Working as a Therapist at Home
This week, I thought it would be nice to take a break from the MLM wars and focus on the professional therapist industry.
More and more people are interested in retraining as a therapist with a view to setting up their own business from home.
Whether you’re interested in doing nails, tanning, waxing, lash/brow treatments, or holistic therapies like aromatherapy massage or reflexology – it’s certainly a career path that offers flexibility.
For many therapists, the idea of working from home is hugely appealing. It offers the chance to be your own boss and run a business without the cost of operating a salon.
There are many reasons why you may be considering setting up a business from home. You might be…
- Tired of the corporate world
- Burned out by long working hours
- Weary of commuting long distances to work
- Fed up of working for someone else’s gain
- Unfulfilled in your current position
- Struggling to balance work with family life
- Bored and looking for a new challenge
- Stuck at a dead-end in your career
- Looking for flexible hours
- Stressed by intense working environments
- Searching for a more fulfilling role
- Dreaming of following your passion
…or perhaps just eager to start building your own empire!
Setting up a home salon offers many of the same advantages and disadvantages of working as a mobile therapist (I have written more about this in my ebook, The Little Book of Working as a Therapist)
Like any start-up, success won’t happen overnight. It takes time to build up a steady client base and a fully-booked diary.
Let’s talk about some other issues to consider when working as a beauty/holistic therapist from home.
(Some of this information will be UK-specific, but much of this advice applies no matter where you live in the world)
Pros and cons
It’s important to consider the pros and cons to working from home. Let’s start with the advantages:
1. No commute
The biggest advantage to working from home is that you don’t have to GO anywhere. Anyone who has experienced hellish daily commutes will see the appeal of staying home to work.
2. Low overheads
For obvious reasons, setting up (and running) a home treatment room costs much less than opening your own premises.
3. No commitment
Working from home gives you ultimate flexibility, without the commitment of leasing premises for a fixed period.
4. No carrying
Working as a mobile therapist involves lot of carrying and lifting equipment around. In a home salon, everything can be set up and left in one place!
5. Flexible hours
It’s your home, so you can choose your own working hours to fit around your family and other commitments. Renting a room somewhere else often means adhering to their opening hours.
As well as flexibility on hours, you’ll also have complete control over your treatments and pricing. So, whether you want to specialise in one area, or offer a variety of services, it’s entirely up to you! You’re the boss!
Sounds great so far! So, what are the disadvantages to a home salon?
1. Unsociable hours
Although you’re free to choose your own working hours, you’ll often find that clients will request evening and weekend appointments – so consider whether you’re happy to sacrifice these hours!
2. Phone calls
Think about how clients can contact you – if your business number is your personal mobile phone, it’s difficult to ever really switch off from work. You’ll receive calls when you’re at the supermarket checkout, driving in the car, at a restaurant – it’s important to be professional and always keep your appointment diary to hand. Clients can – and will – contact you at all hours of the day and night! And if it’s your house landline, think about who might answer the phone – it sounds unprofessional if children or random family members pick up.
3. Unprofessional image
Now, this might sound harsh, but it’s important to accept that some clients will find it off-putting to have treatments in a home environment. Some people find it too intimate, awkward, unprofessional or just not as comfortable as a salon setting. Just bear in mind that you’re not necessarily all pursuing the same clientele. Some customers prefer a home setting – and these are the ones you’re after!
4. Keep it clean!
When you’re welcoming clients into your home, you will need to keep it clean and tidy at all times – especially the bathroom! Hygiene is extremely important. Clients do not want to step over piles of laundry, toys and other household mess. Closing internal doors can hide a multitude of sins, but a spotless toilet is a must!
No matter how much you love your furry friend, not all your clients will feel the same way. You might think it’s cute when your dog excitedly jumps up on people who walk through the door. You might think it’s sweet when your cat brushes past their legs. It’s not enough to laugh it off and say “Oh, he wouldn’t hurt a fly!” Some people are allergic to pets; some people just don’t feel comfortable around them. If you insist on having your pooch around while doing treatments, prepare to limit your potential client base. Sure, some clients won’t mind. But you’ll be putting off many paying customers – is this something you can afford to do?
Of course, I’m not suggesting that children shouldn’t be at home during appointments. But you do need to consider the impact of family noise – particularly for relaxing treatments like massage, reiki or reflexology. It is difficult to relax whilst listening to crying babies, screaming children, barking dogs, banging doors, kitchen clattering, doorbells ringing, musical toys or the muffled sound of the TV downstairs!
I feel it’s worth pointing out that, on the whole, people will not treat your home business with the same respect and etiquette as a high-street salon. Expect clients to cancel at short notice or turn up late (or not at all). As it’s your home, they might also feel it’s acceptable to bring along children, partners, or even pets. Make sure you set your ground rules from the start!
Tips & Advice
- Check with your mortgage provider/landlord before starting a home-based business. You may also need to inform the council (regulations vary depending on where you live). Insurance is a must – you’ll need to take out a specialist business policy that provides adequate cover.
- Don’t go overboard on investing in stock and equipment at first. I’ve seen too many therapists splurge on kit and then struggle with cash flow. Choose one or two treatments to focus on at first – start getting some money coming in, then gradually add new treatments/stock as you go. Don’t buy ALL the nail polishes, or ALL the essential oils – pick a versatile range, then expand your stash as you grow.
- Think about parking – is there room for clients to park outside your house?
- Decide how you’ll handle clients that arrive early for appointments. If you’re already engaged, will someone be able to greet them? Is there a suitable waiting area?
- Don’t spend too long planning. Some people have a “dream” but fall into the trap of over-thinking their business plan. Don’t spend hours and hours researching décor accessories! Just get going – there will never be a perfect time, and you will never know everything! As long as you’re qualified and insured, there’s no reason not to start booking appointments. You only learn by doing!
- Little touches make all the difference – think about small extras that will make your clients feel special. Fresh coffee, premium snacks, heated blankets…all low-cost ways to add a touch of luxury.
- Think carefully about your target market. I once knew a therapist who had a wide circle of ‘school mum’ friends, and successfully established a reputation for herself as the go-to beauty guru on her local estate.
- Research your competition – who else offers a similar service? What can you do that’s different? Sometimes it’s worth investing in a well-known brand to attract customers.
- Pricing is key! Don’t start too low – cheap prices indicate cheap quality. It undervalues your service, and people will assume you’re unskilled or using inferior products. Give your prices a bit of leeway – you won’t be able to offer amazing discounts if you’re already charging rock-bottom prices. You need to take into account ALL your costs and make sure you’re actually earning an hourly rate that makes it worthwhile.
- You don’t HAVE to pay for advertising. Build a following for free on social media – but remember it takes work! Keep it regularly updated and always keep it professional! (No moaning, whingeing or irrelevant chat!)
- Finally, I strongly recommend you publish your price list online. Ideally, you’ll want your own website – at the very least, set up a Facebook page. When looking up a business, the first port of call is usually Google – so you need some kind of online presence. So many salons and therapists do not have their prices online, and this is a HUGE disadvantage! Don’t assume clients will call to find out. People are busy, just give them information! Some will assume you’re too expensive. Some will skip past you and choose a salon with clear prices. Personally, I find it immensely frustrating when I can’t find a list of services and prices online.
I’ve written more about working as a beauty/holistic therapist in my ebook, The Little Book of Working as a Therapist.
This book includes 100 pages of useful tips and information about working in the beauty and holistic therapy industry, including training and education; how to get started; useful resources; job profiles and sample business templates for client consultations and aftercare advice.
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