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How to Calculate and Improve No-Show Rate

In this blog post, we'll explore the intricacies of calculating the no-show rate, explore its significance, and discuss strategies for reducing it. We will also provide you with a quick no-show rate calculator!
Calculating No Show Rates
Calculating No Show Rates

You have a patient booked for 8 a.m. on a Monday. You arrive at your office a half an hour early to prepare for the patient’s arrival and wait for them past the appointed hour. When they do not show up at 8 a.m., you give them twenty minutes before seeing the next patient, who happened to be early.

How would you, then, calculate that time into a no-show rate? And more importantly, why should you?

As businesses strive to optimize their operations and enhance customer experience, one crucial metric that often comes into play is the “no-show rate.” Whether it’s a medical practice, a restaurant, or a service-based business, accurately measuring and analyzing the no-show rate can provide valuable insights into operational efficiency and revenue management. 

What is "No-Show Rate" ?

What is No Show Rate

A “no-show rate” refers to the percentage of people who do not attend an appointment, reservation, meeting, or event after having booked or committed to it. This term is commonly used in various industries and settings, such as healthcare, where patients may not show up for scheduled doctor’s appointments; hospitality, where guests may not arrive for their hotel or restaurant reservations; and services, such as salons or consulting, where clients may miss their bookings without canceling in advance.

The no-show rate is an important metric for businesses and organizations because it affects resource allocation, scheduling, and financial forecasting. High no-show rates can lead to wasted resources, decreased efficiency, and lost revenue. As a result, many organizations implement strategies to reduce no-shows, such as reminder calls, texts, or emails; cancellation policies with fees; and overbooking strategies to account for expected no-shows.

What is "Show Rate" ?

What is a Show Rate

A “show rate” refers to the percentage of people who attend or participate in an appointment, reservation, meeting, or event after having booked or committed to it. Essentially, it’s the opposite of the no-show rate. This metric is crucial for businesses, healthcare providers, service providers, and event organizers as it helps them gauge the effectiveness of their scheduling, the reliability of their client or customer base, and their capacity planning.

For instance, in the healthcare industry, a high show rate for patient appointments means that the clinic or hospital can expect most scheduled patients to arrive for their appointments, which allows for more accurate staffing and resource allocation. In the hospitality industry, a high show rate for restaurant reservations or hotel bookings indicates that the business can expect a certain level of occupancy or patronage, which is critical for inventory and staff planning.

Organizations often strive to increase their show rate through various strategies like reminder systems, easy cancellation or rescheduling processes, incentives for showing up, and sometimes penalties for no-shows. The goal is to minimize wasted resources and lost revenue while maintaining a good relationship with clients or customers.

Similar (But not Identical) Terms for "No Show Rate"

Common synonyms or related terms for “no-show rate” often revolve around the concept of absenteeism or unfulfilled commitments in various contexts. Here are some terms that are frequently used interchangeably or in closely related discussions:

  1. Absenteeism Rate: While typically used in the context of employment to refer to employees who are habitually absent from work, it can be conceptually similar when discussing the rate at which people fail to show up for appointments or reservations.

  2. Cancellation Rate: This term can sometimes be used similarly to no-show rate, although it technically refers to the percentage of people who actively cancel their appointment or reservation before the scheduled time, as opposed to simply not showing up.

  3. Attrition Rate: In the context of events, especially paid ones like conferences or workshops, attrition rate can refer to the number of participants who fail to show up, though it also broadly covers cancellations.

  4. Drop-off Rate: This term is used more broadly to refer to the rate at which people disengage from any process or service, which can include not showing up for a scheduled commitment.

  5. Failure to Attend (FTA) Rate: This term is often used in healthcare and other appointment-based services to describe the percentage of individuals who do not show up for their appointments.

  6. Non-Attendance Rate: A straightforward term that directly describes the percentage of people who do not attend an event, meeting, or appointment they were expected to.

