Giving away free massage for 'marketing'

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Comments (31)

Tracie in Atlanta, Georgia

83 months ago

While some chair massage for free off site is a good marketing tool, I think she is making a big mistake doing it at her place of business. I agree who would pay for what they can get for free. Is she giving the trainers free table or chair massage? They will make referalls to her which is a good idea for her.

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Detroit MT in New Baltimore, Michigan

83 months ago

Tracie in Atlanta, Georgia said: While some chair massage for free off site is a good marketing tool, I think she is making a big mistake doing it at her place of business. I agree who would pay for what they can get for free. Is she giving the trainers free table or chair massage? They will make referalls to her which is a good idea for her.

I agree -- discounting your services at your place of business gives the impression that you don't think you are worth what you are charging. Clients will want to know why they can't just get the massage at the discounted rate, all the time.
I don't like discounting my services. What about discounting products after so many massages, instead?

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Angel in Granbury, Texas

82 months ago

Atlanta MT in Atlanta, Georgia said: I currently work at a fitness center that has three therapist. One of the therapist is giving free chair massage during her shift when she doesn't have clients. She is doing this for marketing. She sets up her chair outside the center during lunch and works on people who go to the mexican restaurant next door. While this sounds like a great marketing idea I had a fitness member ask me for a free 30 minute table massage yesterday. I think the effect this marketing is this.... Why would anyone pay for what they get for freeT Also, a personal trainer at the gym cancelled her appointment with me 3 hours before her appointment because she "doesn't have any money" I found out the same therapist is also giving the Personal trainers free massages. As a therapist, how do you feel about giving away free massage and do you think it works to bring in table clients? Do you think I should warn her that she may be effecting her (and the other therapists) ability to make a living?

I think that giving away free massages is detrimental to our business. That is our livly hood, and if we give it away, people will expect that all the time.

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Relaxhealinghands in Trenton, New Jersey

82 months ago

Atlanta MT in Atlanta, Georgia said: I currently work at a fitness center that has three therapist. One of the therapist is giving free chair massage during her shift when she doesn't have clients. She is doing this for marketing. She sets up her chair outside the center during lunch and works on people who go to the mexican restaurant next door. While this sounds like a great marketing idea I had a fitness member ask me for a free 30 minute table massage yesterday. I think the effect this marketing is this.... Why would anyone pay for what they get for freeT Also, a personal trainer at the gym cancelled her appointment with me 3 hours before her appointment because she "doesn't have any money" I found out the same therapist is also giving the Personal trainers free massages. As a therapist, how do you feel about giving away free massage and do you think it works to bring in table clients? Do you think I should warn her that she may be effecting her (and the other therapists) ability to make a living?

Yes you need to let her know asap, because by her giving FREE massages that saying what massage is not warth paying for and that hurts everyone in the business not just the thrapist at your gym.

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Tarryn in London, United Kingdom

80 months ago

I also work at a spa based within a fitness centre where my boss feels its necessary to give away free massages to gym members and staff. i am only paid per treatment and not per hour so it is very frustrating to work for free as the spa tends to be quite. if people can constantly get free treatments there is no need to pay for a massage, so i totally disagree with this method. i think if you need to build a clientelle for yourself then massaging the personal trainers can be beneficial as if you form a trustworthy relationship with them then they will refer clients to you. do an exchange though- a massage for a personal training session. we study and work so hard to achieve massage skills that i dont see why we should should give away treatments for free. you should definitly speak to the chair massage therapist and find out if the clients that are receiving free treatments are returning as paying clients or not? if her free massages are detrimental to her and especially your business then she needs to be asked to do her 'marketing' elsewhere.

all the best!

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Atlanta MT in Atlanta, Georgia

80 months ago

I left because she was trying to 'steal clients'.She was not gaining new clients from the free chair massage and began persuing my regular clients. I refuse to work with someone like that.Also there were not enough fitness members for the four therapists the owner hired. I think he was counting on us being very competitive with eachother in order to bring in new clients. It was insane, there is only one massage room at this fitness studio and 4 therapists (now three). I did not live close to the studio and I decided it was insane for me to drive that far and attempt to market myself outside of my own community. Last month I accepted positions at two seperate chiropractic offices within 6 miles of my home. I am very busy and no cut throat drama queens!

