With hairdressing as a profession shown to almost equal that of a CEO in terms of job satisfaction, plus the flexibility to determine your own work/life balance, working as a mobile - or freelance - hairdresser is an attractive option for many.
Although you may feel that it will be difficult to compete with established salons, it may not be as tough as you may think, as both offer a very different service. Some people enjoy going to a salon as a way of getting away from it all and being pampered for an hour or two, while others prefer the convenience of a service in the comfort of their own home.
Why go mobile?
While some people thrive in a busy salon environment, others prefer the flexibility of freelance. There are three main options when working as a mobile hairdresser, all of which have pros and cons.
Working from home
Set up your salon in your own home and your clients can come to you. You have ultimate control over when you see clients as you choose the hours you work. If mornings are not for you, only offer afternoon appointments and vice versa. If you’d like to offer evening appointments, you can.
Do bear in mind however that, should you work from home, you can’t leave work at the end of the day. You will also need to be prepared to have clients coming in and out of your home,
Visiting clients’ homes
If you wish, you can take your salon to your clients. This is a good way to reach many clients - and potential clients - simultaneously. For example, you could visit hospitals or care homes, where residents may be unable to visit a salon.
Whilst your overheads wouldn’t need to cover the cost of water and power, you would need to ensure you factor in the cost of travel and upkeep of your car when you are determining your pricing.
You could also offer your cutting and styling services for charity, through initiatives such as Haircuts 4 Homeless.
Renting a chair
A popular option with freelance hairdressers, if you choose to rent a chair in a salon, then you will usually pay either a fixed rate to the salon owner or a percentage of the takings you make when you are there.
This is a good way to benefit from having a base somewhere that is already established, without being tied to particular working hours. You can also build up your own client base alongside the salon’s established list.
If you are self employed, remember you won’t just be cutting and styling hair. You’ll also need to be responsible for:
- Dealing with all enquiries and bookings
- Offering client consultations for future work
- Dealing with all of your administration such as ordering products, banking, accounting and expenses
Tips for success
It’s essential to build your client base to ensure the success of your freelance hairdressing business. There are two primary ways to do this:
- Advertising - social media, traditional leafleting, local radio and newspapers
- Word of mouth - ask friends and family to recommend you
Consider approaching wedding venues and planners to work with them as a preferred partner. A specialist bridal/event hair course would be beneficial if you choose this approach. Hen parties and proms are also perfect opportunity to reach a group of clients simultaneously. Consider offering introductory promotions to get established, plus loyalty rewards to regular customers.
Always include your full name, address, mobile number, home/office number, your website and social media handles on your marketing material. The more ways your clients can contact you, the better. Social media is the ideal way to show examples of your work to potential customers. You can also ask your clients to review your services if the channel has this functionality.
Once you have established your hairdressing services, consider diversifying. If you branch out into beauty, you can offer your clients an all in one package from the comfort of their own home. Spray tanning, manicures, pedicures and lash extensions are popular treatments.
Tax and accounting
When you are freelance, remember tax and accounting are your responsibility. Ensure you keep track of all your business expenses and register with HMRC to let them know that you are self employed and will be using the self assessment process to submit your earnings.
You will need to have full knowledge of your outgoings to ensure that your fees are set at a profitable rate. Calculating your costs and factoring the time taken for each service you offer will allow you to calculate an hourly rate. Use a PAYE calculator to estimate your potential gross and net pay.
Health and safety
Remember that you are responsible for health and safety when you are working freelance. As you are likely to be working with chemicals, razors and scissors in your clients’ homes, it’s essential that you ensure you have adequate insurance cover. This should also include public liability cover for your equipment, should it get lost or damaged.