How to Start an Auto Detailing Business – Tips You’ll Need

June 30, 2018 1019 views

A Quick Overview of The Auto Detailing Business

Auto detailing consists of providing “A New Car Look” to vehicles of all types. There’s nothing like driving your car after it is detailed. It’s like your old car is new again!

Happy customers are returning customers. Returning customers are what keeps a business alive and thriving.


  • Polishing and buffing.
  • Carpet cleaning.
  • Window cleaning.
  • Odor removal.
  • Stain removal.
  • Scratch removal.
  • Plastic restoration.
  • Chrome polishing.
  • Excellent eye for detail.
  • Common Business Skills

Employee Consideration:

Hours of Operation:

Regular 9-5 business hours are necessary if you are running as a full-time business. You may want to run Saturday’s as well because a lot of people don’t have time during the 9-5 workday.


  • Heavy Duty Towels
  • Lint Free Window Towels
  • Microfiber Interior Cleaning Towels
  • Sprayer
  • Sponges
  • Buckets
  • Plastic Bags
  • Detailing Brushes
  • Leather Seat Brush
  • Mat and Carpet Brushes
  • Upholstery Scrub Brush
  • Dash and AC Vent Brush
  • Toothbrush Style Nylon Detail Brush
  • Professional Vacuum
  • Power Polisher
  • Pressure Washer
  • Mobile Trailer

Monthly Expenses and Operating Costs:

In addition to our list of common business expenses, your auto detailing business will require a budget for the ongoing cost of acquiring cleaning and restoration supplies & products.


See Our Page on Licenses and Permits

Marketing Ideas:

  • You can offer a pickup and delivery service option. Some people don’t have a ride and don’t want to ask friends for one.
  • You can open on weekends because people may not have time during the week to drop off their cars.
  • You can offer different packages, e.g. Wax and polish, interior restoration package, paint chip repair, etc., and offer discounts on multiple packages. You could also offer a “buy three packages get the fourth free.”
  • Offer a monthly or quarterly subscription where they get a discounted price on full detailing and a monthly cleaning and quarterly wax and maintenance. Once you detail the vehicle the first time, the upkeep takes a fraction of the time.
  • Make a deal with a repair shop and body shop for repairs that you notice while detailing the vehicle, and if you have to drive the vehicle. You’ll be able to tell if brakes are bad, tires need replacing, the exhaust system in need of repair, or electrical problems. This will give the garage or body shop some extra business, give you a percentage of the repair cost, and offer convenience to the customer. Be careful — your main concern should be a good deal for your customers. You don’t want to just do this for the money, or you will lose customers.
  • Make a deal with body shops and garages and give them a percentage for each customer they refer to your business.
  • You can offer accessories for resale, air fresheners, cell phone charging cords and chargers, license plate holders, and other car accessories your customers may be interested in.
  • You can offer a drop off key box, for people dropping off their vehicle after hours.
  • If you talk to local car dealers and give them an irresistible deal and excellent service, you could end up with a lot of work and profit.
  • Offer before and after photos, especially for the difference in the shine of the paint.
  • Offer scents that your customers can choose from and spray the interior for a long-lasting scent.
  • Have a comfortable waiting area for customers who choose a quick wash. Include a TV displaying products and services you offer and the benefits, for example, detailing once every three months protects your paint, plastic, and interior, and keeps your car looking like new.
  • Offer free Wi-Fi, free coffee, or soft drinks, also ensure there is comfortable seating with lots of room.

Pros and Cons:

The Pros:

  • Detailing can have a low start-up cost.
  • Low operating costs if you do the work yourself.
  • The result can be rewarding if you’re an auto enthusiast.
  • Because of the low overhead, it can be profitable.
  • The business is expandable.

The Cons:

  • Limited to the number of cars you can process in a day, especially if you do all the work yourself.
  • Business may slow down in the winter due to people not cleaning their car, only to get it dirty again because of weather conditions

Type of Customers:

  • Car owners
  • Car dealers
  • Car rental businesses
  • Collision repair centers
  • Professional drivers, e.g. utility trucks, courier van drivers, taxi drivers
  • Car enthusiasts

Profitability and Revenue:

As an auto detailing business owner, your profitability and revenue depend on some of the following issues:

  • The number of vehicles you detail each day.
  • If you do the work yourself or if you need to hire employees.
  • How much it costs you to gain a new customer.

Start-up Cost Considerations:

Start-up costs vary just like in any business. You could start this type of business for under a thousand dollars if you have the equipment, get some business cards made up, register a business, and start from your garage.


