Archived Blog Posts for mobile car detailing business

Just about anyone can start their own auto detailing business. Some have started just with a bucket and a sponge and call themselves a professional auto detailer. Those types have not helped the reputation of this industry and actually have hurt it in certain instances, especially when they have driven the prices down and have done shoddy work. Typically these folks have no formal detailing training, did not attend an auto detailing school and are just trying to make a few bucks in between job employment. They generally do not have plans to invest in their future because it is a short term cash generator for them. This may of worked for them in the long run but they did not invest in any formal training hence did not realize the opportunity that could have been.

Learning how too properly and professional detail a car is only part of what you need to know if you really plan on starting a mobile car detailing business. Even if your detailing business is a part-time venture due to both family and financial obligations you should still get some education so you do it right! Many individuals start out part-time and invest in obtaining some good training so they can build a nice income stream. This new revenue stream can be a steady supplemental income or if you set your goals to eventually leave your job once your detailing business ramps up you could have an opportunity of a lifetime. Always keep this in mind – Every vehicle on the road is a potential detail job for you, you just need to develop a plan to reach-out to their “drivers” and offer a “best value” service for the various types of prospects. These prospects will vary from the senior citizen on a fixed income who really cares about preserving the vehicle they own to the corporate CEO that wants his or her car “spruced up” every week. See the potential? It’s enormous!

When choosing to enroll in an auto detailing class or attend an auto detailing training seminar be sure it offers both hands-on detailing training and training for the “business side” of operating an auto detailing business. Typically in this industry there are many really great “craftsman” but very few good “businessmen.” Most know how to detail a car and make it look like new but miserably fail when it comes down to operating the business and growing it to its full potential. A top-notch detailing class will teach you what you need to know with regards to; developing a business plan, choosing your business structure (S Corp, LLC, LP), permits and licenses needed, obtaining business insurance, developing a marketing plan, utilizing social media, having a web site and using good SEO practices, branding your auto detailing business, developing a data base and managing it, booking appointments over the phone, determining your overhead and profit margins, estimating and up-selling, how to obtain reoccurring revenues and referral customers, getting and staying organized, hiring and compensating employees, tools to manage inquiries, appointments and phone calls. Plus a whole lot more.

The hands-on curriculum of the detailing class should inform and educate you with the proper methods and procedures to professionally and proficiently detail a vehicle. The methods and procedures are very critical. If you do not learn these your details will either take unreasonably too long to perform or you will not be performing them well and your end product (the finished detail) will not be up to par. Your details not being up to par will lead to earning a bad reputation and a lack of revenues. Choose an auto detailing course that emphasizes proper methods and procedures and can educate you how to provide profitable; exterior detailing services, interior detailing services, engine compartment cleaning, and auto reconditioning services like headlight restoration, paint chip repair, plastic trim restoration, carpet dying, auto interior repair and odor removal. If you cannot afford the training that offers the auto recon services at least get trained how to detail a vehicle inside and out so you can start making some money right away.


Exterior detailing training should be comprised of the vehicle wash up and prep, paint correction, paint preservation, dressing and conditioning, finite detailing, window cleaning, final inspection and customer presentation of the finished product. There are many steps that encompass what is mentioned in the sentence above. Having a good reference check list and auto detailers inspection check list will help you remember what to look for and to execute the steps needed. Start out practicing the exterior detailing services on family and friends vehicles after you finish your training. Just after a few practice cars you should have enough confidence built up to actually start making money by acquiring customers.

Interior detailing training should be comprised of complete cleaning and detailing of the vehicles interior cabin including: cleaning of the headliner, sun visors, dash board, console, door panels, pockets, pedals, cracks, crevices, seating surfaces, steering wheel and column, carpets, mats, vinyl trim, leather trim, chrome trim, gauges, mirrors, and windows. Training should not only teach how to clean but how to condition the vinyl, leather and weather stripping. Special attention should be given to sued and microfiber interiors and the differences in the types of leather and seating upholstery. Proper use of a heated carpet extractor, automotive ozone generator and vapor steamer would also be part of the training components.

Learning the proper methods and procedures from the very beginning will save the detailer labor time and supply costs. Please keep in mind labor is the most expensive “cost” of the detail. Not knowing the proper way to professionally detail a vehicle will consume too much time and produce inferior results. Invest in a good training program, it will pay for itself just after a few detail jobs completed. Be sure to check out the student testimonials from graduates of Detail King’s auto detailing training school in Pittsburgh, PA.

Operating as a mobile auto detailer can be very lucrative. People today are just too busy to take their car to someone and leave it there perhaps for the entire day. They may have problems finding someone to drop them off or pick them up or they simply just do not want to sit around for hours in a waiting room. Having a mobile auto detailing business allows you to go right to the customer’s home or work place. The mobile auto detailing business owner is has a lower overhead and start-up costs are usually more affordable.