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Greg Sawyer in buford, Georgia

79 months ago

I think it can serve a purpose to build your client base...if you offer it to QUALIFIED prospects.

The problem is that most massage tehrapists do it the wrong way by offering a free massage to anyone.

I agree. This is a waste of time, energy and money.

They must be QUALIFIED first.

What is a QUALIFIED prospect?

1) Someone who is looking for a massage therapist to work with on a regular basis
2) Someone who is planning on paying for a massage and not looking for a freebie

Now put yourself in their shoes for a moment--
If I am looking for a massage theapist to pay to massage me...
and you come along and say try it first for free and if you are satisfied lets work together.

I would be crazy to try anyone else first!

So here is the question to think about...
Where can I get a list of QUALIFIED potential clients?

ANY IDEAS?

Greg
www.promassagetherapy.net
[url=www.promassagetherapy.net]Atlanta Massage Therapy[/url]

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jl982 in atlanta, Georgia

78 months ago

Atlanta MT in Atlanta, Georgia said: I currently work at a fitness center that has three therapist. One of the therapist is giving free chair massage during her shift when she doesn't have clients. She is doing this for marketing. She sets up her chair outside the center during lunch and works on people who go to the mexican restaurant next door. While this sounds like a great marketing idea I had a fitness member ask me for a free 30 minute table massage yesterday. I think the effect this marketing is this.... Why would anyone pay for what they get for freeT Also, a personal trainer at the gym cancelled her appointment with me 3 hours before her appointment because she "doesn't have any money" I found out the same therapist is also giving the Personal trainers free massages. As a therapist, how do you feel about giving away free massage and do you think it works to bring in table clients? Do you think I should warn her that she may be effecting her (and the other therapists) ability to make a living?

She sounds desperate and probably didnt care about you or anyone elses ability to earn a living. I think we all start out with great intentions and asperations, but with not a lot of jobs around, I hate too see how low some people will go...

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Eric in Toronto, Ontario

77 months ago

I totally agree with Greg. Giving away free massage can be a great way to build your business, but it has to be done strategically. Multinational consumer goods companies like Proctor and Gamble base their marketing strategy primarily around "sampling". Book clubs and record clubs use giveaways in a strategic way. Same with the sample lady at the grocery store.

Giving away (a sample of) massage for free to get someone into a buying cycle is a good thing. I don't have a direct link for it, but you can view a Massage Magazine article on this "Give to Get" strategy by going to www.bodyworkbiz.com/newsletter.php.

On the other hand, giving massage away without clear direction or purpose and even discounting massage treatments is just not good for anyone's practice. And unfortunately, it is many therapists knee jerk reaction to save a floundering practice.

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ohmmmassages in Las Vegas, Nevada

77 months ago

I reward my clients for referrals. For every 5 new people who are referred and book a completed massage session, the referer gets a free hour of massage. The drawback is keeping record of every referral, if the referral is not local (repeat business), and if everyone redeems their free session at once. :) But I usually find that it is worth it.

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Gail in Saginaw, Michigan

75 months ago

You definitely need to tell this Therapist that she is hindering your ability to gain clientele. I am all for free chair massages as a marketing tool, but this needs to be done on her own time, and at a different area, other than her work place. There is an exception to my thinking here. If all therapists agree to do it together, and all of you are out there trying to get clientele, then it should be ok to do it. This way, nobody is stealing clients from anyone, and you are all working together in building the business, so that you will all be successful. This therapist is definitely selfish.

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Katy in Saint Louis, Missouri

75 months ago

Well if she ended up trying to steal your clients then she obviously wasn't doing anyone a favor (especially herself). Any time some one mentions free massage I cringe. Not that I don't think it is a good idea for marketing, it is. But there has to be clear boundaries that go with it.
Like no more then 5 minutes for free and ONLY if they are willing to fill out a health questionaire that would ask for stuff like name, address, email, etc.
But maybe that is a bad idea too.

