Massive waiting lists, empty classes: the cancellation time is increasing to 12 Hours

26 Feb

Hi All.

We are delighted that Crossfit London is going so well. However, we still have a growing problem of people holding onto class places until the last minute, then cancelling without consequence under our generous ‘no penalty’ policy. It means that no one else has the opportunity of taking the place and, and as we pay our instructors based on class attendance, it directly demoralises our teaching team.

Unless there is a point I have not considered, I am going to move the cancellation window to 12 hours before the class, with effect from Wednesday 29 February. This is still  a substantially generous cancellation period when lined up against other gyms in London. This means that unless you cancel your class place within 12 hours, you will still be charged for the space . This will give others a chance of grabbing your slot in the class.

18 thoughts on “Massive waiting lists, empty classes: the cancellation time is increasing to 12 Hours

  1. I think 12 hours is too long a window. Some of us work not far off a twelve hour day. Just my view. I rarely cancel last minute but think itsva useful function.

  2. I had a lots of soul searching before doing this, but the feedback is coming from those people who would take up the extra space if offered. Its aimed at giving them time to organise their day, rather being told a few hours before that a class is available.

  3. I feel really bad late cancelling – but the nature of my work means that sometimes I get stuff thrown at me at very short notice. Completely understand your reasoning though Andrew, I know how frustrating it is not to be able to book in on a class due to numbers so on balance I think this is a good idea.

  4. I think on balance this will work out better for me – although I have cancelled late from time to time, I can probably plan a little better to avoid cancelling – will see. BUT…..hopefully it means that when I try to make a Saturday session that is fully booked, I will stand a better chance. Wanted to go this Saturday, it was fully booked at 9.00am and only 6 people turned up…..and I have been to fully booked classes and 3-4 people have turned up.

    Must be frustrating for the Crossfit team thinking they have a full class only to find 4-5 attendees. And I guess the more successful Crossfit London becomes as a business, the more comprehensive a service the guys can supply us. Speaking of services, any chance we could trial something like Wod time? http://www.wodtime.com – with a forum for clients, a place to track training, records, and have virtual throwndowns?

  5. I am not saying I am against, just couple of points to consider:

    1, some of us have schedules which are pretty unpredictable and cancelling last minute is not necessarily because we decided to go for a beer instead. This makes CFL comparatively more attractive than other CF gyms in London for this type of client, so you might be getting clients you would not have otherwise.

    2, with the new cancelation policy if someone decides not to come to class 11 hours before it starts their incentive to log into the system and cancel is essentially zero. The class will still appear full in the system, be empty in reality and no-one else will be able to sign up anyway.

    3, I found the waitlist system pretty effective. Since I joined last June it never happened to me that I could not attend the class I wanted even if I took the last spot on the waitlist. So I guess people should just not get so easily turned off by the fact that there are already 8 people signed up for a class.

  6. Veronika – you might be on to something there. I have never used the wait list – because until a week ago, I did not know that the functionality existed – I just checked the class numbers frustratedly . It does not seem to be advertised as a service – unless you know where to find it – and that if you do sign up there s a good chance of getting in.

    Its a really good point you make (2) – I had not really considered that (in fact 1-3 are very good points!).

    On reflection, 12 hours is a strange time period for this cut off. For the majority of classes in reality, this actually means making a call on your schedule 24 hours in advance since 12 hours before 5pm, 5.30pm, 6.30pm and 7.30am is before most have awoken or as they wake up.

    Hmmmm.

  7. I’m not against lengthening the window but think 12 hours is off putting. I’d need to cancel before I even arrived at work. I know of nowhere that you need to give that much notice. Wont stop me coming but dont think it is a great idea. Just saying

  8. I agree 100% with Veronika, Pat etc and that is why I think the 12 hours IS necessary, most people dont live very close to the gym so if they need to bring kit into work then can only do so if they know the night before. For this reason the 1 hour is overly generous ie if someone cancels 90 mins beforehand then getting someone else is is very unlikely as most will have to travel home to get gear. It s nuts the amount of times I’ve been in a class and said this was fully booked yesterday and I barely got a place or only got one after being on a wait list to see 3-4 in a class.

    @Veronika on your point 2………. you re right but why would someone behave like this anyways? Really acting like that is pretty childish by someone no? I ve cancelled within the hour just in case someone could use my slot even though its lost to me.

  9. in terms of actual operation, we will be helping those who have to cancel on a regular basis to structure their training more effectively: I suspect that if you have “vulnerable” evenings, its better to start going to morning classes, and using the saturday/sunday options.

