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101 Guide How to start successful detailing business and make local marketing

Updated On:
February 9, 2021

Table of content

  • Detailing Services
  • Equipment to get for detailing business
  • Local marketing
  • Building your awareness

A car detailing business can be a very satisfying and a financially rewarding business. Customers are looking for a great service with plenty of cars and other vehicles to clean. There are a few things that will be important to starting a successful car detailing business. Your personal work as the owner, the variety of car detailing services you offer, the quality of your car detailing steamer and your marketing will contribute to your businesses’ success. The information below will give you tips, guidance and ideas around starting a car detailing business.

Work as the Owner

mobile detailing business van


You need to decide what activities you plan to do as the owner. This can change short and long-term. As an example, many owners start out by doing the majority of the car detailing themselves. As the business grows, they add staff and spend more time quoting new jobs and coordinating schedules for detailers. If you have a passion for detailing and providing a needed service that helps car owners keep their cars in showroom condition, then read more.

Services Offered


A car detailing business is not just about making the exterior look great. Car owners take pride in every aspect of their vehicles. Below is a small list of services you can include and market.

Exterior washing
Engine cleaning
Ceramic coating
• Paint correction
• Glass cleaning
• Kevlar coating
Interior detailing
• Tar and bug removal
• Complete sterilization
• Oil stain removal
Moto detailing
• Car shampoo
Fabric protection

There are a couple of terms that are basic in the industry.

Interior and exterior shampoo – You will use a professional car detailing steamer for cleaning and extracting carpets, seating and upholstery. You will use the same steamer to administer snow foam and rinse the dirt away on the exterior.

Paint correction – This is the process of restoring and rejuvenating the paint surface on a car. The process removes the oxidized paint, swirl marks, fine scratches and other surface damaging contaminants. Paint correction is a three to four step process that provides a long-term ceramic coating to keep the owner’s car protected.

Car owners will search on the internet for general car detailing or the specific need they have. Offering a comprehensive suite of services allows you to effectively serve the needs of the market.

You are not limited to just cars. A successful car detailing business can provide interior detailing and related services to trucks, recreational vehicles, boats, airplanes, and much more. The cleaning concepts, procedures and practices are generally the same across the transportation spectrum. Cars will provide the majority of your volume. Many new owners begin with cars and then expand to other types of vehicles.

Equipment

mobile car wash van
Mobile car wash van


A car detailing steamer will be the center of your business. The steamer will provide the high-pressure and high-temperature steam to clean cars. Below is a list of considerations when choosing a steamer.

• Warm up time
• Number of guns
• Steam pressure
• Steam temperature
• Extracting capabilities
• Portability
• Detergent capability
• The technology of the steamer
• Accessories
• Warranty
• Brand name
• Service

Fortador’s line of steamers gives you choices based on your business plans. You will find diesel and electric-powered options. Additionally, Fortador’s line of steamers are powered by Lamborghini, which gives you unique marketing opportunities. This respected and well-known name will be yours to market your service with.

Marketing


When marketing your business, digital is the way to go. You will have choices, and you want to do it right. Marketing will be an ongoing part of your business. Learn from your successes and the things that did not produce customers. Make changes for an even better campaign going forward. Think of your campaign from the eyes of the customer. What would motivate him or her to have his or her car detailed by you? The following are areas and ideas to market your business.

Facebook


When marketing on Facebook, be sure to set your geographic radius. You want customers in the markets you serve. You can set demographics, such as age. On Facebook, you can post videos that will motivate customers to get their car cleaned and detailed.

Idea: Instead of posting a video of a foam cannon and a rinse, post a video of paint overspray or bugs that have hit and baked on a car. Although the foam cannon is impressive, potential customers will only watch it so long. Showing the overspray and bugs lets you solve a problem.

On Facebook you want your customers to be engaged; you want interaction. Ask and inspire your audience to leave a comment or ask a question. The more interaction your page has, the more Facebook will share it. Facebook’s algorithm is designed to promote pages with high levels of interaction.

Myth: “Likes” will get you noticed more on Facebook.
Likes will not help you get noticed, interactions will. Ask viewers questions to inspire interaction.  


Your Website


Customers will search on the web for car detailing services. You want a web site so you can sell your services. You can do this on a small budget. Website design can easily be done with web-based software. Search on the Internet for that, and choose your best option. Your website should tell a story, feature your team, equipment and how you solve people’s car cleaning problems.

Idea: Highlight your car sterilization services on your website. Regular customers and ride-sharing operators need this service.

Google and Search


Customers are not going to Google your business name. Customers will Google for words or phrases that describe what they need. Below is a list of phrases that may lead potential customers to your site:

• Car detailing in (city)
• Pro car washing
• Car detailing
• Boat detailing
• Mobile car detailing

The list could go on. There are professional companies that will handle the key words and manage what is called search engine optimization (SEO). If you have the money and choose to use a company as such, that can be a good investment. If you have the interest, Google provides you many tools through AdWords. Some business owners have a family member or friend manage their AdWords account. It is an inexpensive and potentially effective way to have a good online presence.

Google Reviews


Google reviews are a very effective tool to market your car detailing business. Google reviews allow your customers to rate the service and enter free text on the great car detailing service you performed. You want reviews. Ask customers to review your services.

Idea: Have a card on the dash or steering wheel after you complete a job in your car cleaning business. Thank the customer on the card and have a Quick Response (QR) code on it. This QR could lead the customer to a Google review. Positive Google reviews lead to more customers.

Responding to Negative Reviews


If someone writes a negative review, everyone will see how you do or do not respond. You need to respond. Responding to understand what the specific concern is, and resolving it publicly or privately is the goal. People take pride in their cars. Handling customer concerns efficiently and effectively will show your current and potential customers that you stand behind your car detailing work.

Follow up Emails


There are many economical services, such as Constant Contact, that will handle your emails and your customer relationship management (CRM). A follow up email after your service shows professionalism, and gives the customer an opportunity for a review. You realistically will not have the time to effectively follow up with every customer. Using a CRM service provider allows you to ask for reviews and potentially gain regular scheduled car detailing.

Business Image and Representation


Aside from your work performed, your business name, logo, and people will define your business locally. When you create your name, be creative. Many people recommend letting your name explain the services that you perform. Examples of this include AnyCity Car Detailing or Sunrise Car Detailing.

Create a logo. Have this logo on your business cards and your auto detailing employee shirts. Having a uniformed team projects a professional business image and promotes a high-quality service.

Associate yourself with high quality local and national organizations. The International Detailing Association (IDA) is the leading industry organization for detailers and suppliers. The organization promotes the value of professional detailing, plus other services. Consider joining the IDA to learn and add credibility to your new business.

Getting Started


Starting your own car detailing business can be satisfying and financially rewarding. The opportunities are there for great business operators. Below is a short list of things to consider when starting up your business:

• Project how many detailing jobs you can do per week and per month
• Purchase a high-quality steamer that can handle the volume of jobs now and in the future
• Use vendor financing if available and necessary
• Determine your payback period on the steamer
• Project your costs and profits
• Research your competition on the web
• Create a marketing plan
• Complete a business plan

This is a short list of things to consider up front. As you get started and provide a quality and complete car cleaning service, your business can grow exponentially.

Yvan Lacroix
Darren Priest
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