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Training Buddies in El Paso, Texas

75 months ago

I am the owner and primary trainer here at Training Buddies. I have a massage therapist that works for me and I have never recommended her services as free, or even complimentary. Sure, it is tempting to use it as a marketing leverage tool, but seriously, every 1/2 hour or hour long massage is time and money lost for good. I even charge for consultation and fitness assessment. My hour during consultation is still MY hour. $30.00 isn't going to make or break my clients. At the end of a year, I wonder what this gal would do if she added up all the free massages she had given and looked at the reality of lost wages...not potential wages, actual income! Say she gave two to three a week. At 3 a week that is approximately 156 a year. At an average of $30.00 an hour for a massage, that's $4,680.00 a year lost! She should atleast place a "tip" jar by that chair! If anyone needs a trainer: Eric Smith with Training Buddies, El Paso Texas, 915-256-3702. Or: trainingbuddies.elpaso@yahoo.com I know, I'm shameless when it comes to marketing myself, but then again, thats how I pull in $120,000.00 plus a year...ummm, don't tell the IRS...ok? :-)

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massagepoohbah in Toronto, Ontario

75 months ago

Hi TrainingBuddies!

Congrats on your success. I love to hear success stories like yours. But just because you were able to build your business without using this strategy doesn't mean it that isn't highly effective or should be disregarded.

You need to look at marketing as an investment towards future income and not an expense.

Look at it this way. To get clients, you essentially buy them. If I place a Yellow Page ad that costs $200 per month and I get two clients, then I've spent $100 to buy each client. If I spend two hours at a networking meeting and I make $30K per year ($15 per hour) and I get one client, that client has cost me $30 to buy.

The average MT according to US and Canadian surveys makes $20k per year ($10 per hour), so giving away a free half hour massage to attract a client means I only spend $5 of my time to buy that client. You can't get a lower client acquisition cost than that.

If that client who experiences the benefits of my work firsthand goes on to buy $500 worth of massage over the year, then it's been an excellent marketing investment with a 10,000% return. If I had paid $100 to get that client through an ad, my return on investment would be only 500%.

Used in the right way (and not indiscriminately) it's an awesome strategy.

Cheers,

Eric
60 Clients in 60 Days
www.bodyworkbiz.com

PS When it comes to the IRS, your secret is safe with me.

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Shirley Schnabele in Pandora, Ohio

73 months ago

Atlanta MT in Atlanta, Georgia said: I currently work at a fitness center that has three therapist. One of the therapist is giving free chair massage during her shift when she doesn't have clients. She is doing this for marketing. She sets up her chair outside the center during lunch and works on people who go to the mexican restaurant next door. While this sounds like a great marketing idea I had a fitness member ask me for a free 30 minute table massage yesterday. I think the effect this marketing is this.... Why would anyone pay for what they get for freeT Also, a personal trainer at the gym cancelled her appointment with me 3 hours before her appointment because she "doesn't have any money" I found out the same therapist is also giving the Personal trainers free massages. As a therapist, how do you feel about giving away free massage and do you think it works to bring in table clients? Do you think I should warn her that she may be effecting her (and the other therapists) ability to make a living?

In my opinion, personal trainers should not get preferential treatment,if she wants to give free chair massages for marketing purposes,fine,as long as there is a limit to how many free massages she gives each client,as it sounds like she is being taken advantage of due to clients insufficient funds,which may or may not be true.Also, I agree that her free massages do have an effect on others in the massage community. Could she limit her free massages to certain times or certain days,so that it does not interfere with the business,esp.if there are other LMT's in the office?You could ask her to be courteous to her fellow co-workers,by not taking business away.If her marketing strategy is beneficial,some of the other LMT's may want to apply the same strategy,with the understanding that there should be limitations to the free chair massages.

