2023 by The ZenMaid Team
Why does your cleaning business need a cancelation policy?
You’ve probably been here before: A client calls and cancels their scheduled cleaning an hour before their appointment… again. We get it; life happens. Your client’s mother is in the hospital for surgery, someone in the family came down with the flu, or perhaps your client is going through a divorce and doesn’t want anyone in the house. Sometimes, your clients cancel and don’t tell you why.
Other times, employees are locked out of the home without a lock code or hidden key. After calling the client multiple times with no answer, your employees leave the premises only to wait for hours to begin their next appointment elsewhere.
You’re losing money in both of these scenarios. Even though cancelations are expected, they’re still frustrating. How are you as a cleaning business owner supposed to navigate these tricky situations? Since cancelations are an expected part of the cleaning industry, don’t let them surprise you.
Create a fair and clear cancelation policy. Your goal should be to provide a mutually beneficial policy for your cleaning business and your clients. You need security and your clients deserve clarity. But this isn’t always easy, or else you would’ve already put one into place.
Cancelation policies: one size doesn’t fit all
It’s true in a lot of areas of life, including your maid service —one size doesn’t fit all. What works for a residential cleaning business may not work for a commercial cleaning business.
Avoid the temptation to simply copy and paste someone else’s ideas. While you can use templates as a guideline to help you get started, make sure your cancelation policy reflects your values and your company’s culture. (After all, branding is important in every aspect of your business!)
You should also think about situations that are unique to your business, employees, clients, neighborhood, and surrounding area. Do you specialize in a particular kind of cleaning? Is the weather unpredictable in your city? Do you serve elite clientele or middle-class families? Take the nuances of your business into account when creating your cancelation policy.
How to create a great cancelation policy
We have four great cancelation policy templates to share with you, but here are a few key tips to consider before you look at any templates below:
- Communicate your cancelation policy upfront: As soon as a new client signs up over the phone, give them a link to your terms of service. When you go on your first walkthrough at a client’s house or residential space, be sure to mention your policy. You can even use ZenMaid to send your clients an automatic reminder of your cancelation policy before every appointment. This way, no one gets surprised.
- Provide contact information: Your clients should know exactly how to contact you if they need to cancel. Send your clients a routine reminder of your policy and include the necessary email, phone number, or website link to easily cancel. If you make your clients “jump through hoops” to cancel appointments, then you are going to have some unhappy customers. Remember, your business thrives when you have positive relationships with clients and great customer experiences.
- Keep your policy visible: If your cancelation policy is hidden on your website, how do you expect your clients to keep up with your terms of service? If you have a physical location (like an office building) post a large copy of your policy somewhere near the front. If you operate fully remote, include your policy on your Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, or website.
- Use simple language: Your clients shouldn’t need a lawyer to understand your cancelation policy! The language you use needs to be clear and easy to comprehend. (This doesn’t mean a lawyer can’t help you write your cancelation policy, though. It’s always a good idea to seek legal advice when it comes to contracts.)
- Provide timeframes to cancel without a penalty and timeframes with a penalty: Exact numbers are important here. Your clients shouldn’t have any surprises with your policy. Everything should be clearly laid out. Many cleaning services require a 24 to 48-hour notice.
- State your cancelation fees: You may require a lump sum, a percentage, an increased cost dependent on prior cancelations, or a booking fee. Some businesses charge a $50 fee or 50% of the starting price — usually whichever is higher.
- Create a space for your clients to sign your cancelation policy: This ensures that your clients have read your policies and will adhere to them. When you add this extra step you create even more transparency. A client is less likely to be angry with you if they signed the agreement in the first place.
Now that you know you need a cancelation policy and you understand what you should include in it, here are a few templates to use as guidelines! (Remember, these are a starting point; avoid the temptation to simply copy and paste and call it a day.)
(To make a copy of the cancelation policies, go to file → make a copy → rename the doc → save into your drive.)
Cleaning Business Cancelation Policy Example 1
[Insert company name here] — CANCELATION POLICY
In the event that the Client needs to cancel a scheduled cleaning appointment, forty-eight (48) hours notice to [insert company name here] is required. Notice may be given by email, SMS (text), or phone. Should the Client fail to give forty-eight (48) hours notice on more than one (1) occasion, the Client must pay 50% for the canceled cleaning first offense and 100% of the fee for canceled cleanings thereafter. Canceling more than three (3) consecutive cleanings or more than seven (7) total scheduled cleanings, without prior approval of [Insert company name here], will be deemed a material breach and allow [Insert company name here] to cancel the contract and/or pricing agreement or to seek legal remedies.
In the event that [Insert company name here] needs to cancel a scheduled cleaning appointment 24 hours notice will be given to the client. If [Insert company name here] fails to give 24-hour notice, client will be offered one free cleaning.
Cleaning Business Cancelation Policy Example 2
[Insert company name here] — CANCELATION POLICY
Please note that if service is canceled with less than 24 hours notice, OR we are unable to access the home upon arrival, OR we are turned away at the door, a cancelation/lockout fee equal to half the service price will be charged to the credit card on file.
Cleaning Business Cancelation Policy Example 3
[Insert company name here] — CANCELATION POLICY
Once you’ve made an appointment with [Insert company name here], we have now returned to the appointment time exclusively and respectively for you. If you cancel less than twenty-four (24) hours from your appointment time, you will be charged 50% (half) the amount of your agreed rate for the canceled appointment. We kindly ask for a 48 hours notice of cancelation or preferably the most notice you can provide once you know you will not be able to keep the appointment time. We are happy to accommodate you with a rescheduled appointment; however, that will be subject to availability.
What to say when notifying current Customers of your new cancelation policy
We wanted to let you know that as of [date of change] we will be starting with a 24-hour cancelation policy with an [fee here]. This helps keep our schedules for our employees organized so we can continue providing a great service! We appreciate the advanced understanding. Should you wish to read more on this please visit our terms and conditions here [link to t&c] or reach out to us via [your preferred method of communication].
When to apply cancelation fees
Hopefully, you now have a better idea of what your policy will look like in written form. The next step is to discern when you should and should not charge your fees.
For instance, when a new client comes on board with your company, it is important to create goodwill from the start. Consider waving the first lockout or cancelation from a client. This gives you the opportunity to repeat your policy and demonstrate friendliness. Ideally, your client remembers this interaction and avoids similar mistakes in the future. You can even give the client a written agreement with the disclaimer that this is a one-time waiver.
If a client cancels but immediately reschedules for the next day, you could waive the fee if you have availability that next day.
Also, consider the amount of prep work involved in each particular instance. If a client requires a large number of resources and time before the scheduled cleaning, you can create specific guidelines for this type of work (such as a five-day cancelation policy).
Try to find out why your client canceled on you in the first place. Open dialogue can help avert cancelations in the future.
Have a win-win mentality with your clients
Remember that you created your cancelation policy to strengthen your business and relationship with your clients. Your policies shouldn’t aim to punish anyone, but instead, to provide fairness.
Focus on customers who don’t cancel. Give them exceptional service and tell them how much you appreciate their reliability.
Think about how your terms of service should be reasonable towards customers that you’ve had for years. Put yourself in their shoes.
Take the time to listen to your customers if they are concerned about your policy. Maybe you’ll find that you’re too strict on some things. Even if you don’t agree with a client, you can still find some middle ground.
We hope these cancelation policy templates have helped get you started! You already have everything you need for success; guidelines, templates, and policy tips. Have a question about a cancelation policy? Join our Facebook community and post the questions! Or, drop a comment below!
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