What’s your recipe for requesting that a client no longer visits the spa?

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Almost a decade ago, there was a client that would come to the spa with a whiskey in one hand and an unlit cigar in the other. Although he would not drink the alcohol during the treatment or light up his cigar to smoke, it became his spa ritual. On numerous occasions, he was asked to discard of his glass cup and half chewed cigar before walking back to the treatment hallway. He would either ignore the spa employee that was asking him or respond with a sharp, "I'm just holding them." Being that he was a client with a lot of clout, the management would tell the employees to go ahead and let him enter with his vices.

Once a week, he would request his haircut and hot shave from the barber, a deep tissue massage from a female spa employee, and end with a facial. During his massages, he would require the female therapist to work deeper and deeper into his muscles. He began running through different female massage therapists, either because he did not like their technique or the therapists themselves would request not to work on him because they could not work as deep as he was requesting.

During one of his massages, as the female therapist kept working deeper and deeper into his neck, he was angry that she was not working deep enough and threw his head backwards excessively hard, injuring the therapist's hand to where she could not work for a week. I was then asked to give him his next deep tissue massage because there was no other female willing to work on him – out of fear of getting injured like our coworker. After giving him a couple of massages, I also realized that I could not accommodate his requests to work deeper into his muscles. I spoke to the spa director and asked for permission to tell him we could no longer accommodate his spa requests for massage. I felt it would be better for him to hear it from someone who had worked on him to explain to him the reasoning rather than the spa director, who would have to be very delicate with the approach of delivery to avoid a possible volatile response.

The next week, like clockwork, he received his haircut and hot shave with the barber and then greeted me with his cup of whiskey in his right hand and his Cuban cigar dangling from his mouth. As I started working on him, I explained to him that the muscular work he was wanting was not one that could be delivered in the spa. I went on to tell him that the kind of work he needed to address the constant pain he was experiencing in his neck should be done by a massage therapist that specializes in treating muscular pain management. Then, I referred him to the female bodyworker that I had been going to for my own forearm issues. I took some time explaining the muscles and their response to different therapies that the spa would be great for, but, in his specific case, the spa was not the best place for him. At the end of the massage, he was grateful that there was a place for him to go to receive the exact treatment he was needing.

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