    In the long term, we will monitor people who regularly book but dont show, and sit down and discuss more effective regimes, Our various packages are there to support people who want to, and can, train at our facility, and who want the personalised training that we offer.

    It would be simple enough to increase class number to 15, and do body weight team wods all the time, or as other gyms do, or the “you turn up, see the wod on the board, wait until there is some space on the floor do it and go”.

    Hopefully our clients appreciate the quality, the atmosphere, and the ethos.

  10. I hadn’t thought about this before as an issue, but a few times I have cancelled a session in order to move it forward and booked in to an earlier time slot (for example from the 6 to the 5 on a Friday. Without even realizing I have fed this problem, perhaps its worth asking those who cancel why they are cancelling?

    From my perspective I only cancel when I really need to and if I have more than 12 hours notice at the moment. There have been sessions when I didn’t cancel as it has been last minute work issues and I have not carried out the late cancel or even cancel as I felt bad for the instructor. I had not thought about this from the other members perspective, ie taking the opportunity away.

    Do people generally understand how the instructors are paid, as I have only recently become aware of this. I think that this would provide a great deal of motivation not to cancel. It does for me now.

  11. @ colm: I did not mean to imply that people would do that to be mean. It is just easier to forget/not care about something that has no direct benefit to you. And doing something simply to be nice to others or to appear responsible has different value for different people. However, based on what Andrew just said we should probably not expect too much of this actually happening. Knowing that you are being observed and can be called for a discussion should be good enough as a prevention mechanism.

  12. @ Veronika, you’re right, actually we both are. Unfortunately though it happens alot.

  13. When I’ve had PT sessions its 24 hours or you pay. end of story. God my manicurist and chiropracter also make me pay if I cancel sessions. 12 hours is very generous!

    What is convenient for some of us (1 hr cancellation) threatens the viability of the business! For me, this will give me that extra motivation not to cancel when I have my kit with me at work but I decide I might not feel like it. Its also possible that the biggest cancellers are not the people who comment often on this website – so I wouldn’t really take these comments as a democratic representation of opinions or behaviour! Its obvious people are cancelling and it sucks that its not you/us – but its still happening.

    Lately I’ve gotten into a nasty habit of forgetting what days i’ve booked on and not even cancelling – just losing sessions as I”m so busy at work I forget. (bad bad brie) We all have to manage our own stuff and I think when people’s time and their livelihood is involved, 12 hours is more than enough – and if you have to lose a session occasionally due to unforeseen circumstances, I think thats life!

    ps – my middle name is tough love.

  14. Hey Andrew – maybe this is beyond the realms of the technical possibilities of the system, or maybe you just wouldn’t want to consider…..

    I would like to move my slot today from 6pm to 5pm today to help me with work commitments (a meeting scheduled an hour ago), there is spare capacity in both classes. I am not impacting the income of the trainer or restricting other clients. Is it possible to allow us to do this? I realised just now this use-case is pretty much typical of the changes that I need to make – although I guess sometimes I may be moving from a full class in which case I could be restricting someone’s access (in which case penalise me if you have to).

  15. the instructors can early cancel and move clients around, so, alex. ive cancelled your 6 and added you to the 5pm. For those wishing to attend on a booked evening, but needing to change classes, im sure we can help.. does depend if we have access to a decent computer ( doing admin in iphone is a pain)
    A

  16. Thanks Andrew – that is very good customer service – and good to know.

    I think we have probably been a bit spoilt in the past – but I think its probably in our interests for Crossfit London to do well as a business. Managing exceptions (like me in this case) is always a hassle and costly over a model that works for most.

    An issue that I have discovered with the system that may hinder clients ‘taking a hit’ when they cancel and just booking another class is that if you have booked ‘3 a week’ membership’ and have booked/used four, you cannot simply buy a carnet to take up the slack for the extra class that you want – the system will not allow you to use them (‘you have used the maximum number’). I have needed you or Steven to frig the system.

    If you can handle the odd change like this one then perfect for me!

  17. Generally 730 works really well for me, it’s just the weds at 7 that is tricky for work

    I like the idea of an extra wednesday class offering and would also favour the reintroduction of the sunday morning wod class. @andrew was the take up for the trength catch ups and gymnastics more than you were getting for the wod classes? I’d only ever go when football was cancelled but when I did it always seemed pretty full.

    This maybe a one man selfish request because I find strength work really dull so the catch up has never appealed, if everyone else loves it, then shoot me down

    Ps if im grumpy blame the paleo challenge 🙂

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