It hasn’t happened very often in my career, but once in a while someone asks me if I do house calls. Many times, upon hearing that I do not, I’ve been met with surprised responses: “Really? I’m sure lots of people would love to have a massage in the comfort and privacy of their own home.” “It seems like you could make a lot of money just doing house calls.” Both valid points. And there are certainly some massage therapists who do make a very good living traveling to people’s homes to give them bodywork treatments. I, however, have chosen not to, for a few, equally valid, reasons.
1. Wear and Tear.
Traveling to people’s homes puts wear and tear on my vehicle, my equipment, and most importantly, my body. My massage table alone weighs over 30 pounds. That’s not what I would consider to be particularly heavy, but when you consider the dimensions, it becomes a very bulky item to wrangle down walkways, through corridors, up narrow stairwells. Add to that the bag of linens, and another bag with bolsters, table warmer, and oil, and the process of getting from car to house and back again becomes quite cumbersome. I’m no good to anyone else if I’m tired and/or injured, and as I rely on my body for my livelihood, I need to make it my first priority.
In a typical day in my office, I schedule client appointments fairly close together. I give my client time to relax for a few minutes before rejoining the busy world, and myself time to wash my hands and have a glass of water, but usually once my client is checked out and rebooked, I have about 10 minutes to change the sheets on the table, have an intake conversation with my next client, and then the next massage begins. It’s up to the client to get to me so that I can do my work continuously. When considering house calls, one needs to factor in travel time, time spent bringing in equipment and setting it up, then packing it all back up again and getting it back out to the car. This kind of time adds up, and can actually equate to two or more appointment slots in the end. Most massage therapists do add on a travel fee for this reason, but it hardly equates to double the price of the massage.
A person’s home does not have to adhere to the same safety standards as a commercial property. As such, the potential for personal injury is elevated – slipping and falling in an icy driveway, for example. Plus, I regard myself as fortunate to live in a low-crime area, but nonetheless I do maintain an awareness of my own personal safety in all situations. Going into the home of someone I don’t know is uncomfortable for me. I am not saying I mistrust people, or that I am even expecting that anyone would attempt to do me harm, but the fact remains: I don’t know you. Without launching into a long diatribe of what could happen, I will simply say I have been very fortunate in my career to encounter very few clients who have made me feel uncomfortable or unsafe, and I would like to keep it that way.
4. I have a very lovely office space.
When trying to keep it brief in conversation, I usually lightly say to people, “I pay rent for a reason.” While I don’t mean for this to sound flippant, it does ring true. I rent a lovely space inside a hotel, where there are always people around if I should need them in case of emergency. I have a very comfortable massage table that I never have to pack and move, in a nicely decorated, well-stocked room, with the right lighting, music, and equipment handy – hot stones, warm towels, and an assortment of oils. The reception area is cozy and private so that intake conversations can be held in comfort and confidentiality. All of this is part of your experience in coming to me for bodywork. I make my office clean, warm, and inviting, so that you can leave your real world behind, even for just an hour, and escape into a space that exists purely for you. This was my choice of business model when I became a massage therapist, and it’s also my choice as a client, to get away from my house, with all its familiar sounds and interruptions.
Of course, there is nothing wrong whatsoever with finding a massage therapist who will come to your home – it is indeed a treat to not have to worry about fighting traffic, or stopping for gas or groceries, to get home after you’ve just gotten a relaxing, healthy massage. Perhaps this clarifies, though, why some of us choose not to.