Start-up costs can be as high as a few hundred thousand dollars if you purchase, top-of-the-line equipment, and buy a building in a high traffic area.

Accurate start-up costs can’t be determined unless you figure out how you are going to start with the bare minimum, mid-size business, or starting off with a maximum investment.

Full-Time or Part-Time Business:

An auto detailing business can be run part-time or full-time.

Home-Based Business:

Auto detailing can be run from your home (if local bylaws allow it), but keep in mind you do need protection from the sun. For example, you can’t polish a vehicle in the sun.


Business Plans:

Car Wash Business Plan Sample – Executive Summary | Bplans

A Sample Automobile Detailing Business Plan Template | ProfitableVenture.com

A Day In The Life:

A Day in the Life of an Auto Detailer | Auto training Centre.com

A Day in the Life of a Detailer | Drbeasleys.com

Market Research:

Car Wash & Auto Detailing in the US Market Research | IBISWorld

The repaid growth in auto detailing market for the coming year 2015 | LinkedIn

Car Wash & Auto Detailing in the US | Industry Market Research Report

Article Mix:

How to Start a Home-based Car Detailing Business | Detail XPerts Blog

How to Start an Auto Detailing Business 1-2-3 by Sue Barrett

How to Make a Great Living Detailing Cars for the Rich and Famous | Appliedcolors.com

Car Wash & Auto Detailing Articles | Washos Blog

Auto Detailing Training & Tips:

10 Tips for Car Detailing – Car Wash Like a Pro | Popularmechanics.com

Auto Detailing Tips from the Car Detailing Expert | Best-auto-detailing-tips.com

21 Detailing Tips from the Pros! | Hemmings Motor News

10 Tips for Cleaning Your Car Like a Pro | Cheatsheet.com

Interior detailing tips and tricks | Carwash.com

Money Making Idea #3- Detailing Cars | Cfinancialfreedom.com

Guide to Detailing | The Car Wax Guide for Car Geeks!

Online Auto Detailing Video Training, Learn Professional Auto Detailing Online | Rightlook.com

Auto Detailing Training Classes | Detail King


Auto Detailing Supplies & Equipment | Rightlook.com

Auto Detailing Supplies | Auto Detailing Equipment

Things to Consider when Purchasing Professional | Car Detailing Equipment

Top Auto Detailing Equipment | Textbrite

3D Professional Detailing Products | 3dproducts.com


Auto Detailing Supplies | Detail King

AutoGeek Car Wax & SealantsCar Wax | AutoGeek

Auto Detailing Supplies – Huge Selection | Autoanything.com

Meguiars Bulk Car Wash Chemicals: Wholesale Detailing Supplies | Detailing.com

Auto Detailing Supplies Store | Professional or DIY Detailing

Detailing Tools & Equipment | Detailing.com

Commercial Car Wash Chemical Manufacturer | CleanTouch

Established Auto Detailing Businesses

Auto Boutique

Tint World

Crystal Clean Auto Detailing

Top Shine

Premier Auto Detailing And Wash


Professional Carwashing & Detailing

Auto Laundry News


How to Start a Home-based Car Detailing Business

The Fast Way To Start A Car Detailing Business

Automotive Detailing Manual (Haynes Repair Manuals)

The Big Book on Auto Detailing

A Complete Car Guide for Auto Enthusiasts and Detailing Professionals


Auto Detailing Supplies Research Guide Glossary Terms | Auto Anything.com

Automotive Detailing Glossary | Cartique Carwash


International Carwash Association


Insurance for Auto Detailing and Mobile Auto Detailing Businesses – Detail King

Commercial Insurance For Hand Wash Centers, Business Insurance | Business Insurance Usa.com

Auto Detailing Insurance for Shops and Mobile Businesses | Divinsurance.com

Franchise Opportunities:

Car Detailing Franchise Opportunities | Franchise Direct.com

Ideal Franchisee for DetailXPerts | DetailXPerts

Car Detailing Business Opportunities | Tint World Franchise

Auto Detailing Start-Up Kits | Detail King

Businesses For Sale:

Car Detailing Businesses for Sale | Globalbx.com

Mobile Auto Detailing Service Business Opportunity For Sale | Bizben.com


Starting An Auto Detailing Business

Auto Detailing Business Tips

Auto Detailing Training

Auto Detailing Tools

Auto Detailing Products

Auto Detailer Job




Detailing World

Social Media:



Auto Detailing Related Posts


Auto Detailing Groups


Auto Detailing Facebook Pages


Auto Detailing Facebook Videos


Auto Detailing Tweets


Auto Detailing Groups


Auto Detailing Business

Auto Detailing Tips