Safety for running a business from home

Maria1705

New Member
#1
Hi

I am due to start working from home very shortly and just considering the safety side.

I live by myself so will keep front door locked etc but how do you try to safeguard your safety with new clients? Also the money side, at the moment I'm thinking of cash payments but I'm concerned over the safety aspect as currently it seems some people will rob you for next to nothing, and some may think there is lots of cash in the house...I wish lol. I may be overthinking things but any advice would be much appreciated

Thanks
 

Haircutz

Super Moderator
Staff member
#2
Working from home isn’t necessarily any more dangerous than working alone in a high street shop. So no, you’re not overthinking it at all. It’s always better to be wise before the event than afterwards.

Here’s some guidance from the Suzy Lamplugh Trust.
https://www.suzylamplugh.org/pages/faqs/category/personal-safety

Working from home
  • Try not to advertise that you work from home to prospective clients.
  • Consider setting up a buddy system with someone so they know your plans for the day.
  • Think about asking your ‘buddy’ to call you 10 minutes into any meeting with a new client to check that you are ok and feel comfortable with them. Have a predetermined code word ready in case you want to summon help.
  • If clients have to come to your house, use rooms that are as professional looking as possible.
  • Give some thought before you arrive as to what exit strategies you could use if you felt uncomfortable or threatened.
  • Conduct your own risk assessment on the door step before you enter. If you feel at all uncomfortable or unsure, make an excuse and leave. Trust your instincts.
  • Be mindful of the fact that you are entering someone else’s territory. Your presence there may be unwanted and/or pose a threat.
  • As you enter, make a note of how the door opens and closes so that you can leave quickly, if necessary.
  • Give the client an idea of how long the meeting will take and try to adhere to this.
The Health & Safety at Work Act 1974 requires employers, including unpaid volunteers or self-employed, “to prepare… a written statement of his general policy with respect to the health and safety at work of his employees”. They must also put in place “systems of work that are, so far as is reasonably practicable, safe and without risks to health”.

You also need to be able to make quick risk assessments yourself, which can help you decide how safe a situation is and what action you should take to avoid danger.
 

RosieR

Active Member
#3
Excellent advice from Haircutz,
It is daunting especially for a new starter ,balancing the need for a quick start to your career with the safety of new clients that are strangers to you. Working from home is a very different scenario to the safety that a salon with other co workers can provide as I have found.
On a practical note here are a few pointers that you may find useful.

My personal effects are well out of the way , you could have a locked bedroom or other room. Keep other doors closed and have waiting area in your hallway. Not in your lounge for instance.
Consider having a safe, and the payments you recieve choose cheques or bank transfer to ensure less cash in your house. Just tell them , "oh , I prefer cheque or banktransfer as it's much better to have no cash in the house" Then they know you will not have much there to steal.
Bank daily through your post office if it is handy.
If you will be on your own the first appointment with someone new can you arrange a friend or partner to be with you for the first session? Just floating around in the background so to speak.
Consider cctv or dummy one outside your front door if you have to.
If you can try not to encourage new clients sourced from public leafleting and be a bit more focused on contacts through friends, ladies groups (WI) and your local school and maybe church coffee morning clients, for instance. Maybe you will have a slightly slower start but you will feel safer through personal recommendation.
I have never ,ever advertised as I don't wish to have anyone that I dont't feel safe with or can trust.
I don't treat men either, (sorry to be sexist but that's my rule)
Hope you gain some insight to help you in the coming weeks and keep us posted on your start up.
Any further help just ask away
Best of luck
RosieR
 

Maria1705

New Member
#4
Thank you both so much for your advice, really useful & appreciated
 

#5
Hi, I work from home too, my treatment room is right by the front door so as soon as a client comes in they go straight through. Most of my clients book via Facebook, I am trying to get into a habit of when I message to re-confirm appointments (to hopefully prevent no shows) to also say I accept cash & Paypal with Paypal being the preferred method of payment to give the impression I don't have much cash on the premises.

Male clients are by referral only. They tend to be partners. I've had to turn down quite a few male clients (I specialise in massage) but I have to put my safety first. Majority of my clients are referred by an existing client. If I have a completely new female client I will arrange to text my husband.

I've not been in a situation where I have felt uneasy with a new female client. If I did I think I might say something like, 'I would just like to mention that my husband is working from home in the office next door, I don't expect there to be any noise to disturb your treatment. But just in case there is I just thought I would mention and apologise in advance'.

