Zeel. Is it really a great deal?
With the gig economy humming these days, it seems like everybody wants to hop on the bandwagon. This can be great if you need a ride somewhere and your phone can summon a ride out of thin air, but from the provider side of it, people need to be careful and keep in mind what they’re actually making.
Massage therapists have traditionally worked in spas, salons or other therapeutic settings, but now apps like Zeel or Soothe present the opportunity to work for a reportedly more flexible and highly paying schedule, but is that true? This article looks at the cost of that flexibility and whether you end up making more in a spa or freelancing.
What does it pay?
Zeel and Soothe pay about 90 dollars per massage. If you bring your own table, you can make more, up to 110 dollars for a massage. This is assuming an hour massage.
US Data and Labor statistics show that an average massage therapist makes about 20 dollars per hour, but a good one can make up to 40 dollars per hour.
So, on its face, it looks like Zeel and Soothe win, but let’s examine that a little more closely.
What does it cost?
With Zeel and Soothe you’ll need to wait to get clients and they will be looking for more flexible times because they are having a service in their home. Also, you’ll need to factor in time to get there. Let’s say this is about 30 minutes each way. Then you need to factor in gas and wear and tear, or public transportation, which both cost about 54 cents per mile or about 5 dollars on each leg of your journey. There are also other factors to consider like weather, what you’ll wear (many people like to have an extra pair of shoes for going into other people’s homes!), and where you’ll park and if there are any costs associated with that. Plus you’ll need to keep up any liability or licensure requirements for your state and maybe carry more liability since your employer won’t cover you.
To work in a spa costs a little flexibility since you have to work within the spa hours and with other staff members, but you don’t lose any time between clients and your average commute still costs about 5 dollars, but you only do that once. You’ll still need to keep up your licensure but that’s true of both environments so we’ll call it a wash
And the verdict is…
Let’s assume each therapist is equally busy. We’ll say they each have 6 clients which would be a very busy day.
Your Zeel therapist will make 540 dollars that day. It will take 10 hours (assuming 30 minutes from home to the first session, then another 30 between each session plus an extra half hour in there for lunch and getting to and from your vehicle/finding where you need to be) so that will mean that the hourly rate is 54 dollars. “Not bad!” you say, but wait! You forgot that each trip (7 in total throughout the day) costs 5 dollars. That brings your cost per visit up to 35 dollars which makes your hourly rate… 19 dollars! Even if you are an excellent therapist. If you use the actual data from Soothe, which shows that their therapists truly make 61 dollars per massage, this number drops down below 10 dollars per hour!
Your salon therapist makes 20-40 dollars per hour making only one 5 dollar trip per day and sees their 6 clients in 8 hours. This makes their rate 15-35 dollars per hour before tipping and upselling any services.
So what do you choose?
The math says that to make the same amount of money as a salon therapist, a Zeel or Soothe therapist needs to work for 2 hours more per day and that is in an ideal world where you are booked all day and actually make the advertised rate.
If you absolutely MUST have the flexibility, then maybe it makes sense but otherwise, the smart money is on working in a salon and focusing on building your book and maximizing the range of services you provide.