Post-pandemic, the options for providing esthetic treatments and other salon services have begun to expand in ways many of us previously might not have thought possible.
From offering in-home visits and spa parties, to setting up shop in a luxury RV, more and more estheticians are branching out and finding new ways to practice their craft, without being confined to a treatment room.
Given the rising cost of space rentals, coupled with the fact that many clients feel most comfortable at home, there are a lot of potential benefits to offering esthetic services off-site. In fact, the mobile spa success story out of Indianapolis (see the video below), is just one of many examples of the kind of innovation taking place in our industry right now.
If you’re an independent esthetician or beauty professional looking for your next adventure, a vehicle-based business might be just the ticket to a new and exciting chapter in your career. Just check out the press this Beauty Bus is getting if you don’t believe me!
Even so, there are a lot of ins and outs you’re going to want to be aware of beforehand.
To help you get started, here’s what you need to know.
Legalities and Licensing: Considerations for Taking Your Skin Show on the Road
If you’ve recently made the decision to offer mobile services as an esthetician, it may be tempting to get up and going as soon as possible. However, before you open your books for business, you’re going to want to make sure you have answers to the following questions:
Question #1: Are mobile esthetician services allowed in my area?
Prior to making any big moves, the first thing you’ll want to look into is the regulations for any and all areas where you plan to practice. Laws around mobile business can differ pretty greatly from state to state, and can also be subject to change at any time.
While some states allow for total freedom to operate, others may only permit you to travel to ill or homebound clients. There are also a few states that don’t allow any off-site services of any kind, meaning you might have to hit the brakes on your plans altogether.
Question #2: Are there any other specific requirements for vehicle-based skincare and beauty businesses?
Assuming that you do have the green light to offer mobile esthetician services in your area, you’ll still want to read the fine print regarding all the rules and regulations. For example, in some places, you may need to use only a certain class of vehicle or RV. Or there may be stipulations requiring your vehicle to remain on a permanent foundation to operate legally.
Failing to comply with these rules could put your business and/or license in jeopardy, so your best bet is to do your research and clarify with your local agencies to ensure that you’re practicing above board.
Question #3: Do you have current and correct licensure?
Before getting started with your new business as a mobile esthetician or salon, it’s also a perfect time to make sure that all of your licenses are up to date and in good standing. This includes your professional license and your driver’s license, but also any business licenses or permits for your practice.
If you are a sole proprietor, limited liability corporation, or salon owner, you may already have everything in place that you need. However, if you are a new practitioner or have been previously employed under someone else, you will need to register your new business, and obtain all the necessary elements for selling your services – such as an IRS Tax ID and retail sales permit. Additionally, If you plan to offer services in more than one state area, you will need to repeat this process for each jurisdiction where you’ll be doing business.
Question #4: Is your vehicle good to go?
Of course, one of the most important pieces of equipment you’re going to need for doing business off-site is a vehicle in good working order. This includes being registered, insured, and able to pass all required inspections.
You’ll also want to consider a few more practicalities such as – is the vehicle you plan to use safe and reliable? Are you able to easily keep up with the maintenance? Does it get good gas mileage? And is it professional looking enough to represent your business? If the answer to any of these questions isn’t an absolute yes, you’ll need to address these concerns before going all in on a mobile business.
Question #5: What about liability insurance?
For protecting your assets and your business, one more important piece of the puzzle will be making sure you have comprehensive insurance coverage for yourself and your equipment. Besides the basic liability policies that every esthetician should carry, you may need additional coverage for mobile services, according to state board rules and regulations.
Last but not least, be sure to look into specialty plans for covering theft, damage, natural disasters, severe weather, and any other hazardous conditions that you may run into while on the road.
Although these steps may seem like a lot of legwork, they’re a must for ensuring that your mobile business runs safely, smoothly, and successfully. The good news is that once you have these fundamental elements in place the fun and creative part of planning your new business can begin.
Read on to see what you’re going to need.
Your Checklist for Mobile Esthetics Success
Tools of the Trade for Getting Started
- Simplified Service Menu – When offering off-site services as an esthetician, you’ll quickly find that most of your usual menu items can easily be modified for your mobile practice. That said, just because you can do just about everything, doesn’t mean you have to.
In the beginning, a better approach may be to choose one niche – waxing, lashes, express facials, or makeup – and perfect your most popular protocols. Once you get a hang of a few easy-to-execute services, you can always add on. However, starting smaller will allow you to scale your business and cultivate a clientele, before investing heavily in building a full service mobile spa.
- Prices and Policies in Place – Another important component in mapping out your esthetics menu should be a price structure and other policies that support your new undertaking as a mobile provider.
Taking into account added liability, long commutes, gas prices, special equipment, and other unique overhead costs that come with off-site work, be sure to set your price points and assess extra fees where needed, in order to adequately protect your time and assets.
- Portable Products and Equipment – When picking out tools and equipment for your mobile esthetician business, it’s going to be critical to think in terms of practicality. Understanding that you’ll likely be carrying items to and from your vehicle, or running machines with limited access to electricity, it will be in your best interest to invest in products and equipment that work well on-the-go.
Modalities to look for would be anything that can be performed with a portable device – such as microdermabrasion, microcurrent, or LED light therapy. You might also choose services that are less intensive in terms of products needed, such as chemical peels, brow styling, dermaplaning, or sugaring. Be sure to see our handheld skincare tools blog post where we’ve identified 7 tools we consider to be essential.
And be sure to check out California Skincare Supply’s store for all the products you need. We sell wholesale to estheticians.
- Your Master Marketing Plan – As with any beauty business, no amount of elaborate planning or acquiring the right equipment matters if you don’t have a solid marketing strategy. If you have an existing business, it may be as straightforward as announcing your plans to go mobile through all of your usual channels – email blast, social media, and word of mouth.
On the other hand, if you’re a new business or planning a major pivot, you will likely want to engage in more outreach. Some essentials for getting established include a professional website (preferably one that includes online booking), business cards, fliers or handouts for around the neighborhood, as well as a solid presence on platforms like Instagram, Facebook, and Tiktok.
And be sure to invest in SEO to get your business found in Google where most consumers are searching for your services. We recommend our own web developer, SEO, lead-gen and conversion specialist, Kat & Mouse, where you get all 3 services in 1 if you need help.
A Few Final Pros and Cons
Starting any new business can be a big decision. If you’re still on the fence about whether or not mobile work is right for you, it may be worth weighing the following:
The Cons: Compared to booth rental or contract work at a spa, owning a mobile business will require you to keep on top of additional paperwork, and may require more initial set up to get started. Building a clientele may be challenging, if you have clients who prefer a traditional treatment experience or spa environment.
The Pros: If you’re an enterprising esthetician who values flexibility, variety, and you feel ready to forge a new path in the beauty industry, the mobile market has great potential for growth and expansion. Given the popularity of at-home delivery and services on demand, there’s still plenty of room for new businesses and the opportunity to create something amazing.
Before You Go
Whether you’re in the process of building a mobile practice, or just getting started as a skincare provider, California Skincare Supply is here to support you. In fact, we’re putting together a post right now with Kelli’s recommended products and tools every mobile esthetician should have. So be sure to subscribe to our newsletter below so you don’t miss it.
You also should check out our Facebook group to meet other industry professionals, share best practices, and learn about upcoming training opportunities.
And of course, visit our store and go shopping!
We can’t wait to hear what you’re up to in your beauty biz!
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