How to Start a Successful Car Detailing Business



So, you've taken up car detailing. You've gotten good at it, you enjoy it and maybe you've even turned it into a profitable side hustle. Perhaps it's time to take it to the next level.

That's right — what started as a hobby could become a full-fledged business. That's not to say making the leap will be easy, but with careful planning and steadfast execution, it is possible to launch a successful car detailing business. Doing so requires knowledge of both auto detailing and business. Here are the basic steps you need to take to get started.

Decide on the Specifics of Your Business

Starting a business takes a lot of planning. To start, figure out what kind of detailing business you want to have. Some auto detailing companies are mobile and go to their customers instead of having a fixed location. Others rent or buy a building and operate from there. Some use a mix of both strategies. Decide what works best for you. A mobile business has fewer overhead costs, so some detailers like to start with that before progressing to a having a fixed location.

You also need to decide whether you want to buy a franchise or start your own independent business. While joining a franchise will have higher upfront costs, you get the benefit of the support of the parent company.

You should also decide what kinds of services you want of services you want to offer. You could exclusively provide detailing, or you could also offer car wash services to appeal to a broader customer base. Providing different specialties for various car cleaning needs will make it easier to market your business to local customers.

Create Your Business Plan

Next, you can start creating a more detailed business plan. Crafting a good business plan requires research into your market. Your plan should include information such as:

  • A brief description of your business
  • Research about your industry, market and competitors
  • Your business and management structure
  • Who's on your team and what their roles are
  • Plans for marketing and sales
  • Funding needs and budget
  • Financial projections

Take Care of Legal Requirements

There are some technical things you'll need to take care of to ensure your business is compliant and ready to go. You'll have to apply for a business permit from your county or town and register for state and local taxes. If you're going to operate as an LLC or corporation, file the required paperwork with your state's secretary of state office. If you plan on hiring employees in the near future, you'll need to get an employer identification number from the Internal Revenue Service.

Make sure you research the local rules and regulations to ensure you get all the necessary licenses and permits and don't accidentally any violate any zoning, environmental, business or other rules.

Make Your First Investments

Of course, you'll also need to make some investments to get started. Starting a car detailing business, though, requires less startup capital than many other types of business. You can start a mobile detailing venture for under $2000. You'll have to purchase all your detailing tools and materials. Your startup costs may also involve rent for a property and business costs such as a phone, website and marketing materials. Additionally, you should purchase business insurance, open a business bank account and set up your accounting system.

Market Your Business

Part of your business plan should involve defining your brand identity and creating a marketing strategy. Create a brand personality and decide what your company's values are. This will involve picking out a company name, creating a logo and perhaps choosing a slogan that all contribute to this brand image. Don't be afraid to invest in this aspect of your business, as it will hopefully be with you for a long time.

You should also establish a web presence including a website, social media pages and accounts on sites such as Yelp and Google Reviews. Once you have all of these things set up, you can start planning your opening day. Consider holding an opening event and inviting everyone who helped you get your business started. You could also offer a special deal for your opening day to encourage customers to stop by.

Starting a business takes a lot of time, money and effort, and the steps listed above are just a brief outline of what it takes to get an auto detailing company off the ground. But with detailing skills, some business knowledge and thorough planning, you can launch a successful auto detailing business.

About The Author

Scott Huntington is a writer and car fanatic from Harrisburg, PA. Check out his site offthethrottle.com or follow him on Twitter @SMHuntington.