Highs and lows of being a mobile nail tech. 

I spent the longest year of my life being a mobile nail tech. It was one of the most rewarding and challenging experiences in my career.  I learned a lot through trial and error and if I were to do it all again, which I probably never will, I would have a much better idea of the do’s and don’ts. So here you are, about to embark on your mobile tech journey and now youre going to have a head start because I have already made alot of mistakes for you. Lucky!

Lets start on a positive note, because being a mobile tech really did put me in a very good position when I moved to a new country. Not alot of people offer mobile services, so already I had an advantage and reached clients who salon owners would never see, for various reasons.   I used a lot of the techniques I mentioned in my previous post 40 ways to get clients through the door and keep them to get the word out. Once word got out that there was a mobile tech in town, the ol’ appointment book was filling up and I soon started turning people away, because there just wasn’t enough time in the day.

Now, the kind of people who require mobile nail services, require them for a reason. They vary from, old age, having kids in tow, disabilities,  or just difficult availability due to their jobs or other commitments. Each of these variations will bring you, the tech, a different challenge.

You need to decide what you are willing to accommodate before you start off. Start as you mean to go on because surprise challenges will cause you a lot of frustration and headaches.

Here are some of the challenges I faced, and how I dealt with them.

Extra special clients
Be prepared to have clients who depend on you for social interaction. Some elderly people rarely get out, so when you come over every two weeks to do their nails it’s like all their Christmases came at once. I have had clients who talked so much, and took such an interest in my life that I suspected they didn’t even really want their nails done, they were just glad for the company. So I set aside a little extra time for these ones to make sure their appointment wasn’t rushed and they felt fulfilled mentally after their treatment. For me, this just meant scheduling them in at the end of my working day so that I wouldn’t be rushing away to my next client.

Children. 😣

Don’t get me wrong. I love kids, I’ve even managed to keep my own alive for 5 years now. But when you are focusing on creating a perfect set of nails, children can be a challenge. Alot of people who want to use mobile services, want to do so because they don’t want to take their kids to a salon. I totally get it. So you need to decide what your willing to put up with and make the client very aware of your expectations. If you are going to someone’s house who has children, I suggest doing an evening appointment so the little darlings are tucked up in their beds. If you can’t do evenings, you can let your client know that you require them to have an additional adult present to care for the children as the treatment will not stop to accommodate their needs. Have this as a long standing hard rule, because you don’t want kids going through your kit, climbing up and down on mummies lap and hanging about the table while you have open chemicals just asking to be spilled.

I didn’t have a rule about children, and of course, some kids are really genuinely well behaved during a treatment. But more often than not, they made my job more difficult than it needed to be.  So if I had to do it all again. I would enforce the above mentioned rules.

Disabilities

Some clients want mobile services, because they have disabilities and cannot physically get to a salon. They might have a back condition that means they can’t sit for long periods of time, or maybe they need to sit in a special comfortable chair. They might have breathing problems and the fumes in a salon make it difficult to breathe. I suggest sending over a mini consultation questionnaire when they book an appointment so you can ask further questions and prepare yourself for what the appointment will require. If you do take on a client with special requirements, try not to put yourself in a difficult situation where you’re sitting cock-eyed for the entire treatment,  or having all the windows open in the winter  which will affect your curing times on acrylic products. Allow extra time so you aren’t stressed if they/you need to take a break.

Availability

One of the most popular appointment slots for me was 7pm. I know, it’s late, and  noone really wants to be doing nails at  that time of day but I wasn’t about to turn away customers so I was available right up to 10pm 3 nights a week.  I understand that people work, and may find it difficult to make time for their nails between 9 and 5. On the day I had evening appointments, I ONLY did evening appointments. This way, I had time during the day to sort my personal life, or work on administration for the business. Or just be lazy 😉 because of this I was able to accommodate everyone else’s availability without sacrificing my sanity.