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Heather Holly in Wasilla, Alaska

73 months ago

FREE MASSAGES? NO...NO...NO...and NO. Discounted massages? NO...NO...NO.....NO and oh yeah ...NO.
And what massage therapist works for $10 an hour?I have been a therapist for almost 11 years.I have had lots of people want free or discounted massages from me. The answer = NO. I don't want clients like that.It is bad business. I want solid responsible clients who want to pay me what I'm worth ( $70-$120 per hour).Depending on wether its at my office or on location.(yes,I charge for my gas and travel time too).
In my journey I have discovered it is cheaper to rid yourself of the flakey appt keepers and the people who want special discounts. Rather, build you business with solid people who pay and keep their appts. They are out there, and that allows your life to be more productive as well.
People that are massaging for free are unprofessional and desperate. How do you discount labor anyway?

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MaryP. in Anchorage, Alaska

65 months ago

Wow, the money hungry woman from Alaska reminds me of Sarah Palin. Not very professional and doesn't know anything about customer service or people.

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massage in Blue Springs, Missouri

63 months ago

If she wants to give away chair massages she should save it for a home show or wellness fair where she could pass out business cards maybe even get appointments but to do it outside the business door shame on her,
If it were the grand opening even......... yes Im sure you are losing clients
since she has done it a few times it seems thats enough free advertising tell her to drag her chair back in .......

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Tommie Lee Jones in Elkhart, Indiana

60 months ago

Atlanta MT in Atlanta, Georgia said: I currently work at a fitness center that has three therapist. One of the therapist is giving free chair massage during her shift when she doesn't have clients. She is doing this for marketing. She sets up her chair outside the center during lunch and works on people who go to the mexican restaurant next door. While this sounds like a great marketing i
dea I had a fitness member ask me for a free 30 minute table massage yesterday. I think the effect this marketing is this.... Why would anyone pay for what they get for freeT Also, a personal trainer at the gym cancelled her appointment with me 3 hours before her appointment because she "doesn't have any money" I found out the same therapist is also giving the Personal trainers free massages. As a therapist, how do you feel about giving away free massage and do you think it works to bring in table clients? Do you think I should warn her that she may be effecting her (and the other therapists) ability to make a living?

Yes, your should pull this therapist aside and explain to her how her genorosity is effecting the lively hood of the other therapist. You would thing that as professionals we have a respect for the art as well as one to another, step up speak up, KINDLY!!!!!

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Sabeena in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma

60 months ago

Tommie Lee Jones in Elkhart, Indiana said: Yes, your should pull this therapist aside and explain to her how her genorosity is effecting the lively hood of the other therapist. You would thing that as professionals we have a respect for the art as well as one to another, step up speak up, KINDLY!!!!!

I disagree. It's none of your business. They don't work for you. One of the therapists in my gym does the same thing but not me. It doesn't bother me at all because my massage is so good that my clients would rather pay me than get it free from the free guy. When someone asks me for free work I just say, "I have advanced training in neuro-muscular and Hanna Somatics which took 3 years to complete in addition to basic schooling. John needs to give away free massages because he's new, but I need to charge because I'm much more experienced." I have way more clients than the free guy!!!!!!!!

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Tommie Lee Jones in Elkhart, Indiana

60 months ago

Sebenne, There is an article that I know you will disagree on , so here it is at:www.ramblemuse.com

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Sabeena in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma

60 months ago

Tommie Lee Jones in Elkhart, Indiana said: Sebenne, There is an article that I know you will disagree on , so here it is at:www.ramblemuse.com

I completely agree with that article you provided. That guy probably has been influenced by "participation in that diversity of endeavors that gives me a broad viewpoint. It is that same range of interests that is now leading me to focus more on science writing as I transition from being a 'kept physicist'"...

My husband was a physicist himself, and is now a jazz musician.

Are you insane, or did you just post an erroneous link to an article that you think proves an actual point about something important?

