Massage & Bodywork

MARCH | APRIL 2022

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Many times, therapists who are sole proprietors or renters don't think about having policies and procedures in place, when the truth is, they need them just as much as a major franchise or high- end spa. Policies protect our income and the integrity of our practice. For example, what do you do when a client is late? If they happen to be your last client of the day, how long should you wait around if you haven't heard from them? If you're the business owner, how long do you expect a staff member to wait for them? Are staff members being paid to wait? If they are an independent contractor (they are running their own practice within your business) they have the right to leave when they please, so keep that in mind. This situation, and many others, can be prevented by having policies and procedures. Policies and procedures are only effective when the client knows what they are. They should be part of your intake process—the client should be given a copy and instructed to sign acknowledging they have been informed—and posted on your website and business social media pages. If you are accepting new client appointments over the phone, they need to be told at that time that late arrival (whatever limit you set) results in shortening the session and/ or cancellation after a certain amount of time. If you let an employee leave after 15 minutes, and the client shows up after 20, that will be on the client—as long as they have been informed. Someone who is a late arrival should know their session will end at the originally appointed time, as it is not fair to the therapist to have to rush or for the client who is booked after them to have to wait. And yes, they should be charged for the whole session. That hour was saved for them and could have been given to another client. The same with inappropriate behavior of any kind. A statement such as the following is a good policy: "Main Street Massage has a zero-tolerance policy for sexual Prevention is the Best Policy By Laura Allen statements or behavior. The massage will be ended immediately and payment in full is expected." Hopefully, you'll never have to enforce it, but having the policy is wise, nonetheless. Policies can be adjusted. If you find your client was a no-show because they were hospitalized, that's worthy of an adjustment. Finding out they were a no-show because they were "shopping for new shoes, and just let the time get away!" is not. Charge them for the missed appointment (as long as that is your advertised policy) and don't feel bad about it. Laura Allen has been a licensed massage therapist since 1999 and an approved provider of continuing education since 2000. She is the author of Nina McIntosh's The Educated Heart, now in its fifth edition. Allen lives in the mountains of Western North Carolina with her husband and their two rescue dogs. L i s te n to T h e A B M P Po d c a s t a t a b m p.co m /p o d c a s t s o r w h e reve r yo u a cce s s yo u r favo r i te p o d c a s t s 91 essential skills | HEART OF BODYWORK TAKEAWAY: Many troublesome situations with clients, such as late arrivals and last-minute cancellations, can be prevented by letting your clients know upfront what your policies are.

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