One of the biggest decisions a beauty therapist can make is whether to go mobile or work in a salon. But what are the pros and cons of each type, and how do you get started once you decide?
Read on for a rundown of the ins and outs of mobile versus salon work so you can make an informed decision about which route to go down.
Mobile vs Salon: What’s the Difference?
Variety vs Stability
The most significant difference between mobile and salon is the nature of the working environment. As a mobile beauty therapist, you’re always on the move and setting up in many different workspaces. While this makes each working day varied and exciting, you must also be prepared to work in challenging settings, such as cramped houses.
Working in a salon poses a much more stable environment, as your workspace will be the same on a daily basis and clients will come to you. So if you’re someone who prefers to be out and about, then working in a salon may not suit your lifestyle.
Freedom vs Management
Another big difference is the nature of employment. If you choose to go down the mobile route, you’re choosing to become your own boss and be in full control of your clients and working hours. This gives you a considerable amount of freedom as you can work your services around your schedule. However you may have to work unsociable hours, like late evenings or early mornings, as those times are most popular.
A salon employee is given freedom but not to the same extent. Instead, you’ll be restricted to the opening hours of the salon, and you’ll have to report to the salon owner and may be responsible for selling their products too.
Independence vs Team
Mobile beauty therapy may be a more viable option for an experienced beauty therapist as you’re going it alone and have no one to turn to for advice and support. Whereas in a salon you’re part of a team who you can learn new tips from and maybe even receive further training.
Mobile vs Salon: Pros and Cons
Now that we’ve discussed the differences between mobile and salon work, it’s time to delve deeper into the pros and cons of each type.
If you’re longing to set up your own business, then starting a professional mobile service is the quickest and most budget-friendly way to do it.
With little to no startup costs, the main benefit of starting a mobile business is the lack of financial burden. You’re free from the added pressure of renting or running a salon, so you don’t need a lot of startup capital.
The only thing you’ll need to get started is your kit, a car and insurance. Many of those things, a qualified beauty therapist will already have.
Financial security is a big plus when starting a mobile beauty business as you don’t need to invest lots of money into buying/renting premises.
You can even start your mobile business alongside your day-to-day job, then go full time when you have enough clients and income.
It’s also basically impossible to have a ‘no show’ as you turn up at your client’s door for the appointment.
Mobile beauty therapists earn more money in one hour than traditional 9-5 work and certainly much more than the minimum wage. Even after deducting product costs, beauty therapists can make a decent profit in a short time frame and all of the money is yours. Unlike in a salon where you have to give a percentage to the owner or put some money towards rent and bills.
As a mobile beauty therapist, you’re also in control of your prices. You have more options to offer competitive rates than you would if working in a salon, so you can price your services in a way that’ll tempt clients.
If you have a busy lifestyle, then mobile beauty therapy is the perfect career for you. You have the freedom to choose hours, say no to work and only work on specific days (if you don’t need the money).
This flexibility gives you the ability to holiday when you like (which can save you lots of money during peak seasons) and prioritise your social life.
Becoming a freelance beauty therapist gives you variety in every aspect of your role. First off, you’re not stuck in one place all the time as you have to travel to clients.
Not only is this a convenient selling point for them, but it makes each day varied and allows you to meet lots of new people.
The responsibilities of a mobile beauty therapist are far greater than just performing the treatments. There are many aspects of the business side to think about.
Managing the books, scheduling clients, building your brand and keeping an inventory of your equipment are all part of the job. If your organisational skills are lacking, then you’re going to struggle to make a profitable success of your mobile beauty business.
The multiple responsibilities also add more working hours onto your day, as you’ll need to set time aside each week for admin duties.
Build Up A Name
Establishing yourself in the beauty industry is essential for building up a strong client base.
It can be difficult and time consuming to start from scratch. You may choose a mixture of traditional marketing methods, e.g. flyering and digital marketing methods like social media, to increase brand awareness.
These methods can also cost money depending on how much you want to invest in promoting your brand, and you’ll need to create a consistent and robust marketing schedule.
The main downside of being your own boss is the possibility of irregular pay. It requires a lot of self-motivation to organise appointments and make sure you have enough work for a reliable income.
On top of this, you don’t receive the usual workplace benefits, such as bonuses and sick/holiday pay, which can make it tricky to give yourself time off if you don’t plan.
To ensure that you’re making the right amount of profit for your time, you’ll also have to factor in activities that contribute towards your business but don’t generate a direct income, e.g. marketing.
You’ll have to carefully factor the costs of travel into your outgoings, such as petrol and car maintenance.
Transporting hefty equipment for jobs such as spray tanning can also be tricky and time-consuming. You’ll need to work out a radius of travel, so you don’t find yourself driving many miles for one client.
Your time management skills must also be on point, as lateness shows unprofessionalism and you may lose jobs.
Working in a salon is the more conventional route for a beauty therapist to go down. You can find opportunities in hotels, cruises, spas, fitness and health clubs – the possibilities are endless!
Part of a Team
When you work for a salon, you join a team of industry professionals who have the same passion for beauty as you do!
You can form close friendships with your colleagues and promote each other’s work and share tips.
A lot of salons will offer you a regular salary in exchange for fixed hours. For example, a massage therapist in a spa will have a set amount of hours a week and won’t need to look for clients. This increases your job security and removes extra stresses, such as finding clients and working out profits.
Other salons will expect you to be in control of your clients, meaning you can come in on an appointment basis. This is usually the case if you’re renting a chair in a salon.
Already an Established Name
Working for an established salon means you can spend less time on marketing and more time enjoying your social life! You’ll also be able to generate clients more quickly as people will trust the reputation of your salon.
A salon environment is much more stable than being a mobile beauty therapist as you don’t need to set up your equipment every time you have a client. This makes your job far less time consuming and stressful, as you have everything you need in one place.
You may be restricted to working with the salon brand’s products, in which case you’ll also be expected to sell them. So, if you have dreams of one day owning a beauty empire, then this isn’t the wisest way to spend your time.
There isn’t much scope for career progression, in terms of ownership, as you’ll always be working for another person. You’re also restricted in terms of pricing, as the salon will probably have a set price list to adhere to, making it harder to beat the competition.
Your working environment will be the same day-in-day-out, so if you love switching up your day, then you may get bored of salon life.
Working in a salon gives you a much more structured work schedule. Some people may see this as a plus, but if you want a job that you can juggle around your busy personal life, then this may not be a good route for you.
Working in a salon comes at a price. Whether that’s the cost of renting a room/table or the owner takes a share of your profits. Either way, you make less overall profit from each treatment you offer.