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sgpadmin in Kochi, India

53 months ago

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Lori in Troy, Ohio

53 months ago

I think that discounting massages is okay, but free, absolutely not. Free is for family members only here ;)

The idea behind 'free massages' is that that person may say 'wow, that was great' and become a regular client. I once heard a therapist say 'The only clients you get from free massages are people who want free massages.' I think this is pretty much true. Now, free chair massages at events I don't see a problem with. Thats more of an 'advertising with your hands' marketing move, but I wouldn't be giving more than 5 minutes of free massage at a time, and certainly not in a location where massages are being paid for.

As for overhiring for therapists to become competitive, that happens alot nowdays it seems. I was browsing craigslist and saw a listing for a chiropractors office with 3 D.C.'s, they had *12* therapists and were looking for number 13!!! From their perspective, they will always have a therapist when they need one, but I would not think of working in an environment that is way oversaturated. I hate when therapists are made to feel we are competing against one another when we all have our own unique qualities to bring to the table.

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Erin in Kansas City, Missouri

51 months ago

Greg Sawyer in buford, Georgia said: I think it can serve a purpose to build your client base...if you offer it to QUALIFIED prospects.

The problem is that most massage tehrapists do it the wrong way by offering a free massage to anyone.

I agree. This is a waste of time, energy and money.

They must be QUALIFIED first.

What is a QUALIFIED prospect?

1) Someone who is looking for a massage therapist to work with on a regular basis
2) Someone who is planning on paying for a massage and not looking for a freebie

Now put yourself in their shoes for a moment--
If I am looking for a massage theapist to pay to massage me...
and you come along and say try it first for free and if you are satisfied lets work together.

I would be crazy to try anyone else first!

So here is the question to think about...
Where can I get a list of QUALIFIED potential clients?

ANY IDEAS?

Greg
www.promassagetherapy.net
[url= www.promassagetherapy.net ]Atlanta Massage Therapy[/url]

I do actually give free massages away, but I am very discerning about who I give them to. I gave several to my doctor, which resulted in 1 client who comes in twice a week, and 1 who comes in weekly. I also gave several to my chiropractor to dispense as he saw fit. This has drawn a couple new people into my business. Last, I give them to my clients who make a good living and also attract others who do the same. I think giving away free massage is great for building a business, just don't do it randomly like this lady is doing. Otherwise, it ends up hurting you and others.

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WhyMassageTherapy in Halifax, Nova Scotia

51 months ago

I don't think that people value what they can get for free, to be honest. I value the education and time I have put into becoming a therapist, and I expect that clients will value me as well. At least that's the type of client I aim for. I don't explain my fees, it is what it is, and in 10 years of practice, I have only had a handful of people who have given me a hard time - and I didn't rebook them.

I have given occasional freebies to clients who are well established, but it's not official, and I have already had an established relationship with them. I would not try to lure in new clients by offering a free service, or undercutting another therapist - I do agree that the people you attract with "free" massage only want the "free" part and will look elsewhere once you start charging for the service. I have heard the "you attract people into your life who affirm what you feel about yourself" and this is no different in a professional setting.

To do an exchange, however, with another health care professional who will refer to you is quite different, and can be a great way to build a clientele. Just make sure they don't abuse the situation, as I worked for a chiropractor who used to see me 2x per week. The clients he did refer to me ended up feeling so much better that they reduced the frequency of their chiropractic appointments, and he stopped referring to me (that's what the office manager told me). So, just be discerning in that case.

I really feel that the people who need to do that as a marketing tool are only attracting people who don't value the service/therapy/profession, and are setting themselves up for disappointment.

Develop your skills and value your services, and you will find you will build a loyal following of clients who value you as well.

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bodyworkbiz in Toronto, Ontario

51 months ago

For a scholarly discussion on the topic of free, check out "Predictably Irrational" by Dan Ariely. He is a economic behavioualist at MIT. His research studies show that "free" is a powerful motivator in human behavior. If Value Assessment is properly established for the buyer, it's a technique that can be used strategically by massage therapists to grow their practices quite dramatically. I've tracked the results in dozens of practices in my own research and know it can impact therapists bottom lines in a very substantial and positive way.

