You may not know it, but there are a lot of clients out there that aren’t sure whether they should tip you or not. Recently, I was sitting in the reception area of the building I work in, waiting for my next client, when one of the visitors asked me whether or not she should tip her massage therapist. I suddenly felt like EF Hutton – everyone in the vicinity stopped what they were doing and turned to hear my reply.
Tipping depends on how your clients perceive you
Therapists who work for franchises such as Massage Envy and Hand & Stone rely on tips since their base pay is typically much lower than therapists working at other clinics. Therapists who work in Chiropractic or Physical Therapy offices, where the visit is often paid for by insurance, are rarely tipped.
“Well,” I said, “It depends on how you see your therapist. Do you tip your doctor? No. If you see your massage therapist as a health care provider, you probably won’t tip her. Do you tip your hair stylist? If you see your massage therapist as a spa service, then tipping would be appropriate.”
The Best Tip Isn’t Money
“However, the best tip you can provide your massage therapist is to rebook and refer him or her to everyone you know.”
While tips are nice and a wonderful compliment, a repeat visit or new client is worth considerably more than.
Right now there is a lively discussion on Facebook at Being-a-Massage-Therapist about this. Some see tips as validation of a job well done, some don’t. I see tipping as something special. While it’s nice to receive tips, I get more validation out of a referral or rebooking. Why?
Some people tip out of a sense of obligation
Ever had lousy service in a restaurant and still left a tip? I have a friend who “only” leaves 15% if the service was awful. 20% if the service was good. I asked her why she tipped for lousy service and her answer “I’m expected to tip. The waiter will think I’m an awful person if I don’t tip.” So, are your clients tipping you because you did well or because they feel obliged?
The best tip – rebooking and referral
If your massage was great, they will want to come back. They’ll also want to tell all their friends. That’s how you know you did a good job.
What is your policy on tipping? Do you need tips as validation? Does it vary outside the US?