In order to run professional makeup artist or hair stylist business, its important to have your business set up for success, and a part of this is to have policies in place around getting paid. Particularly if you are working with personal clients such as brides, formals/proms/grads/debs or other “special event” makeup clients, having such policies lets your clients know you are a legitimate, serious business.
As a freelancer, you only get paid for the time you actually work; if you don’t have a client in your chair, you are not earning money. It’s important to have a good cancellation policy, so if (when) a client cancels you have some way to re-coup some of your potential lost earnings.
In order to have a cancellation policy, you firstly need to have a deposit policy. I’ve been reading a lot of different ideas around this lately, in the various makeup artist groups. Whatever YOU decide is right for your business is the deposit policy you should work with. Some artists like to make it a $dollar amount; others like to work with a percentage. Its up to you, just keep it consistent for your own sake, so you don’t have to remember too much. These policies will form part of your contract with the client.
The good thing about deposits is that you know the client is serious and committed to their booking. That’s not to say you won’t get a last minute no-show or cancellation, but they are a lot less likely if your client has already paid a deposit. However you choose to receive your deposit (bank transfer, credit card, cheque or check – if anyone still uses those?), once the money is in your bank account you should send your client a receipt and/or confirmation of their booking along with your completed Contract or Terms & Conditions (Contracts and T&Cs will be covered in a future post!)
The general consensus amongst artists I’ve spoken to is that they take a deposit to secure the booking, and then for brides, the balance is due 7-14 days prior to the wedding, but other personal clients pay their balance on the day. This is generally what I do also. Sometimes my personal clients (non-bridal) choose to pay their entire amount up front, especially if they have been referred to me by a friend of theirs, who I have worked with before. Again, if you are collecting payment on the day of the service, be up front and clear with your client about HOW they can pay that balance – does it need to be cash? Do you accept cards? Can they do a bank transfer in your presence?
Remember that even if you are being paid cash, you are legally required to declare that money as income to the relevant Tax Department, so you should ensure that you account for this money properly with a receipt or at least within your accounts. Income is income, and needs to be declared (and taxes paid on it – so remember to account for this when working out your rates).
Similarly, people have different ideas around their cancellation policy. If a client cancels a certain time period before the date, they may refund the deposit, but within a certain time, no refunds are allowed. Again, this is up to YOU, the important thing is to communicate this policy to your client, either through your contract or your T&Cs.
Earlier this week I did a facebook live video on the other cancellation policy you need to have, and that is your policy when YOU cancel on the client. This issue has been on my mind a lot lately, as it is apparent there are some artists working in my city who seem to have NO policy around cancelling, and this concerns me and I know a lot of other artists too.
Last Saturday I received a text from a desperate client at 430 am!! (thankfully my phone was on silent so it didn’t wake me up!) Her MUA had just cancelled and she was frantically trying to find a replacement.
And this isn’t an isolated case. All too often (like every weekend!) I am seeing posts on Facebook where people are trying to find a last minute makeup artist. Usually it’s a kind hearted MUA trying to help out a desperate client. It should not be up to the client or another MUA to find a replacement. It is the responsibility of the CANCELLING ARTIST to replace themselves.
If you need to cancel (and you should only do so if you have a really good reason), then it is YOUR RESPONSIBILITY to replace yourself. I’m not saying you can never cancel, there will be a time in every artist’s career that they will need to cancel. I have had to cancel twice in my 16 years. The first time was many years ago, the second time was just last year when I was completely bed-ridden with Influenza A virus, but I found someone to take over the job, and was able to call the client (it was actually a brand new commercial client) and let them know I couldn’t come, but I had found another similarly experienced artist who would be taking my place.
It’s not about never cancelling, its about replacing yourself. Don’t call your client (or worse, send them a text message) saying “sorry I’m no longer available”, don’t tell them the problem, tell them the SOLUTION.
Putting a post on Facebook and forgetting about it just isn’t good enough! Seriously, if you need to cancel, you should not rest until YOU have found a replacement for yourself.
Now I know that there are times when it is not physically possible to find a replacement, if you’re in a coma after being hit by a bus, or had a sudden death in the family, but usually that isn’t the case, and I’m not referring to those RARE situations, I’m talking about when your car has broken down or you or your kid (or cat) is sick.
Last week I wrote about the importance of networking with other makeup artists, and THIS is one of the times when that network will be invaluable to you. If you have a legitimate reason to cancel, you can call on your MUA friends, find a replacement, and THEN call your client and let them know. Like I said in that post, I receive more work from other makeup artists than from any other source, and sometimes it will be an artist calling me because they can’t get to a job. I know when I work with a client who has been referred like this by a friend, I make sure to take extra good care of them AND send a thank you message to the artist for referring me.
If everyone was doing this, we wouldn’t be reading the same desperate last minute messages every Saturday morning (I swear there were THREE this last Saturday in my city alone), and more importantly, our clients (and potential clients) wouldn’t be thinking that makeup artists are a bunch of flakes.
Lets all work together to RAISE the level of the industry! Remember: The rising tide lifts all ships
** NB: Deposits and Cancellations are usually only applicable for personal clients… commercial clients don’t pay deposits, and cancellations are just part of the industry if you are doing commercial work… HOWEVER, the ideas around YOU cancelling remain the same. Always replace yourself!!
If you agree with this post, I’d love to read your comments below. If you think there are other artists who need to hear this message, please feel free to share it around to your network, or in the MUA groups you are in.