Eric Brown
www.bodyworkbiz.com/60days.php

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Erin in Kansas City, Missouri

51 months ago

bodyworkbiz in Toronto, Ontario said: For a scholarly discussion on the topic of free, check out "Predictably Irrational" by Dan Ariely. He is a economic behavioualist at MIT. His research studies show that "free" is a powerful motivator in human behavior. If Value Assessment is properly established for the buyer, it's a technique that can be used strategically by massage therapists to grow their practices quite dramatically. I've tracked the results in dozens of practices in my own research and know it can impact therapists bottom lines in a very substantial and positive way.

Eric Brown
www.bodyworkbiz.com/60days.php

I agree. I can tell you that before I offered discounts and free massages, I was making $6,000 per year (my business is fairly new). I didn't have trouble getting people to come back, but I had trouble getting them in the door. In just a year of offering discounts and free massages, I jumped from making $6,000 a year to making $26,000 a year. This year I'm projecting a $36,000 to $40,000 salary, and I am looking to hire someone too. People who are not yet attached to a therapist or to someone who knows a therapist are almost always going to choose the cheaper or free massage over the paying one. Just don't keep giving those same people free massages, and you should be fine.

I'm perfectly fine with other therapists adopting a "don't ever discount or give free massages" stance. That just means all those new customers are coming to me, and I'm putting you out of business. Like it or not, we are competing with each other. Catching someone before they are attached to another therapist or company is critical. If I have to give free massages or initial discounts to get them to choose me, then that's what I am going to do.

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Rinalda in San Juan, Trinidad and Tobago

50 months ago

Namaste. Our opinions will continue to vary like the our thumb prints. To give or not to give free/discounted massages will also remain a personal issue. Oer the years my clients have been quite generous to me. I often regard payment as a gift, as in most cases, what I am given exceeds my fee. As a result, I have felt a desire to give back to the sphere of life in some way.

Hence I have linked up with two Geriatri Homes and I visit once monthly to do massages for 4-5 of the residents each. The massage is basically done on the arms and legs and incorporates Reflexology. They appreciate the attention and stimulation and I get to hear remarkable stories and have blessings pronounced on my life.

Life is about exchange. It is quite okay for us to decide if we want that exchange to be strictly monetary when it comes to our profession.

Rinalda
jrindi.tripod.com

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Erin in Kansas City, Missouri

50 months ago

Rinalda in San Juan, Trinidad and Tobago said: Namaste. Our opinions will continue to vary like the our thumb prints. To give or not to give free/discounted massages will also remain a personal issue. Oer the years my clients have been quite generous to me. I often regard payment as a gift, as in most cases, what I am given exceeds my fee. As a result, I have felt a desire to give back to the sphere of life in some way.

Hence I have linked up with two Geriatri Homes and I visit once monthly to do massages for 4-5 of the residents each. The massage is basically done on the arms and legs and incorporates Reflexology. They appreciate the attention and stimulation and I get to hear remarkable stories and have blessings pronounced on my life.

Life is about exchange. It is quite okay for us to decide if we want that exchange to be strictly monetary when it comes to our profession.

Rinalda
jrindi.tripod.com

I like your thought process Rinalda.

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anonyomous in Richardson, Texas

16 months ago

Both my mother and myself have recently contacted the company about an appointment that my mother had scheduled with the company via Groupon. She called and reserved a massage at the business as she was instructed to do by the Groupon that the company promoted through Groupon. The reservation was for a Saturday in November; on the preceding Thursday, the company called to change the appointment to a different time that Saturday. My mom said that the change was okay and planed on being there at the time allotted.

Saturday (the day of the appointment), I called my mom and said that my wife had to be rushed to the hospital for a pregnancy complication, and I asked her if she would drive into Anchorage from Hatcher’s Pass – an hour and fifteen minute drive – to watch my two daughters while I took my sick wife to the hospital. As soon as she physically could, on the way to Anchorage, she called the company to inform the company of the emergency and to attempt to reschedule the massage appointment. The company owner told her t

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