View Full Version : Starting up Mobile Detailing Biz

05-24-2005, 01:02 AM
I just thought I`d ask some of the more experienced members on here if they could give some pointers to someone that is looking to make some profit from an activity they enjoy.

I`ve been kicking around the idea of detailing for profit for a little over a yr, now. I have plenty of products to give this a go. I have a PC with an assortment of Meg`s pads, a nice shop Vac, and a laundry basket full of MF towels...good ones from PAC...WWs and Plush ones.

Klasse AIO & SG
4* UPC & UPP
WG PC and Sealant
PB`s S&W & S&G, NL, BnB, EX-P
Meguiars NXT Wax, NXT Wash, #83 DACP, etc...etc I could go on and on. I feel like I have the bases covered on products. As you can well imagine, I have invested quite a bit in these. I`d love to be able to make some of that cheese back by doing some details.

I dunno what the deal is....I`ve been approached quite a few times while detailing my car or the OCCASIONAL customer`s car at my apt complex. The person will walk up and ask me about my rates. I tell them what I`d charge, based on size of car and services to be rendered. Is it just me, or do ppl not put ANY thought in to how much work goes into making a car look nice? Inevitably, they scoff at the rate and walk off saying "Wow, that`s a lot of money." or something like that.

HOW have you guys that have built up clientele in your business been successful at it? In talking to a few members, they talk about having 2 or 3 details per week. That`s honestly what I`m looking to accomplish. I don`t want this to become a "JOB"....it`s a hobby. It`s something I enjoy. I don`t want to have to rely on it to eat. BUT....having that extra couple hundred $$ every month would help IMMENSELY. ANY help or advice to build up a clientele and a business (of 2-4 details/ week) would be greatly appreciated!

I have a logo designed (With the help of Jngrbrdman) and have done SOME details. I must admit, the outcomes on the details were ASTONISHING. I really even surprised MYSELF! The quality of my work is not questioned. Some pointers on how to speed up my process would be appreciated....my details always take TOO LONG!!

05-24-2005, 08:02 AM
People WILL pay to have quality details done. When you SELL them on a detail, you want them to realize that you are also selling them the FEELING of driving around in an immaculate/freshly detailed car, which can be associated with class/importance/etc. If I were you, I`d take some time to learn advertising, marketing and sales. It will help you TREMENDOUSLY. They DO want the feeling. How do I know? Because WE want it EVERY time we drive our vehicles. It`s like a drug...

As far as cutting down on your detail time, break down the time spent on a basic detail into parts (vacuuming, carpet cleaning, washing, claying, polishing, waxing, etc) and see which ones are taking too long. Use Anthony`s guide at OCDetails. From my experience, here are a few things that shortened my detail times:

-QEW: From a dry dirty car to a dry clean car is 20-25 mins.
-LSPs: If you`re going for SPEED, then cut out the multi step processes. Go with a one stepper like NXT
-Interior: You can spend a lot of time getting into every nook and cranny. Don`t. Customer won`t see most of it anyway
-Tires: I use Stoner`s Tire Shine right now, the spray one. Spray and walk away. No wiping, dressing necessary.

Learn to upsell. A lot of people want just a wash and vacuum. Start with a price like 25-30 for this service, and then point out things you know you can fix, scratches, swirls, etc. Also upsell the wax and what kind if you want.

Your business is really up to you. Target a certain group and go find those people. Like if you want to do 3-4 details a week at $100+, target upper middle class neighborhoods with multiple cars or NICER cars. Look for dirty Benzes and Bimmers and Jags.

Find what cars you`d love to detail and learn how to sell them a detail.

Hope this helps.

05-24-2005, 11:18 AM
my suggestion is when you start off not to scare them off with the prices. I`d say tell them that you are just starting and you are trying to get customers and that if they refer somebody that you will give thema discount. Something like that.

05-24-2005, 11:49 AM
Some of my friends, I`ve given some like "2-for-1" deals. One friend, I detailed his fiancee`s Benz. He helped, and paid me. So, when they get back in town, we`re gonna do his Accord. He REALLY was happy with the results. Another friend has a BMW and RX-8...he`s a good friend. Been on him to do the same thing. I need some good details under my belt to build my portfolio.

Car was a TRAIN WRECK! I made it look good. I ended up giving some cards to his fiancee (now, his wife) and asked her if she`d pass them out to some ppl that may be interested.

