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Crafting cancellation policies

For most businesses, reschedules and cancellations are an unfortunate (and sometimes frustrating) part of the job. But plans change and we've all had to rearrange events in our life. Having a clear and effective cancellation policy can help not only reduce appointment and job cancellations, but also protect your business from lost revenue 

Simpro has put together some cancellation policy templates to provide a good starting point from which to craft your own unique policy that fits your business. It also has some tips to help determine when to charge a fee in the event of cancellations, and how to safeguard customer satisfaction if they do occur. 

Navigating the Cancellation Policy Journey

Cancellation policies are a necessary part of your business, if you schedule anything with your customers. They can even extend to projects as a whole to help you recover lost revenue, if a customer decides not to go through with a job. The key is to have the right cancellation policy for your business, customer and project type. 

For instance, a common cancellation policy is an appointment cancellation policy template for a client or potential client meeting. When you make an appointment, there will usually be a clause or section at the bottom that tells the client when and how they may cancel that appointment. Sometimes, it comes with repercussions, such as a fee. For other jobs, where perhaps you took a deposit ahead of time or even charged for the job upfront, you'll need a different cancellation policy. Depending on your business and what jobs you have, you may even use several different policies. 

Crafting a Concise Cancellation Policy Template 

To help you create the best cancellation policy, Simpro has prepared templates for the most popular types of policy for landscapers – project based. For more appointment-type templates, search ‘cancellation policy’ on

Keep in mind: anything in these templates surrounded by square brackets is intended for you to replace with your information. Feel free to change any part of these to fit your specific needs. 

Must-Haves for Your Cancellation Policy 

For your cancellation policy to be successful and to pre-empt questions from customers rather than cause them, it must have a few key pieces: 

1. A clear cancellation timeframe with or without penalties

By far, the biggest part of your cancellation policy is the timeframe. Last-minute reschedules and cancellations are a big problem, causing disruptions for your staff and your business. So, to be respectful of your customers’ and employees’ time, give yourself an ample window in your cancellation policy, so you can rearrange schedules with minimal consequences. 

2. An effective late-cancellation penalty system 

Money talks. While it’s certainly nicer not to have a penalty for cancelled appointments, the fact is they cost you far more than just money. Having a monetary cost to rescheduling or cancelling a project close to its scheduled date helps encourage customers to pay more attention and make any changes earlier. 

3. Contact information for client cancellations

Don't rely on your customers to have your contact information handy. Make it as easy as possible for them to get in contact with you. If they don’t have to sift through papers and dig for your number, it’s much more likely they’ll make any scheduling adjustments early.  

4. Description of penalties or consequences 

If you choose to charge a fee for late reschedules and cancellations, make sure it’s clear as day in your policy. While you’ll probably still hear the  “Well, I didn’t know there was a fee” from clients, it’s a lot easier to enforce your policies if they’re front and centre in plain sight. 

5. A signature space for policy acknowledgment

It’s important your customers have a ‘sign-off’ area, especially if your cancellation policy has been broken. Having a signature space for your customers on your estimates quotes or even appointment request forms – to confirm they have seen, and will abide by your policies – helps if you have difficulties down the road. 

Determining When to Charge a Cancellation Fee 

If you look at a lot of cancellation policies, you’re bound to see fees for late reschedules or cancellations. There’s even a fee mentioned in each of our templates. Sometimes, businesses charge a fee to cancel at all – no matter what stage of the job you’re at. What will be right for your business will depend on a few things: 

  • Job type: For run-of-the-mill jobs, such as regular maintenance, charging a cancellation fee likely doesn’t make much sense. Especially for residential work, charging a fee may mean you lose that customer's business forever. But for commercial jobs that involve a lot of staff or custom parts, cancellation fees can be pretty important for protecting your business. 

  • Job cost: As with job type, how much a particular job will cost you to perform should impact whether you charge a cancellation fee. For quick jobs with equipment you always have on hand in a local area, a customer cancelling an appointment may not cost you all that much. But if that customer instead ordered plants or pavers you don't usually have in stock, or you need to bring on a contractor to help handle the job, it's a lot safer for you to charge a fee. 

  • Competition: If all your competitors don't charge a cancellation fee in their policies, you may simply have to follow suit. Likewise, not having a cancellation fee when your competitors do can be a way for you to one-up the others in your industry. Depending on what you consider to be your competitive advantage — price, reputation, etc. — will help you decide whether or not you charge a cancellation fee. 

Fine-Tuning Your Cancellation Policy for Customer Satisfaction 

Ultimately, how you build your cancellation policy is up to you and how you run your business. As you discuss taking on jobs, keep track of what customers say about your policy.

Above all, don’t be afraid to change it. Keeping your customers happy is a big part of keeping your business healthy.   

If you’re looking for other ways to keep your business running smoothly, a field service management platform can help with everything from appointment scheduling and customer management to invoicing and fleet tracking.

See for yourself how Simpro could help you here:


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