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Our thoughts & tips on small businesses, freelancers and sole traders

Mobile Hairdresser: a new career path from a client’s perspective

Written by on April 27, 2016

I must confess – I’m a haircut addict. My friends and family are so used to my constantly changing hairstyles, they’re not even surprised anymore.

But I am always on the lookout for something new and better, be it a new colour, a new style, or… a new hairdresser! I’ve had and talked to so many of them, I lost the number a long time ago.

They’re all different, all having their own outlooks, fashion tastes, but there was usually one thing in common: they were always complaining about their workplaces.

The main problem: workplaces

As a hairdresser, you have a number of choices: 1) you can open your own hair salon, 2) you can rent rent-a-chair in an existing salon for a weekly/monthly fee, or 3) you can pay a percentage of the chair takings (i.e. a percentage of what you earn).

Of course, I have had quite a few haircuts done in private homes, too (I guess that’s an option number 4).

All of these have their own advantages and disadvantages. Buying or renting a property is expensive, and operating a salon involves certain risks. Rent-a-chair (fixed rate) will not pay-off if you are only beginning to build your clientele.

Giving a percentage of what you earn is also not ideal for the opposite reason: the more you earn, the more you have to give away! And running a hairdressing business from your home would mean that your clients will have to make all the way to the residential areas to find you.

Freelancing in mobile hairdressing is a great idea for free spirits
Mobile hairdressing is for those who want more freedom.

Not to mention the conflicts that often arise between the salon owners and hairdressers. I’ve heard so many stories of the owners playing around with renting rules and charges, and, believe me, this does not make a hairdresser’s life any easier.

Is there a solution to all of that? I think so!

If your have a car, are self-motivated, and want to be your own boss, you can always consider becoming a mobile hairdresser.

What is mobile hairdresser, you ask?

It’s very simple. Instead of your clients coming to you, you will go to them.

Yes, you will need some portable equipment, you will have to drive distances to reach your clients, and you will have to be careful of other people’s private property, but you will also be completely free of any rents, and you won’t have anyone else setting up the rules but you.

Sounds good? I personally think it’s a great idea.

I am actually very excited to write this article, because as a member of our modern fast-paced society (yes, I am always too tired to go to places), and as a client of so many hairdressers, having someone come to my house to do my hair sounds like a revolutionary idea!

Busy people with children need mobile barbers and hairdressers
So many people avoid leaving their homes so they can take care of their children. Son instead of them coming to you, go to them!

How to Become a Mobile Hairdresser?

Good question, I’m glad you asked.

If you decided to become a mobile hairdresser you probably have a good reason to do so. As suggested above, most people decide to start their own business because they want to be their own boss and have more freedom.

But starting a business is not going to be easy as you probably already know.

Long working hours, happy and unhappy customers, lack of motivation at times, and lack of customers are just a small portion of problems you’re going to face throughout the business establishment period (but isn’t it what a hairdresser deals with every day, anyway?…).

But if these words didn’t scare you off, let’s continue. There are a bunch of things you need to consider, so read the following carefully.

We’ll start with the most boring-but-need-to-get-done stuff, of course: the legal requirements.

Legal Requirements:

1. Hairdresser education. You can either attend a college and gain a level in hairdressing or become a salon apprentice and learn there. Remember, mobile hairdressers with education are trusted more.

2. Register your business. It’s completely up to you what business structure you choose e.g. sole trader, partnership or Limited. Each of them has advantages and disadvantages. If you don’t have enough knowledge about the differences then you might want to seek legal advice.

Advantages and Disadvantages of a Sole Trader

Advantages and Disadvantages of Partnership

Advantages and Disadvantages of a Limited Company

3. Obtain insurance. You should get your business insured because as a mobile hairdresser you are likely to meet a variety of clients. They might complain you knocking some glass sculpture off their table (I know they should probably thank you for that, but…) or maybe something more serious such as burns from straighteners. Your insurance is going to protect you from these scenarios.

Ok, so we got these down. Wasn’t so bad, was it? Now let’s move on to some more fun and practical stuff.

