Lately I’ve been noticing a number of companies sprouting up that claim to provide “massage on-demand”. “Get a massage therapist to your door in one hour” they claim. What these companies have in common is that they rely almost completely on technology, including not only their website but various mobile applications that people can use to order up their massage. In a perfect world it would be great if you could get a massage therapist to your door in an hour consistently who not only shows up but is also polished and talented.
The problem is getting a massage is not like ordering a pizza. Logistically it is similar in that something is being delivered to someone’s home, yes. But let’s face it, getting the right massage therapist through a little app with a few clicks is not going to be as easy as getting a good pizza with a few clicks. We’re talking about people and human resources here not something that can be slapped together in a few minutes with standard ingredients.
I can fully understand the temptation for companies to want to try to exploit technology to deliver a service that is in demand like mobile massage. However, the easiest way is not always the best way.
There are problems at many different levels when you go this route. First of all, how are they recruiting the therapists? They claim often that they are “hand-picked”, but in reality they are just therapist who send an application over a website and prove they are licensed. These companies don’t really know who they’re dealing with or what their skill level is.
This is in stark contrast to how we have done business for almost 10 years, which involves having an in-person interview and demonstration. There is no substitute for this level of screening of the therapists.
On the other side of the coin, you have the issue of screening clients. When you have people just pointing and clicking and ordering up a massage, how much screening of the client can be done to ensure the therapist’s safety? There is no substitute for actually speaking with a client on the phone and hearing their voice and listening to their questions. This can’t be done with some automated system and it’s why we will never send out a therapist without first speaking with a client on the phone.
Doing it the easy way will lead to lower quality of service and customer satisfaction. It will also likely make it more difficult to maintain therapist and client loyalty.
I’m sure these companies will make a little noise in the industry, or maybe a lot, and I’m certain there are things that can be learned from them, however there is no substitute for having actual customer service representatives in place, doing actual hands-on interviews with therapists, and speaking directly with clients to make sure that everyone is on the same page and on the level.
What do you think about these types of companies and their business model? Is this the way of the future? Will they be successful in the end?