Do you dream of breaking free from the shackles of the salon system? Are you ready to bring your cutting-edge haircuts, styles, or shaves to the streets of your fair city? Are you searching for the right for-sale-by-owner mobile salon (whether it’s a converted step-van, truck, or trailer) to suit your needs? We have inventory located across the United States, so you can find the mobile salon of your dreams, conveniently located near you, without having to deal with the hassle and high pressure of a dealer.
Use the links below to browse our active listings for mobile salons, trailers, or carts. Each listing contains photos, equipment lists, the location of the unit, the asking price, and other important details. Whether you’re looking for a blank slate you can customize to your own needs, or a turnkey mobile salon business, you’ll find the right inventory here. Click here to browse our full inventory of equipment.
ACTIVE MOBILE SALON AND BARBERSHOP LISTINGS
Visit this page regularly to view updated listings, and remember to practice basic internet safety: Never purchase a unit sight-unseen, and never send money via US Mail, wire, or internet transfer until you’ve had the opportunity to inspect the unit in person.
Mobile Salon Buyer’s Guide
Whether you’re just starting out on the path to financial independence and freedom from the tyrynnay of the salon business, or are an experienced mobile stylist just looking for a new piece of equipment, we want to help you find the mobile beauty salon that’s right for you. If you’re not exactly sure what kind of equipment you need to look for when evaluating a used mobile salon unit, we’ve written a brief guide that can help you determine the type of vehicle and equipment that best suits your needs. These units are ideal for pet grooming as well.
The first question you’ll need to ask yourself is what kind of services you plan to feature in your mobile salon, since this will be a big factor in the types of equipment you need, as well as the power and plumbing infrastructure of the unit, both of which can increase cost dramatically.
Do you plan to offer barber-style services, limited to simple and quick cuts? Or will your mobile salon offer full-scale shampooing, cuts, and colors? Depending on the services you plan to offer, you may or may not need a mobile unit with an on-board water supply. For simpler services, you’ll need little in terms of equipment (and much of it, you probably already own): a quality salon chair (or two, depending on the size of the unit you’re shopping for), your scissor roll, some large mirrors for customers to gaze at their new looks, a few bleach-resistant salon towels, aprons, and a few electric trimmers, blow dryers, and curling irons.
Look for a trailer or truck with an existing electrical system. You won’t need much: Basic wiring to handle the load of a few consumer-grade appliances, with room to expand as your electrical needs grow or change. Look for equipment with lots of interior lighting (you’ll likely need much more than a typical food truck), and a hookup for an external power source, such as a generator.
Remember, those giant salon chairs will eat up a lot of your square footage. You need enough room to work on your clients, and you can’t stuff them inside a tiny box; customers will want lots of breathing room, and an airy, relaxing atmosphere, even in the confines of your mobile salon unit.
For most small operations, a concession trailer or even a small cart can make good sense for most mobile salon startup entrepreneurs, especially if you have off-site storage available. Trailers and carts are typically much less expensive than a large step van or food truck, but do have some limits, in terms of your opportunities for expansion.
If your salon business takes off, will you want to expand to allow room to service more customers simultaneously (and maybe even hire an additional stylist), with the installation of another chair or two? If your mobile salon dreams include eventually growing and expanding into other offerings, a larger investment in a larger vehicle with room to handle this expansion may make good sense.
If you plan to offer any services that require water (such as shampoos, coloring, or shaves), you’ll probably need to spring for a mobile salon unit with some form of plumbing, with options for both on-board fresh and greywater storage, as well as options for hooking up to an external water source.
Shampoos in particular eat up a lot of fresh water, so look for a mobile salon unit with on-board water tanks of at least 100 gallons or more, as well as a solution for how to dispose of the wastewater. In most municipalities, you won’t have to concern yourself with some of the equipment food trucks need, such as three-bay or handwash sinks, but check with your local health department to make sure.
