• Why Your Massage Therapist Won’t Come in Early or Stay Late

    Respect - Neon Sign on Brick Wall background

    Have you ever wanted to get a massage outside of your therapist’s normal business hours? Did you ask them to come in early or stay late for you? Have you ever asked them to come in on their day off? Have you ever considered asking them to do one of these things? If so, I’m talking to you.

    Can You Say Boundaries

    The hours a business is open or a person is scheduled to work are the most basic business boundaries there are. If you’ve ever had a job where your boss called you in on your day off, routinely made you work late, or you’ve had to clopen (close one night and open the next morning) you know what it feels like to have that boundary crossed.

    Schedules are set for many reasons:

    • Needs of the business
    • Needs of the business’ target market (that’s the people they want to do business with the most)
    • Body clock – Morning person vs Night owl
    • Physical limitations – one can only work so many hours at a physical job in one day before fatigue or injury set in. Note: Everyone has different physical limitations.
    • Discourage the wrong kind of client (such as those looking for sexual services instead of legitimate massage – legit therapists are never open 24/7)
    • Family commitments or shared resources
    • Family time
    • Community commitments
    • Need for Downtime
    • They have an actual life (or they aspire to have an actual life outside the office)
    • Because they said so
    • Obviously there are many more reasons for the way schedules are set and they’re all valid

    There’s often more than one factor at play when a business sets its hours. So…

    If you prefer your massages at 7am but your therapist doesn’t open until 10, please don’t ask them to open early for you. Check the above list for possible reasons why they won’t see you that early. Pay special attention to the 2nd one. As wonderful of a person as you are, and I sincerely mean that, you may not be in every business’ target market.*

    *Note: Target markets are NOT completely homogenous. Businesses use composites, averages, and medians to determine the limits they’re going to set. You could definitely be part of a business’ target market (desk jockeys, athletes, people with fibromyalgia, etc) but not fall within the limits they’re using. So really, don’t take it personally.

    Let me reiterate: If you’re not in your favorite therapist’s target market, don’t feel bad. It’s really not personal. At one time in my life I wasn’t in very many service provider’s target market. I was working 70+ hours a week and that didn’t include a daily commute of almost 2 hours. My options were limited to the few places that had some weekend hours. As disappointed as I was that my options were so few, I never dreamed of asking anyone to come in early, stay late, or see me on their day off because my schedule boundaries were being ripped to shreds every day. I wasn’t about to do that to someone else. (PS I also took steps to get a job where my bosses would respect my time… and the next one was much better. In the end, however, it turns out that the boss who respects my boundaries best is ME)

    Now for a twist. Sometimes a therapist may offer you an appointment time outside their normal hours. They may do this for many reasons. For instance, I just offered someone an appointment time that’s an hour earlier than I normally see clients, on a day I’m not usually in my office. If boundaries are so important, why would I do that? A few reasons: 1) $$. I won’t lie. I just had the entire day off for jury duty, and 2 days ago – a day my schedule is normally booked full – I had a sparsely booked day and one of them no showed, leaving me with a day less than half full. 2) It is my prerogative to change/soften my boundaries when I need or want to. So…  I changed my boundaries. Voluntarily. The client simply asked what I had available and I gave this day/time as a possibility. 3) I’ve known this client for a while, they’re a joy to be around, and they’ve never asked me to work outside my stated hours and I don’t believe they ever will. They’re very respectful that way. And that’s the crux of the whole issue. Respect.

    Today’s takeaway: Boundaries are boundaries and it’s disrespectful to ask someone to change theirs for you. Also… just because they voluntarily soften their boundaries once, under special or specific circumstances, does not mean they will ever do it again. In fact, if you were to ask them to do it again, they’re likely to say no even if they had been inclined to offer another exception before your request.

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