Home salon, mobile beauty business or high street salon: what’s right for you?

Growth and strategy

28 April 2022

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 are a dab hand at making your clients feel glamorous, 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, operating as a mobile beautician, or starting a salon in your own home to help you make the decision that leaves you sitting pretty.

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The pros of having a home salon business

No Commuting

As your ‘office’ will be about 10 steps away from your living space, you’ll no longer be paying petrol or vehicle maintenance costs in order to do your job. Considering a study in 2019 showed that  people in the UK have an average round trip commute of 23 miles per day, the cost and time savings adds up fast.

Lowest Overheads

Without the cost of renting or paying the mortgage of a physical location that salon owners need and without the business vehicle insurance and replacing tools or equipment that gets damaged when in constant transit that mobile salon owners go through, the overhead of running a salon from your home should be much lower.

Last Minute cancellations are less problematic

We won’t pretend that last minute cancellations aren’t always a bit annoying, but it’s a bit easier to stomach when you’re still at home and suddenly have some spare time to get things done. Whether that's time to find new clients or time to sort out your to do list, working from home means you’ve got the freedom to make that extra time work for you and makes finding that work/life balance just a bit easier.

The Cons of having a home salon business

Sorting out Laws and Regulations

Turning your home into a business may require a bit of research and paperwork. You should check with your mortgage provider, home insurance provider and the local council to see whether you are allowed to run a business within your home. Find out if there’s any restrictions on what you can do or licences you need to acquire.

Finding the Right Space

Some people prefer to have a separate entrance for their home business so that clients aren’t walking through the whole house. As a hairdresser, you’ll need enough space to manoeuvre around the client and, depending on the treatments you intend to offer, have an appropriate place for washing and colouring hair. You still want your home salon to have the look and feel of a high street salon, so finding a way to make that work in your home might be challenging.

Strangers in your Home

If you’re expanding your business beyond any clients you may already work with, you’ll be inviting strangers into your home. These people now know where you live, and if you struggle to set boundaries you may find clients coming in with unannounced hair emergencies.

The pros of having a mobile beauty business

Business to business opportunities

As a mobile hairdresser, you don’t need to work exclusively with a single client at their home. You can also offer your services to care homes, hotels and health spas – all markets that you might not have access to if you weren’t a mobile hairdresser.

Personalised service

As a mobile beautician, you can provide beauty services at a client’s 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. Mobile hairdressing fills a niche and allows people who might be intimidated by or unable to reach a salon to still get their hair done and feel beautiful.

Lower start-up costs than a salon

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

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. Travelling to each client can really limit the number of clients that you can take on in a day. You may also want to get business car insurance as your vehicle is an integral part of the job, so that’s an additional cost to consider.

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. Adding on the time spent driving to each client’s home to the time actually spent giving clients treatment can really extend your working hours, so finding a balance between work and free time can be hard.

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 create the workforce

It goes without saying that having colleagues can help increase productivity and health in the workplace. As a salon owner, you’ll have more space to hire employees than an in-home salon or mobile hairdresser which tend to be one-person operations.. 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.

Fixed Hours

Depending on your lifestyle, fix hours may be a plus for you! But for most people looking to be their own boss one of the biggest pros is having the flexibility to work whenever they want. A high street salon really needs to have consistent hours, so you’ll need to be prepared to be working at the same time, in the same place, every day. As the boss, you have the flexibility to choose to not be open a certain day of the week, but once you decide on that, you should probably stick to it. For those that enjoy a varied work schedule or want to fit work around their life rather than life around their work, a high street salon may not be the best choice.

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.

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.