To charge or not to charge for appointments.

To charge or not to charge for appointments.

What is an appointment?

An appointment is a dedicated amount of time given to one customer at a time. These can range from one hour to two hours in the main. Some boutiques offer their diary online and brides etc can book their own appointment slot.

Or one can telephone/email/DM to make an appointment too.

Appointments can guarantee your workload from day to day, week to week. You can see at a glance what is happening and plan accordingly.

Appointments give you the opportunity to schedule other work commitments around them.

For the customer it means being able to browse at a more leisurely pace (not too leisurely) and is a highly personalised service dedicated to them and their guests.

Managing their expectations, giving advice, and helping your customers enjoy this buying experience.

Honing your customer service and care can be delivered with confidence in a personalised appointment as soon as they enter your boutique.

Appointments are your opportunity to hone your sales skills and find just what your customers are looking for in a wedding dress/bridesmaid dress/prom dress/MOB/MOG outfit. And perhaps even menswear too.

When a customer books an appointment with you it is a sign of commitment.

Appointments don’t mean you cannot see walk in customers. It’s a case of planning well to accommodate any customers who wish to spontaneously try on dresses.

Have boutiques always charged for appointments?

Over the years I’ve worked with hundreds of boutique owners and their teams. In the old days appointments were not charged for. Customers would often just wander by. If they were able to be seen, all the better.

In later years, appointments are the thing. The majority of boutiques work by appointment only – in most cases.

The idea of charging for appointments is not ever so new, just more of a focus today, possibly in part due to the number of no shows.                                      

We all know there is nothing more frustrating than a customer not turning up. Particularly on a Saturday. You are just waiting and waiting for someone who hasn’t bothered to let you know they cannot make it, they’ve genuinely forgotten, or indeed, have found their dress elsewhere and don’t want to tell you. It’s hugely annoying.

Don’t want to charge customers for appointments? No problem.

A lot of boutique owners I know don’t want to and would never charge for appointments. That is absolutely their prerogative. As I always say, I am not the bridal police.

If it doesn’t work for your business, your team ,and your customers, don’t do it!

Where you have excellent footfall and are a larger boutique, you perhaps can afford not to charge for appointments. The law of averages says you’ll still sell dresses based on the number of customers you see in any given week.

Some boutique owners feel customers would be put off by being charged. That could be true in some instances. They may conduct feedback and customers say no to paying a fee.

Not charging for appointments can be seen as a sales tool, giving the business the edge over any competition who do charge.

Some customers may feel under pressure if they are expected to pay for appointments. Others may think it’s not appropriate to pay.

If you prefer not to charge, it’s all good. What we don’t want to do is turn anyone away.

Want to charge your customers for your time and expertise?

When you charge for appointments, it is a fact the cancellation and no show rates go down. I’ve seen the before and after stats myself in various bridal businesses I work with and it’s incredible.

There are several ways you can charge customers. You can have an upfront fee  for example, £25.00 – £35.00, which the customer pays prior to their arrival. You may decide to refund this amount when the customer purchases a gown.

You can hold their card details to ensure they turn up, if they don’t only then will you charge them. I know several boutiques who do this. Again, in the main, customers do turn up.

Or the charge is non-refundable and is purely a one off payable fee for your expertise, your time; a dedicated, professional, and experienced sales consultant’s attention giving them a personalised appointment. Again, boutiques I know who do this tell me it works very well for them.

Of course, we also have the rise of VIP appointments. A longer appointment time of say 2.5 to 3 hours with bubbles other drinks nibbles and all. The cost may be up to £50 for this service. The bride can bring lots of guests and make it a real occasion.

These appointments do often result in a sale.

Charging definitely weedles out any potential time wasters, customers for instance who want to use your boutique – because it’s the best – to find what they are looking for in a dress and then go elsewhere to buy it. The “I want to think about it, can you write the details down” customers. The ones you never see again!

Charging therefore hones appointments and customers will certainly feel they are buying into your brand.

They feel like they have committed to you financially before they’ve even walked through the doors.


Remember, everything you do in your business needs to be delivered well. Service, customer care, verbal language, body language, listening skills, sales expertise, all of it.

Only when everything is in place can there be harmony, charging for your time – or not. We all strive to give 100% to all our customers.

Feel free to contact me if you have any questions. I’d love to hear your feedback about this topic.