The Backyard Beauty Business
Pros and Cons of Operating a Home Salon
The Backyarder, The Living-Room Treatments, The Home Salon: The home-based beauty ventures from nail tech and waxing services, through to massage therapy. And look, we don’t mean to burst your salon bubble, but we think home services provide some of the best treatments our industry has to offer. The subject of a backyard beauty business will always be up for debate, so we’ve decided to wade in (feet, hips, shoulders and all). Let’s take a look at the pros and cons of operating a home salon.
1. Pro: Relaxed, Casual and Comfortable Vibe
I don’t know about you, but I love my pyjamas. Like a pink-plaid-heavy-cotton-button-down-set sort of pyjamas. Or an oversized tee. There is no in-between.
While we’re not advocating for wearing pyjamas as your home salon uniform, or as a client (please, please don’t wear your pjs to an appointment), there’s certainly a more relaxed dress code than at big business salons.
With a relaxed atmosphere comes ease of conversation, individual client focus, and a welcoming environment for customers who are new to beauty.
2. Con: Less Exposure to New Innovations
The Beauty Industry is ever changing. In the last few decades, we have had enormous innovation in skincare, nail technology, hair removal tech and many other fields. Working in a beauty salon gives you a front seat to upskilling in new techniques and procedures.
A home salon may struggle to keep up. You might ‘do what you do’ incredibly well, but without a finger on the pulse, it is easy to drop the figurative beauty ball. If you still decide to go ahead with a home salon, consider subscribing to beauty journals or magazines to keep up to date with the newest tech.
3. Pro: Flexibility
Flexible appointment schedules are a huge drawcard for home salons. Not only can you arrange treatments around your busy lifestyle, you can also schedule your entire workday at an earlier or later interval. The best part is that it’s up to you.
Clients also enjoy a higher level of flexibility, since your schedule often won’t be as booked up as in a big salon. You can take your time with your clients, and hold onto certain appointment slots for your regular customers. Greater availability is a wonderful selling point, and often entices a heavy stream of incoming clients.
4. Con: Fewer Staff to Help
Home salons are never meant to grow beyond a certain point. They are built as a one-man, or few-men machine. Business may come to a point where you must decide whether to staunch your growth, or embrace it and move into a more permanent salon residence.
One of the outcomes of a home salon is the low staff ratio. Most of the time, it’ll just be you giving independent and passionate client services. This can be the ideal work scenario, however, remember that it also involves marketing, administration tasks, hygiene and cleaning practices, company research and education. This will all fall under your role, and if you want your business to be successful, each task needs to be completed efficiently.
5. Pro: Specialty Marketing
Home salons, as they are most often sole-traders, offer many niche or specialised services. What is it that you do better than anyone? Or what passions can you add into your beauty therapy?
The BEST way to stand out in the beauty industry is to offer something that no one else has. And, what better way to do that, then from your own backyard salon? The costs you save in startup fees can go towards the education or marketing you need to promote your niche services.
6. Con: Jack of all Trades
As you are the only employee of your home salon (or one of the few), you will need to have an awareness of almost every service in your field. With disciplines like skincare and nail tech, it can be difficult to keep ahead of the trends.
Consider how you can most effectively build your skills to become a Jack of all Trades in your beauty business.
7. Pro: Self-Employment
Everyone agrees that self-employment is a plus, right? Well, at least 80% of us? No matter how many of us would choose it over our normal 9-5, self-employment can be an incredible way to earn money AND call the shots.
As a Beauty Therapist in your own business, it’s your rules. Whether you want to change the culture, rearrange consultations, change cost and payment of appointments, update products, or room décor – it is all your choice.
8. Con: Company Insurance Level
Right, this may sound bleak. But hear me out.
Nobody wants an accident or emergency to befall their salon floor. The thought of it makes all of us (or at least me) a little bit ill, but imagine if that happened in your home!? Without the appropriate level of insurance?
In Home salons, the top level of cover is more a guideline than a rule. However, we would recommend getting it, since it will ensure your liability is covered. And maybe go touch wood. Just in case.
9. Pro: Luxury Décor
I cannot stop myself from entering a pretty salon. The décor, the feeling of peace and bliss. The anticipation of a beauty treatment designed to relax and recharge my energy. In your own home salon, you will oversee all décor and design decisions.
Most countries and states require a sequestered room or building to conduct home beauty services. However, if it is not a regulation, we still recommend it. Putting in a new room or building a bungalow might be a heavier investment than you were planning on, but it is so important to cater to your clients’ needs in a private and secluded environment.
10. Con: Home Life Schedule
Look, we know we just touted the flexibility of at home salons. We know. But the other side of it is the never ending home-life balance. Your kids on holidays, home sick from school, the dog is running about their legs – maybe the whole family is working from home! Your husband in the kitchen making calls, perhaps your oldest daughter is chatting to her best friend on Zoom. Households are chaotic, excitable, enjoyable places.
