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Running Late for Mobile Massage

Our last post was on the subject of cancellations and our policy on the very rare occasions that they occur for our Sydney mobile massage business. Recently I was asked a question on a similar topic of what was our policy if the client was running late. Are we flexible with time or do the therapists stick strictly to the appointed times?

My initial response was something along the lines

well as we are professionals and we may have other bookings to go to then we do need to keep to our timetable. Obviously if we can be flexible we will but if there is a scheduling clash then sorry if you are running late then you will be the one to have reduced massage time.

Sydney mobile massageHer follow-up question was well what happens if the therapist is running late?

Again to me it seems standard business practice that if we are running late then the client will still get full time on the table. (as an aside, we do not run late as a rule although occasionally circumstances beyond our control can affect the travel time between appointments)

Only after the conversation did it occur to me that it may appear that we have double standards, it’s ok on those rare occasions that we are running late but not ok if the client is late.

I posed this as a question on a massage forum and some of the response from other therapists are listed below.

If you have another client immeditately following, then you really have no choice but to cut the session short for the late client. It’s out of your control. They should understand.

I think if we (massage therapist) were running late, then we make the sacrifice and work over our expected time, as should they sacrifice if running late. If I don’t have other commitments, I always give them their full hour. If I have someone coming in after them, then I don’t make my arriving client wait for me to finish, when they arrived on time.

You’re paying for my time; how you use it is up to you. If there is a good excuse and I can do the full hour I will.
You have to train your clients to respect you as a professional.

I am the one traveling, so sometimes unexpected things may arise on my journey from one client to another (traffic, accident, road closures, etc.). Those are out of my personal control. However, the client should know that their massage is at X time, in their home or where ever, therefore they should know to not do anything or go anywhere that would make them late. It is their only massage that day, not ours, so they need to understand that. If they are late, I would charge them the full amount of their appointment (you could have scheduled another person during that time that would not have been late) and do the massage in the amount of time they have left you. If it is continuous or they have a problem with that explain that your schedule does not revolve around them, and if they do not like it they can find another therapist that can revolve around them.

First time, with good cause, if be lenient. Fool me twice, shame on me.

Certainly it would appear to be a double standard if we expect our clients to understand when we are running late due to things beyond our control such as traffic delays but then have a hard line policy for them being on time all the time. So I do try to be understanding if a client appears to have a legitimate reason for running late and give them the full massage time IF my schedule allows. Although as a mobile therapist I’ve rarely had this situation occur, the vast majority of people are home waiting for me to arrive. For the very few who weren’t I’ve had to have the sometimes awkward talk about shortening their appointment time due to another commitment. It’s about setting appropriate boundaries, not always easy or fun but always essential for your well-being as both a business owner and an individual.

This is a good question. I always schedule at least 30 minutes between appointments and lately more like 45. If we start late I still give them their full time (up to a point-usually 10 to 15 minutes. I’ve found that by being somewhat flexible with my clients they are flexible with me when I need it.

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The consensus of the comments was that it is ok for this apparent double standard ie reasonable mobile massage therapists to expect clients to be ready on time but require the clients to have a little understanding if we are running a little late because we are the ones who are faced with the variables which are outside of our control (ie traffic).

As mentioned at the start though we will try to be as flexible as our schedule permits if you are running late for legimate reasons.

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