How to deal with spa and massage practice clients that challenge your time and patience


It only takes one difficult person to turn the day upside down. In an ideal world, you wouldn’t have to deal with people that criticize everything and everyone, make unreasonable demands or never know what they want. However, it’s not an ideal world, and sometimes a difficult client adds value in other ways, so you’re not ready to cut ties. For example, you may have a client who comes in weekly for massage and buys lots of products at home but frequently changes appointments last minute. Another good paying client continues to question what type of skin treatment will be best even after receiving your expert opinion.

Unless a difficult client starts to affect your business and team, learn how to deal with them and possibly change their behavior, here are some of the most common types of clients that challenge your spa and massage practice and suggestions for dealing with them.


Demanding clients tend to only think about what’s convenient for them. They want you to fit them for a session even if you are booked, or they want you to come in early or stay late to accommodate their needs. They may make other demands about products you use or products they would like you to stock on your retail shelf with limited appeal to others. With clients like this, learn to say no and, without too much detail, explain why; otherwise, they will wear you and your staff down.


No matter what the service, this client is always critical. The key with these people is to set their expectations and be very specific about results. If someone has back pain, you may indicate that after a therapeutic massage, they should expect to feel better in the following ways to set expectations.


No matter how much information you provide, the client can never decide on a treatment or retail product. Ultimately they leave the decision to you. Even with the client’s go-ahead, make sure you get some agreement or buy-in on what you are proposing so you don’t have to redo a treatment later or take back products.

It’s always a crisis.

The client always has an emergency and needs your time and attention right away. Set limits on how much time you give clients like this on the phone or in-person to address their problems and remind them that you have other clients that need your attention.

Regularly asks for more

No matter what the service or treatment is, this type of client always wants something extra or a special deal or discount.  They may routinely ask for just 10 more minutes of a massage or a discounted price on a retail offering because they had an expensive treatment. Please explain why you can’t accommodate their requests and stand firm. Some people want to see how far they can push to get what they want.

Knows more

Clients that think they know more; don’t want your professional advice. They want to tell you how to do things. They may even undermine the treatment's success by demanding you do something that won’t get desired results. With clients who think that they know more, discuss the treatment thoroughly. Explain exactly what you are going to do and why. If they request you do something that you disagree with, tell them why you advise against doing so and make sure they accept your answer and the outcome.

Dealing with difficult clients goes with the territory in running any business. The key is to set your boundaries. Still, if you have tried everything and still find a client is unreasonable or exhausting, it may be time to let them go.


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