Mobile beauty vs beauty salon: what’s right for you?

Growth and strategy

25 June 2019

When you look good, you feel good. And as a beauty professional, you’re an expert in making your clients look and feel their best.

But whether you’re at the beginning of your beauty career or a dab hand at dolling your clients up to the nines, it’s likely that you’ve weighed up opening up a beauty salon on the high street versus taking your business directly to your customers.

Here, AXA examines the pros and cons of owning a beauty salon and operating as a mobile beautician to help you make the decision that leaves you sitting pretty.

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The pros of having a mobile beauty business

More flexibility

As your own boss, you have total freedom. Launching a beauty salon at home could give you more flexibility than salon owners – if you want to take Friday afternoon off you can, without worrying about closing up shop.


Personalised service

As a mobile beautician, you can provide beauty services at home, offering the flexibility to fit their beauty needs around their hectic lives. This could be a great opportunity to build on your professional relationships with your clients and help increase client loyalty.


Lower start-up costs and overheads

Although you’ll need to pay for products, equipment, marketing, a vehicle and insurances, the start-up costs for mobile beauty businesses are lower than beauty salons as you don’t have to invest in a premise or pay staff. You could either invest your profits into your business or pass these savings onto your clients, making them likely to recommend your business by word of mouth.


The cons of having a mobile beauty business


Travelling, and the stresses involved with driving, come part and parcel with running a mobile beauty business. Maintaining your car and travelling can eat into your time and the profits you earn from visits to clients – especially if they’re located far away from you.


Managing your own workload

Like all freelance careers, workloads are variable. You could be rushing from appointment to appointment and keeping on top of admin on Monday with no time for a cuppa, then twiddling your thumbs on Tuesday waiting for your phone to ring. Given that you’re the heart and soul of your business, it's also more difficult if you want to expand your company too.


No guaranteed income

Even though you’re your own boss, you’re still driven by the demands of your customers. So, if they want last-minute services or weekend treatments that conflict with your personal life, you’ll need to weigh up whether you can afford to turn down this income. It’s also likely that you won't have the support that you would in a salon to help cover holidays and sick pay.


The pros of working in a beauty salon

You become part of the local community

Opening a beauty salon on your local high street can help cement your business as an integral part of the community. Your business’s presence at the heart of the community is a simple but effective way to catch the attention of passers-by and a prominent reminder that your business is nearby to provide customers with all their beauty-focused needs.


Increased footfall

Whether it’s for a last-minute haircut or a spur-of-the-moment payday treat, spontaneous walk-in appointments are much likelier if you have a brick and mortar business on the high street. It might be pricier to cover your premise’s bills, but you could make up for it with the passing trade you’re likely to attract.


You set the working culture

Owning your own business means being able to set yourself apart from your competition by putting your own stamp on things. From the service and working environment you provide to the décor, you call the shots when it comes to creating the vibe and working environment of your salon. Do it well and word of mouth could work wonders. And if you're taking over an established beauty salon, you can enjoy the benefits of providing a bigger and better service to an existing base of loyal customers.


You create the workforce

It goes without saying that having colleagues can help increase productivity and health in the workplace. As a salon owner, you get to choose the employees whose skillsets could help expand the treatments and beauty services your business provides. And the more members of staff you have, the more customers you can serve, which will help keep your appointment book nice and full. Plus, if you decide to expand your business, or just want to go on holiday for a week, you can rest easy knowing that your staff are busy taking care of business.


The cons of working in a beauty salon

Expensive start-up costs

From buying equipment and getting the right insurance in place, to decorating your salon to ensure it attracts the clientele you’re aiming for, the start-up costs of launching your own beauty salon can be high. Given that prospective beauty salon owners can face start-up costs ranging between £3000 to £35,000, having a strong business plan and getting finances in place is crucial.


