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Time management in the massage room can be tricky. Even with a thorough intake, you never know what you’re going to find until you get your hands on someone. It’s important, though, to keep your word to your clients. If, somehow, you can’t do what you said you would and you need to alter the plan, it’s vital that you keep the client in the loop and have them make the call.

It can be so frustrating when a massage therapist says they’re going to do something for me in a session that doesn’t happen, and some of the areas we discussed never even get touched. When I’ve asked therapists why that happened, commonly what I hear is, “I’m so sorry, I was so focused on your shoulder (or your back, or your neck, etc.), that I ran out of time.” That’s a common challenge for many therapists, of course, but as a client I’m left wondering, don’t I get a say?

So, while of course it is best to stick to what you told your client you would do, if you find that the time has gotten away from you and you won’t be able to deliver on your stated plan, my advice would be to get the client involved. Don’t just keep going and hope that they won’t notice. Honestly, you know they will. After holding an expectation based on your conversation during the intake, they’ll be disappointed, which can break their trust. They may not say anything, and they might even tip you, but you’ll never see that client again.

If you know that you are struggling with this, develop ways to recover gracefully, and always keep the client involved. You can easily say something like, “I’m sorry, it looks like we won’t have a lot of time to address your arms and your legs. If I were to spend more time on one of those areas, which would you like it to be?” That way, you preserve your relationship with the client, even if you don’t get to all the work you’d discussed.

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