Dave Horton on how to get the advice and support you deserve for your business and career.

If you're a member of a beauty or nail membership organisation, are you taking full advantage of the support available to you?

Working for yourself can sometimes be a lonely career path; yes, you spend your entire working day with clients, catching up over their news and building important relationships. However, it's unlikely that you would burden them with your business worries; that would be unprofessional and inappropriate. You may talk to your friends, partners or family about issues that are concerning you, and whilst their support is important, are they really offering you the best advice?

This is where membership of an industry organisation comes into its own. Membership usually includes insurance protection, although every option will differ. Make sure the insurance policy they provide is ‘claims occurring' or ‘losses occurring', as this covers claims made against you in the future for incidents that took place during your policy period.

Next, compare what else they'll do to support your business and career. If you choose to take out insurance cover from a company that isn't specialist within the beauty or nails sector, their insurance cover may be adequate but it's unlikely they'll go above and beyond to support you throughout the duration of your policy. I would always advise you work with a company that has a strong reputation in the beauty and nails sectors.

Recognised by consumers

Joining a membership organisation that is recognised by consumers will deliver more clients to you. Consumers have never been more savvy when it comes to choosing where to spend their money. Would you book a holiday without checking if the travel agent is a member of an industry association that protects you, such as ABTA, for example?

Remember to highlight on your price lists and website which industry association you are a member of, and link to their website so that clients can check out what this means. Display the window sticker that a good organisation will provide you with on your salon window, or your car's rear windscreen if you're mobile. Also, remember to wear your membership badge on your uniform as a reminder of the level of your skills. Consumers will recognise the brand and be reassured.

Training support

Your membership organisation should be able to support your learning, and understand the importance of Continuing Professional Development (CPD). Look for an organisation that can easily direct you to education providers whose training they have accredited; this means that their courses have been reviewed and recognised to meet the criteria required. When you complete a course with an accredited training provider, you will be covered under the insurance policy that your membership organisation provides.

Bear in mind that some organisations may require you to take out an advanced extension to your insurance policy for advanced treatments, such as Laser. Also, check that the actual course you are taking is accredited, not just the training provider, as a good accreditation body will accredit individual courses, not just provide blanket accreditation for every training provider. Your membership organisation should be able to easily direct you to how you can find this information.

Marketing support

A good membership organisation will provide you with a pack upon joining including branded point of sale marketing materials mentioned previously. The pack will also include treatment qualification certificates which you should make visible to customers. Highlighting that your qualifications are recognised by an industry organisation will demonstrate to your clients that your training is recognised and therefore they are in the best possible hands.

Your membership organisation should also be proactively driving consumers to your business. For example, ABT offer an online search for clients looking for beauty businesses in their area, with all of ABT's fully qualified members listed.

Having your business featured on industry websites, such as BeautyandHairdressing.co.uk, will also help highlight your success story to the rest of the industry and consumers.

Trade magazine subscriptions

Most membership organisations will provide you with a regular magazine or digital publication. Some will offer you a newsletter created for members, whilst others will provide a free of charge subscription to an industry title. For example, ABT members taking out full Beauty Therapy membership will receive a free subscription to Guild News magazine, which is worth up to £37 a year. ABT members joining with Nails, Tanning and Make-up membership will receive a free subscription to Scratch magazine, worth £39.

ABT members also receive free membership of industry news website BeautyandHairdresssing.co.uk with dedicated member-only features. 

Business and career support

In addition to training and marketing, it's important that you get the business support that you deserve. ABT members are now regularly updated on legislation appropriate to the beauty sector, accountancy advice, and health and safety, and legal and employment updates via the BeautyandHairdressing.co.uk website.

Choosing a specialist members' organisation will also provide you with support on the end of the phone or by email at times that suit you. If you have a query about whether a treatment is covered, or you are dealing with a difficult client that has raised a complaint, get in touch with your organisation – it's what we're here for.

So, whether you're setting up a new business or have been established in our industry for several years, industry organisations such as ABT are here to support you. Take advantage of the services available, and join one that goes above and beyond to get true peace of mind.

Dave Horton is Director of Associated Beauty Therapists (ABT), the industry's leading membership and insurance provider representing over 18,000 professionals. For more information telephone 01789 773573, email info@abtinsurance.co.uk or visit www.abtinsurance.co.uk