Several clients have reached out with questions about the business regarding the difficulties presented by the pandemic. This email hopefully answers many of those questions. Deciding how much to share during the year has resulted in our team defining and agreeing upon core values. We send this email in the spirit of transparency and recognize that this is a lot of information. Rest assured, despite all of the challenges 2020 has thrown at us, we plan on operating at least another fifteen years.
The Impact of the Pandemic
There is no denying that 2020 was the most difficult year we have faced as a business. Closing March 12th-June 30th significantly impacted our overall financial situation. Our growth percentages, for both gross sales and number of appointments, over the last five years demonstrate the sustainability of our business model. The numbers for 2020 fall well outside of our normal or expected range.
During the closure, our staff filed for unemployment. Pallas got a temporary job in the lumber yard at Stonewood Products in Harwich. (This lasted for approximately one month before she lifted too much and hurt herself. Thankfully, unemployment for self-employed persons became available around the same time.) Pallas and Ashley have used the mandatory downtime to work on continuing education. For various reasons, our staff of nine in February reduced to four actively working by December.
Many of our clients had the ability and willingness to provide financial assistance during the closure by pre-paying for services or gift certificates. They accrued massages to receive later and we had access to funds to cover our overhead expenses. Their loyalty to our business goes beyond anything we expected. The gratitude and appreciation we feel towards these clients cannot be adequately expressed.
Oasis Massage also received financial assistance in the form of a PPP loan and a low-interest EIDL loan. We are currently in the forgiveness application process for the PPP. We accepted less than half of the offered EIDL loan. Repayment of the EIDL begins May 2021. Some of those funds still remain in our business savings account. We rely first on our business cash flow and supplement with the EIDL funds, transfering only what we need to make it through the pandemic. This is the first time, in our fifteen year history, that we have had any formal business debt.
In the Event of Another Mandatory Closure
If we roll back prior to Phase 2 Step 2 of the Reopening Plan for Massachusetts, we will face another mandatory closure. If this occurs, all client billing will pause until we are allowed to reopen. We continuously reassess our financial situation and will investigate additional funding options if needed. Our emails and blog posts will continue to keep everyone updated as information changes. When we reopen, we will let our clients know by email. Scheduling will begin with clients that have pre-paid services on their accounts.
The Future of Oasis Massage
Short term, we have focused on getting clients caught up on pre-paid services, which will re-stabilize our cash flow. At that point, we can bring back more (or hire new) employees. We expect it to take up to eighteen months to get back to where we were in February 2020. Once we have achieved that goal, we will reassess our plans for business growth. Ashley has recently begun looking into grant opportunities for small businesses. This would supplement our cash flow and decrease the overall amount of time for us to fully recover financially.
Long term, we plan to expand into a comprehensive wellness center dedicated to pain management and recovery. This goal has shifted several years into the future, out of necessity. The first, and biggest step, towards this goal will be the purchase of a permanent location. Our vision is to have the capacity to assess, treat, retrain, and maintain our clients' health. To accomplish this, we’d love to add acupuncture, chiropractic services, and/or physical therapy, as well as a fitness studio for various classes and events. However, the additional services and amenities we eventually offer will depend entirely on what the permanent location can accommodate.
Behind the Scenes Changes
The sale of hands-on services generates nearly all of our income. This has made diversification of the business income streams a priority. Our booking software includes the potential to offer classes, both in person and virtually, as well as an online store. We will explore the class options more once Pallas has completed the Certified Personal Trainer (CPT) and Certified Nutrition Coach (CNC) courses. Our online store has expanded to include a variety of locally made items. Due to space limitations, we only keep a curated selection from each vendor in stock. We plan to transform one wall into an art gallery, featuring paintings and photographs from local artists. We appreciate any introductions to local vendors or artisans that we can create a mutually beneficial partnership with.
Prior to the pandemic, we had discussed ways to make massage therapy a more sustainable career option. Currently, most massage therapists only earn commission and gratuities. This means that if they aren’t booked, they don’t get paid. When we reopened, we implemented a pay restructure to give our massage therapists an hourly wage in addition to commission and gratuities. This means they now get paid for their entire shift, whether fully booked or not. This compensates our staff for time spent on continuing education, professional development, and maintaining sanitation standards.
Another step towards career sustainability involves benefits. We now provide PTO and paid sick time. Following a business restructure, we will add a simple IRA with employer matching. The planned restructuring will happen in 2021 and allows Pallas to become an employee, thus gaining access to the benefits offered to her staff.
Roll Backs & Red Zones
As of today's press conference, Governor Baker has not rolled back beyond Phase 3, Step 1. The mayor of Boston rolled back farther but that only applies to Boston at this time. Massage falls under Phase 2, Step 2. Until we go back to a prior phase, we will remain open and provide services to the best of our ability. We have our masks on during all client interactions, and wear a new apron for every client. The glove requirement has been waived for massage therapy but we still have an ample supply for clients that prefer us to use them.
Our massage therapists live in Yarmouth, which is now considered a red zone. They both have limited their interactions to work, gas station, and minimal grocery store runs. All of these activities are done with a mask on. Neither have had any confirmed exposure or symptoms. The schedule changes have minimized the potential exposure between staff members. In the rare instance we have an overlap in our schedules, all staff wear masks around each other.
