How to become a mobile beauty therapist

Setting up as a mobile beauty therapist can be daunting, from sorting out the correct insurance to building a client base. Ellen Cummings asks three successful mobile beauty therapists for their top tips on how to make it.

Before you get started

Once the idea to set up a mobile beauty business strikes you, it might be tempting to dive straight in. However, there is a lot which needs to be considered first.

“The main thing is to first have a business plan, where short-term goals will intertwine with the long-term goals,” says Bella Kowalska, finalist in the Mobile/Homed-Based Beauty Business of the Year category at the 2022 PB Awards and owner of the Nail Bus.

“It’s very easy to lose track of where you envisioned your business going as you get inundated in the daily grind of running your own business.”

Hayley Snishko, winner of Mobile Therapist of the Year 2022 at the Babtac Awards and owner of Home Sanctuary, highlights that there is a bit more admin involved before you can start treating clients.

“You’ll need to decide whether to be self-employed or set up as a limited company,” she says. “There are pros and cons to both options so be sure to seek proper advice from an accountant or business financial advisor before registering with HMRC.

“Some local authorities may require that you register your business with them. Check to see if you need to register your business before starting out.

Deciding your treatment offerings

The core part of your mobile beauty business is the services you offer to clients. But how do you decide what these services should be?

Snishko says, “This will depend on your qualifications, the potential client demand and what investment you have available. Have a look at the other mobile therapists in your target area and review what treatments are currently being offered.

“You can then decide to either compete with or offer alternative treatments to attract clients. You can always add new treatments as you develop your business, so don’t worry about trying to offer everything straight away.”

Amanda Hayes, owner of The Beauty Bus, agrees: It's always best to work within your means. Start with what you really want to do and can afford to do, then add more into your treatment menu when you start earning more.”

As well as considering what your prospective clients will want, its also important to take yourself into account.

Snishko explains, “A very important consideration to think about is your personal safety before visiting any clients. Will you only offer services to women or only book clients who have been referred? You may want to implement a process of speaking with any new client on the phone before an appointment is booked.”

Are you thinking of offering nail services? Here's how to make it as a mobile nail technician. You can also check out our top tips for making it as a massage therapist.

The initial costs

Once you’ve created a business plan and decided which services you want to offer, you need to look at your finances.

Whilst you’ll be able to launch a mobile therapy company with considerably less capital than a salon, there are still large costs you will need to consider before opening,” says Snishko.

As a mobile therapist, being able to travel is crucial and finding the right vehicle should be one of your top considerations.

Snishko explains, “You will need a reliable car. Of course, you can use public transport however, this isn’t sustainable long term. To be able to carry out proper treatments, you will need to purchase the right equipment, and this is not something you can easily transport on the train. So, making sure you have a car with space for everything is a priority.”

“I always knew I needed a vehicle large enough to suit me so that I'm not hunched over performing my treatments, one that could fit all my equipment and was spacious enough to be comfortable. Good posture is important to maintaining a long career in the beauty industry,” adds Hayes.

The Beauty Bus

Amanda Hayes' Beauty Bus

Other investments to consider include equipment, products, booking systems and setting up an online presence.

“When purchasing any equipment or tools to use for your clients, always ensure you are purchasing from a reputable seller. There are many professional wholesale companies that provide the best quality tools you need,” says Snishko.

“A booking system is key with beauty-on-demand and growing a business. If you want to keep costs low, Fresha is a free online booking system that you can offer your clients. Alternatively, you can pay for booking systems like Ovatu, Timely or MassageBook. It is best to research the options to find one that best suits your business needs.

“You will also need a website. Whilst there are free options available, I strongly recommend paying for a good site to be built. It is the front of your business and your shop window, particularly with mobile work, so clients will use it to evaluate you and the services you offer in order to gain trust and contact you.

“So, it needs to look and be professional and have all the information you need to convey.”

Financial considerations

Looking after the financial side of a business might seem like a complicated task, but there are ways to make it easier for yourself.

Snishko explains, “Once you’ve registered with HMRC, you’ll need to set up a bank account for your business. There are many new online business accounts that offer free banking for basic accounts and invoicing options if you need them. I like to always have a six-month contingency balance in my account for any emergencies.”

Hayes adds, “The one critical piece of advice I cannot stress enough is to make sure you put aside a portion of what you make for the tax man. Before I even pay myself anything at the end of the month, I calculate what I have earned, and I put 20% of that into a separate bank account that is only for tax.

“This bank account I don't ever touch unless it is to pay for the tax at the end of the year. Any extra that is left over, once I have done my self-assessment, is then divided up to go to either national insurance contributions or into a private pension.”

“It's important to be sensible with the finance aspect of being a mobile therapist. You don't want to find you get a huge tax bill that you can't pay because that will instantly ruin you,” Hayes says.

