Before I opened my practice at LifeQual, I worked at a local spa. I was paid a percentage of the cost of the massage and I graciously accepted gratuity. When I was creating a business plan for myself, I made the decision to not accept gratuity. There are several reasons for that decision and I thought I’d share them with you.

First and foremost, I work for myself, which means I can charge whatever I please. My prices are based on many factors, the most important being the amount I need to earn in order to keep a roof over my head and keep my dogs happy and plump. Since I don’t work for someone else, I don’t need to supplement my earnings with gratuity.

Another reason is that I define my business as a wellness practice. I don’t consider my work to be a part of the service industry. I like to think of massage therapy as part of the healthcare system and massage therapists as official healthcare practitioners, but alas, the state of Oregon can’t come to that consensus. Regardless, I hold myself and my business to the same accountability as a healthcare practice. So, as the saying goes, “You don’t tip your doctor, why would you tip your massage therapist?”.

A big part of removing gratuity from the equation is that it also removes any awkwardness. It’s difficult to do math after being in a zen zone for an hour or so. Add super relaxed with me standing right there waiting for you to sign a credit card authorization and you get mega awkwardness. I just don’t have the stomach for that. I’d rather you float away after your massage rather than worry you may have under or overtipped me.

Those are my biggest reasons for not accepting gratuity. I would like to add that there is nothing wrong with accepting tips and I don’t make any judgments about massage therapists who do. I do appreciate it when people try to give me extra money. In any other scenario, I’d probably take it to feed my kayaking addiction. But like I tell those generous people, “Thanks, but tips just don’t fit into my business model”. Instead, referring friends, family, and even strangers is always very much appreciated. Also, writing a Google review helps small businesses more than you know (full disclosure: Google displays your name when you write a review, thereby compromising your privacy).

It’s always nice to know you are happy with your massage. I strive to create a space that invites people to have an open dialogue and be an advocate for themselves. So, if you liked something specific about your massage, your tip could be to tell me so I can be sure to do it again next time.