What is a mobile barber or a mobile barbershop ? Barbers vs Mobile barbers ? We describe here what this job is about, how barbering is different from hairstyling, how this is very specific to the US culture and how the job is evolving thanks to new technologies and new habits towards more independent workers and mobile services.
The most official definition that you can fond comes from the US Bureau of Labor Statistics : "Provide barbering services, such as cutting, trimming, shampooing, and styling hair; trimming beards; or giving shaves."
So what is so specific about being a mobile barber, besides they go to customers instead of servicing them in a salon. We will also explain what are the costs of their services, how much they earn, ...
What does a mobile barber ?
Most of the time, mobile stylists (including mobile barbers and mobile hairstylists) work for themselves, they book clients at various residences being their homes, hotels, or where ever hair or beauty services may be needed outside of the salon. Mobile stylists must put together a kit containing various equipment including hair styling tools and products they may need for haircutting or hairstyling. The stylists transport their equipment around in their vehicle, drives to the customer's home or place of business, they take the equipment inside and does the service that would usually be done in hair salons or barber shop.
The life of a at-home barber or hair stylist can be very rewarding. You are helping people feel good about themselves and giving them a look they may never have tried before, sometimes just with a light trimming. It’s your job to make sure you leave every client feeling comfortable and confident in the hair cutting or styling you provided them with. While doing this you also are trying to ensure they have the look that they were looking for and helping them in looking the best that they can.
Mostly you will propose barbershop services, but some services require specific equipment, like wigs, or a wide array of options, like hair dye. Obviously these services might be complicated to provide outside beauty salons. Therefore we do not recommend to offer these services, unless you already know exactly what the customer wants.
How to start barbering ?
With the necessary skills and training you can become a freelance barber. There are several reasons why freelancing is a great option to go for. First is the fact that at times it may be hard to find work in a salon, freelancing will give you the option to work for yourself. Secondly, establishing yourself as a freelance hairdresser gives you the flexibility to work when and where you choose. You might rent space in an established salon, travel to clients' homes and places of business or work exclusively on sets and photoshoots. So how exactly can one become a freelance hair stylist?
1. Education and Licensure
It really doesn’t matter how talented you are; you have to go for training before you can start styling anyones hair at a professional level. Hairstylists and barbers must be licensed in the state of work. The first step toward licensure is completion of a cosmetology program or barbering at an accredited school. Depending on the school, the cost to complete a program (typically taking less than a year of full-time study) ranges from $5,000 to $20,000 or more. There are many options when it comes to picking a beauty school so tour a few and do your research on which is the right fit for you.
2. Equipment and Supplies
As an independent hairdresser, you'll need to invest in equipment and supplies for your business. You may have already owned some styling tools prior to freelancing but you will need to develop a kit that includes everything you may possibly need for hairstyling. Some of these items include:
curling irons and other hot tools
stylings products ( sprays, gels, pomades etc.)
The idea here is to ensure that you have everything you could ever need to offer the very best hairstylist services to your clients.
3. Setting up your Business
In becoming a freelance barber you are essentially starting your own business, this comes with quite a few responsibilities . On the legal side you will need a business license, a tax identification number, a separate business account , credit card and a well-defined method of keeping track of revenues and expenses. You may also want to look into different types of insurance depending on your needs. Creating a professional website as well social media platforms will be import for your business as well. You will need to decide what services you will be offering and a price chart for these services, this information should be included on your website.
4. Build Clientele and get to work
There will always be people needing their hair done, it is your responsibility to go out there and actively search for clients. In other words, you must market your business. Word of mouth from friends or previous clients is a great and free marketing tool to obtain new clients. Social Media and Ads can be very useful tools when you have the budget for them. Having business cards printed and carrying them with you at all times can be another useful item in gaining clientele. Once you have the clients get to work! Always aiming to provide your client with the best service possible leaving a lasting impression. soon your work will do the marketing for you.
Being a freelance hairdresser is providing a service that women and men need but don’t have time for, or they just prefer the convenience of having you come to them. You need to let them know you’re out there. Once you graduate and get your license, you’ll be set to starting running your own business and being your own boss!
Mobile barbering is actually a new job, while obviously barber is not
Having your hair serviced at home by a mobile barber or a mobile hair stylist coming to you is not usual in the US, whereas in many countries in Europe, Africa or Asia it is very usual. In western European countries, like France or Germany at-home haircuts represent 20% of the total. In comparison, in the US it can be estimated between 1 and 2% (estimated because there are so few people using this kind of services, that official numbers do not even exist.