“There are so many banking apps these days that make your business finances so much easier. It’s a lot more user-friendly and you don't need a degree to work out what you have coming in and going out.”

Legal considerations

Snishko says, “Insurance is essential as a mobile therapist to protect you and your clients. It will also show your clients that you are trained to the highest standards and a trusted therapist.

“To get your insurance verified, you’ll need to have the correct qualifications. Companies like Professional Beauty, BABTAC, FHT & The Guild are all good member associations that provide insurance.”

As a mobile therapist, you will also need to make sure your mode of transport is covered. Snishko explains, “It should go without saying that you will need a driving license if you’re using a car. As well as this, you will need to make sure you have the right car insurance policy.

“You will likely need to add a business policy on top of your existing one, so speak with your provider to make sure your cover is correct. If you have an accident and haven’t declared business use, then your policy may be void.”

“You'll also need to consider public liability insurance to cover any accidents, for example, any accidental injuries or damage to property,” adds Hayes.

If you're considering offering tailored treatments like oncology massage, we've answered five common questions around insurance.

Deciding your treatment area

“The beauty of being mobile is that you can travel as far and wide as you like, this is really an individual decision based on what your business is offering,” comments Kowalska.

Hayes adds, “This one can take time to establish. During my start up with a limited client base I accepted clients all over the county. You just have to take what you can.

“Now that my client base is more established, I have been able to narrow down my working field. I can work in certain areas on specific days and create routes that work for me, and clients are flexible to this.”

Snishko agrees that convenience is key: “My general radius is 30 miles. But for me, it’s not really about the radius, but rather the efficiency of my business.

“If I’m booking just one client in a house, then I will have a minimum of a 90-minute treatment per appointment. I will try to keep my bookings as close together as possible during the day. This enables me to fit more clients in during the day, whilst limiting my travel time.

“I will add additional travel fees, if necessary, but will discuss this prior to my client’s appointment, and depending on what treatment they’re booking.”

Calculating your price list

It can be difficult knowing where to start when figuring out what to charge clients for your services.

Hayes suggests doing some research: “Look around at others around you and see what they charge. It can take time to work out the cost of factors you can't control like vehicle maintenance or fuel prices.

“Starting out, I was priced higher than the average beauty therapist because I didn't want to constantly keep raising my prices. Two years on I would say I'm in the average range. I will need to readjust my prices next year for sure.”

Snishko agrees: When you’re setting your prices, remember it’s harder to increase prices than it is to discount. Make sure you’re setting your value from the get-go. Every year, be sure you are increasing your prices in line with inflation.”

Knowing your worth is also important. “The worst thing you can do is undersell yourself,” says Hayes.

Check out these tips for charging what you're worth.

Being able to upsell is a great way to increase your profits. “Add-ons are also a great way to easily increase your income,” explains Snishko.

“Find a selection of add-on treatments you can offer your clients on the day that don’t take any additional time. Face masks and foot treatments, for example. If 10 clients a week purchased a £10 add-on, that’s an additional £400 increase on your income every month.

“Also consider the product ranges for extra sales revenue. Find a product range you love, and buy their retail products at trade price, which you can then sell in your business making a profit margin.

“This will not only give your business brand strength credibility, but you will be earning extra income.”

Building a client base

Once you’ve completed all of the admin, sourced your vehicle and equipment, and got your finances in check, it’s time to start treating clients. But how do you build a loyal client base to make sure your business is profitable?

“My best builder for a client base has been word of mouth and recommendations. However, that can take time and is a slow build. When starting out, just plug social media. Use hashtags of your local area and get your face known on your pages,” says Hayes.

Snishko adds, “Client referrals will eventually become the backbone of your business due to the nature of mobile therapy. People would rather be recommended to someone coming into their home from a trusted friend.

“I would implement a really great referral scheme to encourage your clients to tell their friends about you and your business. Don’t ever be afraid to ask your clients to recommend you to their friends.”

Getting involved in your local community is also a great opportunity to get the word out about your business.

“I would suggest teaming up with a local company who offer related services to you and tapping into their client base,” says Snishko.

“If you team up with a local yoga studio as a massage therapist, you’ll have a long list of clients who will more than likely be interested in having massages. Perhaps approach a few business owners to see if they would be interested in teaming up and maybe arranging a ‘service swap’ so you can both experience what each of you have to offer.”

Finally, continuously updating your skills is crucial to providing the best service to your clients. Kowalska comments, Keep up with trends and latest innovations in your industry. It’s forever moving and changing, and you can’t afford to be left behind.”

Want to set up your own beauty business but don't fancy going mobile? Check out our top tips on setting up a beauty salon.

What are your top tips for setting up a mobile beauty business? Let us know in the comments…