Are mobile beauty businesses killing high-street salons?

Mobile beauty is at an all-time high, but what does this mean for traditional salons and spas? What people want from a service has evolved and this is changing the landscape of the high street as we know it. 

Convenience has become the most important factor when choosing a product or service in all sectors, with supermarkets and online retailers like Amazon now delivering groceries and other goods in the same day, sometimes within two hours of ordering, to keep customers happy. 

This fast-paced way of living has changed people’s shopping habits, with high-street stores now struggling to get the footfall they once did. The beauty industry is feeling this same strain, which is why I ask, will mobile beauty be the end of the high-street salon?

Why is mobile beauty so popular?

From a client point of view using a mobile therapist is a good choice because it’s super convenient. Having a treatment at home while your toddler in napping or the wash is on is ideal for time-poor customers who want a pamper but lack the hours in the day. 

Mobile beauty also beats high-street salons on affordability. Mobile and home-based therapists have reduced costs, so they can charge less for services. A high-street salon just can’t compete with those low prices, and frankly, they shouldn’t try. It’s a losing game. 

Many salon owners are also struggling with recruitment and I think mobile beauty has played a part. More beauty pros are choosing to work for themselves which is why so many salons and spas can’t find good therapists to employ

However, therapists who have only ever worked for themselves don’t really have an understanding of the commercial nature and costs involved in running a high-street salon, so if they do interview for a more traditional role, it can be tricky. 

They often request overinflated salaries, based on their business’s “earnings”. What they often forget is the non-productive hours in your salon that they will be paid for, the holidays, national insurance contributions and other benefits (e.g. pension), plus costs like rent, business rates and premises insurance you have to cover. 

How can my salon compete?

I’m not saying mobile beauty businesses are a bad thing. I strongly believe that there’s a lot of passionate, good mobile therapists out there. However, because some of these people have never worked in a salon with more experienced therapists, they can sometimes develop bad habits and face the danger of not continually improving. 

The salon and spa environment teaches you to think on your feet, work as part of team and adjust to last-minute changes, from the basics like bed set-up to the different ways to consult with clients. You can pick up tips and tricks of the trade from more senior staff, which means there’s no risk of becoming complacent or set in your ways, and working with others introduces healthy competition. 

The good news is traditional salons and spas will still have the upper hand when it comes to more specialised treatments, that often require a large investment and bulky machines that don’t fit it with mobile businesses. I’m already seeing this in my salon, where 70% of bookings are for result-driven facials.

To compete with mobile therapists, salon owners need to work harder on the client journey and the wow factor. It’s important to sell not just a service but an experience. Figure out what your USP is and remember, the devil is in the detail, so no fraying towels or messy rooms. 

Invest in a good coffee machine, biscuits, beautiful candles and heated blankets for treatment rooms as these small touches will make you stand out. It’s about being a fine dining experience in a world of takeaways.

Justyna Rostek is director of Guinot Salon in Earlsfield. Read her therapist Tahira Khan’s advice on how to handle no-show appointments in your salon