However, that is the wrong vibe for a salon or spa experience.
If you anticipate that you’ll run into some family chaos down the line, consider having a separate salon entrance to the main house, and ensure adequate soundproofing is run throughout. You might have learned to tune out the family racket, but your clients certainly haven’t!
11. Pro: Minimal Investment (Low start up costs and low overheads)
In comparison to a sparkling new salon on main street, your backyard salon would take a minimal investment of time and money. It would be a fraction of the cost! When you consider infrastructure, rental fees, start up capital, employment rates, salon fit out costs, marketing, product hunting, as well as legal fees, graphic designed logos, letterheads, prints, and signs – the capital needed blows a home salon out of the water.
12. Con: Strangers into your own home
A store front can be an enormous amount of work to set up, but if you are a private person, it may still be your best bet. At home beauty services require you to give out your home address to strangers. People you don’t know from a bar of soap!
Even if you take precautions and keep the home and salon areas separate, there’s always a risk when giving your address to potential clients.
13. Pro: Lower travel costs and time
I love this one. Nothing bothers me more than sitting still on the freeway in peak hour traffic. I loathe it. In home salons, your work is literally on your doorstep. You can avoid the peak traffic conditions, and let your customers come to you.
This also means you can use your commute time either to earn a bit of extra money, or to enjoy a higher quality of life.
14. Con: Slow to Build Income
Right, so you don’t have a shop front. Your business is completely contained in your home, which is a little out of the way. Even with on-street signage, it may take some time before your business builds to start earning a real income. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing. It can give you a bit of space to work out the kinks in your business operations, before becoming overwhelmed with clients.
15. Pro: Self-starting
Have you ever seen job descriptions that advertise the need for a ‘self-starter’? Basically, someone who will ‘get up and do’ without being told to? This is what you need to do for your own business. Not sure what the legal requirements are? Gotta do your research. Need a new beauty bed? Online shopping, my friend. Administrative tasks, cleaning, and marketing? If you are capable, do them! If it is outside your comfort zone, employ someone to do them for you.
16. Con: Self-starting
If you’ve found that you’re chronic for procrastinating, despite how desperately you want to complete your tasks (Like…every single one of my highschool essays ever), this might not be the path for you. Running a home business takes a particular sort of willpower and determination. It is easy to let business flag if you find it difficult to motivate yourself to work from home.
17. Pro: Filling a niche
Home salons present a happy medium. The comfort of home with the luxury of a salon treatment. However, they also give a certain sense of privacy to those who find a traditional salon environment confronting. Clients that are new to the beauty sphere, and perhaps fear judgement or even just outside curiosity.
A home salon is the perfect set up to cater to these customers. Remember! Incorporate this into your marketing.
18. Con: Working on your own Terms
Beauty therapy is a beautiful profession. Spending your days in the pursuit of helping others feel confident is an admirable endeavour. But, there are many beauty therapists who have felt the traditional salon environment works against them. There is often a culture of pushing clients out the door as quickly as possible, in order to keep to a tight schedule of appointments.
While this might be necessary for the salon to earn their money back, it can also affect staff. Some report that they don’t have the time to take a break, or run to the bathroom!
A Backyarder means you are working on your own terms. Your timeline, your schedule, your choice of clients.
19. Pro: Administrative Tasks are yours
Okay, I know this might not seem like a pro, but I promise it has it’s qualities. Most of the time, a beauty therapist is not employed to make decisions in a salon. But in your own business, you have the freedom to pick and choose your clients, services, schedule, appointment lengths, decor, pricing, POS systems, products, linen, outgoing costs, uniforms, and every other little thing. You are in charge.
20. Con: Administrative Tasks are yours
All the admin tasks are yours. All of them. Every single decision is up to you. Owning your own business can open to your eyes to just how much of a job administration is. It requires a lot more work than just treating clients, including phone and in-person client liaising, marketing, branding, company policies, company literature, client records, pricing and cost research, product sourcing etc. It is a mammoth responsibility, and if admin is not your strong suit, it might be worthwhile outsourcing the role while you’re starting up.
Bonus: Better quality of life
And lastly, because we always like to end on a positive note, having a home salon can vastly improve your quality of life. From getting more sleep in the morning, to utilising the hours you would otherwise spend in commute to make some more cash. And, in between clients (read as: when you’ve received a last minute cancellation), you are able to relax in your home, rather than wait in a salon-cupboard for your next appointment.
Without the time on the road, waiting between appointments, cost of transit, or time away from your family, you just might create a work/life balance that actually…works!
A Backyarder is often said with a sneer, and in our (humble) opinion, it’s misplaced. Home Salons can be incredibly lucrative, as they provide targeted, low-fuss options to clients who prefer it. Plus, the quality of work could even be better than in a big beauty salon, since you are working to a more relaxed schedule.
Both options have their pros and cons, and it truly depends on your specific needs, goals, and strengths. Most importantly, home salons CAN work, if you put in the work!