Pets, dirty houses and space for your equipment 

Some people have pets. I have endured 3 hour appointments in which the clients dog barked non stop. This is something that is a personal pet peeve of mine and in future when  (if) I do mobile appointments I will not tolerate it.  I suggest asking wether the client has pets, and if so let them know that you require the animals to be locked away QUIETLY during the treatment. Cats tend to jump up on clients during treatments as well so the same rule applies.

Most people’s houses are fairly tidy. But you will occasionally get a client who hasn’t dusted or picked up a hoover in weeks. This is challenging because dust, and animal hair will be attracted to the fresh set of nails and you’ll spend more time trying to rectify them than you spent applying them. If you encounter this problem, I suggest polieltely asking that your client prepare an area for your next visit by getting rid of as much dust and animal hair as possible so as to not prolong the time it takes for the treatment. This will be quite effective if said whilst redoing a nail due to foreign contaminants.  If they do not accommodate in future, charge them for your extra time and any extra products like buffing a hair out and reapplying Polish.

Now, some people’s houses are like they’re straight off an episode of hoarders. The most important part of being mobile is to not put yourself in any situation where you feel like your own safety is at risk. If you get to a clients house and you can’t get through the front door without climbing over heaps of random stuff, turn around and leave. Polieltely explain that you don’t work under these conditions on your way out the door. (or off the porch in some cases)

Sometimes, when you arrive to a clients house, you will find that they don’t have a table or chairs. Believe me, this is very common.  I’ve been in a situation where I had to sit for 3 hours on a sofa, with a pillow between me and the client to do the treatment. Only once have I had to do this because I swiftly purchased a folding table and 2 folding chairs. Trust me, you do not want to be in this situation. Make sure to buy these items before you begin advertising.  It’s also important to have your own table because you don’t want to damage the clients. I have damaged a very expensive oak 8 seater dining table with acetone and I felt awful. Luckily for me, I didn’t have to claim it on my insurance, but you might not be so lucky. When people book in,  make sure you tell them you require a clean space to place your table and equipment.  A space of 5 foot squared is ample room to work. And most people have this readily available.

Parking and access.

Find out from your clients if there is somewhere for you to park your car outside their house. Always have a look on Google maps to confirm and get a rough Idea of where you are going. If you’re visiting a property for the first time and the appointment is at night, in the dark; do a drive by during the day so you can find it easier. I’ve spent 45 minutes in the dark up country roads trying to find a clients house. That was a lesson learned for me.  It’s also worth finding out how many flights of stairs you’ll need to carry your stuff up, and decide if you are willing to do that.

Repairs

Sometimes you will get a client who needs a repair. I offered free repairs within 72 hours of the treatment.  It sucks having to go to the clients house and set up just to fix one nail, for free.  But I think it’s just part of the joys of being mobile. If it was past the 72 hours, I charged 5 pounds for the call out fee and 2 pounds per nail repair.

Lighting.

If you don’t have space, or aren’t prepaired to purchase a light.  Find out from your clients if the area in whigh you will be working is well lit. You can’t create nails with poor lighting. Not good ones anyways.

Electricity.

I used a multi extension lead at EVERY SINGLE mobile appointment. You will need one of these, ask the clients to confirm there is a free plug socket for you to use.

Organisation and cleanliness.

It’s a lot harder to prepare for appointments when you are mobile. You can’t possibly bring all of your kit without hiring a donkey to carry it. Get clients to send you a picture or a brief description of the nails they want and pack your bag accordingly.  Keep everything organised so it’s easily accessible or else you will be wasting time rummaging through your bag to find things.

Everything needs to be sanitised/sterilised between clients. You can carry enough new files and clean tools to do all of your appointments that day, or you can keep a jar of barbicide in your kit. Clean your tools after each treatment with soapy water and place them to soak while your EN route to your next client. You can also use filecide or something similar to sanitise your files/tools between clients.

So, that’s about it I guess. You will learn a lot as you go along. Each client will teach you something or make you grateful of something I have put in this post. Being mobile is a challenge, so don’t undercharge and don’t be pushed around.

A smart person once said

“Fail to prepare, prepare to fail”

I’ll leave you with that. 🙂
Subscribe to my YouTube channel  for more nail tech tricks of the trade!

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