05-27-2005, 07:31 PM
Aloha C Rock77, congrats on having the drive to make some money out of your hobby. I think that`s how alot of people start. Then it becomes a full blown biz in a couple of months .

Well anyway , the guys who "cough" at your prices are people who don`t get their cars detailed or wouldn`t appreciate your hard work so just skip them . They`re not worth it . get some flyers done up with prices and a good description of what services they`d be getting. You can pass them out around strip malls and bulletin boards. Give some to your hairdresser ( barber) , neighbors , anybody that you can think of . Its hard at first but you just want to get that flyer in their hands and plant the seed. At least 1 in 5 will say yeah I need to get my car done.

make sure your prices are on track with your area . Heck you might as well drop your prices $5 below your areas market to get some biz started. Once you knock out some cars giving good service and excellent results , word of mouth will be coming your way. As for me I do alot of co-workers vehicles because I banged out a couple of friends rides and everybody was like " Wow, can you do mine ?" and these are people that don`t regularly wax their cars at all.

So what I`m trying to say is that once you get some flyers out and get some details done , the customers will start coming. You`ll be planting the seed ....

Good luck and Aloha

05-27-2005, 08:51 PM
What do you guys usually charge for a full detail?
Wash, Clay, polish, seal/wax
vacuum/shampoo carpets & floormats, dress vinyl, condition leather (where applicable)

05-27-2005, 11:28 PM
My complete detail is more of a maintence or light detail. For that I charge $85-115 and am done in under 2 hours. I`ll be offering a more thorough package this year at about $120-150. Most of my 15 years have been spent on maintence detailing. I liked doing it because it`s fast and the time is more predictible so scheduling is easier.

Picking a price is pretty easy. Figure out what you want per hour and how long it will take you. Compare the number you get with people in your area. If you are too low or too high then you may have to make some changes. One thing to keep in mind is your hourly rate (marketing, travel, cleaning) will increase in time as you will get better and faster. It also will increase dramatically once you have an established customer base as you won`t have to do as much marketing.

Everyone is different in their approach and what they want to accomplish. If you feel you are spending too much time then figure out what you can do in a set time. Offer that as your base service. Most people will be thrilled with it. If the customer wants more then great you can offer them a deeper detail but at a higher price.

05-28-2005, 12:35 AM
Like a lot of you guys.....I`m sure you agree with me in feeling that performing a service less than the BEST I can offer is wrong.....

For instance, not claying the paint when you KNOW it needs it. I`ve always been that way with a lot of things I`ve done.....small things I KNOW are there, but noone else would ever notice....little things like that that would irk the Hell out of me.

Like....when I did my old roommate`s fiance`s Benz...it was a FULL Detail. He helped a bit....but you know how it is when someone who doesn`t know detailing tries to help.....they can`t do all that much to help. He paid me $150...I`m not sure if he helped b/c he wanted to....or b/c he had nothing better to do....but b/c he did, we`re doing his, later. Gonna do it for free.

But a 4 door Benz...
Meguiars NXT
Dress trim and tires

Vacuum & Shampoo carpets/mats
Dress Vinyl
clean Glass
Cond. Leather

Or, do you think I undercharged?

05-29-2005, 09:54 PM
sounds about right to me. I charge 150 for cars and up to 200 for vans and suvs. I do charge $40 extra for sealant ,$30 for scotchguard the interior. And depending on the general shape or condition of the vehicle I`ll charge extra for waterspots or even dirty leather to clean and condition.

06-07-2005, 09:45 PM
How is it you sell IGNORANT people on a FULL detail? I`ve had a few say "Wow...that`s expensive. I can get it washed and waxed for $X"

It`s hard to make people understand that a wash and wax is NOT a detail....it`s a wash and wax.

Still working on this tool i work with to get me to polish his Lexus....looks like he washed the thing w/ a Scotchbrite pad. His interior is clean...but the paint looks like ASS!

06-08-2005, 07:21 AM
Don`t let it rile you up so bad. You just have to understand that some people don`t care about detailing or having "perfect" finishes like we do. It`s one of the things that set us apart, as far as vehicles go.

I`m sure someone is wondering the same thing about me when I don`t go all out on some other type of purchase. :)

06-09-2005, 06:48 PM
Always remember educate the customer. Explain the difference between a$25.00 hand wash and a $150.00 full detail.Sell yourself and your experience to the customer, but don`t sell yourself too cheap just to get a job.It`s great to do what you like and get paid for it.