Should I Accept Tips?


To take tips or not to take them, that is the question. (With apologies to Shakespeare ;)

During my 15+ years in the bodywork world, the question about accepting tips is one that I've heard most often, and one that folks have (very!) strong opinions about.

I don't recommend taking tips.

If that freaks you out or gets you upset, please don't let it. If you have always accepted tips and want to continue, then I say bully for you. Do it. That's one of the terrific things about being an entrepreneur and business owner -- you get to make the rules.

But if you're uncertain about tipping, and whether or not it's for you, I'm here to break it down for you.

Here's what you need to think about when considering accepting tips:

1. Do you want to follow more of a medical model or a spa model?

Neither is right or wrong, they're just different.

Certain modalities such as relaxation massage are a good match for a spa setting, and typically, tipping is expected in spas. So whether you work in a spa or not, tipping may feel natural and appropriate for your modality.

On the other hand, modalities that address medical conditions such as headaches, sports injuries, or holistic health are a good fit for following the medical model and not accepting tips.

Consider which model is a better fit for the modality you practice, and follow that model if it resonates with you.

2. Not accepting tips creates a safe container for your clients.

I talk a lot about creating a safe place to land for your clients, both in the treatment room and in your business.

The whole conundrum around tipping can lead to clients feeling uncertain and ill at ease: Are they expected to tip? How much should they tip? What if they don't feel that they received a premium service - should they still tip?

The uncertainty around tipping can leave clients unsure and doubtful -- the exact opposite of what we want them to feel!

Instead, I suggest charging a fee that feels good and is a reflection of the premium service that you offer.

We do a whole process in The Bodywork Project around resonant pricing so that you are able to charge the sweet spot fee that resonates with you. You feel good about your fee; your clients think that you are worth every penny -- and there is no need for tipping. Win-win all around.

3. Finally, tipping can affect how you show up for clients.

I know, I hate that this is true, but in my experience it is.

I've worked in both a spa, and in my own business, where I accepted tips when I was first starting out. As much as I tried not to let it, whether or not a person was a big tipper did indeed affect how I interacted with people. And it may affect you, too.

I certainly didn't do sub-standard work for anyone, but there was always this "thing" in the back of my mind where I was aware of how much folks generally tipped me.

And that shouldn't be a part of the equation at all!

You want to be fully present and all-in, no matter how much a client tips, and the whole tipping thing can keep you from being completely neutral.

Instead of tipping, charge a premium price for your premium services.

Your clients will know what to expect and feel comfortable with the container you have created, and you'll feel more ease around your clients and your business.

You'll even be able to start projecting your income more accurately, so that you can finally begin earning a consistent and sustainable income.

And won't THAT be awesome?

For even more ideas about how to step up and have a real plan for your practice, download your free checklist of 100 Ways to Grow Your Bodywork Business. It's chock-a-block with ideas to get your started and on your way. And share it with a friend, too. Let's help more bodyworkers earn a good living so that they can continue to do beautiful work in the world.