The Hidden Secret to a Growing Referral Network, MASSAGE MagazineDo you want to make more money and improve your marketing strategy as a massage therapist? If so, then stop accepting tips.

This might sound crazy, but let me explain. We don’t tip our physical therapist, doctor or dentist, but people are accustomed to tip their massage therapist. It’s not like we are performing a shoe shine, valet parking or some other task the client does not wish to perform themselves. We have specialized education and training to correct muscle imbalances, reduce pain and improve quality of life. Eliminating gratuities can improve the standing of your practice.

Instead, tell your clients, “If you want to tip me, give someone my business card. To tell someone else about me is the best tip I could possibly receive.” You will be surprised how well this works. Instead of receiving an extra $5 or $10, you now have a marketing champion, someone who will tell the world about you and your abilities.

Let’s look at the math: A monthly client who pays you a $10 tip would add up to $120 per year, whereas a new client returning once per month for $60 per hour would be $720 per year. Not a bad trade-off for giving up $10 cash, is it? Plus, this new client is told the same thing and you are now on your way to a dedicated referral network.

This strategy works great for sports massage, as athletes always talk to one another about training tips and injuries. It has helped me develop a healthy practice while also reducing my overall marketing budget.

Earl Wenk, MASSAGE MagazineEarl Wenk, A.T.C., C.S.C.S., N.C.T.M.B., has more than 17 years of experience in the field of sports medicine, working as a massage therapist, certified athletic trainer, and strength-and-conditioning specialist. He works with athletes of all ages and skill levels, from recreational runners to Olympic and world champions. Visit to learn about his sports massage workshops.