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Posted by: Paola Bassanese, 1 Feb 2007 9:47PM
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TouchCare contacting onsite massage therapists and asking for rent in advance - what's your view?

Hello I am a member of CThA and have been contacted by a company called TouchCare (not registered at Companies House). I had an interview with them and have already parted with £20 to pay rent for one day for a massage chair at Lakeside Shopping Centre on 1st March. I am being asked to commit to 4 weeks' rent (1 day a week at £20 a day) and pay for the rent in advance. I have received several emails and phone calls reminding me to pay. I did not sign a contract. I wonder if this is normal practice (I know that in clinics it is the norm to pay for a block of hours per week and pay the month in advance) because other agencies like the Walk In Back Rub will deduct the rent of the chair from the price the client pays for a treatment and then the therapist invoices the agency for the remaining amount (price minus chair rent). Therapists do not have to pay in advance but invoice the agency after they have provided the treatments. I would really appreciate your view - TouchCare has been contacting a number of CThA practitioners from the Embody website. Many thanks Paola Bassanese


Joyce Laurie
3 Feb 2007 10:42PM

Hi Paola I myself haven't been contacted by this company but there are one or two things that may be explainable. You say the company is not registered at Companies House, is it possible that they may trade under another name (it may be on any documentation they have given you). I had a friend who ran a nursing agency company which had it's "name" as Newcross but it was registered under Companies House as her own name. Also, any company is entitled to state their trading terms...and.. if you agree to those terms then they are not doing anything wrong. I do think that their badgering for more money is a tad aggressive but I do not know what you have agreed to. Money up front in any case is the norm though. One point that I did consider was...is there any way you can secure a spot in this shopping centre yourself without having to pay a middleman? What is it they are taking money for?, is it just the space in the centre. Will they promote you and how will they do this? Is this included in the cost? It is easy to jump to conclusions but, as someone who rents out treatment rooms to others, myself, I have come to notice that you can explain things quite fully to some people and also give them written copy of terms and conditions and yet still they appear to misunderstand conditions that are as plain as the nose on your face. I have one lady who rents a room from me who, despite being told that although I will promote her to the best of my abilities I cannot guarentee clients, yet, despite booking not even one person in herself, phones me every week asking who I have secured for her and appears perplexed when I ask her in return if she has anyone who she has secured as a client for her time. At the end of the day, what are you paying for?...space, advertising or guarenteed clients? Joyce
Paola Bassanese
5 Feb 2007 8:25PM

Hi Joyce I understand your point of view - it just puzzled me how a company can claim it can break even charging therapists £20 a day to rent a massage chair. I guess the constant requests to commit to pay 4 weeks in advance has rung some alarm bells. The agency's role is to secure the place at the shopping centre (renting the space and organising licences for therapists) and provide a massage chair to therapists; it is then up to the therapists to approach people and convince them to have a massage. It just strikes me as a weird proposition - if I were an agency I would need to charge more than that to cover the costs, and when it comes to onsite massage, therapists tend to pay rent on the day or invoice the agency after monies have been received from customers. Thanks for your feedback. Paola
Sarah Bartram
12 Feb 2007 4:03PM

Hi Paola, This company also contacted me but as i am to far away from Lake Side so i did not take it any further. Asking for rent in advance is tricky for self employed therapists. I work in a clinic were there is a commission paid at the end of every month. I also rent a treatment room for two hours a week @ £30. In the contract i have to pre pay a month in advance plus a marketing fee of £18. This means there is no guarantee i will make anything back if no bookings are taken. I feel dis heartned as its hard when a clinic takes a percentage of your money but at least you don't lose anything if there is no bookings. Pre paying a fee for a room is lovely to keep all your treatment money, when you have the bookings intially. I have been practising almost 2 years now and have a steady flow of regular clients at the commission based Clinic. I have been renting since last October and running at a loss. From your experience would you persist or resign? Kind Regards Sarah
Paola Bassanese
12 Feb 2007 7:54PM

Hi Sarah, You can contact me on paola@energya.co.uk, I'd love to compare notes with you. I am working in two clinics currently and it's a pay as you go model where I pay the rent only if I do a treatment, which suits me perfectly. I think we as therapists have to make sure we can make a decent living and not just be targeted for rental income, it should be a win-win between clinics/agencies and therapists. Paola
Suzanne Zacharia
28 Feb 2007 9:44AM

I am not familiar with TouchCare and so cannot comment on them. However, with regards to paying in advance and the Companies House thing, I have an answer based on my own company's experience. I operate at the moment still as a Sole Trader, although as the company expands, this will eventually change. I based my business on the model of the business of a successful therapist that I met. This has worked. Basically, instead of having to find the finance for a big company, I am a sole trader with subcontractors. I charge these subcontractors rent for the clinic that I have started in March 2006 on a pay-as-you-go commission basis. When this clinic started, I could not find a reliable business partner in time nor could I secure any finance. So I charged therapists the equivalent of one month's rent in advance as a deposit. This also serves for breakages etc, as the therapist is the only person present on their shift - I am not there on another therapist's shift nor can I afford to pay staff to be there. The deposit turned out not just a good way of getting some help financing the deposit I had to pay on the clinic myself, but it also served as a way of getting commitment from the therapists. In future now no matter what the situation, I will always ask for a deposit upfront, as it has proved successful in sorting out the committed therapists from those who will simply not bother to be there when my clients arrive for treatment. In return for their commitment, I give the therapists a considerable amount of FREE sales and customer service training and training in our specialist treatments. As a sole trader, I am not registered with Companies House. This is for Ltd and PLC companies. Please don't take this as an advert for therapists - we have our full complement already :-) I just thought it may help allay fears about things.
Denise Buck
9 Sep 2007 6:33PM

Yes Ive worked for them and would not recommend it. Firstly if you wish to stand under the lakeside stairs all day cold calling then this may be for you. Once you subtract all the vouchers with £2 off from your fee from the client, you are massaging for nothing. Its sole destroying at times and not worth the now £25 for the chair for 4 hours. Also you are not allowed to canvass for yourselves and get severly repremanded if found out. Some may like it but honestly think about travel expences, your hourly rate and your time . Denise
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