How to Be Honest and Refuse Massage Clients at the Same Time

There are many ways (and reasons) to turn down a new client or a return client you no longer want to work with. When people ask about this in discussion groups I often see the advice, "Just tell them you are booked."

More often than not, this is terrible advice. In general, lying to a client or potential client is a bad idea. Best case scenario, you are a liar. Worst case, it will backfire and make you look unprofessional (rightly so, because you lied).

Scheduling Challenges

In a nutshell: don't say that you are booked if you are not. The client may be able to see that your online schedule shows you open. Or they may know the next person who calls you and gets that spot.

But I want to be helpful and not just lecture-y, so here are some scripts to practice and get cozy with, so the next client interaction can be honest and smooth.

If you want to book the client and really don't have any appointments available, but they are pushing you for exceptions or asking why, don't give in. A simple, I don't have any appointments available that day, will do. Repeat it if you need to.

You don't need to tell them that you have your kid's baseball practice or that you need a mental health day. Again, if you tell them you are already have clients booked, you're guaranteed to run into them at the grocery store at that exact time. That's just embarrassing.

Stick with I don't have any appointments available that day, and then suggest the next few openings you do have. Much like talking to a stubborn toddler, these types of client require consistency and firm redirection.

Refusing to Rebook a Client

Also, if you've blocked someone from scheduling online, or just decided you don't want them returning but haven't told them yet, they may call you and you'll want to be prepared with an answer.

If you feel you need to be specific, still make an effort to keep it brief and clear. You don't need to justify your decision or over-explain it.

I was uncomfortable with your behavior at your last visit, so I've decided to terminate our professional relationship. We are not going discuss this further.

If you are doing this via voicemail or email, you could end with, There is no need for further communication on this matter. Then you've given yourself a pass to not respond if they call or email you back.

Turning Down a New Client

This could be someone you know personally and don't want to treat, or someone who is just 'off' during your screening.

I appreciate your interest in my massage services, but I prefer to not see my minister/kid's teacher/urologist as a client. I feel like that would create some boundary issues. But let me refer you to my favorite massage therapist!


I appreciate your inquiry, but I don't think I'm the best massage therapist for you. Perhaps you should try contacting a PT who specializes in pelvic health. (This is my go-to when a man calls about prostate massage.)

Being clear and honest in these situations is uncomfortable, even for seasoned practitioners. But it's part of the job, and the sooner you master it the happier and more successful your business will be!

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