Last night I got a call from a woman who was referred to me by my massage therapist friend Bluejay. Bluejay needs 4-5 appointments a week to break even with her basic expenses, and she’s had some pretty bad weeks lately. In fact, after speaking to her this morning, I know that she fell short by about 20%, which this one client would have satisfied. She needs 4 appointments a week to make her basic expenses, whereas I need 7-8 appointments because I charge significantly less and have a higher expense baseline due to rent differentials. But this is where the rent pays off.
Bluejay doesn’t – and really can’t – do last minute appointments, nor does she work late at night. She lives just over the bridge in Brooklyn, so any Manhattan work involves taking the subway in, getting her table that she stores at a client’s (which you just can’t do at midnight on a Saturday anyway), cab to and from with table, then subway home. For me, it’s two 10-minute cab rides door-to-door. Normally I would absolutely agree that it’s an awful lot of hassle to go through for a one-hour client, but if you’ve fallen way short of making your minimum 3 weeks out of the last 4, why wouldn’t you call your MoneyMate Kate and ask to borrow her table and do it yourself? Okay, so it turns out she had an 8am client this morning, but still, I’d have sucked it up and done it even if I had made enough money that week.
When we spoke this morning, she asked how much I had charged the client, and it was about 35% less than she would have. I sort of knew her in-office rate, but had no idea her outcall rate was so much higher, like $50-70/hour (most of us have a $30-ish charge for that – or so I thought). Here’s my dilemma: she said that when she sends me referrals, I should charge her rate. Well sure, I’d have LOVED to have made $60 more last night than I did, but I gave that woman my card…card has website listed…website has rates listed…see the problem? Now if the woman had been an existing client of Bluejay’s, I could have justified charging her rate and not giving her a card – not nice to steal clients, and there’s something akin to an oath about that for massage therapists. However, she was a new inquiry and will probably never be able to arrange an appointment under Bluejay’s conditions (advance notice, before 9pm, etc).
Thinking out loud here, but I can sort of come up with most of a solution – still, I have a feeling my brilliant readers might have some very useful advice on this. I could buy another domain name, copy my existing website but change the rates to be in line with Bluejay’s, and get some cards printed up. I’d also need to get my hands on a wheelie thing for my massage table (I don’t normally bring it for outcalls, hence the justifiably lower rate – that thing is a major pain in the shoulder, back, etc). Total cost for all this would be about $100, and I don’t know if she’ll ever send me another referral between now and her departure from NYC sometime between August and January. The other big potential glitch is that if a referral googles my phone number, they’ll find my main site with the lower rates. I know a lot of them do that kind of search to confirm that I’m not a provider of naughtiness, so this is not a silly concern.