Standard Equipment List:
No matter what kind of mobile salon business you plan to start, there are a few “standard features” for a salon truck, trailer, cart, or wagon that we consider essential. Look for listings that already include the following:
- Ample interior lighting, including general area lights, as well as focused task lights to position over each salon chair
- Power inverter system to support electrical appliances including electric trimmers, clippers, and shavers, with room for expansion as your equipment needs change
- Some means of water service (if you plan to include services which use water) including on-board tanks or storage, pumps for getting the water to your sinks, or a connection to an external water source
- Lots of interior storage, including tables and shelving, to accommodate dry goods and disposables
- As many windows as possible, to prevent claustrophobia in your clients, as well as wall space for artwork and other interior design accouterments
- Exterior wraps for branding and advertising
Check with your local health inspector to discuss your plans for your mobile salon cart or truck, and to find out if any additional equipment may be necessary in your area.
Unlike commercial food trucks, which tend to have extraordinary power needs to serve their foodservice appliances, the power and fuel considerations for a mobile salon unit will be minimal. Most of the equipment you’ll be running will be consumer-grade appliances with simple plug-in connections. This means that in most cases, you can skip complicated propane installations and high-load electrical installations, but again, keep future expansion in mind.
Depending on where and how you plan to set up your truck, cart, or trailer, you may be able to connect to an external power source, such as in some city parks or at large events, like local fairs or concerts. However, it probably makes sense to purchase a generator to go with your new concession unit, for those times when an external power source isn’t available.
We like the 25-30 kw generator models from Onac Cummings and PowerTech, for their combination of power, relatively low price, and quiet operating noise. Of course, if you plan to operate an air conditioning unit inside the truck or trailer (which is something of a must during the hot summer months), you may find you need to purchase a generator that can handle this type of high-load appliance.
How to Operate a Profitable Mobile Salon Unit
There are a few different proven approaches to making money in the mobile salon business, even for such a traditional service offered in such a unique new way. Here are a few strategies to consider:
Offer On-Site, On-Demand Cuts and Styles:
For many customers, blocking aside a few hours to visit a salon can be a tough thing to fit into their schedules. Consider offering on-demand haircuts and styles: A customer books an appointment with your new mobile salon unit, and you drive or tow the unit to their home or office, offering your services on their schedule. Most competing salons won’t be able to compete with this level of convenience and service.
Book Special Events or Large Groups:
A mobile salon can be a blessing at any large event where big groups of people all need to look their best. Consider partnering with a local wedding planner, to offer your mobile salon services for wedding parties, or for groups of teenagers on Prom Night.
One of the most lucrative avenues for new mobile salon operators to consider is in strategic partnerships with corporate clients. A monthly visit from a mobile salon stationed outside a large corporate office building or campus makes good sense for all involved. From the company’s perspective, a favorite mobile salon can be offered as a cultural “perk” to employees, while cutting down on lost productivity due to extended lunch breaks by employees using their time to “sneak in” a haircut.
Make a list of the large corporate presences in your municipality, and talk to the HR department at each company about scheduling a day per week or month to set up shop and offer your services. A full calendar of these types of strategic partnerships will keep you busy for many days each month.
Other Things to Consider:
While we haven’t covered every single aspect of getting your new mobile salon off the ground, we hope this brief guide will help get the wheels turning and give you an overall understanding of both how to evaluate a used mobile salon truck, cart, or trailer, as well as how to operate one for maximum return on your investment. Here are two more quick things to consider:
Get an inspection. Never purchase this type of equipment sight unseen, or based only on fuzzy photos on the internet. Just as you would never purchase a car without taking it for a test drive, make sure you have a chance to inspect your new equipment before any money changes hands. Now’s also the time to acknowledge potential gaps in your knowledge, and bring along a trusted mentor or mechanic to assist in your evaluation.
Get friendly with your local health inspector. Remember, the health inspector shouldn’t be someone to fear; it is their job to help you operate your new business safely. Schedule a call with your local health department to discuss your idea, and find out what special equipment or considerations you may need to operate legally and safely in your region.
Whether you plan to run a small-scale cart or kiosk that services corporate clients, one that operates by appointment only, or a larger truck that may eventually expand into an array of full salon services, the mobile salon business continues to attract new entrepreneurs for two reasons: There’s an unprecedented freedom in stepping away from the “rent-a-chair” salon system, and the equipment needed to get started is minimal.
If you want to learn more about operating a mobile business, check out our business plan section to see how you can create a custom plan for your mobile salon unit, or click here to browse our complete inventory of food trucks for sale.