Practical Suggestions:

1. Write a business plan. Yes, I know what you’re thinking: how is this in any way FUN? Well, it can be fun because you’re putting your dreams down on the paper. Also, it is extremely important to analyse your competitors, to understand your business vision and to create a marketing plan. And there are plenty of tips on writing a business plan on the Internet.

Create a business plan for your mobile hairdressing business
Make sure you create a business plan for your mobile hairdressing business.

2. Consider your company’s branding. Now that is fun! Create a company logo and put it on your car, print business cards, and a hairdressing apron. A logo helps you advertise your business. Also, your logo should match your mobile hairdressing website where all your services and prices are outlined.

3. Buy tools. As a mobile hairdresser you’ll need to commute a lot. Therefore your hairdressing tools shouldn’t take too much space and be too heavy. At the beginning buy only the most essential equipment that you can’t work without. Also, it’s a good idea to buy a big calendar where you’re going to keep track of your clients’ appointments.

To establish a mobile hairdressing business buy tools and portable equipment
You will need to buy tools and portable equipment to establish your mobile hairdressing business.

4. Sign up for online invoicing software. As a client I can tell you that receiving an invoice from a service provider makes me trust them way more. And as a human I know how annoying it is to do paperwork, so really, find a software that you will want to come back to: it will save you time, and will actually let you enjoy the office work.

As a mobile hairdresser you’ll have to be responsible for running a successful business and doing great haircuts to satisfy your customers. If you manage both things, well, you’re going to have a successful business and a great cash flow!

Building your clientele

At this point I think it is important to talk about your clientele. The disadvantage of not working in a hair salon is that the salon does a huge part of advertising and attracting new clients.

Being a one-man band means that the responsibility of finding new customers falls on your shoulders.

Building a clientele is especially difficult at the beginning because no one except your family and friends knows about your new business.

Mobile hairdresser can offer additional services for special events
Think about what additional services you can offer: maybe you could style hair for special events?

But do not fret! The good news is, I am writing this to help you set up your own business, so I came up with a list of ideas on how you can attract new long-term clientele.

1. Word-of-mouth

Of course, your most loyal clientele will be your friends and family, so make sure they start spreading the word.

And don’t be afraid to ask your clients to recommend you to others: I’ve been asked hundreds of times to recommend people on Facebook, and I’m always happy to do that. If you make people happy, they are more than willing to help your business thrive!

2. Portfolio

When I search for a new hairdresser, I get very frustrated when I’m not able to see at least a couple of examples of his or her work. It’s not to check the quality of cuts, I’m curious to see if our personal tastes match. Also, I want to know what kind of hair product brands do they use (especially for hair dyes).

A portfolio is a great way to advertise yourself: hand it out to your current clients who will spread the word, publish it online, give it away on the street, etc. And watch how clientele increases 🙂

Get a portfolio for your mobile haridressing business
Hire a professional photographer or take pictures yourself for your new mobile hairdresser’s portfolio.

3. Online advertising

Set up social media accounts (Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram) and share hair-related content to create a community that may become your customer base in the long-term.

I once had a hairdresser who shared some really cool information about the local events, and I absolutely adored her for that (and for the haircuts, too)!

Building a website doesn’t require you to know about programming nowadays. There are website creation tools that do everything for you. You just need to select the appropriate design and enter information about your services.

The website helps your clients to see what are the available services and you will appear on search engines, so it’s really worth investing some time into.

4. Off-line advertising

Let’s not forget the power of ‘traditional’ advertising. Newspapers, and local bullet-boards are a great way to tell the local community about yourself.

I would even go on the streets and hand out some leaflets, printed portfolios, or at least business cards.

So many times I had random hairdressers approach me in a supermarket, telling me they’re new to town and handing me their business cards. And although I haven’t used their services, I always check them online.

If you’re not too fussed about your car’s appearance, get your logo and the phone number on the sides of your car. Make sure you emphasise that you’re not just any regular hairdresser — you’re the mobile hairdresser!

Start a small mobile hairdressing or barber business

5. Direct advertising

As I just mentioned: go out there and talk to people! Let them know about you.

Even if they don’t seem interested, maybe they will tell their friends about you: a lady who doesn’t want to leave the house because she’s taking care of a baby, or a family member with a disability, who would happily use your services? You never know!

