Dear Sal: my new massage therapist isn’t working out like I planned. What now?

In a new regular feature, Sal Capizzi, Marketing Director at Book4Time and a former Director of Spa and Wellness at NEXUS Luxury Collection, shares his expert insight into your reader questions. 

Send your queries about managing staff, operations, and anything else you want to know (challenge him!) to

sal capizziQ. Dear Sal,

I recently hired a new massage therapist. This person looked great on paper and came across very well during the hiring process – thoughtful, professional, attentive, willing to upsell, work hard and go above and beyond, etc. And for the first month they were all those things. Then it was like everything changed out of the blue. The employee called in sick a few times, started being less meticulous, their sales decreased, and they have even had a complaint from a customer about their attitude during a treatment. 

I’m stunned at the turnaround and not sure what to do about it. They are still in their first three months and within their probation period, so I could let them go. Or I can try to fix it, but it feels a bit like it wouldn’t be worth the effort. How can I address this issue or should I even bother and just let them go? I am reluctant to do this because of how hard it is to find employees these days. What do you think?


A. Hi Sharon, 

I’m sorry to hear that performance has been an issue with this massage therapist. It sounds like there was a lot of hope during the interview process and well into the first month of employment. Personally, I like to take an empathic approach to situations like these, life happens and we don’t necessarily know everyone’s story or situation and a lot can happen over a month. Even though it has always been encouraged not to bring “personal baggage” into the workplace, you liked something about this person, personally. Maybe it was the way they carried themselves or their warm approach to a conversation, or maybe they were funny. 

I think the best course of action here would be to have a 1-on1 conversation with this therapist, maybe over coffee or tea. Perhaps angle this as a 30 or 60 day check in. This allows both you to express your thoughts on how performance has been going and you also open up the floor to allow the therapist to express themselves or state their case on any of the findings you bring up during this conversation. 

Maybe this therapist is going to tell you someone close passed away and they haven’t had time to grieve. You can then come up with your own course of action as per policy and how you see fit for your spa. Or maybe this opportunity didn’t pan out to what they thought it was going to be and didn’t know how to come right out and say this. The conversation allows you to open that door and come up with a mutual solution that benefits both parties. It also allows you to go over metrics and reassess expectations, maybe provide an action plan without letting the current situation continue on.

This therapist is a provider and provides treatments to people in what can feel like vulnerable situations, so you cannot let their “new” attitude go into the treatment room with them or reflect on customer experiences. When employees feel cared for and heard that has the trickle down effect into what they put into their craft and the energy they bring into work. I would say nip this in the bud and have that conversation!  


Spa Executive is published by Book4Time, the leader in guest management, revenue and mobile solutions for the most exclusive spas, hotels, and resorts around the globe. Learn more at

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