Are tip jars appropriate or tacky?

            Tip jars can be a subtle way to let your clients know you accept tips. They can be especially helpful when working with the public in a situation where they may not be aware that it is appropriate to tip. However, it can come across as pushy or even tacky to put out a jar or envelopes soliciting a gratuity.

            If you are relying on tips, it is an indicator that you are not charging enough. Tips should be a bonus to your income, not something that you depend on to make ends meet.

            Have you ever been to a restaurant and it was clear that the server was soliciting tips? You know, they immediately tell you their life story and how many jobs they are working to get by? It is uncomfortable, right? This is exactly the situation you do not want to be in as a solo massage business owner. It should not be part of the experience to ask your clients for additional money. Have one clear price where you believe you are receiving the compensation that is appropriate for your business and services.

            Joyce, what if I am doing a free chair massage event? Well, grasshopper, doing free chair massage is a rite of passage every new massage therapist must experience. Chair massage is a great way for potential clients to experience your work. Free chair massage is a long-term investment in your business. If you work at a free chair massage event and book one client as a result, and that client comes to see you once a month for years, then that did not end up being a free chair massage event. You actually made thousands of dollars from a few hours of chair massage. Putting out a gratuity jar seems like small potatoes compared to the long game, right? The same goes for the end of a massage in your office. Getting the client to rebook is much more lucrative than a tip. Keep your eye on the prize.

            Putting out a tip cup is living in the moment when it comes to your income. I want you to think about your business and money long-term. Getting clients to come back and see you multiple times over the course of many years should be the goal, not squeezing another $20 out of them at the end of the massage.

            Tips happen naturally, and I expect you to accept them with grace. I’m not saying to turn them away. What I am saying is that soliciting tips with a jar or envelopes could put your clients on the spot and make for an uncomfortable and unprofessional situation. This practice could ultimately hurt your business more than help it.

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