Hiring an L.M.T.: When to Hire and How to Find the Right Candidate

Written by Liz Garrison

Skin care and massage can be similar occupations. They have similar lengths of hours to get a basic license, require a lifetime to learn, and are well suited to compassionate people wanting to change lives for the better. That may also be where those similarities end.


Skin care has masses of retail inventory and backbar expenses. Basic massage just needs a table, sheets, and massage cream. Skin care professionals need a sharp eye for detail and great vision. Massage therapists have great tactile skills and the profession is a great option for the blind. Some skin care professionals generalize and become massage therapists, in order to build their clientele by providing more services. But, how does a skin care professional just hire an L.M.T. to add massage therapy to their business?


It seems easy enough. You have someone to answer the phone, order the products, and do the bookkeeping. Why not just hire someone to provide the massage?




Like most things with a small business, timing is everything. The best time to hire a massage therapist is when skin care is running at capacity. There needs to be plenty of existing clients and a viable new client acquisition plan in place to keep a massage therapist as an independent contractor or employee going.


Don’t expect someone who works for a skin care practice as a massage therapist to build their own clientele there for you. Unlike licensed aestheticians, licensed massage therapists are likely to be doing outcalls after their shift to keep the bills paid. Bringing a client to a place where they get the minority of the fees does not seem logical to the L.M.T. mindset. They would rather load up their own table, sheets, and massage cream and drive to a client’s home to keep the whole payment.




Usually the first thing that comes to mind at this point is that the massage therapist is going to steal clients from the business for outcalls. While sometimes they might try and will be caught, there are a lot of good reasons to hire an L.M.T.


Adding massage can greatly increase the average ticket of your business. When a regular client, who spends $100 on a facial and $300 worth of product every month, adds in a monthly massage for $100 on the same visit, it increases the spend by 25%, with little additional cost of service. And, it is a convenience for the client to get her massage at the same time in the same place.


While the cost of service for a facial can be $10 to $40, a massage is the cost of an ounce of cream and laundering a few hot towels for comfort. Rather than investing in backbar and equipment to set up a new aesthetic room and find new clients for the new aesthetician, you can empty out that room you use for storage and put in a table and hot towel cabinet and call it home for an L.M.T. and sell those services to existing clientele.


Training costs are minimal for an L.M.T. Instead of paying additional aestheticians $10 an hour for constant product and equipment training, all L.M.T.s tend to come with Swedish and deep tissue training and experience straight out of school. L.M.T.s also tend to seek their own additional training in the form of continuing education credits that are required by almost every state in the United States.




Now that you are sold on getting your own L.M.T., how do you do hire the right one for your business? Before you go out and advertise the position, think about setting up an environment where the best massage therapist would want to spend 30 hours a week. You will need:


  • a room in a quiet area, at least 10 feet by 10 feet, with a rug on the floor and dim lighting
  • a hydraulic table or one in which it is easy to adjust the table height
  • a stool to sit on while working on the neck and shoulders or feet
  • a couple choices of massage cream, lotion, or oil (something your first massage therapist may be able to pick out for you)
  • mild temperature – do not pick a hot room; your L.M.T. will melt doing physical work and probably not be employed there as long as you would like




Once you have your space cleaned out and outfitted for an L.M.T., do some management work in advance. Amy Walsh, L.E., L.M.T., of Earthbody Day Spa in San Francisco, California says, “Benefits get the good people, as well as laying out goals and expectations from the start. You can have an employee who hustles.”


If you do not already offer full-time benefits, start researching and plan to provide them if you want a stable and loyal contributor to your team. L.M.T.s have trouble getting good benefits on their own, even with the Marketplace, and will consider a full-time position to get them. These individuals are less likely to plan a private practice exit and will be healthier than a person that is not able to get to a doctor if they are sick.


Adjust your employee handbook to include the L.M.T. If you do not have one, you will need to get something down in writing, from dress code to hours to paid time off to penalties for being late or calling in sick. No one likes the rules being made up as time goes by. Most people would like to know what they are getting into at the interview.




Once you have your management items completed, you will be ready to get down to finding candidates to interview.


If you have current aestheticians other than yourself, ask them if they happen to know a good L.M.T. looking for work. Offer them a referral reward bonus. Wait a couple weeks and see if you get any good leads. Your aestheticians will be putting their reputation on the line, so someone they know is better than someone no one knows.


Also, the top places that L.M.T.s look for work in 2019 are Indeed or local Facebook massage groups that allow employment advertising. Indeed also allows you to look through L.M.T. resumes and contact the massage therapists that you are interested in. It will cost you some money, but it will be worth it in the end.




Once you have collected several good-looking resumes, it is time to call some qualified people in for an interview. Make sure you have prepared a list of the most important questions for your business and look for candidates that are a good fit for your work culture and the people who already work for you. You do not want a person really interested in crystals and aromatherapy if you have a clinical business and, likewise, you do not want someone who only values clinical massage if most of the work you will have for the L.M.T. is relaxation. It may also be nice to let your lead aesthetician (if you have one) interview the final picks. Next thing you know, you will have added massage to the treatment menu and have a massage therapist added to your staff.


There is a right time to add a massage therapist to your business and many good reasons to do that. Just make sure you provide the right environment and reasons for that therapist to become a loyal one and you will be on your way to an even greater level of financial bliss and have happy clients that can add a massage to their day with you!



2019 Liz GarrisonLiz Garrison, MBA, L.E., L.M.T., is a startup spa product developer and educator in spa business development and management. She has five years of day spa ownership experience and has been an active licensed aesthetician and massage therapist in five-star hotel spas for a decade. She holds a Master of Business Administration from the University of Dallas. brainyspagal.com

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