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Client Responsibilities/ Therapists Rights. Being late should have consequences right?

 I work as a subcontracted massage therapist at a business, where the owner isnt familiar with massage therapy.  We offer couples massages, and we keep coming across people running LATE ( 10-15 minutes)  which then during the intake takes about 5 or 10 minutes.  Getting them IN the room then undressed another 5 minutes.   So instead of starting at 1:00 were starting 1:20 - 1:25.  I see on some listings of " client responsibilities/rights"   that they should be on time and leave on time.  But what if they ARENT.  Do we have the right to shorten their time.  

 Ideally in a perfect world, it wouldnt be a big deal to just extend their time, but when we have someone immediately following them, then that ruins their time, and makes them wait even longer.


Our owner feels we should NEVER cut time short, for any reason.  Dont we have that RIGHT as therapists to MAKE that call?

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You have to explain on the 1st visit that they need to be on time. The session will end at the scheduled time even if I have an opening after the late client.   If every client is 10 minutes late after just three clients you you are now an 1/2 hour behind.  I always shorten their time.  If client is late 1st visit I explain that there time will be short and give the example above.  Tell the business owner that the last few clients do not want to start their sessions late.  The will end up not coming is all about repeat business
Not a matter of rights. It is simple business practice.  They have an appointment time and are late. They have the remaing time of the schedule and owe full pay. That is simple but now the real question is what is best for your business rep and repeat clientel. How much time do you schedule between clients? Can this be used to keep them happy?

If it were my business I would feel forced to deduct from their table time, but even in that case I would try to offer a longer session, schedule permitting, at slight discount to keep good feelings with the therapist and client and meet the client in the middle. (i.e. - If they had scheduled a 60min, I would suggest a 90min session at a 75min price)
As a business owner happy clients are key and padding the times accordingly is not a hardship in my eyes - it gives therapists a break, gives the clients ample time to dress/arrive/leave. 

When it comes to start and stop times in my private practice, I tend to be flexible and I agree with Luciana - know your clients and schedule accordingly.

Some people have have hectic schedules and the time (that I get paid very well for) spent on my table should be as relaxing and theraputic as possible not a tense, scolding punishment for being a human being trying to live in the 21st century.

I do text messages, emails or phone calls 1-4 hours before the session to verify and update start times as needed. Even then sometimes things happen and honestly, even habitually late regular clients are hard to come by and are always better than an empty slot.

Today's world we wait to purchase things, we wait for dinner, we wait hours for medical professionals and wait days even weeks for government processes - hard to imagine MT is one of the only professions that are strictly 100% on-time start time, all the time :)

At Massage Envy the clients are always told to arrive 15 minutes early. If they do not and are late their time is cut accordingly. The clients are told this one hour session is yours. The next hour belongs to someone else. There is only 10 minutes between clients so there is no time for lateness.

If you are subcontracted, you aren't working for the owner of that business as an employee. I don't know what your contract says, but if your clients continually run behind and it affects your "subcontracted" business perhaps you should set your policy (keep in mind it's a business, this is not personal) to make it your own. I am always on time and ready to work for my clients so if they come in late, I work the alloted time and continue on as usual. There have never been any complaints and the clients who are timely appreciate that they too are cared for. I am prepared for the first time someone has a problem with my policy. I will behave professionally as I always do, keeping in mind that I am running a business that depends on the consumer.

Now, you should also keep in mind that the person you are subcontracted under may really disagree with your policy and might wish to terminate your agreement at which time you should have a plan B (back up plan ready). I agree with Daniel who said it is a matter of simple business practice and you are paid for your time.

Good luck with your work

I just say, reward the early birds, and tell the latecomers that it isn't always possible for making up time. It isn't a right thing, especially when subcontracted. You need to own or be independent to say whatever you want. That situation sucks, I'm sure, but talk it out, you never know know.

