How Does All This Work, Part 8 – Until Next Time

Posted on July 20, 2016 By

We’ve discussed making your first appointment, what to expect, the whole process from arriving, filling out forms, and talking with your therapist, through your massage itself, and getting off the table.  What could be left? 

Leave taking.

Whether your therapist has a one room studio or a larger studio with a reception area, or works in a spa or other larger organization with a reception desk and staff, in the end, you’ll need to re-enter the world, pay for your session, and schedule your next one.

Paying Your Therapist

While many therapists do take credit cards, not all do.  You should have checked on this when you made the appointment (and if your therapist is savvy, you should have been warned if they don’t take credit cards at that time.)  Just in case, it’s good to have the cash or a check, and not just your credit card.

Therapists rarely allow you to receive your massage and then pay later.  Unless you’re using insurance (which most therapists can’t take), or receiving your massage in a medical facility, you’ll be expected to pay at the end of your session.


Sometimes, a therapist or spa or studio will offer discounts.  They’re lovely if you can get them, but do keep in mind that the therapists profit margin is pretty low.  It can be tempting to ask for a discount, but if you do so, you’re essentially telling your therapist that his or her work is not good enough. No one is getting rich working in this job. 

  • If your therapist is an independent owner, he or she has rent, power, heat, laundry, and oils as large recurring expenses. Since this is a physical job, few therapists can maintain a schedule giving eight hours of massage per day.  Their take home pay is less than you think.
  • If your therapist is an independent contractor working for someone else, he or she only gets a portion of the amount you pay.  Half is pretty common, and your therapist may still be doing the laundry and providing oils, etc.
  • If your therapist is working at a chain or spa, he or she is paid even less …. much much less than you pay the spa.

Keep in mind that while your therapist may say that he or she is doing this job “full time” that doesn’t mean 40 hours a week.  No one can continue that pace for long.  Massage is a unique combination of physical work, mental work, and emotional work.  Few therapists take more than 6 clients per day; many take fewer.  And no therapist can continue that pace 7 days each week.   When the massage day is over, there’s still the notes to write (so we know what we did last time when you return), the laundry to do, other paperwork and clean up.  

So, while it’s wholly appropriate to take advantage of discounts or special deals when they’re offered, please don’t try to haggle on the price of your bodywork session.


Tips are a source of much discussion in the world of massage therapists and body workers.  It seems that whether or not a therapist receives tips is tied in some way to where he or she works.  Franchise and chain employees really do rely on tips to make their living.  Independent contractors and independent owners generally welcome tips, as they too are limited in their income.  However, if your therapist is working in a doctor’s office, it may not be expected.

Generally, as with any service position, tips aren’t demanded, but they are very welcome.

You can give your tip in cash directly to the therapist, or add it to your check or charge if using that to pay.


If you found your massage or bodywork delightful, and why wouldn’t you, you should probably go ahead and schedule your next session.   With all of its benefits, it seems silly not to get a regular session. In addition to the therapeutic benefits for injury recovery and over worked muscles, regular massage or bodywork also helps you sleep, boosts your immune system, reduces anxiety and depression, and actually help people think more clearly and be more productive.   Massage is healthcare, it’s not a luxury. 

Once people find a good therapist, they generally don’t leave, and soon place themselves as regular clients with consistent appointments.  This can mean that eventually, the therapist won’t have short term appointments available when you want them.  Most good therapists are booked at least two weeks in advance; many are booked three to four weeks in advance; and some are fully booked two months in advance.   If you want to see your preferred therapist, get on his or her calendar and stay there!

Also be sure to book well ahead for appointments near the holidays.  Many people decide to give gift certificates for massage as Holiday Gifts.  This means that those new clients will be filling up the spots unclaimed by regulars.  Unless you’ve actually booked your session, the fact that you regularly come on the first and third Tuesday of every month doesn’t mean that your slot will be open if someone else requests it first.

If you are receiving your massage at a spa or franchise or chain establishment, be sure to ask for your specific therapist when you re-book.  If you just book a regular session, without requesting your therapist, you may wind up with someone else giving your massage.  Additionally, some establishments give their therapists a little bonus for each time that a client requests them specifically.

There are additional benefits to booking ahead.  Some therapists even offer discounts for booking ahead.  Some offer discounts for booking and paying ahead.  Some use loyalty cards, giving you a discount or even a free session after so many (ranging from 6 to 10 in most places).  

Thank your therapist, pay with a smile, tip generously if you can, and book your next appointment!

There are just two parts left!

Next time:  What to Expect When You Get Home

Looking Back:  Part I: Booking an Appointment,
Part II: the Health History Form
Part III: Privacy, and What to Tell Your Therapist
Part IV: Getting on the Table
Part V: This is YOUR Massage
Part VI: On the Table
Part VII: After the Massage

Broader Issues