Articles > Business > What Would You Do: How Late Is Too Late?
Last updated: December 15, 2022

What Would You Do: How Late Is Too Late?

close formula

When clients aren’t on time, a stylist’s entire day can be thrown off. Five minutes late can quickly turn into 15, 30, even 45 minutes behind schedule—and that doesn’t just mean fewer breaks for the stylists, it can mean upsetting the clients who are on time. So, when an anonymous client reached out to us on social media, asking “how late is too late?” for a client to still get service, we knew we had to share the question (and our favorite responses!) with our #BTCFam. Here’s what you all had to say!


Have an opinion you want to share? Tell us here!


Anonymous Client Asks:
“How late is too late for my appointment? I read some article that hairdressers have some ‘secret 17-minute rule?’ Is that true? Does that mean if I’m within 17 minutes they would squeeze me in? Or is there just some point that I should reschedule?”



Some stylists say any sort of lateness shouldn’t be tolerated—it might be harsh, but sometimes, harsh is necessary.



“If you were late 17 minutes to your job every day, would you still have a job? I don’t think so. Early is on time, and there isn’t a stylist around that should tolerate lateness often.” –Susan Flanagan


“No amount of lateness is tolerated. My days are typically booked back to back. If you’re going to be later than five minutes you will need to reschedule. If I do not receive a courtesy call or text, and you’ve already done this two times, you then owe me the full cost of my time, and you will be pre-paying for all future services. All of us are on a schedule—my other clients included. I do my absolute best to be on time and I expect the same from someone who mutually agreed on a specific day and time.” –Kendra Schofield


“I think we all have a grace window, but I find 10 minutes to be gracious. If my client is more than five minutes late, I charge an extra fee. I’m not shy about it either. Everyone’s time is precious.” –Dawn Oswalt


“Being late is unacceptable. It turns into a snowball effect. Now I am getting home late to my family because you chose to come in late. Clients after you then get mad at me for running late. Please be considerate and be on time! Think of the other people that suffer because you chose to come late.” –Michelle Kerr


“After 15 minutes, I consider you a no-show. You’ll then have to reschedule and pay the rebooking fee.” –Jessica Sippy


“I personally have a 10-minute grace period. Past that, you have to reschedule. And, if you’ve done this numerous times where I feel like you’re not respecting my time, then you will be flagged as someone who cannot make an appointment. You’ll then only be able to come in as a walk-in, and if I’m available, I’ll take you, but you cannot block out time with me anymore.”  –@wickedwerkshop


“If you’re late for a doctor’s appointment, odds are you will have to reschedule. So why should it be any different for your hairdresser? I feel like sometimes our clients don’t take us seriously enough and they don’t respect our time, which is completely unfair. Time is money for most of us. If your appointment is at 10:00 a.m., that’s what time you need to be there by.” —Katie Dibble


“I honestly won’t take a client if they are 10 or more minutes late. We give a courtesy call after 10 minutes for no shows who haven’t called, and to reschedule they must put down a 50 percent deposit.” –@hellomynameislace



Some stylists say it depends on the time of day and the service being done. And, while most of these stylists will still take their clients, they are never thrilled about running behind.



“I think it depends on what your stylist has scheduled. If my last appointment is running behind, I will usually tell them it’s fine, but if my first appointment of the day is more than 10 minutes late, I have them reschedule. Otherwise, it dominos into the rest of the day, and that’s not fair to the rest of my clients that made it in on time.” –@Kaylabounty 


“Depends on the service and how long you are booked for. A good rule of thumb is if you are 15 minutes late you will probably have to reschedule or get a lesser service.” –Adam Blain


“I give it 15 minutes as well. It’s not a huge deal, but I shouldn’t be running late because you were. Stuff happens all the time, we’re all late at some point. I’ll always work with my clients, maybe have an assistant help out. Calling ahead is always a good idea!” –Dan Felicetta


“It also depends on your service and if your stylist has an assistant to double book. If it’s something like a a basic color service and the next client is a haircut, there’s usually a 15-minute buffer that an assistant can help with. As a rule of thumb in my business, if a client is 15 minutes late, we have a right to refuse their business and charge them for the entire missed appointment. However, we have only done that a handful of times. We usually can work it out.” –Huxley Salon


“There’s no ‘secret rule.’ If you’re late, it’s inconvenient and inconsiderate. We work by appointments and being late messes our whole day up. Those of us who are booth renters will try to squeeze you in because otherwise we don’t get paid. Last-minute cancellations and late appointments always take money out of our paycheck.” –Emily Swanson Perry


Some stylists say that running late happens to everyone, and if the client lets them know ahead of time (and if they’re genuinely sorry!), it’s all good.



“My motto is, it never hurts to ask. Give your stylist a call to let them know you will be late. You can then see what can still be done within in your appointment time. But please realize, cutting into our time is cutting into our income.” –Katie Moore


“I think what is most important is to keep in touch! If you will be late, inform your stylist. I do have a 15-minute rule, but if my client is willing to either eliminate certain elements of their appointment or wait for me to finish the clients they may push back, I make it work. There are no excuses to just “show up late” now with how accessible texting is and how well maps/gps arrival time prediction works. Just be truthful, straight forward and you will be good!” –Gina Devine


“It depends on what the appointment is. If someone is 15 minutes late, their service will have to be adjusted to stay on time. That may mean only having the regrowth touched up and no highlights, or having someone else come and finish their blow-dry and style after you cut their hair. I can usually make something work because I have a lot of help from my coworkers, but if they’re more than 30 minutes late then they are definitely rescheduling because that’s just silly.” –Jordi Schönwetter



Bonus Answers!

Some stylists were shocked by this made-up “17-minute rule,” and their responses were too funny not to share!




“Why do people think it is ever OK to be late? Stylists are trained professionals. Is it OK to show up 17 minuets late to your doctor? Is it OK to be late to a dinner reservation at a busy restaurant? Is it OK to show up to an interview late? The answer is no. If you wouldn’t want it done to you at your job, don’t do it to others in different professions. If you have an appointment time, that is when you should be sitting down in the chair and not walking in the door.” –Candace Robinson


“Why is this even a question? Are you planning to see how late you can be to your scheduled appointment?! At this point in my career, I speak up and don’t ‘squeeze in’ the habitually-late person. They usually get the message or move on. It’s just rude to be late.” –Sonia Riveria


“How late is too late? How about make an appointment for a time you won’t be late. Stylists’ days are planned down to the minute, when you are late it makes them run late. We get it, life happens, but understand that it is not OK to expect stylists to make exceptions for you. By the way, if you are late but have a hot coffee in your hand, then you had plenty of time to make it to your scheduled appointment on time.” –Karen Peck


“Being late is the worst thing in our business. Contrary to popular belief, we don’t all stand around drinking brews waiting for u to grace us with your presence. For me, I can claw back 10 minutes but it takes around three clients to catch up. I regularly tell people 15 minutes earlier than their time so they aren’t late.” –Clare Battersby