1. PSBI Home
  2.  ›
  3. Best Biz
  4.  ›
  5. Car Cleaning

Optimize Your
Car Detailing Business

Want to optimize your car detailing business profits by offering the right services, determining the right price for those services and by marketing your car detailing service the right way?

Auto body detailing is ultra low costing to get started. When you start with a strong foundation, your detailing service can be a literal goldmine!

One major advantage of being in the car detailing business is you’re not just limited to cars. When incorporating motorcycles, boats, motor homes and RVs in your detailing service, your opportunities for making major bucks is quite possible.

I’ll identify:

 1. How to select a business location

 2. The core services to be included at the very start

 3. How to determine what you should charge your customers

 4. How to market your detailing service using little money

Monica: A Woman Entrepreneur Prospers

This may sound strange, but here goes.

Monica, with a B.A. in environmental studies, lives in Des Moines, Iowa. Eleven months ago, at the age of 31, she left her employer. With $3,682 in the bank, her apartment rent paid for two months and a $500 supermarket gift card (given to her by her parents), she decided to open a car detailing business where every service was to be preformed by her own hands.

This is her adventure.

Selecting Her Location

She briefly considered starting a mobile car detailing business. Quickly, she decided against this option because of the costs involved.

That settled, she searched for a garage-type space with running water, floor drains, heat and electric and with around 2,000 or so square feet. She was willing to pay utility bills but did not want to pay more than $4 or $5 a sq. ft. This translated into a rent of no more than $1,000 per month.

Monica knew that a high traffic location would be good but not a requirement. The auto detailing business is what is commonly referred to as a “destination-oriented business.” That is, customers will seek you out…if your marketing is appropriate.

She found an ideal location, about a half mile outside an upscale neighborhood. The building  was situated on an intersection, had 2,742 sq. ft. and met her requirements. She signed a 2-year lease for $1,000 per month.

She was ready to go!

Monica's outside sign read: "Making em Shine" with a sub-title of "Vehicle Detailing the Right Way."

Monica’s Core Services Optimized Profitability

Prior to leaving her employer she purchased Bob Keppel’s ebook The Thinking Man’s Auto Detailing Process. It is the car detailing business leading must read resource chuck full of info designed to light the way to detailing success.

Three Services that Produce a Goldmine

 1. Exterior Car Detailing: hand washing, steam cleaning and waxing

 2. Interior Car Detailing: vacuuming and steam cleaning everything from the visors to the rugs,  upholstery, dash and windows

 3. Engine Detailing: steam cleaning using degreasers.

Monica does not offer paint touch-up, repairing nicks and scratches and the repair of upholstery. She may include these services later. But as for now, she wanted to walk before she runs.

Auto Detailing Price Determination

There are two elements to setting your car detailing business prices

First: know what each of your competitors charge for each service (or bundled services). This will be a guideline only. Even if you charge ten percent more it will not be a determining factor by a customer.

(What will be a determining factor is how your place of business looks. Of course, the quality of the job you perform will determine repeat customers.)

The second element is based on three factors:

  • Overhead Costs: the sum total of your annual rent, utilities, administrative and cleaning supplies/equipment, insurance, taxes, marketing, etc., divided by your best guess of the total number of services you anticipate providing during the year. This is the cost of your overhead per service provided.
  • Your Labor Costs: take the hourly rate you want to pay yourself times the number of hours it will take you to perform each auto detailing service.
  • Your Expected Profit: Do you want to make $3, $4 or $10 profit on each of the services you offer? Add this to your overhead and labor costs. The result is what you should be charging for each car detailing business service.

Monica’s Low Cost Marketing

Most car detailing businesses look like…terrible.

Monica felt her top marketing tool was to have her shop look professional: good signage, well lighted at night, clean and non-cluttered. She wanted to make a great first impression. As a result, she could charge more for her services, which she did.

  • She identified local professional groups (doctors, lawyers, auto dealers, etc) and asked to have a table display staffed by her, at a couple of their meetings a year. This got her a lot of customers.
  • She visited car clubs and car shows and set up and staffed a table display. This proved to be the best marketing tool.
  • She offered fund raising opportunities for non-profits by giving them dollars for each referral.
  • She provided uniforms for a local children’s basketball team.
  • All this led to customers. Now, she keeps in touch with them via email to continue building relationships.
  • She is now considering building a website in order to get customers. Hardly anyone uses the phone book anymore. Smart phones are in.


Thank you for visiting A car Detailing Business.

Helpful Professional Resources

 The International Detailing Association

 U. S. Small Business Administration

Additional Small Business Ideas

Enjoy this page? Please pay it forward. Here's how.

Would you prefer to share this page with others by linking to it?

  1. Click on the HTML link code below.
  2. Copy and paste it, adding a note of your own, into your blog, a Web page, forums, a blog comment, your Facebook account, or anywhere that someone would find this page valuable.



Please "LIKE" my Site.
I appreciate your kindness!

Stay up to date on my Facebook page:

Facebook button

Follow me on Google: