The mobile massage industry is growing and with the Covid-19 pandemic edging into being endemic, demand is returning.
Providing mobile massage is not only a great way to start your massage business, but is becoming a necessary ad-on to an already established massage business situated in a salon, clinic or at home.
A generation of more senior people are looking to massage to help with keeping mobile or with an injury and more often than not they prefer a therapist to come to them, especially since Covid-19, many are actively avoiding going out.
People’s lifestyles in the modern world are more stressful and with many employees now working from home, seeking a stress relief massage in their home is much easier than it used to be.
However, the decision to provide mobile massage is not an easy one. In a recent poll I ran on a Facebook support group that I run, concluded that 90% of therapists who responded cited ‘safety’ as their main concern.
Feeling safe is very different to keeping safe. This article will help you deal with your fears around safety and help you select clients that you enjoy working with. If you are not happy going to a client you are laying yourself open to being vulnerable, and when you are vulnerable you are not safe.
Firstly, I would like to introduce myself. I am Claire Masser, a mobile massage therapist since 2015, when I trained and set up my mobile massage business, www.clairemassermobilemassage.co.uk.
Prior to 2015 I worked in the police as a civilian and as a police officer. Some say my police experience helped me be a mobile therapist, however, save it giving me some self confidence in dealing with people, my police skills were not required in keeping me safe. You don’t have to learn self- defense or carry a Taser and pepper spray to keep safe!
It is much simpler than that and staying safe is more about using your common sense and listening to your gut feeling.
I am writing this from my experience at running a mobile massage business from scratch and hope I can help you not to make the mistakes I made.
So here goes – your six-point guide to staying safe and staying happy while providing mobile massage therapy.
When starting out be very careful where you advertise your business. It is very tempting to try and get your business out there on the internet for the cheapest way possible – and one way is to get a listing on free directories.
However, there is no such thing as a free lunch! If the directory you are thinking of advertising on is free then you will most likely pay another way, through hassle and time wasters.
The best example of this is Gumtree. I am sure that there are a number of undesirable clients on Gumtree who look for the newbie massage therapists and hope that they fall for request for a ‘massage’. They don’t really want a professional massage; they want something we definitely don’t want to give.
I was inundated with ‘dodgy’ calls when I advertised on Gumtree – it was horrendous. Look for directory sites that, although may charge a small amount, have a good internet presence e.g., on social media, and in Google searches.
Paying a small amount to get your business advertised by a company who has mobile massage therapists’ interests at heart is far better than laying yourself open to the wrong type of clients who may threaten your safety. I set up In Your Home Massage to help connect genuine clients with independent mobile massage therapists and I direct all the marketing of the website at clients that you will want.
Really look at the language used in messages and in phone calls. A really big red flag is a client asking, ‘do you do relaxing massage?’ ‘or ‘do you do full body massage’ when all your social media and internet advertising clearly states what you provide. I know this may sound innocuous, but couple those messages with the added information that they send the message at 2am, or with a picture with themselves, or with no other information, they are most likely not asking for a professional massage.
A genuine client will include their name and more context for example; I am really stressed with work atm… and hopefully (but not always) they will say where they live because they know you are mobile. When on the phone, you can usually tell that something is not right from their tonality and lack of elaboration of what they want.
Trust your gut feeling and (as covered in a point later on) don’t chase the money.
Screen your clients carefully.
When you first start out always call new clients who enquire by text or email. Have a chat to them and find out what they want.
From talking to the client you can get a feel for whether that client is a right fit for your services. If you feel comfortable talking to them and want to take their booking, get all their details – full name and address. If you are still not sure about them, check them out on social media. If anything is thrown up that makes you feel uncomfortable, cancel the booking. Use non determinate language like – ‘I am very sorry but due some personal circumstances I am unable to provide massage for you’. That is all you need to say, you don’t need to explain yourself.
Avoid clients asking for discounts or offering to pay over the amount you ask for.
Set out your ground rules regarding your business and stick to them!
These rules must include as the number one rule – value yourself and your principles. By this I mean, set out your structure pricing carefully taking into account the time you are prepared to travel, the time it takes you to set up and pack down at an address and the convenience factor that you are providing to the client. I charge £60 an hour and £40 for half an hour and I think is a fair price to pay for a quality massage provided in the comfort of your home.
Once set, do not accept clients asking for discounts. We do not live in a barter society in the UK. You don’t go to Sainsbury’s and ask for a discount at the checkout. If a potential client does that, they do not value your, your service, training and time.
The same applies to clients offering to pay you more than you charge to get you to visit them – why would they do that, what do they want? But I can assure you it happens. It may be because they want you to come to an area you don’t cover, come at a different time to times you have set out for yourself to work , or they want you at their beck and call and prioritised over all other clients. It may be tempting to take them up on their offer, but this type of behaviour usually indicates that they don’t value you and they see you just as a commodity.
The majority of these type of clients do NOT RESPECT YOU or they would not behave in this manner in the first place. When clients have demonstrated that they do not respect you, you are putting yourself at risk providing a massage service for them. This leads to me my next point nicely…
NEVER chase the money! This may sound weird as we all need to make a living, right? However, as soon as you start thinking about the money over everything else you become vulnerable and susceptible to bad choices when deciding whether or not to accept a new client.
I have been in the position when my business was new, or going through a quiet period and I have been tempted to take on a new client that I did not feel comfortable about because I needed the money. By not feeling comfortable, I mean that they may live in an area I don’t normally cover or they have said something slightly alarming which I am tempted to ignore. Sometimes it can be just a gut feeling that I have that something is not right – NEVER IGNORE that gut feeling. I have come close to being a tricky situation because I ignored the gut feeling that something wasn’t quite right. Don’t do it – it is not worth it.
A better client, that you are happy to visit, is always waiting to book just around the corner.
Finally, you have accepted the booking and you are off to provide massage for your new client. YOU WILL FEEL REALLY NERVOUS! This feeling stays for a long time. it took me about three years to gain enough experience not to feel terribly nervous when visiting a new client. This feeling of nervousness is very different to a bad gut feeling – take note of the difference. However, to help you keep safe and to provide you with a more secure feeling let someone know where you are going.
A really easy way for loved ones to keep a track of where you are, is to use Google Calendar. You can set up a separate Google account just for your business and let them have the login details. Put all your clients’ details and addresses in the calendar. Or, if you prefer, just give them details of your day and where you will be.
Booking apps such as Ovatu are also very good, again give someone your login details so they can always check where you are.
If you want more security, text someone when you arrive telling them how long you expect to be, then text them when you leave.
This is not an exhaustive list; however, I hope that it will give you a head start on what to look out for when starting your business and help you feel more comfortable when taking bookings for new clients.
For more advice and support please join the Facebook group that I have set up called Mobile Massage Therapists UK. This is a private group; all members are vetted on joining so it is a totally safe space to be able to share your concerns or ask for advice.