I've just read the comments above and I think fitting CCTV is a really good idea, I think I will look into this.
 

Maria1705

New Member
#6
Hi, I work from home too, my treatment room is right by the front door so as soon as a client comes in they go straight through. Most of my clients book via Facebook, I am trying to get into a habit of when I message to re-confirm appointments (to hopefully prevent no shows) to also say I accept cash & Paypal with Paypal being the preferred method of payment to give the impression I don't have much cash on the premises.

Male clients are by referral only. They tend to be partners. I've had to turn down quite a few male clients (I specialise in massage) but I have to put my safety first. Majority of my clients are referred by an existing client. If I have a completely new female client I will arrange to text my husband.

I've not been in a situation where I have felt uneasy with a new female client. If I did I think I might say something like, 'I would just like to mention that my husband is working from home in the office next door, I don't expect there to be any noise to disturb your treatment. But just in case there is I just thought I would mention and apologise in advance'.

I've just read the comments above and I think fitting CCTV is a really good idea, I think I will look into this.
Ml
Thank you for your reply, I think I may set up a PayPal facility, do you have a card reader and how hay you found it?

I'm not going to offer the service to men unless known, sad really but have to protect ourselves.

Like the idea of mentioning husband/partner in another room

It's terrible we have to think so in depth just about being safe but sign of times unfortunately
 

#7
I agree with all the pointers above, and sensible not to accept bookings from unknown men. I'd also make a point of saying to new clients that there is no facility for other people to be there during appointments.... not in your treatment room, and that there's no 'waiting area'. The only time I have ever felt threatened or uncomfortable was when a new client turned up with 2 other women in tow. I had no choice but to leave them in my lounge. I left my treatment room door open, to keep an eye on them (even though my client asked me to close it !) but they made me very nervous (and is obviously an insurance issue). There was definitely some hidden agenda going on. Luckily I never found out and now I have a "client only" policy which is well advertised. No spectators & no entourage !! If someone turns up with people in tow I say straight off "Sorry, you'll have to come back for her in X time" Also I think you get a feel for people at the time of booking. Go with your gut !!! Do not compromise your safety for a pay cheque.
 

TheDuchess

Well-Known Member
#8
My daughter has a home salon which luckily for her she can lock off from the rest of the house. Her partner works nights, so she mentions that he's in the house and is a light sleeper.

Taking cash leaves you exposed to suspicions of tax fiddling - plus it's a worry as it makes you a target for crime. Online bank transfers work well if you have a banking app on your phone. Check what fees your bank will charge for this service - don't assume it's free.

We have an izzettle which also works very well. It's a mobile card reader which connects via an app through your phone. You need a pin though and lots of people are used to contactless payments nowadays and say they can't remember their pin. Offering both bank transfer and cardmachine options is a good combination.

Remember that the taxman will be looking to catch you out if you declare lower earnings than they think is correct. They can phone up as a client to assess your booking availability, sit outside your house to count the people arriving and leaving and slap you with an "we think you earn X, it's up to you to prove you don't" assessment.

Make make sure that you give numbered receipts for cash from a duplicate cash receipt book. It will help with your bookkeeping records and management accounts (what's your top selling treatment/combos, who are your 10 best clients). If you also look vague and hunt for your receipt book, whilst muttering, "got to keep the tax man happy" that will also help give the impression that you don't take cash every time.

Keep your pricing simple to make giving change easy. Try having everything priced in £'s and 50p units. Don't do 10% discounts as that makes change awkward. Have a very small change float. Just £10 in change, 2 X £5 and 1 X £10, Dont accept £50, say you can't give change. Always reCount the client's cash in front of them and don't put it away, keep it visibly seperate whilst you hand over the change. It's too easy to get into " I gave you a £20" debates. Put the client money into your pocket and then put it into a locked room later on. (My tunic has nice deep pockets).

Good luck
 

Maria1705

New Member
#9
My daughter has a home salon which luckily for her she can lock off from the rest of the house. Her partner works nights, so she mentions that he's in the house and is a light sleeper.

Taking cash leaves you exposed to suspicions of tax fiddling - plus it's a worry as it makes you a target for crime. Online bank transfers work well if you have a banking app on your phone. Check what fees your bank will charge for this service - don't assume it's free.

We have an izzettle which also works very well. It's a mobile card reader which connects via an app through your phone. You need a pin though and lots of people are used to contactless payments nowadays and say they can't remember their pin. Offering both bank transfer and cardmachine options is a good combination.