You mentioned the owner doesn't have any experience with massage. Maybe you can explain to the owner that when a client is late early in the day how it throws you off until the last client of the day might not get started until almost a half hour later than the appt time they scheduled, and then it's the client who is paying because what if that client can't stay a half hour over time? Even if the client coming in after the late client is off by ten or fifteen minutes, what if they need to be somewhere and can't get their time? That is really unfair to the clients later in the day. Also, bring up the fact that it's in the "client responsibilities/rights" form and the owner needs to follow that or change it. If the owner still doesn't get it, then he/she should definitely give you at least an hour between sessions to make up for lost time. It's the owner's call if they want to give late clients their time or not, but if they decide to go that route, they also need to consider the clients who are coming in after the latecomers.


Your question also broaches another subject, the rights of an independent contractor. You will have to check with the IRS but I do know the contractor gets a lot more freedom than an employee. I do know for a fact that as a contractor you get to set your own rates, times and the types of services you provide. You also get to choose your own schedule. The owner restricting how you start and finish the session may be breaking that aspect and actually treating you as an employee. But, again, PLEASE check with the IRS yourself on that matter for clarification.


Well said Rajam. I am an independent contractor myself, I didn't set the rate, but it is my choice to take the job or not. So, that being said, if you are a contractor, it is your choice to leave, stay, or whatever. Talk it out, really.
Darcy hit this one. They are told 15 early. That leaves no excuse for late.

Sometimes it seems like clients don't understand when they are 15 - 20 minutes late for session how badly it throws you off for the rest of the day.I don't want to lose the "full hour " pay and I also want them to get their "full hour " in.


I'm starting to wonder if I should switch to 50 minute sessions, giving that extra 10 minutes to change sheets and get ready for the next session.


I've had several clients be late the last few days and I feel bad so I work on them the entire hour and it leaves me with 5 minutes or less to have them get dressed, for me to change the sheets and greet the next client. And usually the client would already be waiting at the door or in the waiting room.  So I feel bad for the person being late and I feel bad and apologize to the next client. I think respecting the CMT has alot to do with it. If clients know you will "go over" and being late doesn't matter, they will step all over you because "they can".


I try my best to be polite and nice about it and tell them I will try to get their entire hour in but I do have another session right after them so we may be cutting our session time short by 10 minutes.  I actually had a client that was 10-15 minutes late ask if he could extend his session for another 1/2 hr (which would have been great) but I had another client coming shortly :(*    Anyone here put 1 hour gap between sessions for that reason? I just don't want to sit around the office twiddling my thumbs between sessions. That makes for a longgggg day! :)


After reading this topic, I have updated my website to state that you must arrive 15 minutes early to fill out paperwork if you are a new client. Just wondering how many clients will actually read and do that ;0)  


"You can lead a horse to water.....but............"

I leave that up to the individual therapists in my practice, who are all ICs. They usually give them the remaining time on their session and that's it. And in fact, if someone is 15 minutes late and hasn't called, the therapist can leave the office. It is also their choice to bill for the missed appointment.


We try to be reasonable with people....for example, the street in front of my office is very busy (for our little town). There has been more than one traffic accident over the years smack in front of the office, which holds up traffic. If someone was late for a reason beyond their control like that, we'd try to give them the full time if possible. People do have genuine emergencies. However: "A lack of planning on your part does not constitute an emergency on my part." We know the people who are chronically late and if they only get 40 minutes out of the hour, they're still paying for the whole hour and they know the drill.

It is very important that therapists maintain highly professional policies. Our clients will not respect our time if we allow this. Remember, time equals money! If you have clients waiting for you because someone was late, that causes a ripple effect. I ask my clients to call me if they're running late and if I have a client scheduled after them, I give what is left of their time with a full charge fee. If I have the flexibility and don't mind, or it is a really good client and isolated incident, I will go ahead and give them their full time. We are definitely within professional boundaries to charge up to $1 per minute for any extra time beyond what was scheduled. Also, if I'm ever late, I discount $1 per minute of time. It must go both ways!

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