Sunday, 18 May 2014

My Experience: Where To Work? Salon, Mobile or at Home

Today I'm carrying on with my series of blog posts on my thoughts on various topics relating to being in the beauty and hair industry.  They are all being added to the advice tab directly below the banner.

I knew from September 2010 I would be leaving my full time job on 18th June 2011, this date will always be in my mind.  The odd thing is although I have a very serious side to my personality and my outlook on life, I hadn't thought very much on how I was actually going to work in the industry at this point but just that it was going to happen.

The long and short of it is that at the eleventh hour I found out that there was a room to rent in a salon which I then worked in for a year.  I have also worked as a mobile therapist and now I currently work from home in a custom built summerhouse, so I'm going to tell you the pros and cons of each so that you can make an informed decision.  Let's get started!

You could work in a salon
The first obvious choice is to work in a salon.  This is going to give you the most amount of experience and is generally the best route to take for a new starter.  You can work for the salon directly but generally I hear that the wage is close to minimum wage, or you can rent a chair / desk / room on a self employed basis.  


Sidenote: if you work on a self employed basis in a salon then there are typically two ways they work.  You either pay a set agreed amount per week and then it's down to you to advertise and provide your own supplies but then you will keep 100% of your earnings.  The downside to this is that if you're at the start of building your client base then you may only be earning enough to pay the rent with no wage at the end of it until you have enough regular clients. 

The other option is to create an agreement with the salon owner to split your earnings into a percentage (usually 60% / 40% or 70% / 30% ratio depending on who provides the products.)  This is great for when you start off as if you're not earning, you're not having to pay anything out but as time goes on and you get busier you may come to regret giving that 30% or 40% away as you're working all of the hours for it.  

The pros of working in a salon:
  • Surrounded by colleagues
  • Professional atmosphere and setting with all of the suitable equipment around you, set up and waiting.
  • Guaranteed income (if employed by the salon)
  • Working for / in a large business may bring you more business than the other two options as are typically already established and therefore may have existing clients interested in coming to you.
The cons of working in a salon:
  • Fast paced and potentially stressful environment with a constant stream of appointments.
  • You could have a very demanding salon owner who will always strive for more from you.
  • The salon owner may try to treat you as an employee (if you are self employed) and forget that you are a separate business.
Also bear in mind that some salons that are seeking staff may insist on a Level 3 qualification and/or a certain number of years experience.

You could work as a mobile therapist
I hear a lot of people say that when they leave college they're "just going to do mobile as they already have a job."  To be honest most of these people that I know who said this don't do many if any mobile jobs now but that's another subject.  

The pros of working as a mobile therapist:
  • You can set your own hours.
  • Low  set up costs (no deposits required for premises, salon furniture, etc)
  • Low overheads (no utility bills, council tax etc)
The cons of working as a mobile therapist:
  • Clients will assume that your prices will be cheaper as you don't have the overheads associated with a salon.  They will forget that you still have to pay for fuel, to insure your car for business purposes, will be adding more mileage to your car and will not be paid for the half an hour traffic jam you sat in to get to them.
  • Carrying heavy equipment such as a massage bed on a regular basis.
  • Time wasted packing and unpacking your set up at every location that you are also not paid for.
  • Not ideal working conditions.  Typically if you're a nail technician you'll find yourself working at your clients dining room table and not at the right height or angle. 
  • If you start off with no experience and choose to be a mobile therapist, you will have no one to refer to if you come across an issue during the service.
  • It can be lonely not having the continuous company of work colleagues.
You could work in a home salon
This is my current situation but like the other two options, it definitely has it's pros and cons. 


The pros of working in a home salon:
  • Low overheads (no rent, only a slight different in utility bills, etc)
  • No travelling involved.
  • Flexible hours that can suit you and your client (if you're willing to work outside of usual salon hours.)
  • You can create a salon atmosphere with correct furniture and set up.
The cons of working in a home salon:
  • A potential of bringing strangers into your home (I do not and work on a recommendation only basis.)
  • No work colleagues or regular interaction with the same faces.  Of course you will have the company of the client in theory but not that regular, ongoing conversation that you would have with a colleague which also means you may miss out on the latest trends, styles and techniques in the industry too.
  • Constantly needing to keep your home in a pristine condition in the areas that the client may pass.  I'm not saying that it would be a pigsty otherwise but things that a normal household may have like underwear on the washing line etc is not appropriate so you have to think ahead with things like this.
  • As you're at home, clients may think that you're always available for a last minute appointment so this could disrupt family life. 
  • Just like the mobile option, if you're new to the role then you may come across an issue with a treatment and be unsure how to resolve it.
Whichever option is down to you and your circumstances.  I hope I've given you a few thoughts on each one that you may have perhaps not thought of.  

I have some book recommendations with links in the main "advice" tab underneath the banner on here for you to check out.  They helped me a great deal with many of the basic principals and are an excellent source to refer back to if your mind goes blank.
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