If you have ever entertained the idea of being your own boss, it may be time to start mobilizing your client base and hit the road! With the Bureau of Labor Statistics estimating that the skin care industry will grow by 25 percent through 2020, there is a thriving market ready for those willing to take the plunge. The mobile business has lower startup costs than opening a set brick and mortar location, and can give you the freedom to live life on your own terms.
The first thing you must decide is what type of mobile esthetician business you want to be, and where you want to operate. Some mobile estheticians go to individual clients’ homes and hotel rooms, while others offer services to the professional offices of large organizations, providing workers with much needed massages. Other mobile estheticians choose to work out of a rented space based on a shortterm contract with a hotel or wellness center, while some operate out of an actual van. The one thing all of these business models have in common is that the practitioner and equipment must travel to appointments.
Before you venture out on your own, you need proper automotive licensing, licensing to practice esthetics, and a business license. In regards to the latter, you can choose to operate your business under a sole proprietorship or LLC (Limited Liability Corporation).
In addition, the following materials are required for offering massage and beauty services to clients on the go:
- Driver’s license
- Reliable vehicle
- Cell phone
- Massage table and/or chair
- Bag/backpack/rolling suitcase to carry all items such as lotions, creams, towels, sheets, candles and aromatherapy products
- Retail products
- Business cards
Esthetician liability insurance is absolutely essential in order to protect yourself against claims that could be financially devastating. Many spa industry associations offer insurance policies specifically designed to provide the necessary financial support and coverage in incidents that estheticians would face in their specific practice. The different policies include general liability coverage for services that come with an element of risk, property coverage for stolen or damaged items and equipment, professional liability insurance and umbrella insurance for extra liability.
POSSIBILITIES AND LIMITATIONS
Like any specialized service, mobile estheticians provide services that align with their areas of training and expertise. The possibilities for a mobile esthetician are far reaching, from the basic skin consultation to massage to advanced skin treatments such as microdermabrasion, chemical peels and laser rejuvenation therapy.
As you decide which type of services to offer, consider the following factors:
- Your certification level (Can I do this? Am I legally allowed to provide this service?)
- Your willingness to perform it (Do I want to do this?)
- Client requests (Is there a viable demand for this service in my area?)
- Your materials (Do I own the right equipment to offer this service? Can I realistically transport it to and from appointments?)
- Your bottom line (How profitable is this service? Can it be replaced with one that is more profitable?)
Of course, the freedom of a mobile spa business also comes with limitations in terms of service options and elements. For example, mobile estheticians cannot perform services that require a wet room unless a client has a comparable space in their home. If you are unable to afford, transport or carry heavy equipment such as facial steamers, jet baths, microdermabrasion machines or treatment chairs, you will be more limited in terms of what you can offer than a brick and mortar spa.
BUILDING YOUR CLIENTELE
When you first venture out on your own, attend local events where you will reach your target market. A good place to start is consumer trade shows in your area focused on beauty, massage, health, wellness or fitness. Offer services at discounted rates in the beginning; you will be able to raise your price over time as you establish yourself with a loyal client base and gain word of mouth exposure. For maximum client retention, it is key to be personable so that clients feel comfortable with you, as they will be sharing personal issues such as their esthetic concerns and pain points.
Give every client you encounter several business cards and a list of the services you offer along with descriptions, and encourage them to share this information with others. Offer a complimentary upgrade or discount in exchange for referrals. Maintain a database with all of your clients’ contact information as well, including their email addresses, so you can send updates about all changes to your services, retail products or special promotions.
As you establish a personal rapport with new clients, inform them of new products and services they haven’t tried that may be useful for their specific needs. This is an organic way to promote your retail and other services. Gauge their satisfaction and interest through your interactions, and as your business grows, consider setting up an anonymous client satisfaction survey as well.
GROWING YOUR BUSINESS ONLINE
An online presence is another crucial component of running a consumer business today, and the two key components are social media and your website. Both of these outlets should highlight the ways that your business is unique in order to stay competitive.
Social media Google, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Yelp all serve as free ways to be engaged with your clients and community. They also offer paid listings and advertisements. These outlets are a great way for you to share you expertise with localized niches in your area that would be interested in your services. You can further boost your online engagement by starting a blog. There are numerous platforms available for this, including Tumblr, Blogspot and Weebly.
Website Your website should contain the following: Articles that relate to your services and treatment philosophies, a list of services with descriptions and prices, testimonial videos from clients, and high quality photos of your service in action. You can create your own website for free via services like Wix, WordPress and Carbonmade. If your budget allows, consider hiring a firm that specializes in SEO to work on your search engine marketing.
STARTUP COSTS AND PRICING
The key to any successful business is to establish a pricing strategy that earns profits, but is comparable with the current market rate that other mobile estheticians in your area provide. Scope out the competition and gather price comparisons.
You must be patient when starting a new business, as you won’t start turning a profit until your earning surpasses the initial startup costs for equipment, product and other expenses you acquire. Give yourself a 15 to 25 percent profit margin on all services rendered, factoring in the cost of transportation, labor and product use.
Providing your clients with home care via retail is an essential aspect of offering complete care to your clients. However due to the mobile nature of your business, you are limited in terms of how much you can offer. So it is important If you work with large groups, have them sign a contract with you a week in advance stating that they will have to pay you for your time and inconvenience if they cancel. This clause sets the precedent for a respectful relationship early on. And don’t neglect to prevent noshows — another revenue loser — with follow-up reminder calls the day before the appointment. This will save you from losing significant money simply due to clients forgetting about the appointment or the correct time in their schedule. Mary Ann Lovre is a 28-year veteran of the beauty industry. As president of Audrey Morris Cosmetics, she is involved in different facets of the company, from purchasing to sales to trade shows and product development. Lovre has experience in sourcing, marketing and product development, and runs the day to day operations of this fun and ever changing private label cosmetics business. Find her on Instagram and Facebook. to select one or two lines that reflect an extension of every aspect of services you perform. Make sure you address the importance of home care and aim to sell retail for every client you work with, as it is essential to a complete treatment regimen as well as a healthy esthetics business. Make sure your inventory includes all elements of a complete skin care routine, as well as aromatherapy, body products, makeup, etc.
One of the biggest problems you’ll face as a business owner is cancellations. You can minimize this issue by asking for a deposit upfront of up to 50 percent. For individual services, a 48-hour notice is ideal. When planning your weeks ahead, let clients know that if they cancel within 48 hours, they will receive 100 percent of their money back. If they cancel within 24 hours they will receive 50 percent of their money back. If they cancel with less than 12 hours notice, they receive none of their money back.
If you work with large groups, have them sign a contract with you a week in advance stating that they will have to pay you for your time and inconvenience if they cancel. This clause sets the precedent for a respectful relationship early on.
And don’t neglect to prevent noshows — another revenue loser — with follow-up reminder calls the day before the appointment. This will save you from losing significant money simply due to clients forgetting about the appointment or the correct time in their schedule.