It's actually not always customary to tip in a clinic type setting. So a chiropractic office, D.O. office, etc the answer would likely be no. Some clinics or medical offices even have a "no tipping" policy. Although even I was surprised to see the results of this survey from a professional association for massage therapists. According to this, 10% of therapists in medical offices report receiving tips. So I guess the answer would actually be to tip if you wanted in a clinic setting as long as they accept tips.
According to an Associated Bodywork and Massage Professionals Member Survey:
- Therapists who practice in spas/salons receive tips from 90% of their clients.
- Therapists who practice in a massage-only clinic receive tips from 80% of their clients.
- Therapists who work in medical offices report receiving tips from 10% of their clients.
Situations that are customary to tip are salons and spas, massage clinics, independent massage studios... Some exceptions are when the therapist is the owner of the spa, etc. However, there's also another exception to that if the owner is the only therapist. Confused yet?!
Services at a massage franchise should definitely include tipping, in my opinion, as these therapists are paid a low wage and do depend on their tips much like a waiter or waitress. I believe the franchise here in town even has it posted that it's customary to tip, and they include a handy chart with a suggestion for the amount.
My philosophy is that "tips are accepted but not expected". I see a tip as a thank you for an excellent service. I do not depend on the income from tips to pay my bills and therefore don't expect them. I have my rates set to the level that I need them to be to continue running a successful business doing bodywork. I certainly graciously accept tips and appreciate them, however, I give the same level of service to all clients no matter if they tip or not.
If you loved your massage and want to tip, that's great. If you loved your massage and don't want to tip, that's fine, too. I would rather clients come in on a regular basis than tip if it were to come down to that choice for them financially. I certainly don't want clients to feel like they can't get a massage if they are unable to tip.
When visiting a new massage therapist and wondering if you should tip, check out their website or ask them if they have a policy on tipping. If they accept tips and you feel the service warranted it, then feel free to leave a gratuity. 10%-20% of the service rate is a typical range for tips.