Mobile detailers usually operate their detailing business out of a van, pick-up truck, trailer or cube truck. If you decide to go with a van it should be used, white, at least a ½ ton model (2500) and not showing a lot of wear on the outside. Never buy new when starting out. You can get a half decent pre owned van with still a lot of life in it for under $5K. Be sure you get commercial insurance for the vehicle, because you will be using it for business purpose. You should be able to fit everything in the van. Be sure you letter it up good or even wrap it, to make it noticeable.

You may also want to consider a good used cube truck, or a reconditioned U Haul truck would be perfect! There is lots of room on the sides and back panels to advertise your business and the services you provide. If you make it look good it will stand out and get noticed. Plus there is a ton of room inside for your detailing equipment and supplies. Keep in mind you will need a pressure washerwater tankcarpet extractor, plus a high speed buffer and orbital polisher. It’s a good idea to purchase about 4 or 5 large plastic bins to keep your detailing chemicalspolishesapplicatorsdetail towelsdetailing brushes and other miscellaneous auto detailing tools stowed and secure. If you are going to operate your mobile detailing business close to a large body of water like a lake, river or ocean you must be sure you are not allowing your wash water to be discharged into any storm drain. Detail King offers eco friendly low pressure washerscar wash water containment mats and water reclaim system so you can operate your business and be compliant with your city’s car washing regulations.

If you already have a pickup truck then considering a mobile detailing trailer or mobile car wash trailer may be a no brainer. Detail King carries 4 different models on enclosed and open bed trailers with various equipment options. The bed of the pickup truck can be used to store your bins, which contain your supplies and detail tools. You may want to consider installing a fiberglass lid or tonneau cover on the bed of your truck to keep the contents protected against the elements and theft. Open bed mobile detailing trailers typically consist of a commercial grade pressure washer, water tank, 50′ of pressurized hose and a generator to operate the power tools and vacuum. A 60 or 90 gallon water tank is all you really need unless you plan on doing commercial fleet washes, then you may want to consider a 200 or 300 gallon tank. You may also want to consider using a vapor steamer to assist with interior and exterior car cleaning. If you plan on using your personal pickup truck for business and also pull a trailer be sure to let your insurance company know you need a quote on a commercial policy. See if your insurance company can also insure the business by offering you an umbrella policy that would cover the vehicle, the trailer and its contents and the vehicles that you are working on.

You can establish weekly accounts at office building and business industrial parks where you are there the same day and time every week. You will find that there are many individuals that want their vehicles washed weekly and even detailed monthly or bi monthly. Work with the property managers of these office buildings to allow you on their property to serve their tenants. Your services may be an added benefit for the property management company to offer their tenants. You must be reliable and do outstanding work on every vehicle, every day! Operating mobile has advantages of running your detailing business out of a shop because you can take your “show on the road” and practically go anywhere to make money. Be sure you acquire the proper permits in the municipalities that you work in. And always get permission from the office building management if a customer requested your services directly from you. You may need $1,000,000.00 worth of general liability insurance to set up on some of these office building properties, so get a quote for that amount when shopping for insurance. General Liability insurance (slip and fall) does not cost that much, but you need it in case a customer get injured by possibly tripping over a cord or hose.

If you live in a climate where the temperatures never really get too cold then you can provide your mobile auto detailing services year-round. If you reside in the northeast for example you may want to rent a bay in a car wash or some other auto type shop (car repair shop, lube business, tint shop, etc.) for the winter months. Some detailers operate out of other states for the winter months like Florida or California and build up a diversified clientele for 4-5 months out of the year. Many smart mobile detailers bank enough money during the good weather so they don’t have to work too hard during the winter. But what they actually do is work on obtaining new business by attending networking events, chamber of commerce meetings, cultivating their territory and setting up accounts with office building and condo complexes.

Every car on the road is a potential car detail for your business! From the little old lady from Pasadena to the high powered corporate CEO. They all need your services, you just need to provide a service that is affordable for that little old lady and a program for the CEO that wants his Mercedes washed weekly and detailed every month. Set up the services, determine the pricing and cultivate the various niches. Before you know it you may have acquired numerous commercial accounts and retail customers that are booking appointments with you on a regular basis. Also as your business grows and your customer base increases with volume you may need to roll out another mobile unit. But let me caution you, do not make that move too early and only have someone operating that second unit that has been working with you for a long time and someone that you can trust with your customers and their automobiles.

If you are serious about starting a mobile detailing or mobile car wash business you should really consider attending a Detail King Training Seminar. We teach you what you need to know about starting, operating and growing an auto detailing business. We have been doing this since 1999 and can be a great business partner to assist you with taking your current detailing business to the next level. Tip #7 will discuss how important it is to be trained properly not on for the hands-on detailing side of your business but also for the business side!