For 30 years, my dad worked at a large company employing several hundred blue collar workers round-the-clock. All sorts of mobile services popped up in this plant's parking lot, from food trucks to car washes. My dad and I had what we think is a terrific idea for a mobile barber. The idea is to purchase an RV or trailer and outfit it with the essentials for providing haircuts. The RV could travel to a regular route to different companies or blocks of town on specific days.
Not being a barber myself, I'd have to hire someone and then buy the truck and market this idea myself. Does anyone know the health laws concerning a barbering business? For example, what are the plumbing codes, etc.? Or how can I find this out?
Would it be preferable to offer the barber a cut of what s/he earns? What is a fair split?
And, could this work? I would jump at the chance to get a quick trim during my lunch break in the parking lot of my office building. And I know of a waxing tech who is shaping eyebrows at businesses all over town.
The codes will vary by state, but that should be easy to find on the state website.
Most barbers actually rent "chairs" to their apprentices anyway so you could duplicate that if you provide the mobile "-shop."
The big challenge is that most every factory sends people on break at the same time, and I'm not sure if it's worth trying to cut hair in the 15 minutes break times.
It's a neat idea, though so lets us know how it goes...
I had the same idea. I wanted to target law enforcement facilities because they have to stay groomed.
Celeste, you've got a neat idea. I've seen a mobile barbershop in my community. If I see it again, I'll write down the phone number for you so you can contact them to learn of their experience.
I would venture to guess that this could be a good business model for someone who is a barber or stylist, but I question whether it would be worth it financially if you were to buy the vehicle, outfit it, and then rent it (or just a chair) out to barbers/stylists. Would you be giving yourself the J-O-B of driving it around from place to place? Or would you hire someone else to do that?
I think you'd need to check with your local zoning board or department in your city/township/county re: zoning regulations for this type of business, in addition to the state re: licensing for barber shops.
Food trucks (as you mentioned) are a good model because they can service dozens and dozens of customers in an hour. A mobile hair salon with two chairs could service four to six customers an hour (depending, of course, on how long it takes to cut or style their hair). Would that bring in enough revenue to make it worth your while?
That being said, nursing homes, long-term care facilities, and retirement communities could provide you with a base clientele.
If you love the idea but aren't keen on operating the mobile salon yourself, perhaps you could simply buy the RV's, outfit them, and then sell or lease them to barbers/beauticians who would then run them as their own business?
I wish you the best as you consider whether this business model would be right for you!
I think you have a dynamite idea. I don't have many answers but I can offer some encouragement. First, regarding the previous comments, I don't think you will be constrained to a 30 minute window when all workers will be free. If you go to a large office building or office park, different businesses will do lunch at different times and salaried employees can make time at any point in the day. I think the key is to offer really high end cuts, styling, dyeing, and that kind of thing. I honestly have no idea how Fantastic Sams can even stand to have me as a customer when I'm going in for a cut which takes 20 minutes and costs $14.
Second, regarding health codes and the like, when I was in Madison, Wisconsin there was a little shopping area which was parked train cars that had been hooked up to plumbing and electricity. Surely if something like that can be turned into a habitable business "building" then your RV can be made to work. Like I said above, just make it classy. Don't let it get drafty in the winter or hot in the summer. Consider modifying a trailer (even a large semitruck 53 foot trailer) instead of an RV so it might be easier to convert the interior. I remember hearing about someone who took a 53 foot semitruck trailer and installed showers to drive around to multi-day concerts and charged X per 15 minutes. Again, I think it can be done.
Last, the food truck model will be the most applicable. You will avoid the property taxes and capital expenses of a physical premises, but I think you will find that many laws have been written that might give you headaches. For instance, here in Minneapolis and Saint Paul the local business owners HATE food trucks because they have a perceived advantage. (Of course, instead of sour grapes they could open their own trucks, but nobody thinks like that.) So as a result, they lobby like crazy to have the trucks have licensing fees and access fees (for taking up parking). Lucky for the food trucks (and consumers), the Mayors of the cities really back the food trucks. I think you will need to navigate similar issues, but like Dan would say I recommend you just go DO IT!
This sounds like a great idea. I have some reservations, though. You state that you are not a barber, which means your responsibilities would primarily revolve around marketing and running the business. If you are a marketing/business person, then this may be ideal, but if you are not, then you may end up regretting this move.
Personally, I would try to come up with a dozen other ideas, all around the "mobile" service theme. From there, find the one (maybe two) that most fits your skills, abilities and passions and move forward with that, full speed ahead. There are a lot of great ways to make money out there like lawyers, doctors, and dentists, but if they don't fit then they are just another miserable job.
I had played a similar idea in my head with the only difference being to have a mobile cart set up that could be brought in to a customer location. The purpose being to provide service to seniors in assisted living or community homes. My family had a barber shop when I was growing up & I saw this potential client base when my grandfather moved in to a group home. It was a significant movement to bring the residents to appointments (the facility would be the main paying customer), they had time for people to come and see them (easy customer to work with), smaller portable equipment and batching appointments would be low overhead. I was mainly thinking about simple barber service however, it would require more thought, there may be a market for women who want to get dolled up for an event. There is a potentially long phase where seniors live fairly independently, it just gets hard to get around especially on a full day. Didn't go anywhere with it however, I think it has potential. Good luck.
Thanks for all the great replies, everyone. Indeed, there is a lot to think about.
I find that in our area a fast, cheap haircut with convenient appointment times seems to be most needed. In every salon I visit in town (and it seems like there are more salons than heads of hair, sometimes), I constantly watch as clients are turned away from walk-in appointments. My grandmother ran a salon in our area and in the Ohio valley for over 30 years, and she was constantly busy. Even little pop-up haircut "shacks" in our area seem to thrive... I hope that my idea would appeal to the stylist/barber who does not have capital to start up a shop. Perhaps I could even sell the truck to the barber at some point once a client base is set up. I see this more from a business perspective than a life-long passion for haircutting. :)
I think it is a great idea because men work all day long and by the time they get home the barber shops and hair salons are closed. Now they can just get there hair cut at work. Clever
I like the idea. Paint the RV or trailer with a really cool logo. I asked the girl who cut my hair at Great Clips today. She makes $10 an hour +tips. My haircut was $15 and I tip $5.00. She says they are supposed to cut men's hair in 17 minutes or less. They DON"T wash your hair before or rinse after. I think you could charge $20 a person. I sold my business and I'm currently a garbageman. Guys at work aren't gonna spend more than that for a haircut. $10+tip for the employee, $10 for you. How many cuts will you need to average to pay for fuel, insurance, RV payment, supplies. I'm sure there is some fee to dispose of the bathroom waste.