A mobile salon business gives you an opportunity to use your skills, travel to various locations and provide services from your vehicle rather than a permanent location. Knowing what's involved in setting up a mobile salon is key to deciding if this business model can work for you.
Types of Mobile Services
People with a cosmetology license can turn a trailer into a salon that books hair cuts, color, styling or applying makeup. You can also just do nails, manicures and pedicures, or add it to your list of other services. Offering massages from a table you use in your mobile salon or one you can carry into a person's home or office is another option. If you love working with animals, a pet grooming and washing salon gives you a chance to take your services on location to make dogs and cats beautiful.
You may want to target busy professionals, such as teachers, medical office personnel, staff at busy retailers or corporate offices who have difficulty setting aside time to go to a traditional salon to get their hair and nails done or get a massage. You can also offer beauty, skincare and makeup application services at private parties, bachelorette parties and at girl's night out events. If you love to travel, outfitting your RV so it can be used as a mobile salon at campgrounds that cater to senior citizens helps you make money and pay for your own travels. If you like working with pets, people who are unable to transport their pets to a groomer, such as homebound senior citizens or people who are disabled, are a perfect target market.
If you have a limited budget, use your vehicle to carry everything you need and offer your services in people's homes, rather than spending money remodeling an entire trailer that people would step into for services.
You need a van or a towable trailer outfitted with salon equipment to provide services. Plan to pay about $8,000 for a basic trailer and anywhere from $20,000 to more than $100,000 to customize it with salon equipment, comfortable seating, attractive flooring and retail shelving, says U.S. News.
Certain states, such as Texas and Indiana, require you to apply for and obtain a mobile salon license. If you open a mobile beauty salon, you also need the required licenses related to your specific profession, such as a cosmetology license.
The insurance requirements for a mobile salon include obtaining coverage for tools and equipment that are not kept at a fixed location, says Straum Insurance Agency, a firm that offers mobile salon insurance coverage. You also need to obtain commercial vehicle insurance to cover both your vehicle and a trailer, if you go that route.
If you do not plan to drive from one location to another during your day, it makes sense to arrange for a designated parking space to meet up with customers. This makes it easier to promote your services by setting certain hours when your salon is onsite and open for business. Check with the city's zoning department to find out what licenses or permits you need to provide services from that spot.
States often regulate mobile salons for health and safety issues just like a traditional salon. For instance, if you outfit an RV to use as your salon in Washington State, you must provide an entrance that's separate from the living quarters. Check with your state's board of cosmetology to determine regulations for your area.
Nancy Wagner is a marketing strategist and speaker who started writing in 1998. She writes business plans for startups and established companies and teaches marketing and promotional tactics at local workshops. Wagner's business and marketing articles have appeared in "Home Business Journal," "Nation’s Business," "Emerging Business" and "The Mortgage Press," among others. She holds a B.S. from Eastern Illinois University.