Remember that the taxman will be looking to catch you out if you declare lower earnings than they think is correct. They can phone up as a client to assess your booking availability, sit outside your house to count the people arriving and leaving and slap you with an "we think you earn X, it's up to you to prove you don't" assessment.

Make make sure that you give numbered receipts for cash from a duplicate cash receipt book. It will help with your bookkeeping records and management accounts (what's your top selling treatment/combos, who are your 10 best clients). If you also look vague and hunt for your receipt book, whilst muttering, "got to keep the tax man happy" that will also help give the impression that you don't take cash every time.

Keep your pricing simple to make giving change easy. Try having everything priced in £'s and 50p units. Don't do 10% discounts as that makes change awkward. Have a very small change float. Just £10 in change, 2 X £5 and 1 X £10, Dont accept £50, say you can't give change. Always reCount the client's cash in front of them and don't put it away, keep it visibly seperate whilst you hand over the change. It's too easy to get into " I gave you a £20" debates. Put the client money into your pocket and then put it into a locked room later on. (My tunic has nice deep pockets).

Good luck
Thank you for the excellent advice. Much appreciated
 

Maria1705

New Member
#10
I agree with all the pointers above, and sensible not to accept bookings from unknown men. I'd also make a point of saying to new clients that there is no facility for other people to be there during appointments.... not in your treatment room, and that there's no 'waiting area'. The only time I have ever felt threatened or uncomfortable was when a new client turned up with 2 other women in tow. I had no choice but to leave them in my lounge. I left my treatment room door open, to keep an eye on them (even though my client asked me to close it !) but they made me very nervous (and is obviously an insurance issue). There was definitely some hidden agenda going on. Luckily I never found out and now I have a "client only" policy which is well advertised. No spectators & no entourage !! If someone turns up with people in tow I say straight off "Sorry, you'll have to come back for her in X time" Also I think you get a feel for people at the time of booking. Go with your gut !!! Do not compromise your safety for a pay cheque.
Thank you really appreciated. Lots to think about.
 

hazelb

Active Member
#11
I’ve always worked a as a lone therapist from home. ( over 20 years ). Things have changed with time and if have changed the way I work over time.

My treatment room is in my house and I don’t offer a waiting area at all. I used to offer a chair and magazines in the hall way, but got uncomfortable with people walking about, using the toilet.. moving around in the house when I was unable to see what they were doing. On my house insurance it now states that I escort visitors in my house... so I can’t do that anyway.

I do treat male clients... but not for massage. I used to, mainly because I did deep deep tissue / sports / remedial massage. I don’t do those styles of massage now anyway as it’s too tough on my hands. In more recent years I had a couple of requests for massage I wasn’t feeling comfortable with and as it was such a small part of my business it was a simple choice.

Times have changed with money. Most payments I take are chip and pin or contactless. I use a sum up card reader and I was able to get in on a good 1.65 % deal on charges. I just accept that this is a cost of doing business so its part of my business model and my prices reflect my costs. Money goes straight into my business account, much more efficiently than when I had to bank cheques. It means I have to handle much less cash and do fewer trips to the bank.. but I do have a safe if I need to use it.

I think that answers most of your points :)
 

#12
I’ve always worked a as a lone therapist from home. ( over 20 years ). Things have changed with time and if have changed the way I work over time.

My treatment room is in my house and I don’t offer a waiting area at all. I used to offer a chair and magazines in the hall way, but got uncomfortable with people walking about, using the toilet.. moving around in the house when I was unable to see what they were doing. On my house insurance it now states that I escort visitors in my house... so I can’t do that anyway.

I do treat male clients... but not for massage. I used to, mainly because I did deep deep tissue / sports / remedial massage. I don’t do those styles of massage now anyway as it’s too tough on my hands. In more recent years I had a couple of requests for massage I wasn’t feeling comfortable with and as it was such a small part of my business it was a simple choice.

Times have changed with money. Most payments I take are chip and pin or contactless. I use a sum up card reader and I was able to get in on a good 1.65 % deal on charges. I just accept that this is a cost of doing business so its part of my business model and my prices reflect my costs. Money goes straight into my business account, much more efficiently than when I had to bank cheques. It means I have to handle much less cash and do fewer trips to the bank.. but I do have a safe if I need to use it.

I think that answers most of your points :)
Thank you for your response, much appreciated & useful

Have a lovely Easter
 
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