These terms, while related, can have nuances in their meaning depending on the context in which they are used. For instance, some emphasize the action of cancelling (cancellation rate), while others focus on the lack of attendance (no-attendance rate, FTA rate), but all relate to the broader concept of not fulfilling a booking or reservation.

Why Your Time Matters:

Unlike other elements of our lives, we cannot recover the lost opportunity of time. In business, this is the lost opportunity of an appointment slot that goes unfilled. Each unfilled appointment slot in a schedule cost money.

A no-show slot is even more expensive. A no-show means that the time was assigned to a person who did not show up or cancel their appointment in advance, and therefore did not contribute to your bottom line. Additionally, they prevented that time from being given to someone who would have added to the company’s revenue stream

For the health of your business, seeing 100% of the appointment slots filled with paying clients is likely your goal. So the question is, exactly how much are no-shows costing you? Below we show you how to calculate it. By knowing exactly what the cost is, you can make more financially calculated decisions.

Once you know your no-show rate, you can take the time to estimate how much each client no-show costs you. This will help you see in real numbers the impact that no-shows have (a way to incentivize you to make the changes necessary to reduce no-shows). Also, this can help you see the way forward to making changes. For example, does it cost you more to retain a no-show client than to generate new clients?

Reduce Your No Show Rate
Reduce Your No Show Rate

Did you know that appointment reminders have been shown to decrease no-shows by as much as 95%? This means by using appointment reminders you can affordably increase your business’ revenue.

How to Calculate No Show Rate:

Like any industry, some businesses have a lower no-show rate than others. These successful businesses have gotten to where they are by understanding their situation and addressing the underlying issues. You can’t take on the problem if you don’t have all the data. Here’s how you start:

  1. First you need to find your average number of daily no-show appointments. It’s important to find the average number of daily no-shows: no one day is going to give you an overall view of what is going on. The best way to average this number is over 30 days. Track your no-show clients for 30 days and then take the total number and divide by 30. This number will be your daily average. (As a note, it’s important to keep track of those that are true no-shows, and not count empty slots that are actually appointments that were rescheduled).

  2. Next you want to calculate the number of daily appointments that you book. Again, you want the average number over the course of a month. If you’re not already tracking your daily appointments, this is a good time to start. Add up your daily appointments for 30 days and then divide by 30. This number will be your daily average.

  3. Once you have these two numbers as averages per day on a monthly basis, divide the average number of daily no-show appointments by the average number of scheduled appointments.  Then multiply the number by 100.  This gives you your no-show rate.

Let’s use an example. You have an average of 42 appointments scheduled in one month. Also, pretend you have an average of 6 no-shows per day in a given month. So your calculation would be:

6 ÷ 42 =0.14.

Your no-show rate would be 14%.

Many businesses have no-show rates somewhere between 2% and 15%, numbers which vary greatly based on the location of the business (urban, suburban or rural) and the type of business (legal, medical, beauty/salon, etc.).

