How to start a mobile beauty business: the ultimate guide

Becoming a Mobile Beauty Therapist

lashes to nails, and massage to waxing, Secret Spa has become the go-to place for freelance beauty therapists in London, Brighton and Manchester to find bookings, and for clients to make all of their beauty bookings in the comfort of their own home. 

Being your own boss and having your own mobile salon is an attractive prospect, but where do you start?

Benefits of running a mobile beauty business

The freedom to set your own hours, prices, and policies? Yes please!

Starting a mobile beauty business ultimately gives a beauty therapist much more freedom than traditional salon work. Not only can therapists with a mobile beauty business set their own hours and days, but they also have control over how their business is run. 

Mobile beauty therapists with their own business are able to set their own prices for the services they offer, and put in place policies to suit their needs. If cancellations are a big worry, then therapists with a mobile beauty business can tailor their cancellation policy to their requirements. 

Deciding on which services to offer

The good news is that, without the immense overheads of renting and managing a salon, a mobile beauty business is easier to start. You won’t need to shell out quite so much money on starting up. You can even build in additional appointments to your ‘day job’ and grow your mobile salon gradually if you wish.

Your first step when considering how to set up a mobile beauty business should be to play to your strengths. We recommend choosing just one or two of your skill areas to get started. Once you’ve built up success in this area, you can then expand your offering, if you want. So, if you’re an eyebrow wizard stick with that, or if you’re a fantastic nail technician then make that your focus. You’ll need at least a Level 2 qualification in that area, and we recommend higher – we’ll go into more depth about this. 

You may wish to create a distinctive and memorable brand that matches your quality services. Many mobile beauty therapists choose to centre their brand around their name. However, to begin with you can certainly start as ‘just you’. You will need to set up as self-employed and you will most likely be classed as a sole trader. This means that you will need to fill in Self-Assessment tax returns each year. 

Qualifications & licences

In order to become a qualified beauty therapist, you will need to complete NVQ Level 2 and 3 in Beauty Therapy. Upon qualification, you can register with a professional beauty body, such as the NHBF, or BABTAC. This will ensure that you feel supported and connected within the industry, but it also brings the benefits of letting clients know that you are professional and trustworthy. At Secret Spa, we ask that all our beauty therapists have a valid DBS check. We also recommend that you have first aid training.

As a mobile beauty therapist, you should also request that your clients fill in a health form. Carrying out a consultation form for your clients will be a stipulation of your insurance, to check for any contraindications and allergies. You’ll also need to carry out skin tests if any of the products you are using (e.g. hair colour) may cause an adverse reaction.

Although having your own vehicle can be helpful for visiting clients in their homes and transporting equipment, it is not necessary. It’s possible to use public transport, especially if you are only offering one treatment. If you do use your own vehicle, make sure that you’ve notified your vehicle insurance that you are using your vehicle for business use.

Getting the right insurance

The most important part of being self-employed as a beauty therapist is to have all of the right insurance in place. We strongly recommend using industry specific insurance, such as Salon Gold or BABTAC. Your mobile beauty therapist insurance will need to cover:

  • Treatments liability insurance – in case something goes wrong during a treatment.
  • Public liability insurance – in case a client is injured, or you accidentally damage their property.
  • Professional indemnity insurance – in case you make a mistake, or if a client makes a claim against you.
  • Equipment and vehicle cover – in case your equipment or vehicle is stolen, lost or damaged.

If you take on other staff, you will also need employers’ liability insurance.

Investing in equipment & tools

Before you start, you’re going to need your tools of the trade! As a mobile beauty therapist, you’ll want your own tools and equipment. Do some research about which equipment is best for delivering your services on a mobile basis and in people’s homes. For example, you can get waxing pots which can heat up in your car. Alumobile make reliable trolley wheels which make it much easier to move your massage bed around as well. 

Having decided to start your self-employed business focusing on your strengths and best treatments, you can grow your equipment gradually, with your business. You should always aim for high quality products, and should be aware that clients may stipulate that they want particular brands, e.g. Shellac, CND and OPI. 

Always look at reviews before you buy products, and specifically those from other mobile beauty therapists. You’ll soon discover that there is usually an ‘industry-standard’ to follow. For things which run out, keep an inventory and remember to order replacements well in advance.

Don’t forget that you may also need payment taking equipment, such as a card reader. It’s also worth having a stash of business cards so that your clients always have your details. If you want to avoid having to manually take payments, all-in-one booking platforms such as Solo allow you to take payments too. 

Your biggest and probably most expensive piece of essential equipment will be your car or van. Depending on the treatments you are offering, you may need enough room for large equipment, like a massage bed. Your vehicle needs to be reliable, and reflect your brand well.

How to manage bookings 

Managing your bookings as a mobile beauty therapist can seem daunting. However, there are platforms available that can make the process much easier. Secret Spa has been building an all-new online booking system for mobile beauty therapists, to help make managing client bookings easier. 

Solo is an online booking and scheduling platform for mobile beauty therapists that offers client booking, travel planning, payments, diary management, customer relationship management and business intelligence. The all-in-one app enables independent beauty therapists to manage every aspect of their mobile beauty business – from advertising their services and setting their prices, to tracking their income trends. 

Factors to consider: calendar, travel time, taking payments

Once you have your qualifications, insurance, and equipment, you need to consider some other factors about how you will run your mobile beauty business.

Pen and paper, phone calendar apps, and notes apps shouldn’t be your go-to for managing your professional calendar. Jotting down a date and time somewhere that’s convenient at the time will lead to missed appointments and long dwell times. Solo’s all-in-one booking platform allows you to manage your calendar with a seamless overview of bookings on a daily, weekly, and monthly basis.

It’s easy to forget about travel time when making your bookings, often leaving you rushing or with too much time to spare. The innovative platform Solo also accounts for travel time, meaning you won’t have to. 

For those starting a mobile beauty business, cancellations and payments may be a worry. In a salon, all these things are taken care of, but it doesn’t have to be complicated when you set up a mobile beauty business. Solo gives you the option to set up your own cancellation policies, and decide whether you want your clients to pay upfront or after their treatment.

How to get clients

Once you’ve put in all the legwork to set up your mobile beauty business, it’s time to find your clients. Without a salon sitting on the high street, getting your name known is trickier and can take some marketing effort.

Having your own website is an important goal, as well as using social media. Instagram and Facebook are excellent advertising channels for mobile beauty businesses. It takes time and effort, but having a strong online presence is essential. Also, here your clients can leave feedback, and word-of-mouth will start to grow. Really engage with your clients online and you’ll find that your business expands.

You’ll probably find your biggest secret weapon to building a successful client base is to use online platforms like Secret Spa. Due to our size, we attract a huge number of clients looking for a range of services.

Becoming a mobile beauty therapist

We make things easy for self-employed freelance beauty therapists to find clients and build their business in London, Brighton and Manchester. Secret Spa’s booking platform for mobile beauty therapists, Solo, offers client booking, travel planning, payments, diary management, customer relationship management and business intelligence. 

If you’d like to find out more about becoming a Secret Spa beauty therapist, then we’d love you to apply