Building up a loyal customer base takes time

Even after forking out start-up costs, you’ll have to work hard to build up a loyal customer base to help bring in the money. Fostering loyalty doesn’t happen overnight, so you’ll have to be on the ball when it comes to keeping tabs on your cashflow, overheads, wages and utility bills while you focus on getting happy customers to come back regularly.


Location, location, location

Before committing your hard-earned cash to a bricks and mortar premises, it’s a good idea to scout your local area for rival businesses. With 12 new salons opening each week, competition in the UK beauty industry is fierce. Even if you think you’ve found the perfect premises, doing your homework can help you figure out if your business is likely to pull in the pounds if the area you’ve chosen is already awash with beauty salons. This is also a great way to identify gaps in the market, meaning you can file your business’s niche to a fine point to ensure it has an edge over your rivals.


What you need to run your own beauty business

Professional qualifications

You should make sure you’ve got the right industry-accredited qualifications and licensing regulations under your belt before setting up your beauty salon or mobile beauty business – not only to help bolster your business’ professional reputation but to reassure your customers that their good looks are in good hands. We’ve listed some routes below that you can take to on your path to becoming a qualified beauty therapist.


NVQ (National Vocational Qualification)

In order to become a fully qualified beauty therapist, you need to complete an NVQ Level 2 and Level 3 in Beauty Therapy, which tend to be taught through colleges on a full-time or part-time basis.

These courses cover everything from beauty techniques and beauty therapy services, to hair services and even beauty salon reception skills.

You can also build on the skills and experience you’ve developed during your studies by working as a trainee junior for a salon. Some salons accept junior trainees who’ve finished their Level 2 NVQ and are studying towards their Level 3 NVQ Diploma, whereas others only accept qualified therapists trained at Level 3.


Beauty school

If studying at college doesn’t suit you, you can train privately at a beauty school. They tend to provide courses that are quicker to complete but they can be pricier than those available at college.

And if you do choose to study beauty privately, try to pick a course that gives you qualifications that are accredited by CIBTAC (Confederation of International Beauty Therapy & Cosmetology) and CIDESCO (Comité International d’Esthétique et de Cosmétologie).



Apprenticeships are another great way of breaking in to the beauty industry. Beauty apprenticeship schemes are run by the Government and are a great way for aspiring beauticians to gain on-the-job experience while studying.


Salon and beauty therapist licences

It’s a good idea to get in touch with your local council when setting up shop to find out what licenses your salon needs to have in place before opening its doors.

Some local authorities require salons – and individual beauty therapists – to have licences in place before they can carry out procedures. That’s why it’s important to ensure the necessary training and qualifications are in place before providing treatments, especially as operating without them can invalidate your insurance.

And if you want to play music or TV programmes to help your customers relax whilst you’re working your magic, you’ll need to have the correct licenses in place before doing so too. 


Insurance for your beauty business

When you’re busy pampering your clients, accidents can happen no matter how careful you are. That’s why it’s important to ensure that your business insurance covers all the treatments and services your business provides.

AXA’s business insurance can help protect your beauty salon whether it offers cleansing, tinting, threading, waxing or piercing. And with a range of covers available spanning employers’ liability insurance, public liability insurance, professional indemnity insurance to contents cover and van insurance you can tailor the protection you need to meet the demands of your business.


Health and Safety

In order to be compliant with health and safety regulations, arrange regular health and safety checks to make sure that all of the equipment and tools you use for your beauty business work are safe, hygienic, and in good working order. And if your business or salon uses potentially hazardous materials, make sure you’re up to code with the rules and regulations on using and disposing of them safely.


Running a beauty salon and a mobile beauty business each come with their own set of pros and cons. Working from a fixed store is likely to place your business in a prominent position on the high street but for a hefty price tag, whereas operating a mobile beauty business offers a more flexible work schedule albeit without a guaranteed income.

Whatever you decide, AXA’s business insurance for beauty salons can help protect your business if the worst does happen, meaning you can rest easy and get back to what you do best: making your clients looks and feel beautiful.