Tipping is a terribly complicated issue for massage therapists and massage clients alike. It seems like every spa and massage office has slightly different expectations, and there’s no “standard” for how much, or even when to tip or not to tip.
When I first started in this business, I accepted what seemed to be the default, which was: Massage therapists charge for services, and receive tips in addition to payment. I soon found that I was uncomfortable with this business model, because I calculated the estimated tip as making up the appropriate fee, and if I did not receive one, I sometimes felt that I was not being fairly compensated. I succumbed to this thinking even though I was self-employed, and therefore receiving 100% of the fee. The psychology of money can be quite illogical.
I also noticed that when I went to get a massage, knowing what to do about tipping caused anxiety for me, sometimes to the degree that I would put off booking the next appointment.
When I started doing more remedial work, I decided to decline all tips, because at the time I felt it made the line between relaxation work and corrective work a little clearer. I noticed an immediate difference in people’s attitude at check out. They were more comfortable, I was more comfortable, and it sure made my accounting easier.
With experience and maturity, I’ve come to understand that relaxation massage has as much therapeutic value as many other forms of massage. Due to this gradual shift in my viewpoint, in 2014, I also decided to open the door to tipping, on a trial basis. If you visited me then, and paid by credit card, you may have noticed that my checkout process included a tip line. I consider this trial a failed experiment, because although people are kind and generous (and many people left me a tip), much as I had observed before, I saw people feeling hesitant and sometimes anxious when checking out. I also felt a fair bit of anxiety, and started noticing the same illogical thoughts creeping up regarding whether or not I received a tip.
So once again, Breathe Bodywork is a no-tipping business.
There are a rare few who feel more anxiety at the thought of not tipping. I appreciate your generosity of spirit, and if you are one of those people, here are a few suggestions:
(If you really feel a tip should always be money~)
- If you’ve met me more than twice, you probably know how much I value reading, so make a donation to SMART, to help Oregon children who need reading support.
- Consider making a donation to Janus Youth Programs, which helps displaced young people have a safe place to sleep at night.
- Bring cash or ask me to turn on the tip line before making your payment.