I started my career in hairdressing as many people do as a junior in a Salon, working my way up, attending college and practising at as many opportunities as I could. I learnt from many different stylists, emulating elements of each stylist that suited the way I worked so that i could become the best hair stylist that I could be. The learning journey as a hair stylist is never over
and is even more so when trying to set up as a successful and independent mobile hairdresser.
My journey into mobile hairdressing was one of circumstance, brought on to me when I met my husband. My husband is a serving Royal Air Force member, at that time he was based in London but shortly after was posted to America. In 2013 I joined him overseas permanently and this was my first taste of independence as a mobile hairdresser. It's safe to say that this was period of difficulty when trying to set up a business, thankfully my husband supported me which provided me enough time to learn what did and didn't work when attracting customers from basically nothing. Since then I have moved from base to base setting up from scratch each time and finally settling in our own home in Sleaford, Lincs.
Attracting new customers from scratch
Travelling around so much presented me with a huge problem - every time I moved, my client base would drop to nearly zero. How would I attract new potential clients?
It goes without saying that a strong Facebook page for Hair by Shelley was the one thing that provided continuity throughout the period that I was moving around. This was especially important initially as the majority of my customers were in the military community (they also moved around and I would bump into clients occasionally), but building trust amongst clients was important and quite a challenge.
Join community groups as soon as possible - it's not absolutely imperative that you engage in them straight away, or that you even bombard them with links to your FB page. It can be useful to gauge what content people/competitors post in there before you start posting.
Ask family and friends to let you do their hair so that they can provide you with legitimate recommendations on your Facebook page. Also ask your Facebook friends to like and share your page as it will give you a huge initial boost. I always found it a bit awkward asking people to share my page but every time someone did, it would invariably lead to an enquiry and potentially a new customer.
Build your social media profile - work on building your profile as professionally as you can, posting often but not bombarding your customers. Ensure that your posts are accurate and look the part. I have always used photos of my work, taking before and after pictures mixed in with the odd social media update, maybe a meme here and there. Be proud of your work and stand by it, some people will like the way you do hair and some wont - that's just the way it is so don't get upset or offended if you're not getting likes or shares.
Build your business profile - A good quality Google business is a must, you can't just rely on Facebook to drive customers to you - build a google business that rivals your Facebook page making sure that you post updates/pictures on there just as often. The last two steps should see an increase in visibility of your business and start to drive some customers your way. If you're travelling around like I did as part of a military family, then found that FB and Google were enough for me to establish a presence in a new area and start to slowly build up a client base. You MUST however ensure that you change details on there every time your move or if there is an update to your business.
Website - Since I set up www.hairbyshelley.co.uk I have seen a steady increase in customers, good quality long term repeat customers. It amazes me that very few mobile hairdressers have taken the time to set up a website (especially in my area). It provides an extremely professional feel and reassures your customers that they are dealing with a professional. I built my website using Wix, they have a good selection of templates and it's fairly simple to build your website the way you want it.
I suppose looking back these steps seem fairly obvious - essentially increasing visibility of your business so that customers can find you. You do need to be accurate and responsive to customer questions and messages, basic good customer service.
Pricing - When I first started out I offered a 20% off for new customers deal as well as a 10% off for a referral in the hope that it would drive repeat customers to me; it worked to a degree, but i have found that most of my customers are just looking for a high quality hair stylist offering reasonable prices. My pricing is extremely competitive, offering big savings on Salon pricing and very competitive with other Mobile Hairdressers in my area. Many of my customers have questioned my prices and are willing to pay more, however when building a successful and strong client base, competitive pricing, that also means you can survive comfortably, is in my opinion the best option.
Okay, so there you have it - the first instalment of my first ever blog. Next time i'll be covering the pro's and con's of being a mobile hairdresser, as well as other challenges that I've faced over the years. Anyway, good luck in your venture and if you have any questions leave them in the comments and i'll get back to you as soon as I can.