Performing outcall, or on-site, massage at private residences or hotels can open the opportunity to build a successful business.
On-site massage therapy can be a very fruitful addition to an already successful massage practice, as well as a way for recent graduates to begin building a business.
When adding on-site massage to a practice, the massage therapist has an opportunity to greatly increase the amount of business their practice can accept, as well as nearly triple their pay-scale per appointment, compared with working at a franchise or spa.
With advances in technology, massage therapists are now able to schedule outcalls in their area by downloading an app directly to their smartphone. Sometimes referred to as massage on demand, these apps match up therapists with clients seeking massage. Such apps include Zeel, Soothe and Numi
With such ease of access in booking new customers, more therapists are now confronted with questions of safety for outcall appointments.
In this article I will review the four most beneficial pieces outcall safety advice: collect information, communicate clearly, weave a safety net and know what to do if something goes wrong.
How To Be Safe On-Site
1. Collect information.
You need to know your customer as much as you can before arriving at their location.
Connecting with a client for the first time comes down to effective communication. The best way to communicate is by picking up the phone and calling your client to collect enough information for you to feel comfortable providing a massage in an outcall situation.
In addition to their address, also request personal information from them, in the form of a social media page and a picture of their driver’s license, to confirm their identity. Another question to ask on the phone is, “Will there be anyone else home?” This way, you are not caught off guard if the client has friends or family over during the time of the appointment.
2. Communicate clearly.
It is easy to effectively communicate to the customer how you approach each appointment and your typical professional protocol. The customer may be new at outcall appointments and have their own safety concerns. Explain to the client that their safety is as important to them as your own.
Before the appointment, provide the client with background information, such as your own years of experience and your personal passion for the service that you provide, as well as a website or personal social media account for them to review.
Once on-site, as with any client, perform an intake interview. Review the client’s needs with them and ask them if they are having any issues with their body prior to the appointment.
Make sure the customer understands the technique they will receive, such as whether it is a basic Swedish massage or it is a more specialized modality, such as Thai massage.
To create great customer relations, work together toward specific goals. This will help the customer feel more comfortable with your approach.
3. Weave a safety net.
You must always have a backup plan. Ensure your safety by telling a colleague, friend or family member about each outcall appointment. Give them the details of the customer, the location and the expected arrival time and finish time.
Have a plan to call your safety-net person after the appointment and let them know all went well. If they do not hear from you at a certain time, you can have them check up on you and make the appropriate decisions from there.
One idea: Partner with a local massage colleague or two, acting as each other’s safety net/s for on-site massage appointments.
During your first appointment with a new outcall client, you could even wear a wireless bluetooth headset during massage appointments, have your safety-net person on the line during the appointment and alert them if something goes wrong.
4. Know what to do if something goes wrong
The following advice will help you protect yourself from a client who harasses you verbally or physically.
- Talk to the client. If a client says or does something you find inappropriate, speak directly to the client about how they are acting and let them know they are making you feel uncomfortable. Speak in a calm, professional tone. Try to calm the client down. Most reported assault incidents are caused by a disagreement about money. If you are caught in this situation, try not to escalate the volume or tone of your communication, and come to an agreement if possible. If the client continues to persist, move on to other tactics to protect yourself, such as exiting the room, or, if necessary, self-defense tactics. Yell and call for help if your safety is at risk.
- Practice physical self-defense. In the worst-case scenario where a therapist is assaulted, there are certain next steps to take, including fighting back. Protect yourself at all costs and then distance yourself from any further physical harm and find safety.
You can learn self-defense techniques by teaching yourself basic moves online, taking classes at a local gym, or studying one of the many disciplines such as karate, judo or street-fighting, with an instructor.
Once you have gotten out of harm’s way, get yourself into a safe location prior to calling the authorities. Once the authorities arrive, explain to them what happened and find out how to take on legal action against the client. Be sure to check in with your safety-net person as well.
If you booked the customer’s on-site massage appointment through a third-party online app or website, contact the company’s customer support team. The company should launch a full-scale investigation of the issue.
Outcall massage can offer freedom from a set location combined with lucrative fees. It’s an effective way to launch or expand a massage practice—as long as you stay safe.
About the Author
Alex Rowe is CEO and co-founder of Numi, an on-demand style massage app for independent massage therapy providers.
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