How to Manage Chronically Late Customers

You need to know how to keep late customers
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When a client is late, it isn’t fair to your other customers who manage to arrive early or on time. Stylists typically book appointments back-to-back, so arriving more than 5 minutes late is not only disrespectful, it throws off the Stylist’s schedule for the rest of the day.

Let’s take a look at some tips and strategies for dealing with frequently tardy customers and how you can protect yourself. First, time is money, so when clients consistently arrive late, it’s costing you time and money.

Why do you need to keep clients accountable?

  • Late arrivals throw off your schedule and cause all your other appointments to run late- this makes you look disorganized and can ruin your reputation with clients who are always punctual
  • They force you to rush during your appointments, risking making mistakes and further damaging your reputation
  • Tardiness makes you look unprofessional, period.
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What can you do to curb chronical lateness and how can you deal with it professionally?


  • Allow your customers a 5-minute grace period for each appointment without penalty
  • If your loyal customer arrives 15 minutes late once or twice, let it slide- life happens. It costs a lot of time and money to gain new clients
  • If a client arrives late a third time, you can classify them as a ‘chronically late customer’ and you should enforce a ‘late fee’


Always have answers prepared for latecomers. If your client calls 10 minutes before a scheduled appointment, be prepared.

Ask your customers what time they will be at the salon. If their answer is vague, ask them again. 

Example: let them know that you have back to back appointments and you need to be mindful of your other customers. Ensure that they understand the value you place on each of your customers

Ask where they are – this will help you estimate how long it will take to get to the salon and you won’t be left waiting and wondering when they’ll arrive

Don’t make promises if your client asks: Will I be able to get my full service? Instead, say something like: Once you get here, we’ll see how much time we have to work with

Help your customer understand that your schedule is on hold until they get to the salon


As a Stylist, your main goals are to build a loyal clientele and get paid. If your time is not being respected, charging your clients a late fee will train them to be punctual.

  • If your clients are arriving late, it’s time to introduce them to your late fee policy
  • Don’t be afraid of losing a client due to charging them a late fee – loyal customers don’t leave because they messed up. If they value your service and expertise, they will return
  • Instead, your worry should be upsetting punctual clients – a late client could cost you a good client


  • My day is fully booked and unfortunately, I won’t have enough time to finish your service today
  • Try warning your customer by saying: I can waive the ‘late fee’ today, but I won’t be able to in the future
  • Suggest rescheduling their appointment


  • If you are enforcing a late fee for the first time, reschedule your client’s appointment, and offer to add the cancellation fee onto the price of their next appointment at a reduced rate
  • This strategy makes your client feel like you are giving them a break, and you have just locked in their next appointment


  • If you have charged your client a late fee but they continue to be disrespectful of your time by arriving late, block them
  • You deserve respect – don’t let your customers cause your unnecessary stress

Now that we’ve discussed late clients, what about no-shows? Take a look at our article about no-shows for tips on how to manage M.I.A. clients.

Join Beautster today to protect yourself against no-shows and last-minute cancellations.

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