Most people would not consider it as a new tech super innovative job. After all, we al have in mind kings or noblemen having their hair cut in the comfort of their palace ... so mobile barbering has been around for a few centuries.
So it became a sort of relic from the past. We think this is going to change. As explain by Harvard Business Review, the on demand services are already changing : companies and individual are relying more and more on on-demand workforce, for simple or complex jobs.
Now if your are considering the opportunity of becoming a mobile barber or to hire one, let's have a look at the different aspects of this service.
How technology has changed the barbering (and hairstyling) services
Technology has transformed everything on how we live, conduct business even on the way we worship. In the salon business, it has changed the interactions with clients,, such as reaching out to them to rewarding their loyalty. Through social media platforms such as Instagram, Facebook, and mobile apps, the technology,,, has revolutionized the hair services jobs in the recent past. Unlike before,, where one had to have a physical space to conduct hair and beauty business, the internet has made things easier for the clients and the hairdressers.
The recent technological advances 5G, cloud computing, sophiticated smartphone software provides a world of possibilities for hair business. There are several technologies that enhance competitiveness in the salon business.
Social Media Marketing
This is probably the most important one, but we won't be long on this one, because so many articles and posts have already been written on stylists and barber posting on instagram or Facebook, trying to develop their clientele or the sales of beauty products.
Social media is a helpful marketing tool. It's the biggest driver in the cosmetology world. Clients can show off their beauty upgrades and tag their friends as well as direct them to the stylists.
Information management program has a contribution to the beauty industry. The programs, whether desktop or web-based are customized for hair salons. They assist in the management of salon business such as accounting, inventory control, financial reporting as well as schedulling and customer relationship.
Physical and Chemical Technologies
Physical and chemical technology is vital for hair and beauty clients. Appliances use active ion technology to reduce static and frizz. The technology is applied in hair straighteners with the ceramic plates, seamless bristles in blow driers and brushes. It also includes hair products and treatments that involves nano technology and heat adaptation that helps in color processing and conditioning without a hair drier. It helps even distribution of heat to prevent the overdrying of the hair and being bristle.
There's also the molecular biology which helps get into the molecular structure of the hair, nails and skin to determine the effect of the chemicals in the beauty products before applying them on the body.
If you want to see how a style will look on you when done, this technology has got you. With just a camera, in a few minutes, the client can tell how they'll look like in different colors and styles. The programs have database of makeup tools, hairstyles and options to add to your ideas.
How much cost a haircut in a barbershop ?
A great haircut goes a long way in boosting your confidence. Whether it's in a high-end barbershop or an ordinary joint, many people want to have a good cut. Even if you aim at have a long healthy hair, it will require more than just waiting for it to grow. Regular trimming helps eliminate splitting ends and breakage thus allowing the your hair to grow healthily. The cost range is diverse with most barbershops ranging from $20-50. However, some salon in Midtown Manhattan, Newyork in known to charge between $80 to $200 for a regular man's shave.
Obviously, this leaves you with a question on what makes the price variation? Whereas looking good is the ultimate goal, the process of attaining that is the real deal. Even if you'll definately need barbering, a professional hairstylist ought to offer the best solution based on your head shape, complexion, type of hair among other factors. The stylist will determine if your hair needs a fade or the clippers should cut more.
The price range thus comes about due to the locality, additional services not to mention the clientelle. You do not expect a celebrity to have a haircut at an ordinary local salon. Class and status come with a cost.
Similarly, if the stylist is mobile and bring the services to you, there will be an added cost to the convenience as well as the facilitation fee. While there are luxury mobile barbers who charge up to $200, ordinarily, a gentleman's shave only will go for $54.99 without extra services such as hot towel, shampooing etc. Repeat clients attract a discount. Seniors and children have different rates. Other than luxury and status, the hair type is the single determining factor on the price of a haircut. In addition to that, mobile hair services charges are influenced by the equipment of the stylist. Some stylist have mobile van that practically brings the barbershop to you while others carry with them a few tools and devices to shave your hair.
And how much to tip your barber
How much makes a barber ?
Mobile styling is usually more profitable since you dont have to pay for a booth or a seat or for a % fee to the salon. Even if you have to pay a commission to a marketplace, like DashStylists.com, it will cost you around 10%-20% compared to 40% to 60% on average in a beauty salon. And the expenses you have to face as a mobile hairdresser, mostly gas and car use, are very low so definitely you should see more money at the end of the day.