You know what I’m crazy in love with? With CosmetologistLife’s suggestion on how to introduce yourself to strangers (aka new clients) using your portfolio. The scenario should go like this:

“I’d love to do your hair! I was seeing a soft fringe around your face to frame your beautiful eyes.”

“Oh really, I don’t know if that’s right for me”

“Well, here, let me show you real quick what I was thinking.”

BAM…out comes the Ipad!

This is simply brilliant. Not only you advertise yourself and your previous work, you also show your new client he or she needs you.

Oh, and make sure you check out the other 7 Creative Clientele Building Ideas from CosmetologistLife.

Keep in mind that beside these suggestions, you should set a good example by having your own hair always looking great and trendy.

When you’re looking great, providing the best haircuts and treating customers nicely you’re likely to succeed and get loads of word-of-mouth marketing about your great mobile hairdresser business.

Once the business is established…

Ok, so let’s say you have already established your new mobile hairdressing business. By now, you are already in love with the freedom, job dynamic, and the challenges.

But a big part of a haircut success depends on whether a customer was feeling comfortable and happy with the overall service she or he received.

I’m talking about building your clients’ loyalty.

Maintaining clients is not only easier and more cost-effective than finding new ones, it can actually help you attract new people.

Think about it, would you rather go to a hairdresser whose clients never come back, or to a hairdresser who has the same customers for 5 or 10 years? Obviously, anyone would choose the latter one.

Yes, you already make your customer happy by offering to come to their house, office or any other desired place, but that’s not enough to make them feel extra special. And extra special is what you want to offer.

Although some of the following suggestions are kind-of common sense, I’d still like go through these six tips for mobile hairdressers, so please bear with me.

1. Pay attention to clients’ needs

I know, it’s kind-of obvious, but sometimes hairdressers forget about the importance of listening and responding to their client. Your customers may not tell you how exactly they want their hair to look, but by listening you should be able to make the right decisions and satisfy your clients’ wishes.

Always carry some hair styling magazines with you: it’s a given in salons, but since you’re driving around doing peoples’ haircuts, it’s always advisable to think about such details beforehand.

Mobile hairdresser freelancing for children
Children who don’t feel comfortable in unfamiliar places are a great target market.

2. Appreciate loyal customers

Most people like to have one reliable hairdresser. Usually it takes time to find a good one but once they’ve found him or her, they stick with the person (hmm I guess I haven’t found mine yet).

But your customers want to feel appreciated for being loyal, therefore, you should offer them special discounts from time to time, or even organise an event dedicated to the long-term clients.

3. Remember your clients

I know, not everyone has a great memory, I am terrible with names myself… But you really should make an effort to not only remember their names, but also hobbies, jobs, marital status, holidays, and so on (if they mentioned anything in the past). By remembering such information you make them feel that you care about them.

If you’re not convinced, read Dale Carnegie’s “How to Win Friends and Influence People”, this book will blow your mind.

4. Respect

Your customers are likely to tell you things that you might not like or agree with. However, sometimes you just need to shut up and not confront them. I’m not saying that you have to agree with their attitude towards various things but you should respect and tolerate their opinion.

5. Show gratitude

Gratitude is a very powerful tool to make a client happy. Just by simply saying “Thank you” you can make a client feel happy. I speak from experience.

6. Appreciate client’s time

Never come late to the agreed appointment. This can earn you a bad reputation and I doubt you want to get one, do you?

Also, understand that your offered service is like a spa service to some people. Their time should be treated as only their time. You shouldn’t answer calls or someone else interrupt their spa time.

Busy people need mobile hair stylist small business
Be on time for your appointments – make your clients feel special.

So by respecting, listening, being attentive, showing gratitude and appreciating loyal customers, you’re likely to make your mobile hairdressing business customers feel special. And if they feel special, they really won’t feel the need to look for a new service provider.

I hope this article will help you make the decision that could change your life. If you don’t know any mobile hairdressers in your local area — go for it.

Not only it will be something new and extremely convenient to your clients, many people might be relieved to receive such a service, especially if they have trouble getting into the ‘traditional’ hair salons.

If you decide this career path is for you — please share your experience here, I’d love to hear your story.

And the best of luck to you!

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