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How to Charge for Mobile Visits

by Holly Schippers | December 18, 2018
Some clients are with you for years, and you still want to take care of them when they can no longer make it into the salon.

Some clients are with you for years, and you still want to take care of them when they can no longer make it into the salon.

Sometimes as a salon-based professional you will receive a request to do a home visit for a client or for someone who is a relative or contact of one of your clients. Then there are the chances to continue to care for a regular client if she has to go into assisted living or a nursing home. This always brings up several questions. Let’s take a look at things together and formulate a game plan that makes sense so you at least have some background when someone asks.

The first thing you need to know is if it is legal in your state/district/country to offer mobile services. Some places allow it fully and nail professionals have made full-time businesses out of being mobile. Other places are OK with mobile services only if the recipient is homebound for medical reasons. Then you have those that don’t permit any type of compensated mobile service at all. Knowing the law is really important, as you would not want to lose your license or the ability to practice over a technicality resulting from a kind heart.

Once you know what the parameters for mobile services are where you live, the next issue is what to charge. This is where a lot of nail professionals feel guilty charging appropriately for their time. You have to understand that people budget in the things they want. Think about yourself; have you bought something in the last six months you really didn’t need and weren’t really flush enough to afford yet wanted it enough to finagle your finances to make it work? Your job is not to presume someone’s budget, it is to provide a service and be compensated for all of your time.

There are a couple of ways you can go about establishing your prices. One is to use your normal service menu and have a travel fee that is a sliding scale based on either time or miles. If you are in a rural area, your fee per mile and per minute would probably be similar. In a larger city, where you’d expect a higher rate per mile, you might want to charge by the quarter hour. Breaking it down into 15 minute segments makes it easy to calculate. Then it is up to you if you want to round up or down for the final travel price. This way your service fees are set and only the travel pricing itself will fluctuate.

Another pricing option is a straight hourly charge.  You’d figure out the average you make per hour in the salon and charge that from when you pack up to leave the salon to when you return and get things put back away. You would need to track the time on the way to the location, so you could use it for the round-trip calculation in order to collect payment on site. This assumes that travel time will not have a huge discrepancy going back and forth. It also gives you the freedom to do whatever service you like and give the client an estimate of cost based on time. Ideally, using either method should pretty much yield the same results.

The key to enjoying a mobile service is not to lose money doing it. If you only charge for the service itself and not the pack up or salon reset, you could begin to resent the mobile services. Being able to continue to care for an elderly client or a client who is homebound for a bit from surgery, cancer, or any multitude of things is a blessing and something you may find you enjoy. Getting out of your salon station bubble can be pretty cool if you make sure to set up a compensation that is sustainable.

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