Financially speaking, another perk of going mobile is you dont' have to go full mobile, you can work in a salon for 5-6 hours a day, when the salon is really busy and work for yourself as a mobile hairstylist taking one or two short appintments to cut hair after your work in the salon.
And it is probably better to think of mobile styling as an additional source of revenue as for now, because the US market is not develpped enough yet. But we are working on it !
What does a typical day look like ?
You may have asked yourself what does a mobile hairstylist do everyday ? Or what is a typical day for a mobile hairdresser. Being a mobile stylist comes with many different benefits. One of those being the flexibility, every day can be different or look pretty much the same, it depends only on yourself. A day in this life can look different depending on that particular day, but most days go a little similar to this.
As a Mobile barber or a mobile hair stylist you are in charge of your schedule, starting each day or week for that matter with a plan/ schedule for all your appointments will help keep you organized and your day/ week going much smoother. Having a planner or physical calendar can be useful for this or there are plenty of applications on your phone which you can use also.
Today is pretty busy day and you have 4 clients , one at 7:30am, two at noon and one more at 4pm. You should have your mobile kit which consists of all the tools, styling products and sanitation items you may need for the day clean ready and organized either the night before or morning of.
7:30AM : The first appointment of the day is at 6am so having your kit prepped the night before will help greatly. You will need to know how far apart these appointments are so you can plan how much travel time you need in between. Since the first appointment is at 7:30am you may not have time for breakfast before hand but the second client isn’t until 12pm so that should give you time to grab something in between. You have your kit ready, and you may want to check the type of services you will be providing, the kit might be slightly different if you have only haircuts scheduled, a straightening or a straight-razor cut. You know the address and the appointment has been confirmed so off you go to start your day. You arrive at your first client location, perform that service to their satisfaction, clean your area and tools throughly before you leave and get ready to prep for the next appointment.
9:30AM : Given you have some free time now you can grab breakfast, coffee or more coffee (lol), if you have any emails or texts messages from clients to respond to now is the time you can do that as well as running any quick errands ex. post office and such. It is almost time for the next appointments so prepare to do it all over again.
12PM : You arrive at the second location, service the two clients , gather your things and get ready for your last client of the day. Because their were two clients instead of one you may not have much time before the next client. We always want to try to provide great customer service and being punctual is part of that so it maybe a good idea to head to your next client if it that means being a little early and waiting in your vehicle until the appointment time.
4PM : When appointment time comes head in the location, perform the service and get ready to head home. You are done for the day, time to go home, have dinner, relax and plan for the upcoming days ahead.
Some days you will have one client others you may have eight. Getting a good routine and remaining focused on delivering great results along with great customer service will make be a mobile stylist both a fun and fulfilling work.
Being an independent Hairstylist or Barber during Covid-19 Times
As we all know we are experiencing some rather challenging and interesting times with a global pandemic going on. Being a mobile hairstylist or barber can be especially tough right now. With so much uncertainty on what will happen next and the government shutting down salons and barbershops being an independent hairstylist can be scary . Although this is a scary time with so much going on in ways being an independent hairstylist during Covid can be beneficial.
When you are a independent stylist you can work in a salon or barbershop or opt to work on your own outside of the salon. Many salons still have not re-opened due to the effects of Covid-19 while others have and have had a decrease in activity leaving numerous stylists without work. Being able to work for yourself outside the salon or barbershop as a mobile stylist is a true benefit at this time. A lot of people are nervous about going to salons, if salons are safe and what sanitation or safety precautions they are taking. None the less clients still need hair services so being mobile you are able to service the client in their home or desired location where a client may feel more comfortable.
Safety should always be a priority but with the Covid-19 outbreak safety has been taken to a different level for independent stylists to insure safety for both the stylist and the client. Many Stylists are requesting clients wear a mask and be serviced outdoors, stylists also wear a mask along with gloves and sometimes additional PPE(personal protective equipment) such as gowns/aprons, shoe and hair covers. Some customers may be apprehensive to the new way things are going but as a independent stylist you can talk with them and explain the safety precautions you are taking and come to a medium where both parties are happy and confident. Besides the protective gear many independent stylists are upping their sanitation protocols and sanitizing more than ever before along with using disposable items and making sure tools are washed and sanitized between each client.