With that information in mind, clients that feel comfortable coming in may continue to do so. Clients that want to wait, please let us know so we can pause any billing and/or adjust expiration dates on pre-paid services.
We do not expect to have access to the vaccine until April, at the earliest. This gives us time to discuss and research more before we make any definitive decisions. We will not require our staff or clients to receive the vaccine to continue working or to receive services. It is new, both the virus it is treating and the mRNA delivery method. The best decision for one person differs from the best decision for someone else. However, based on our discussions thus far, our staff seem likely to choose to vaccinate. (Did you know that Ashley’s educational background includes 3 years of nursing school as well as continuing education classes on pharmaceuticals?!) For more information on the timeline for distribution of the vaccine, visit Mass.gov/COVIDvaccine
It's that time of year again... Here are the details for this year's holiday raffle:
Price Restructure coming January 1st
Regarding the schedule changes
We will not close on Thursday mornings. We misread the CDC website; we thought it updated Thursdays at 5am when it is Thursdays at 5pm. This means closing Thursday mornings to assess is completely unnecessary. Thursday’s reported changes will be reflected in Friday’s appointments.
We will begin shifting the schedule to reduce the possibility of exposure between staff, which means less exposure between clients. Moving forward, only two people will be in the office at a time. Pallas will work 9-2:30 and Ashley will work 2:30-7pm. If one tests positive, the other will not have been exposed and will be able to continue providing services. This change does reduce the overall number of appointments available. We will add more on Mondays to compensate but recommend planning ahead to get preferred appointment times. Any appointments already scheduled will not be affected by this schedule change.
We are following the Governor’s announcements, the CDC recommendations, and the Mass.gov compliance mandates for our industry. As the red zones cover more of the Cape, we will need to modify our policies as new information gets presented. If you have suggestions on how we could make you feel more safe, please let us know.
It's that time of year again... Here are the details for this year's holiday raffle:
Price Restructure coming January 1st
With the holidays right around the corner, leave it to 2020 to make that more challenging than ever before! The pandemic numbers are rising closer to home and we need to evaluate our policies to decide the best course of action moving forward. Our top priority during these uncertain times is keeping our staff and our clients safe.
What We Know:
We have exciting new inventory to offer in our online store. If you have hard to shop for friends or family, Mary can work with you to create the perfect gift for any holiday or occasion. Select the items you want included, with or without Mary’s assistance as gift concierge. She will arrange them artfully in the gift bag of your choosing and coordinate either a no contact pick-up or a no contact local delivery (for our home-bound clients).
Cold & Flu Season with Covid19
It's that time of year again. With Covid19, this is even more confusing because the symptoms overlap. According to Harvard.Health.Edu, the average cold lasts 3-7 days and the average flu lasts 5-7 days. "Most people with mild cases [of Covid19] appear to recover within one to two weeks. However, recent surveys conducted by the CDC found that recovery may take longer than previously thought, even for adults with milder cases who do not require hospitalization."
If you develop symptoms, please let us know during your pre-screening phone call. Mary will reschedule you for two weeks out. We waive any cancellation fees if you reschedule due to not feeling well. However, if you show up sick or with symptoms, you will be charged 100% without receiving a massage.
If you get a flu shot, the muscle will be sore at the injection site and you may develop symptoms. For your own comfort, we recommend waiting a few days before getting a massage.
If someone on our staff develops symptoms, they will have their appointments rescheduled for the week. In some cases, we may be able to switch clients to a different massage therapist. If they are not better after the 7th day, they will need a doctor's note to return to work. This may result in scheduling difficulties but we feel the extra caution is warranted.
Changes to Pre-Screening Process
Since reopening on June 30th, anyone who does not live on the Cape (meaning this side of the bridge) has been referred out to other massage practices. Also, any local clients that travel off-Cape have been required to furnish either a negative test or wait 14 days before they come in for services. The bridge is an arbitrary cut off point decided upon prior to reopening.
During the pre-screening process, we make note of any changes in travel patterns because, as the pandemic continues, the exposure risk in different areas shifts. Our primary concern with the off-Cape travel is red zones.
Moving forward, we will be rephrasing the travel question from "Have you been off-Cape in the last two weeks?" to "Have you been to any areas that are currently considered a red zone in the last two weeks?" This will provide us a straightforward way to ascertain risk of exposure and enable clients who travel for work or help care for family members, more access to massage services here.
Renovations & November Availability
We will also be closed November 6th-14th due to some scheduled renovations. We are upgrading from carpeting to flooring. This will be easier for us to keep sanitized, brighten up the space, and just be nicer to look at overall. We will post pictures throughout the process on our Facebook page, for those interested.
With Pallas out on medical leave and general closing for renovations, we will be short handed for most of November. To get your preferred appointment times and/or massage therapist, we recommend scheduling in advance.
Our online store is now live!
You can now shop from home to build a custom gift bag, with or without a massage gift certificate. We have been busy adding items to our retail selections. We have assorted candles, topical CBD products, Young Living essential oils, diffusers, and more! Our inventory is locally made whenever possible. Some items are made-to-order. If we don’t have something you want in stock, let us know. We will either order it or make it just for you! Please note: we are not shipping any items; this is for curbside pick up only.
Pricing current as of Jan 1, 2021 ; subject to change without notice.