Mobile massage is the delivery of massage therapy treatment, where the massage therapist delivers on-site treatment at the client’s home, office or another preferred location. Despite the devastating impact of the pandemic and its effects on a great many people, it has provided something of a silver lining for therapists who offer mobile massage therapy.
In speaking with many clinic-based massage therapists and their clients, I found there has been an enormous increase in requests for massage to be provided in clients’ homes. As we know, since the pandemic began, many people have begun working from home. Many other people have had to be confined to their home because either they are considered high-risk or want to limit their exposure to fewer individuals. As the pandemic has progressed, clients have reported feeling safer and more comfortable within their own space versus seeking treatment elsewhere.
Many companies still provide their employees the option to work remotely, and many employees happily do so. According to a study from Mercer, 70% of companies said they were planning to adopt a hybrid work model, meaning some office work combined with home-based work. Another study from FlexJobs showed that 58% of respondents report wanting to be full-time remote employees post-pandemic, while 39% want a hybrid work environment.
Some corporate businesses will pay for their employees to receive monthly massage treatments at home as an added benefit—making this a great time for therapists to consider adding mobile massage to their service menu.
The fact is, mobile massage therapy is thriving and the therapists providing this service are busier now than ever, especially those who have a strong and clearly professional online presence.
Some clients who choose to receive massage at home may be concerned with the cleaning and disinfection protocols used at the locations they were visiting, but more often they simply wish to limit their exposure to the number of people they are around.
Many clients seeking out mobile massage request therapists who are both vaccinated and will wear a mask when visiting their home. Each therapist, however, will need to professionally address this issue, not allowing their personal feelings to interfere with the preferences of the client. This information can be presented passively on your website, in social media posts or in-person when someone asks.
To ensure the safety of both the therapist and client, it is a professional best-practice to wear a mask whenever physical distancing is not possible, such as in a massage therapy treatment, no matter the vaccination status of either therapist or client.
There are many screening protocols that should be implemented when doing mobile massage, to ensure the potential client is actually the therapist’s ideal client; someone who is not outside of their service area; is not expecting any “extras”; and is in the condition to receive massage therapy.
For safety-screening protocols, it is best to obtain all client information prior to scheduling the appointment. The therapist should ask the potential new client, for example, how the client found them and what type of massage they are seeking. They should ask for the client’s full name, address, email address, phone number and date of birth. The therapist can use this information to do an online search on the client to see if there is any information presented which would make the therapist choose to decline the appointment. (Often, those people looking for something other than massage therapy do not want to provide their personal information.)
The therapist should also inform the client they provide only professional therapeutic massage treatment, and that there is no tolerance for any unsolicited comments, behavior, sexual harassment or assault of any kind. This is important, as it is very much a safety issue for the therapist going into an uncontrolled environment, and they must clearly separate themselves from the sex industry at all times.
As importantly, the therapist ought to have a COVID-19 screening protocol in place and ask questions to find out if the potential client has had any symptoms. Of course, a general health screening must be undertaken to ensure the client is permitted to receive massage therapy—in other words, that they do not have any contraindications to treatment—before the therapist goes to their location.
It is also wise and good practice to charge an appointment booking fee or deposit to secure an appointment. Naturally, if the therapist is uncomfortable at any time during this screening process, they should decline the appointment request.
Who is Your Ideal Client?
Once the therapist has their screening protocols in place, they can start searching for their ideal clients. They can give some thought to who these clients are or may be. What type of client are they interested in and how are they going to find them?
If a therapist wishes to gain access to many clients at one location, they can reach out to corporate offices. Researching the range of offices near them, they can go in to introduce themselves with promotional material or perhaps send an email with their credentials and information to a corporate contact. The therapist can explain how massage therapy can help benefit the company’s employees, concentrating on what is in it for the employee, as well as what it can do for the company and how massage can be utilized as a business write-off.
It is a good idea for the therapist to invest in a massage chair to utilize at office locations and events. A massage chair takes up minimal space, is lightweight and also allows the therapist to offer shorter massage sessions while clients remain clothed. This makes it convenient for both the therapist and corporate office staff.
How Much You Should Charge
Many therapists do not factor in driving time when setting their pricing. A one-hour mobile massage treatment can quickly become two hours of their time, depending on the location and how efficient the therapist is with setting up and breaking down their table.
The mobile massage rate should take into account the extra time spent doing mobile massage. The therapist needs to travel to and from the location, set up and break down equipment, complete an intake form and assessments, and also reassess following the treatment. They should also disinfect their table in front of the client before and after the appointment and allow time for payment and rebooking.
On social media platforms, therapists often ask what they should charge for mobile massage. Unfortunately, no one can answer this question for them. Rather, they need to create a combined business and personal budget that includes everything they spend money on, and then set their pricing so those bills are covered, and the massage therapist is able to put some money aside for taxes and emergencies.
Someone who lives in South Florida, for example, will more than likely bill a higher rate than someone in a small town in Kentucky. The cost of living is more expensive in a place like South Florida, so this would make sense. The therapist should not compare their pricing to others when they have no idea what someone else’s living situation is like. Do they have a family to support? Are there incoming medical bills? Are they single with not many financial responsibilities? All of these factors should be considered when setting their pricing.
Although there are many pros to being a mobile massage therapist, there are some cons as well. They include spending more time in a car, causing wear and tear on the vehicle. The therapist might get stuck in a traffic jam and end up missing an appointment—so it is always wise to use a GPS, even if the therapist knows where they are going—to help avoid traffic and road closures. The therapist will also be spending more time setting up and breaking down their table, causing more wear and tear to both equipment and their own body. It is therefore a good idea to stay healthy and have a workout regimen to keep the body strong.
There can also be many distractions while providing massage therapy in someone else’s space. For example, family members or pets may interrupt the session, there can be deliveries, dogs that will not stop barking, cats that may jump on the table, and many other interruptions. The therapist must be patient and understanding in these situations, as the client is seeking out mobile massage therapy for their own convenience.
When the therapist schedules their on-site massage appointments, there are many other things to consider. How far will they be driving? Does the client have enough space for them to work in? Will there be interruptions to contend with? Are there stairs to navigate in order to reach the space the client has selected in their location? Is there accessible, free parking nearby or will some kind of pass be required?
Overall, a Great Option
Mobile massage is a great option for those therapists who do not want a lot of overhead, who prefer to work for themselves and who like to have flexibility in their schedule. It is a business model without the need for renting a location, so there is no facility maintenance, utility bills or repairs. These four examples alone are a huge bonus to being a mobile massage therapist. They are the boss—and being the boss means they can create their own practice in the form they want it to be.
They set their own schedule to work when they want, where they want and with whom they choose as their ideal clients. If they have children, they can work while the kids are in school and enjoy the evenings with them. They can work when their spouse or significant other is also at work, and then take the same days off to maximize their free time together.
Is there a yoga or workout class they want to take a few times a week? They set their schedule and make it happen! Is their favorite band or sports team coming to town? They have the freedom to block that day off and go attend.
Mobile massage is not for everyone; however, it is something that should be considered—especially if you want to play a role in the demand and supply of convenient, safe and effective mobile massage therapy.
About the Author
Michelle Roos, LMT, BCTMB, is an author, educator and a mobile massage business owner in South Florida. She owns an education company and Facebook group, Mobile Massage Mastery, for those interested in advancing their mobile massage career; and also co-owns Cupping Canada and Cupping USA with her husband, Paul Kohlmeier. Over the course of her 22-year practice Michelle’s Massage 2 Go, she has become well-known, and is frequently sought out for massage therapy by professional athletes, celebrities and others traveling into town.