In this Post: Learn how to book male massage therapists. Unfortunately the reality is that many clients prefer female therapists. So how do we combat this dilemma? Learn techniques for keeping your male therapists just as booked as their female counterpart.
In one of the Facebook massage groups I am a part of there was a heated debate recently about what protocol to use when booking male therapists. The question was;
“Is it appropriate to ask clients if they have a gender preference?”
And while there is no question that the struggle for male therapists is real, not to mention transgender therapists, it is also important to honor our client’s wishes. And while we may think it is silly for someone to get so caught up in WHO is doing the work as long as that ‘who’ is good, really when it comes down to it, that isn’t for us to decide.
Now there are many reasons someone may have a gender preference. Whatever their reason for their preference, we should not argue with them about the merits of whether their gender preference is warranted or not. Because in their mind it IS warranted and therefore they will not be as relaxed working with a male therapist.
Some Reasons People May Have a Gender Preference
- They are extremely modest and don’t like the idea of the opposite sex touching them.
- Religious Reasons.
- They may be self-conscious about their body image and embarrassed to have the opposite sex see their body.
- They may have a history of sexual, or physical assault. Do we really want to have them have to relive such an experience when booking a massage? If they don’t want a male or female, it is their prerogative.
- Their spouse prefers a member of the opposite sex does not touch them.
- They believe a male therapist can only give deep work. Now obviously this is not the case, but some people do hold this belief.
- They may be homophobic. So ya, maybe we don’t like the idea of someone having homophobic beliefs. But if someone has these feelings, then it will be just as uncomfortable for the therapists as the client if you try to force them to book with a male.
- Or conversely, maybe they have feelings for men but don’t want to admit it. Again, it makes for an uncomfortable position that can be avoided. Massage is intended to nurture the individual in a holistic way. So even if the actual techniques are spot on, if an emotional or psychological piece is missing the client won’t be able to relax into the experience as deeply as they otherwise might have been able.
It’s Possible To Have A Full Schedule As A Male Massage Therapist
Currently, I have several male therapists working in my practice. Some of their schedules are much fuller than their female counterpart, while others are not. I believe male therapists have a responsibility to present themselves in a marketable manner. Now to be fair, I feel all therapists have this responsibility, it just seems to be even more important as a male. Maybe not a super popular opinion, but mine none the less. Things like eye contact, proper hygiene, and good conversation skills go a long way in filling one’s schedule.
In a purely tourist based practice, it may be harder for males to gain a strong following. But in a business that has a lot of repeat business such as mine (which is 50% tourists and 50% locals), some of my most successful therapists have been males. If you are a male and you are working in an establishment that is not strictly tourists, and your schedule is not full, maybe it is time to look inward. Learn some new techniques, work on your listening skills, and ask your coworkers for feedback. I know a pretty humbling thing to do, especially if you have been practicing for awhile!
So, how do I try to combat the maleaphobes?
The debate in the Facebook group raged about whether to tell the clients they were being booked with a male therapist or just let them find out when they came in. As a business owner, I can tell you it is bad for business to hold back such information. People with strong preferences are going to be upset if they feel you withheld from them.
One technique I have used with some success is to say;
“Great, so we have you booked at 12:00 with Matt.”
Then if they object you can let them know when a female therapist is available. Now, this is not my favorite option.
- If they object, it takes more time, and time is valuable when your other line is ringing, you have two people to check out, and one to check in.
- I have had many people work for me with gender-neutral names.
- It doesn’t take into account for a transgender therapist.
My favorite technique;
Right away ask if they have a gender preference. If they don’t regardless of who has more massages, whose first on, who has seniority, or any other deciding factors, I give the massage to the male therapist. Now maybe one day your male therapist is completely booked while you females are not, but chances are good that the likelihood of that happening on a regular basis is rare. In other words, the scheduling gods that be, will balance things out.
On the Facebook thread, one person went so far as to say that male therapists should only work for themselves, that this was the only way they could be successful. I totally disagree! I recently had a male therapist return after being away for about nine months. Within three weeks his schedule was just as busy as any of the females in the practice.
So again, if you are having trouble getting booked as a male, do some soul searching. See if you can own any piece of why this is the case. And then see if your employer can implement the male first booking philosophy. It has worked extremely well for us!
- Boulder College of Massage Therapy Graduate
- Nationally Certified through NCBTMB
- Colorado Licensed Massage Therapist
- Certified CranialSacral Level 1 through Upledger
- Certified Herbal Therapist through Nutrition Therapy Institute
- Certified Fujian Massage through Barefoot Masters
- Fort Lewis College - Majored in Art, Minored in Business Administration
- 6 Year Winner of Best Massage Therapist for "Best of The Boat" Competition
- Massage Business Owner Since 2008