The idea of setting up a home massage office can seem appealing to many for the simple reason – it’s cheaper than renting an office and it is more convenient. The challenge though is to create a home office space that people can feel comfortable going to. As massage therapists working out of your home you have the added risk of having strangers coming into your home. Clients will also get a glimpse of your personal life which can create more challenges in creating a therapeutic relationship with a client. What will they think if they find your home looking lived in and dinner cooking in the oven? Not that it is a bad image but combining personal life with business has it’s problems. As a profession we are also faced with having many negative images of massage being associated with prostitution and illegal activities. Opening your home to strangers opens you up to more risk.
In general, it is much more professional to have a real office space in a commercial setting. Although the cost is more, your exposure and appeal to clients can be better. It can look like a more legitimate business to clients. You have to weigh the factors carefully when setting up a home massage office. Marketing your home massage office can also be challenging because you really don’t want to be posting your home address on your website exposing it to less than ideal clients or others. You will also need to get additional home owners insurance or notify your insurance that you are working out of your home. I have heard of some cases where the insurance company dropped the homeowner leaving them scrambling to find another company to work with.
So if you still want to have a home massage office, setting up the office to be as professional as you can will help. First you need to check the laws in your state to see if you can have a home massage office. You will also need to check the zoning laws and get a home massage business license from your city, county or state. You will have to check to see what is actually needed.
Here are some guidelines to help you in starting your massage business in your home:
- Have a separate massage room that is only used for massage.
- Have a separate bathroom for clients that is close to the massage room
- Ideally a separate entrance would make it even better so that you don’t expose clients to your house and expose yourself to more risk
- Have the entrance clearly marked with a sign of some sort to let people know they are at the right place.
- Make clients feel as comfortable as possible from the moment they park their car.
- Make a special effort to greet clients at the door and explain to them all of the details…the massage room is here…the bathroom is here…we will be doing this… (You can also tell them some of this on the phone and prepare them for the experience)
- Try to only take people that are referred to you by people that you know. That isn’t always possible and as you build your business, more and more people will find you.
- Have a security system set up to help you to feel safe. Tell someone when clients are coming and when they are supposed to be leaving.
- Keep the house clean at all time.
- Limit their exposure to the house and your personal life.
- Turn off the phones. Tell the kids to stay out of the house and others too.
- Keep your records in a locked file cabinet to keep them safe from others. Client privacy is a requirement.
- Be sure to set clear boundaries about your cancellation policies and other policies. People may have a tendency to think that you will not have any or not enforce them because of the more personal experience of going to a home office.
- Have a waiting area for clients to hang their coats and take off their shoes if needed.
- Keep the area free from pets. Many will be allergic to dogs or cats.
- Don’t go to the ‘office’ in your slippers! Keep it professional. Dress as if you would to be going into an office.
- Keep the bathroom very clean!
Marketing your home office space can be a little tricky because you really want to screen clients carefully. I know working in an office in downtown Seattle has had it’s moments of having ‘creepy’ clients many of whom I would not want in my home. You can start by getting referrals from people that you know or doctors that you work with. You will have to check to see if you can bill insurance companies out of a home office. Some may not allow it or will have to approve it.
Having an efficient website that tells clients all about how massage works, what you do, what to expect and having about 100 articles or so on massage can help make people trust you and feel more at ease. It is the same actually for having a real office space but you will have the challenge of getting people to come to your home.
See more on creating a massage business website.
See more about creating a referral network.
If you have started a home massage office share your stories in the comments or ask any questions you have in the comments!