How to Get the Best Massage Every Time

Tips from a Massage Therapist

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Written by Brenda Smith, LMT

You enter the spa and are welcomed with a warm greeting and a cool glass of water. You smell the scent of aromatherapy, and climb between clean, fresh sheets for your treatment with a skilled service provider. This is the kind of top level customer service you expect during a massage or spa visit!

However, a massage or spa experience can spiral downward quickly. Scheduling mix-ups, allergic reactions to products, painful treatments, chatty therapists, and dirty facilities are some of the spa nightmares we work hard to avoid. When things go wrong, we do our best to make it right.

But honestly, much of your experience in the spa or clinic can be influenced by YOU, the customer.

Here are a few insider tips from the service provider side on how to get the best experience in your massage or spa treatment:

Know what you’re getting into.

That means doing your research. Most people find a massage therapist or spa through the referral of a friend, internet reviews, or the reputation of the business. Be sure the place where you are going fits what you are looking for. If you want a relaxing massage, you may not want to be in a noisy gym next to the Body Pump class. If you want specific clinical work, the day spa may not be the spot for you. Coupons are great, but only if the business provides the kind of atmosphere and service you are looking for. Ask around and make calls to be sure you are scheduling an appointment that you will enjoy.

Arrive on time.

Many spas and massage therapy clinics are booked on the hour, and someone is likely scheduled right after you. We understand that you have traffic, demanding bosses, and crying kids that delay may you. If you are late, we will make the very most of the remaining time in your session, but most likely won’t be able to extend the time beyond your scheduled appointment.

Be happy to be there.

You want this service, right? After all, it’s not a root canal. We love to see people who come in smiling! Your attitude is perhaps the biggest factor in your massage or spa experience. If you go in thinking it is not where you want to be right now, not the person you planned on booking your treatment with, you are too busy for this, it’s too expensive, etc., then there is little your therapist can do to change your mind.

Engage with the person giving the massage.

You may not remember our name, and we don’t expect you to! But it is a telling sign if you do not make eye contact upon meeting us, or if you refuse to engage in the initial information intake with us. We are not looking to be your best friend, but we will need to receive your verbal and nonverbal cues before and during your treatment to make it a good experience for you.

Relax and let yourself be taken care of.

Taking care of you is what we do! It is what we are here for. This is no time to be stoic. We are not judging you. We are professional massage therapists—we are not offended by sweat, body hair, body weight, acne, smelly feet or scars. Please let those concerns go.

Don’t worry, you are not being “high maintenance.” Go ahead and stop by the restroom, have a glass of that flavored water, undress to your own level of comfort, breathe deeply, sigh, groan, or simply fall asleep. Let go and let someone help you feel better. It’s your turn to melt into the table and let us do our magic.

Give feedback during the session.

This is your wind-down time to relax, so your massage therapist will keep the verbal interactions brief. We just need to know if you are comfortable, and that we are meeting your expectations. We usually ask early on in the session about pressure and your comfort level, then leave it up to you to let us know if anything changes.

During your massage, our skilled touch usually lets us know how your muscles are responding, but we cannot be sure if we are providing the kind of relaxing versus more therapeutic massage you are looking for without your help. We also need to know if other factors are distracting or irritating, such as music and noise level, or temperature of the room, or if the face cradle is clogging your sinuses. All you need to do is LET US KNOW. We will not be irritated or offended. In fact, we will be grateful, and your session will go much better.

I had one client that did not respond to any of my questions about massage pressure or comfort level, then 10 minutes before the end of the massage she curtly barked, “Can we get some heat in here? I’m freezing.” This issue was easily addressed and could have changed the experience of her massage if she had just chosen to let me know 30 minutes earlier.

Don’t speak badly about other therapists that you have been to.

This is old news in the customer service industry. The customer who speaks badly about their previous massage therapists will likely be adding us to the list next. If you have a specific complaint about what another therapist did in the past that you would like to avoid, that’s a different story. We certainly want to know that! But realize that being a “hard to please” (meaning IMPOSSIBLE to please with totally unrealistic expectations) client does not make us work harder, it lets us know to reserve our efforts for people who will appreciate what we do.

Know what a tip means to us.

Massage and spa services are expensive so we truly appreciate your coming in to see us for your treatment, regardless if you decide to leave a tip. However, many employers compensate us on a scale that relies on us receiving tips. We are generally tipped on the percentage of service cost, just like a restaurant. That is, 15 – 20 percent of the treatment cost if you loved our service, and 10 – 15 percent if we met your expectations. Please know that we feel that any tip is always a gift and we appreciate it greatly. Plus it is taken as a vote of confidence in our work, and a generous sign of appreciation to us on the energy and skill we put into our time with you.

Book with the same therapist if you had a good experience.

It is the highest level compliment when you come back to us, and we will reward you with ongoing service excellence. As we get to know you and know your preferences better, your customer service experience also improves.

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Brenda Smith

Brenda Smith

Brenda Smith, LMT, is a licensed massage therapist and a contributing writer to Healthy Magazines.
Brenda Smith

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