Thanks and Praise

It’s Thanksgiving, and in many venues you will see writers giving thanks for their many good fortunes. Well, here’s another.

We at ABMP exist to serve our members and, broadly, the profession. It is our members, however, who provide us with so much—suggestions, support, praise, occasional constructive criticism. There would be no ABMP without our members. We are an important entity in the profession thanks to every one of you. We’ll do our best to keep earning your confidence. Please accept our deepest gratitude.

Thanks to Charlie, my yellow Lab who is a shining example of how to live life stress-free.

Thanks to Leslie Young Giase, for reminding me that my writing is not quite perfect (but is after she looks at it!).

Thanks to Tracy Rains, who has greeted me with a smile and “hello” first thing in the morning 99.8% of the time the last 11 years. No better way to start the workday.

Thanks to Jenny Good, who always makes me think.

Thanks to ABMP’s membership department, who makes us the service leader 300+ times a day.

Thanks to Laura Allen, who thanked me in her Thanksgiving blog. You’re welcome.

Thanks to G. Love and Special Sauce.

Thanks to Anne, Taffie, Mel, Jenn, Kathy, and Brian; Jean; Lara, Marlene, and David; Darren, Amy, James, Angie, Mary, Jodi, Karrie, and Nora; Katie, Jesse, Debbie, Kristine, and Kate; Connie and Carolyn; Matt, Leroy, and Erin. And thanks to Bob, too.

Thanks to the Sweeneys as well—the ones who came before me, are with me now, and those who will carry on after me. And thanks to Granny, too.

Also, thanks for electricity, indoor plumbing, satellite television, and— especially—Swedish massage.

Tip or No Tip

If I go to a bagel shop or a Starbucks, there is typically a jar so I can leave my change for a tip. However, if I go to a McDonald’s or other fast food restaurant, that’s not an option. Some restaurants, like the chain Noodles & Company, specifically ask diners to NOT leave a tip. If I go to a nicer, sit-down restaurant, there is an expectation of a tip. If I happen to bring a large group of friends, a tip may be added automatically (potentially causing someone—not mentioning any names—to inadvertently double tip after hitting the bar). How is a guy in his early 40s supposed to make sense of all this?

When I get a haircut, I tip the barber/stylist (if you’ve seen my hair, you understand). If I order a beer, I tip the bartender. When I visit the doctor, I don’t tip. I haven’t been to the chiropractor in a while, but I don’t remember tipping him. I recently had eight sessions with a physical therapist. No tip for him, either.

I got a massage the other day, and had a decision to make—do I leave a tip? I did. Actually I can’t think of a situation where I haven’t left a tip for my massage therapist.

Our ABMP Member Survey indicates the following:

  • Therapists who practice in spas/salons receive tips from 90% of their clients.
  • Therapists who practice in a massage-only clinic receive tips from 80% of their clients.
  • Therapists who work in medical offices report receiving tips from 10% of their clients.

Some places where I have received massage encouraged tipping the therapist and suggest an amount; that’s my decision, not theirs.

When I was completing my student clinic work, I received tips, and I know this probably sounds funny, but that was awesome. Many of you know I had no expectations of a flourishing massage career when I embarked on my massage training; getting a tip from a client was not financially material (although it bought a few lunches), but it validated me and my work. It underscored to me that I was providing value to my client. And that feeling meant more than the $5.

Some of this discussion is trivial and certainly subjective, but I think the topic also addresses a larger issue for some people—are we a service profession? Service professionals in many cases receive tips; in most cases, health professionals do not. If you consider yourself a health professional, does receiving a tip marginalize you in any way?

How about you? If you are paying for a massage, do you tip your therapist? In your practice, do you accept tips? If so, how do you feel about them? Digging deeper, do you declare your tips as income? And perhaps the most important question—what’s a decent tip for an hour massage?

Who We Are

ABMP conducts a member survey every two years as a way to take our members’ pulse and gain a better understanding of who they are, what they do, and what services and resources we should provide for them (or stop providing, as the case may be). We just completed this survey and I’ve been able to sneak a peek at some preliminary data (it’s good to be the president).

A bit about surveys: on occasion members contact us and ask why they weren’t included. Without subjecting you to my grad school statistics lecture (you’re welcome), nearly every survey/poll conducted relies heavily on sampling. In short, we establish a subset of members whose characteristics and responses will adequately speak for the entire group. Typical reasons for sampling, instead of surveying the entire population, are money and time. The key is to make sure you have an adequate sample size. In our case, we are blessed; ABMP members traditionally are very willing participants when we ask for feedback. Thank you to all of you who share your insights.

A more robust review of our member survey will be published in the January/February edition of ABMP’s member newsletter, Different Strokes, but I thought I’d share a snapshot of what we know already, compiled in the ever-popular Fun Facts/Did You Know? format.

  • Five out of six ABMP members (and massage professionals in general) are female.
  • Nearly 85% of members attended college; 53% obtained a degree (two-year, four-year, or graduate).
  • All members report being one year older than they were at this time last year. Just making sure you’re paying attention.
  • Quiz time: among our members, which modality is practiced more—pregnancy massage or stone massage?
  • Average session length for our members is between 50 and 75 minutes.
  • Three in four members have kept their prices the same over the past year.
  • Members report nearly half (45%) of all new clients are referred by existing clients. Keep brushing your teeth and smiling.
  • Answer: stone massage by a nose (52% to 48%).
  • One in seven receives third-party health insurance reimbursement.
  • One-third of members reported making more from their practice in this year. One-fourth made less money; 41% stayed the same.
  • Only three in eight have a website for their practice. WHAT? When you can have a free one from ABMP? I’d like some answers, please, folks.
  • 98% report receiving “friendly, responsive, and professional” service from ABMP. Thank you; we’ll get to work on that last 2%.