4 Basic Guidelines for Setting Massage Prices

massage prices

4 Basic Guidelines for Setting Massage Prices

Setting massage prices (for the self-employed) is often a fine balance between what we can charge and what our customers are willing to pay.

Here are some common questions, answers and tips about setting these massage prices:

What should I charge for a one-hour massage?

Look to your local peers and consider what they are charging.

Consider their property amenities, training and years of experience with their one-hour price.

Now, look to your own practice and try to determine if your service is the same, less or better than what they are providing and charge accordingly.

It is important to consider your market’s average price for viability of your own.

Should I charge more for deep tissue work than regular massage?

This can be one of the most puzzling questions and situations in massage therapy practice today.

The real question here is, “What is deep tissue?”

Some clients will request a “deep tissue” and then only tolerate the lightest of pressure while others will say they want a “regular” massage but demand your full body weight be applied with every stroke.

My solution is to charge a fairly high hourly rate and tell the client that they can have any type of therapeutic massage for this charge. Then, I may discount the service if it’s an easy appointment, or they book regularly, or whatever feels appropriate.

Sometimes I feel that massage therapists should charge a little more than their “average” market price so that there is room to offer discounts on slow days/seasons and for repeat/good clients.

Some customers may also be intrigued as to why you “costs” more than average, too. Keep in mind that good pricing involves providing your best possible service for the best possible charge.

How do I explain a price difference for different services?

While I personally charge an “expensive” one-size-fits-all price for services, some therapists will have a low base price for massage, and charge more for additional modalities.

It’s perfectly acceptable to charge more for harder or complicated work. Here are three reasons why therapists can (and sometimes should) charge more:

  1. Additional equipment and/or training was involved to provide the service; therefore, a higher price will recoup the financial investment for training and/or equipment. This is often applicable for prenatal, stone, aromatherapy, NMT and so forth.
  2. The work is physically “harder,” which means you will not be able to provide as many appointments that day. This is often applicable for deep tissue and hot stone work.
  3. Extra time is required to provide the service. This often applicable to mobile appointments, stone work, prenatal, shirodhara, etc. (Be sure to add any parking expenses to a mobile appointment price, too!)

What is the best practice to charge for add-on services?

You should always charge for “add-ons” such as a foot scrub, paraffin or anything else that would not be normally added to the scheduled service.

If you do provide “add-ons,” it’s important to publicly post a detailed price list of these add-on services on your website, at the reception counter and/or in your service menu.

And, if a client requests an “add-on” during service, tell them the additional costs for the “add-on” before it is provided. While it’s never ideal to talk about money during a service, it could also be considered unethical to charge more than agreed without the client’s informed consent.

Setting your own appointment prices can often feel confusing and conflicting.

Use these guidelines to help make decisions about this important process. Be upfront, honest and clear about pricing – so that regardless of what you charge – you provide a professional, reputable business operation that is reliable for your customers.

Good business usually provides good prices – so don’t be shy to charge what you’re worth and let your cash register ring!


Selena Belisle is a 3x WAF World Arm Wrestling Champion who holds other minor athletic titles in a variety of sports. She has been practicing massage for almost 30 years and is the owner of ceinstitute.com in Miami, Florida. Belisle teaches several massage-related subjects in both live and online classes. She specializes in both sports and spa education as well as many other bodywork modalities.

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