How to Build Your Own Mobile Grooming Van

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If you want to spend your entire day around adorable, fuzzy pets, becoming a mobile groomer might just be your dream career. These types of groomers travel from customer to customer, which makes them a great option for people whose pets are anxious about traveling by car or nervous and aggressive around other animals. It’s also a great option for the elderly, the disabled and people who have greater difficulty driving their pets to grooming appointments.

Of course, launching a mobile pet grooming business does have some start-up costs, but they’re significantly lower than jumping into a business with a physical location. There’s no rent or mortgage, but a mobile grooming van can cost between $10,000 and $100,000. You can save some cash by building your own mobile grooming trailer and hitching it to your car for appointments or building your own mobile grooming van out of an existing cargo van.

How Do Mobile Grooming Vans Work?

The biggest question before you start your van build is: How do mobile grooming vans work? It’s actually pretty simple. Your van is your mobile pet salon. It has everything you’d need to complete your job, including power for the blow dryers, a table for haircuts and a wash station.

Yes, this means you’ll have to install a water pump or get a little creative with a garden hose (although the former, not the latter, is recommended since you don’t want to rely on a customer’s utilities).

Should I Go For a Van or Trailer?

When it comes to grooming trailers, how do you know which one to choose? A grooming trailer is pretty similar to a grooming van, but it does offer a little more space. You'll need a car capable of towing, though, or you’ll wreck your transmission. Trailers might be a cheaper option if your car can already tow. In this case, you’ll just need to install a towing package on your vehicle.

Clean Out Your Work Space

The first step in building a mobile grooming trailer or van is to clear out the contents of your trailer or everything in the van behind the driver’s and passenger’s seats. Get rid of any benches, tear out fixtures and remove old carpeting. If there’s storage, take it out.

Plan Your Layout

Now that you’ve got your mobile grooming space clear, you need to plan your layout. Measure the square footage so you can properly plan where you’re going to place your grooming table, storage and tub. Make sure there’s room to install safety harnesses so your equipment stays secure when you’re driving.

Decide On and Install the Power Source

One of the most important steps in building a mobile grooming trailer is deciding on your power source. A lot of mobile groomers use generators, but inverters are an increasingly popular method. It’s basically a battery power bank that transforms your van’s 12 volt DC electricity into household power or 110 volt AC electricity.

Each method has pros and cons. Generators can run indefinitely, but inverters tend to cost less long term because they don’t require gasoline and are charged via your van’s alternator. If you’re working with a trailer, a generator is necessary unless you want to plug into your customer’s outlets.

Install a Water System

How do mobile grooming vans work without water? Well, you can always utilize a tub and your customer’s garden hose, but that wouldn’t be the most professional option. Instead, you should consider installing a water tank, water pump, sink and tub. You'll also want to have a hot water heater so the animals you’re washing are comfortable in the winter months.

Consider installing a tank that can hold 50 gallons and decide whether you want an electrical water pump, which must be installed into your trailer or van’s electrical system, or a manual pump, which conserves water but requires the use of a foot pump.

Tips

  • Consider buying a space heater to warm your trailer or van during the winter months.

Install the Grooming Table and Storage

The last step in building a mobile grooming trailer is to install the grooming table and any storage bins or shelving you might need. Make sure you weld everything into place so it can’t move. If you’re installing any shelving and it reaches the van or trailer's ceiling, make sure to weld it both to the floor and ceiling for extra security. Make sure any storage bins are securely welded into place or affixed with safety harnesses. Remember: when your van moves, so does everything in it.

Warnings

  • Research which permits and business licenses may be needed to conduct business in this way.

References

About the Author

Mariel Loveland is a small business owner, content strategist and writer from New Jersey. Throughout her career, she's worked with numerous startups creating content to help small business owners bridge the gap between technology and sales. Her work has been featured in publications like Business Insider and Vice.

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