Tips: 101

By Mark Shannon

If you have been in massage or any tipping industry for any length of time, you’ve probably asked yourself the question, “How can I get bigger tips from my clients”.  Right about now some of you are thinking that’s pretty easy; just take the moral low road – DEFINITLEY not what this blog is about!

Here are a couple of ideas that might help those inclined to earn a bigger tip the professional way!

                1.  Have a sign at the checkout area advertising that tips are accepted!  It sounds easy and it is!  There will be several new clients to your clinic and most of them are not sure how things are done.  Some are not sure how far to undress for their massage let alone that it is perfectly acceptable to tip their therapist.  Many clients are uncomfortable asking you if they can leave you a tip.  A gentle reminder in the form of a sign near the register can help.

                2.  Ask!  It is standard practice at our clinic for the person at the register to say, “Would you like to leave a tip for (insert therapist name here)”.  It is very important to use the therapist first name – it adds a personal touch.  Unless the therapist did a very poor job, the answer is usually “yes”.  Sometimes the people checking out do not see our sign!

There are a myriad of standard answers that apply here.  Treat the client as you want to be treated, listen to what the client is telling you, treat them with respect etc. 

I once received a $200.00 tip for a one hour massage.  It really all came about by mistake.  I am a huge fan of the warm stone massage – it’s my specialty.  The hour before was booked for a warm stone massage and unfortunately, the client was a no call/no show.  My next client was a regular, but had never experienced my warm stone massage.  So rather than unplug the rocks, I let them stay warm.  When the client arrived I said “I know you’re booked for a regular massage, but I had a client not show up for a warm stone massage and I still have the rocks warm.  Would you like to have a warm stone massage? “.    The client agreed and was amazed!  Ergo the large tip.

If you are receiving small tips or no tips at all, you may have to begin asking yourself some hard questions about your abilities as a therapist.  I would ask a very good friend who can be completely honest with you if you could give them a massage.  The only requirement would be that they give you brutally honest feedback about your massage.  You may need to improve in some areas to make it better.  Always seek to improve your massage routine.

You might have to ask yourself about your personality.  Are you a person with a cold personality?  Generally those kinds of people do not attract other people – rather they repel them.  Do you like to be around “cold” people?  For me, I like to be around those that pay compliments to others – everybody likes a pat on the back!  Compliment your clients.  “Have you lost weight since the last time I saw you?”

One of the easiest things to do is to call the client about 2 days after you have worked on them.  I say something like, “It was really good to see you in the clinic the other day.  I just wanted to call and check on you to make sure everything was alright and invite you to come back sometime real soon.”   It shows I am interested in them, and it’s a non-threatening way to get them back into the clinic. 

Overall, it comes down to you – the therapist.  Be genuine.  Care about your clients, make them feel special and give a great massage.  No one likes to be patronized.  You might have to take a hard look at yourself and how you do things.  Nothing’s going to change until you can just get right down to it with yourself.  If you can make those necessary changes in your technique or your personality – The tips will have a way of finding your pocket!

Cautions in Tipping:

By Ross Ashcraft

1.  Be mindful of consistently large tips from specific clients.  If your tip is larger than the massage service then the client might be looking for more than professional massage.  My advice is treat them as a normal client; don’t be drawn into conversations about your personal life; and keep your professional distance.

2.  Tips are a great one on one feedback for your massage practice.  Consistent tipping can say a lot about your abilities and faults. 

3.  Always strive for those great tips but don’t ever neglect a client based on their tipping habits.

Blog Challenge:  Choose at least one of the ideas and comment on how you will implement the police AND what specific outcome you hope to achienve.

50 thoughts on “Tips: 101”

  1. $200? That’s amazing and reminds me I need to go get my stones! Thanks for the tips on tipping…it’s one of those questions that you know is in the back of our minds! 🙂

  2. Thanks for this – tipping is one of the things I’m most uncomfortable about.Did you know that Americans are the best tippers in the world? You’d be lucky to get anything in the uk but then service there is awful! Really like the idea of having a little note by the checkout and think the follow up call is really good service.

  3. #1 Use the Right Words,Words are what convince people, The better your wording in the offer, the more are the chances of you getting the job, and maybe get more tips as well. It is all about convincing people, and the more they are convinced about your capabilities and skills, the more are the chances of them paying you a better fee. Use the right words over the phone, through e-mails, through conversation and through your sales pitch.

    #2 make it easy for your clients there my be a chance they could be willing to increase your pay.

