By Michelle Roos
Have you just started your mobile massage career and finding that you have a lot of extra time on your hands and in need of income to cover your expenses? Are you nervous because you don’t have any experience and you aren’t sure what to expect? Have you been a therapist for a year or so and still find yourself needing some additional income?
Starting out can be scary and uncertain. Every business has started from scratch and has its slow times. It is wise to have a plan that can help to build and better your business with supplemental income until you are confident and have the funds you need to cover your lifestyle. If you aren’t making income, how are you going to spend money on advertising or cover your business expenses? How will you pay rent, your mobile phone and internet to build your business? You may be working a different job in a different field to pay for your bills. That job may be a 9-5 shift with no flexibility allowing you to take some days off to build your massage business so you are forced to see clients after 5pm making your work day even longer and eventually tiring out. When you work as an independent contractor for others, you have the freedom to set your own schedule. You drive to the client, do the treatment and go to the next appointment or go home. You have to wash sheets and wait for payment. That’s it! By making this shift, you have some extra free time that you can invest into your own professional development.
“While your goal might be to work entirely for yourself there is nothing wrong with working for other companies while building your business. ” - Michelle Roos
When I started my massage career, I always wanted to work for myself and make my own schedule so I had time to do the things I wanted to do, when I wanted to do them. I started my career as a mobile therapist over two decades ago. I was an independent contractor and worked for a few different mobile massage companies while I started building my own business. This helped me gain confidence in myself and gave me the experience of working with many types of clients in a variety of settings. One day I would be working on a yacht, the next day I'd be working a CrossFit competition, later that week massaging a family of 5, and that weekend you would find me backstage at a concert providing massage to bands and crew. I knew a colleague that was a chiropractor and started seeing patients there a couple of days a week to have guaranteed income. One of the patients I massaged, owned a yoga studio. I became a member and at the first class she introduced me as her massage therapist and after class many of the members asked for my business card and became clients, some that I still see today, 20 years later.
The supplemental income I was earning from these other companies was being used to pay for my living expenses, car payment and insurance, having my business website built, a gym and yoga studio membership (which is where 75% of my clients came from), and expenses for a booth at farmer’s markets, health fairs and sporting events.
If you work for other companies while building your own business you will have less worries about how you will pay your bills and more money for marketing and extra curricular activities.
There are national and local companies that can help you with supplemental income. Zeel and Soothe are two of the top paying mobile massage companies and well represented. In Florida, BodyWell is a local company that provides mobile massage that I have first hand experience working for early in my career. In Canada, Last-minute massage.ca is well known for helping patients get a treatment as soon as possible.
If you want to be a mobile therapist and don’t feel like answering the phone, scheduling, screening clients and dealing with payments, working for one of these companies is a great option because they handle all of that for you! All you have to do is show up with your gear and do an amazing treatment. Zeel has a 3 step screening process in order for a client to schedule an appointment and the massage therapists are required to have a background check. These are important tactics to add a layer of security.
When working for these companies, you are an independent contractor, set your own schedule and can work for yourself or others. There is not a non-compete and you can choose to be as busy or slow as you want! This is perfect for those who need additional income and will feel more confident with experience.
As an independent contractor, you should be keeping track of your mileage, vehicle expenses, supplies and food on the road, as those are a business write off. Create a spreadsheet and provide it to your accountant when it is tax time!
Some of these companies use an app that allows you to change your availability at anytime. Did you have a last-minute cancellation and a few hours to kill before your next client? Log on to the app, as a request might come in with in a few minutes. Think of Zeel or Soothe like Uber. You use Uber when you want a ride to a location as soon as possible, so why not use Zeel or Soothe when you want to make some additional money as soon as possible. A word of advice, is to keep a bag of work clothes in your car and when you leave your house to start your day, throw a couple of extra sheet sets in your car for those last-minute appointments.
Working for others also allows you to meet and network with others in your industry. You may receive a request to do a couples massage and meet another amazing therapist that you can trade services with. This therapist my also work on their own and occasionally need a therapist to help them with a couples massage. The therapists may specialize in a different modality than you which could have you referring clients to each other. The more therapists you network with the more opportunities you will have.
While your goal might be to work entirely for yourself there is nothing wrong with working for other companies while building your business. Just make sure you do not steal clients. The work you receive from these businesses, is their business. These companies invest a lot of money and time into marketing their business, gaining loyal clients and building their brand and reputation. It is important for you to be marketing yourself in other outlets to gain your own loyal clients. Learn what these companies are doing. Develop and practice your customers service skills, your massage techniques and decide how you will run your business. This is a learning process. Think of it as a way to explore where you want to take your career. When you find yourself busy with your own clients you can decrease the amount of time you work for others.
Take an online business course that covers business tips, screening and safety, marketing and necessary equipment and supplies needed to help your business survive and thrive, like my Mobile Massage Mastery course. Talk to seasoned therapists to find out what has worked for them and if they have any advice to offer but always remember, what works for someone else may not work for you. Your business can be successful but it will not happen overnight. It is important to stay focused on your goal and not get discouraged.