Our project is healing the tension between being accessible and being actually sustainable.
A financial analyst has been crunching our numbers and has demonstrated how our reduced rate services weren’t covering our expenses AND our market rate services haven’t always been cutting it either. That said, she sees a solid long-term path towards sustainability, and estimates that we’ll need 12 months to ramp up to that place of sustainability. Here’s a bit more on the main factors that got us here:
The mission of serving folks below market rate has meant we have constantly been running at a deficit and scrambling to catch up. For example, just to cover the basics of paying the massage therapist and laundering the sheets, it costs us $60 for every 1-hours massage we offer. However, that doesn’t even factor in our $30,000 in monthly overhead costs like rent, utilities, and admin staff. That means that for every person who paid a reduced/subsidized rate, we actually ran a financial loss. We value every person and honor their contribution regardless of amount they can pay, so this disconnect reveals how important it is that we be able to make up for this financial loss in other ways.
In 2017 we replaced our volunteer-run front desk system with talented, reliable paid staff. This has greatly improved clients’ and practitioners’ experiences at Third Root but switching from volunteer run labor to full time hourly staff meant our overhead greatly increased, even though our prices did not.
After losing most of our previous collective members, and participating in more than 20 exit interviews with committed practitioners who just couldn’t afford to work at Third Root anymore, we decided to give worker-owners the same pay rates as other practitioners, and raised hourly pay for worker-owners and admin staff from $15 to $17. This increase is by no means a ceiling, but it represents both a symbolic and literal commitment to fair labor practices that we needed for moral and our pockets.