    #3 do a small freebie in there massage might be a chance they could be willing to increase your pay.

  4. Thanks for sharing this valuable information! We tend to forget some people tip heavy, some tip exactly and others don’t tip at all.
    (But I did discover the person who NEVER tipped me gave ME as her Christmas present (bought gift cards for her family) AND sent the most referrals!)
    Never base your service on who is the better tipper.

  5. I have found that finishing a female client with a good foot massage always seems to lead to a nice tip. And for men, if you can get “that” nagging spot in the lower back or between the scapulae.

  6. Just over the past week, I set up for chair massages in the location I’m working. Granted, I only did 2 this week. However, with those two massages, I received $40 in tips. I was also able to land 2 new clients. At a chair event I set up in another location, I gained 3 new clients and also a repeat chair event next month. It’s all about how you treat the clients. Thanks for all the training and suggestions.

  7. While this is good info, I still see that there will be a grace period with each client, learning how to work with them and ‘speak their language’. Ultimately, it’s still down to how you sell yourself and how comfortable you are asking for tips! My philosophy: Don’t sell yourself short. Put up a sign or just simply let the client know that the rates are ‘industry standard’ but if they feel you did a great job, please tip!

  8. Great information I will keep this in mind when going into the externship, I have always called the ones I have massaged the next day so I’m glad I had that about right!

  9. I am about to be a part of the first dayspa in my hometown. I am excited but about the tips, I think because of the fact I work for less than other therapists in town, it draws a different “clientel”. Very nice people and I care genuinely, but tips are small. I am thinking if I take this spot in a better area and because we are going to charge more, it makes a more tip/worthy atmosphere. I have to be honest, I being so passionate about helping the people I have now, it is hard to accept a tip I know they cannot afford. ( but I’m not stupid!) Congrats on that 200.00! May try that one. Getting stoned like that is worth it!

  10. Being consistant with your client is crucial I think, maybe they don’t have the money at the time and will make up for it next time. These are good tips, especially calling to check up on them a few days later. I personally would love this and make me want to come back!

  11. Wow! I’m so glad that the hot stone massage is one of my favorite massage modules. I’m looking forward to apply this information you gave on tipping. Thanks!

  12. Wow. That tip is more than I would charge for a stone massage. I guess since it was a regular client who was getting a special treat, a tip that large one time would be okay, but it would definitely make me very leery of a first time client. At least after the shock and euphoria wore off anyway. That would be amazing to get that kind of money for one hour of work. Thank you for all the tips every week. I really do appreciate it.

  13. Tips are always a concern when you start to think about getting out there in the real world especially when you start thinking about if you work for someone else some of your money is going straight to them. So tipping is a very big issue in our kind of practice. These were great ideas on how to let our clients know what they can leave us. I have gotten many massages and have never seen a sign saying they accepted tips but they sure did make sure and ask when I was paying. The whole way they came about it was very professional and I didnt feel obligated or forced into tipping. They were a graduate from ccc too so that makes me feel even more confident in my abilities once I get out on my own. Thanks for all the great ideas and advice.

  14. Thank you for the tips. This is a very important subject and I look forward to that one big tip. It must be amazing affecting a person that much that they want to tip that big.

  15. Thanks for the advice. Sometimes asking for tips just seems rude. I will most certainly use the sign idea. I have found that not everyone can tip consistently. Most of the time it depends of when payday is.

  16. I like the call back idea, it will let me know if they are uncomfortable from the massage and if there is anything I could tell them to do at home for treatment plus I can note it in their chart for next time.

  17. I agree! That’s how I turned 5 dollar tips into 20 dollar tips, add a personal touch to how you treat your clients, after all they do pay your bills!

  18. I like the calling back idea also, it shows the client you actually care. It’s amazing how far a simple phone call gets you or any simple nice gesture. I’d get tipped working reception just because I was genuinely nice to the regulars!
    Thank you very much for the tips!

  19. Tips are a good thing, gives me a lot to think about. when you give the best massage you can a person can tell and will usually tip well.

  20. Thanks for the infor about how to ask for tips without feeling uncomfortable. I will absolutely be using the tip sign in my office so people will know and they won’t have to ask either!

  21. I am think the sign is a gentle and polite reminder. I think sometimes people honestly do forget because they are so relaxed from the massage. I also think a call, email or text is a nice follow up also. My therapist frequently will send a text asking of my shoulder was any better, etc. a day or two after. It is nice to be remembered. Thanks for the ideas!