Statistical Chart on No Show Rates

Average No-Show Rates

  • Primary Healthcare: Around 5% to 7% pre-pandemic, with variations depending on specialty and location.
  • Dental Appointments: Approximately 10% to 15%, varying by practice and patient demographics.
  • Specialty Healthcare Clinics (e.g., dermatology, cardiology): Can range from 10% to no more than 20%, highly dependent on the specialty and patient engagement strategies.
  • Hospital Outpatient Services: Varies widely but can be as high as 20% in some settings.
  • Mental Health Services: Particularly high, sometimes exceeding 20%, due to the nature of the conditions being treated and associated barriers.
  • Telehealth Services: Generally lower, around 7.5%, due to convenience, but varies by service type.
  • Restaurants: Can range from 5% to 20%, with higher-end restaurants typically experiencing lower rates due to deposit requirements or cancellation policies.
  • Hotels: Around 10% for last-minute no-shows, but this can vary based on booking conditions and the hotel’s cancellation policy.
  • Air Travel: Generally low, around 5%, due to the high cost of missing flights, though this varies by airline and route.
  • Event Ticketing (concerts, sports): Very low, often below 5%, especially for sold-out events where secondary market sales are an option.
  • Beauty and Personal Care Services (salons, spas): Estimated between 10% and 20%, highly dependent on cancellation policies.
  • Fitness Classes and Personal Training Sessions: Can range from 10% to 30%, influenced by membership models and cancellation policies.
  • Legal Consultations: Varies widely, but some reports suggest around 10% to 15% for scheduled appointments.
  • Automotive Services (repairs, maintenance): Estimated at around 10%, influenced by the necessity of the service.
  • Real Estate Showings: Can be as high as 20%, especially for open houses compared to private showings.
  • Banking and Financial Consultations: Lower rates, generally around 5% to 10%, due to the formal nature of these appointments.
  • Educational Tutoring and Classes: Varies but can be up to 20% for non-compulsory sessions.
  • Veterinary Appointments: Similar to human healthcare, around 10% to 15%, varying by practice.
  • Professional Workshops and Conferences: Varies widely, but generally, 10% to 20% might not attend, especially if registration is free.
  • Public Sector Appointments (DMV, government services): Lower, around 5% to 10%, due to the required nature of many such appointments.
No-Show Rate Calculator

No-Show Rate Calculator





3 Steps to Reduce Your No Show Rate

Step 1: Interpret the Results

Now that you have calculated your no-show rate, the first thing you need to do is interpret the results. This will allow you to gain insights into not only the impact of the no-shows but also the potential cause and solutions.

When are most of your no-shows? Is there a particular group that is responsible for a majority of no shows? Are most no-shows during a specific part of the day or week? All these things provide valuable insights into addressing the average no show rate.

Step 2: Implement Strategies for Addressing No Shows

The next thing you should do is implement a few strategies for addressing no-shows. Some of the suggested strategies are:

  1. Implement or adjust your appointment reminders: If you are not already using an automated appointment reminder solution, consider implementing one. If you are already using an automated reminder system, take a closer look at how you are using it. You may need to adjust a few things such as outreach type (call vs text vs email), or sending multiple reminders for an appointment. Check out our reminder templates to reduce no shows.
  2. Require a confirmation for the appointment: If you require your patients or customers to confirm their appointments, you stand a better chance of having them show up. Most automatic appointment reminder software will allow you to accept confirmations. Follow up manually with the patients that have not confirmed their appointments.
  3. Implement penalties for not showing up: Even implementing a small fee for no shows can encourage your patients or customers to show up on time for their appointments. At the very least you may get actual cancellations that will allow you to fill vacant spots. Even if you don’t really enforce these fees, just letting your customers know that there are cancellation fees, could help.

Step 3: Monitor Over Time and Adjust for Improvements

Now that you have analyzed your average patient no-show rate and implemented strategies to attempt to improve it, it’s important to monitor your results over time to see how effective your strategies are.

Create a spreadsheet with your average weekly no-show rates and then update it every week. This way you can continue to determine if your strategies are making significant improvements.

Set aside a couple of hours per week to gather and monitor your no-show data. Continue to adjust and try to figure out which strategies are working, and which are not. 

Download Our No-Show Rate Excel Tracker

Conclusion

Calculating, understanding, and monitoring your no-show rate is extremely valuable for all types of businesses. By taking the time to analyze your no show rate and really understanding not only the numbers, but the reasons, you can make vast improvements over time. It also gives you a chance to improve customer satisfaction, optimize office resources, and streamline work effectiveness.

Reducing your no-show rate does not happen overnight. It requires proactive measures, continuous monitoring, and adjustments. By following the strategies outlined here, you can be well on your way to increasing your bottom line, decreasing no shows, and improving your overall customer satisfaction and office effectiveness

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