How to Handle Missed Appointments

A Blog Post by Brian Miller

I got up early on a Saturday morning, usually one of the few days I might get to catch up on my sleep. A new client had signed up, which for a new coach is quite affirming. This client had a very demanding job and lived in a different time zone, so we ended up scheduling at 6:30am on Saturday morning. The early rise was rough but the joy I always received from coaching this client was worth the effort.

Preparation is key to me so I wanted to be sure I was in an environment conducive for a great coaching session. I decided to go to my church office for this call, which required a little more effort and a drive in the dark. Settling into my chair, I powered up the computer, pulled my headset over my ears, and waited for my client to call.

6:30am – He didn’t call.

6:34am – He didn’t call.

6:41am – He didn’t call.

Sometimes people forget. Sometimes something comes up. I had determined at this point in my career to give my client 15 minutes before I gave up.

6:45am – He still didn’t call.

Here is where it all went wrong. I was irritated. It might not have been as bad if I hadn’t gone to so much effort. I texted my client that he had missed the call. He responded quickly and apologetically. He had forgotten.

I was still in a slow broil. My contract says that if you miss an appointment without prior notification, it is still a paid appointment. This wasn’t any problem. He had purchased six sessions. It wasn’t like I was going to have to bill him, but something insidious inside me felt the need for one more step. I texted him and let him know that this would be a paid session. He responded quickly, “That’s fine.”

We never coached again. He passively refused to set up another appointment. I called my mentor coach (mentor coaches are a must) and told him what had happened and how I responded. He had two observations.

  1. I was right to charge him for the session.
  2. I was wrong to tell him.

The contract was clear. The only reason to tell him was to inflict a bit of injury to compensate for the injury I felt in being forgotten. It was inappropriate. If I had known this, I might still be coaching him. He was a joy to coach. And I might be coaching his peers as well. He had already mentioned it.