  22. I would do the sign and follow up call, they are basic but seem effective and simple. They are all great suggestions.

  23. I think this blog is very helpful and has some very useful information about how to approach tipping and reaching tips! Thank you 🙂

  24. The sign is a great idea, as well the upgrade on the next massage, if the prior one was no show no call. And taking another of Ross’s student’s ideas is letting your clients know that their tips are being set aside for the trainings that you want to attend to gain more techniques for their well being, and that they will have that technique added on to their next massage free. Lot’s of great information to help us build a great business, thanks.

  25. I have worked with the public most of my life, people like the personal touch. Just by calling them really shows your care. The tip advice is wonderful.

  26. I like the tip jar idea. I think of all the times I’ve tried something new and didn’t know if tips were appropriate or not.

  27. The tips on tipping are great, I talked with a few freinds today they had questions about how getting a massage worked. I told them what they wanted to know then added in about tipping. That it does help the therapist growing their knowledge of the massage world and with advertising. Since with advertising helps bring in more clients but also helps the clients they have now by keeping their therapist in business so that the client can still have their therapist as their therapist.

  28. I think having a sign to politely remind a client that tips are excepted is a good idea. Anytime I go anywhere and see a sign that says tips are excepted it almost makes me feel obligated to leave a tip, which I guess it wouldn’t be a bad thing to make your clients feel that way when its a tip for you =P. I also think doing reminder calls and follow up calls is great advice. The last place I worked at would do follow up and reminder calls and the clients would always tell me how much they appreciate that we do such a thing.

  29. I work in the fast food field so I already know how to get tips. But this is really good info for what the people are really saying about me and the business I work for. Plus its great to know little secrets so you can get bigger tips. One thing I have always done once reseiving a tip it I thank them. Also if they are the one to make the comment first of “I know this is much but its all I have”, then I reply with, “Thank you so much. Anything you offer is much appreciated”.

  30. I like the idea of putting a personal touch with your client’s massage. Like putting on their favorite music, using their favorite essential oils, sending birthday cards, etc. Small things like that would definitely make me feel special so it should definitely make clients feel special. Also reminding the client is a great idea, I would probably forget to tip my therapist after having a great massage. Thanks for the tips!

  31. Tips are great but I never expect them, I consider them blessings. I just do the best that I can and connecting with the client makes a huge difference. I most definitely agree with client feedback and follow ups.

  32. tipping can be hit or miss with the public, especially with our economy, however, these tips seem really practical and I’m sure receive a good response.

  33. I think by putting a sign at check out is a great thing to let the clients know about tips. I think by callin the client after the appt shows the client that u care about them and will help to get them back in for another appt.I have to say my first tip I got from giving a chair massage was a suprise to me. I really didn’t expect to get that much and made me realize not to sale myself short and that the client must have though I did a good job.

  34. I like how you can use just little things like your grammer, calling a client back or simply send them a “Thank You” or “Customer Appreciation” letter that way the next time they come back they will remember & just might tip you. But just remember don’t expect a tip every time otherwise it tells the clients that your just money hungry!!

  35. Well tipoing is a big part of my life already, because I’m in the food service industry & I’ve grown up in in the salon industry. I could take for hours on this subject, but all of that were some good ideas. In my opinion I would probably put something like “Tips are welcome” on a brochure, flyer, handout, etc. But, I think it’s a faux pas not to tip for ANY TYPE of service you’re getting, whether it be a massage, your hair, nails, or food now a days. Growing up in both industries showed me that. I can not remember a day when my mother, a hair stylist did not get tipped, or my father the General Manager of a Country Club not get tipped.

  36. ive gotten many tips from people already which is very rewarding. But this is very helpful in learning how to get tips, without asking.

  37. This has some great tips on tipping!!! Working in customer service for the last 30 years and 20 of them having to depend on my tips to take care of my family has taught me to ALWAYS tip…I think it is just plain rude not to tip someone that does a service for you!!!

  38. I never thought about the sign at the register, totally putting that up, I had to tell my own mom she was supposed to tip her hairdresser while I was still in school lol so obviously people really don’t know.

  39. I think these are great ideas to get bigger tips. I like the idea of a sign or something as a gentle reminder that tips are appreciated. I think some people still don’t realize that tipping is now pretty much accepted and understood everywhere.

  40. I am currently at a job where I receive tips. I find that if my customers/clients feel like I care about the service they get, then they will tip and even tip better most of the time. And I actually do care and I believe that shines through more than anything.