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  1. #1

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    Starting a part time detailing business

    I`m planning on starting a very part time business that I only try to detail one car a week for awhile. There are 2 other full service detailers that I know of in my area. I know they offer full paint correction service, coating applications, and more of what you would expect from a full service "professional detailer"
    Of the two detailers the one is 5 minutes away and I have not ready many (if any negative reviews). The other I havent researched because he is about 20-30 minutes away. (Not that that distance matters if he is a good detailer)


    To start I have no plans on expe ting to compete with them in the paint protection and coating market. I plan on starting small and focusing on 1 to 2 levels of a full detail to speak.

    Option one would be a wash, clay / decon, LSP (wax or sealant), interior clean and protection, add some tire shine, and rain x the windows.

    Option 2 would be to step up to a one step polish and protect with everything else included.

    I know I have to understand the market to know what to charge. Because if I ever do add more services I eo not want to have to increase prices on what I already offer. I`m not saying this to ask for pricing advice currently because I have to research what other people charge in my area already

    What I am looking for is some advice on my purchase I made to see if I missed anything

    I have towels on order from TRC

    I have clay and polishers & pads already

    Here is my purchase list

    P&S interior cleaner

    Meg`s APC

    3D Express spray wax

    3D one (if I get asked to do any form of actual correction)

    3D pink soap

    3D LVP conditioner for interiors

    3D speed for the one step correction option

    3D speed for tires / trim

    3D carnauba wax

    Microfiber Mitt and Chenille Mitt (so I`m not using my personal mitts)

    Air fresheners - 3D scent sprays

    Miscellaneous microfiber and foam applicators

    Should I offer a few more choices for tire shine? More glossy, more matte / satin?

    I`m assuming i could use N914 as a wipe down spray before applying the LSP?

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  2. #2
    Sizzle Chest's Avatar
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    Re: Starting a part time detailing business

    914 can be used as surface prep.

    I would have at least 2 offerings of tire dressing. Ask the customer which they prefer.

    Good luck, keep us up to date and post some pics when you get rolling!
    Scott Harle
    www.autodermatology.com
    Autodermatology
    Serving Naples and SW Florida
    Instagram: www.instagram.com/autodermatology
    Facebook: www.facebook.com/autodermatology

  3. #3

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    Re: Starting a part time detailing business

    Quote Originally Posted by Sizzle Chest View Post
    914 can be used as surface prep.

    I would have at least 2 offerings of tire dressing. Ask the customer which they prefer.

    Good luck, keep us up to date and post some pics when you get rolling!
    Thanks,

    I`m excited to give it a go. This will never be a full time gig or anything i rely on to pay the bills. Just more fun for me. I enjoy and decompress when detailing. I figure with what I`m looking to do I can just pick and choose who and what I want to detail.

    Do you know of the 3D speed dressing is glossy or satin?



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  4. #4
    ShaneB's Avatar
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    Re: Starting a part time detailing business

    What have you got for things like tar and sap? Most people getting their car detailed will expect to see that taken care of.

    Bug remover is handy as well for the stubborn stuck on stuff.

    What are your plans for interiors? Are you going to be offering more of a wipe down and dress type of "detail" or do you expect to be trying to fully detail interiors? You`ll want to prepare for anything.

    Once you start venturing into doing this as a business (even as limited as you say) you will start seeing just how bad people can let their cars go. And you WILL be unprepared for it when they come. It won`t be a question of IF but WHEN. Not trying to scare you away, however just want to let you know what`s in this hole you are planning to dig into. I started my business much like you are now about 6-7 years ago, and those first couple years were a MASSIVE learning curve in every aspect of it. From my processes, products, equipment to how to run the business.

    I would recommend you consider ordering a couple of the books here on autopia. Full of great info to get the ball rolling. https://www.autopia-carcare.com/detailing-books.html

    Best of luck to you!
    shanesautodetail.com
    facebook.com/shanesautodetail
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  5. #5

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    Re: Starting a part time detailing business

    Quote Originally Posted by ShaneB View Post
    What have you got for things like tar and sap? Most people getting their car detailed will expect to see that taken care of.

    Bug remover is handy as well for the stubborn stuck on stuff.

    What are your plans for interiors? Are you going to be offering more of a wipe down and dress type of "detail" or do you expect to be trying to fully detail interiors? You`ll want to prepare for anything.

    Once you start venturing into doing this as a business (even as limited as you say) you will start seeing just how bad people can let their cars go. And you WILL be unprepared for it when they come. It won`t be a question of IF but WHEN. Not trying to scare you away, however just want to let you know what`s in this hole you are planning to dig into. I started my business much like you are now about 6-7 years ago, and those first couple years were a MASSIVE learning curve in every aspect of it. From my processes, products, equipment to how to run the business.

    I would recommend you consider ordering a couple of the books here on autopia. Full of great info to get the ball rolling. https://www.autopia-carcare.com/detailing-books.html

    Best of luck to you!
    In my personal arsenal I have citrol, Adam`s bug remover, tarminator, tar-x

    For the interiors I have a boat load of different brushes, a steamer, and an extractor.

    For interiors I plan to be ready for anything. My plan is to meet with then client to see the vehicle prior to starting the detail. I want to go over expectations of the customer and what I can provide.

    The learning curve is most definitely a concern of mone. I know I have some knowledge but a lot to learn as well. Between here and YouTube (certain channels) I know there is a ton of knowledge out there. On the business side of things I have a BS in businesses management, so I know the basics....I work in supply chain currently so I see the daily ins and outs of running a business. (I sound conceited with that comment, but I dont mean to) I have been reading and listening to a fair number of books and podcasts on running a small business so I know on paper what to expect, but I know there will always be surprises! Thanks for the good luck wishes.

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  6. #6
    ShaneB's Avatar
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    Re: Starting a part time detailing business

    Ah, ok. So you`re in a good spot. I couldn`t tell from your original post if your list of things ordered was literally all you were going to have. You`re more prepared than I was when I started.

  7. #7
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    Re: Starting a part time detailing business

    Just some feedback on 3D LVP if you haven`t used it.

    I don`t like it. It goes on easy and leaves a mostly matte finish. But it leaves surfaces both slippery and tacky (that shouldn`t even be possible). And the sheen it left on the dash does not look uniform as light hits it. And the dash started attracting dust after only a couple days.

    I just did my Jeep and every time I adjust in my seat the seat now makes noise. Also my armrests on both sides are a little bit tacky against the skin. I`m going to remove it with APC in a couple days.

    Look into Meguiar`s D149 for quick wipe downs or to follow an aggressive APC cleaning. Guys also like 303 aerospace protectant.

    If you actually get a car with real leather (uncoated) you`ll need other leather products as LVP is only for coated leather (vinyl and plastics). Everything else really doesn`t need anything.

    I`m going to dump my LVP and reuse the bottle for something else. If a detailer used it on my car I`d not be happy.

    Good luck with your business.

  8. #8

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    Re: Starting a part time detailing business

    Three products for detailing tasks I see missing are:
    1) As mentioned above, dedicated leather cleaner and protectant or restorer
    2) Wheel brake dust cleaner
    3) Ferrous/Iron Remover/Decon

    Personally, I`d go with Meg`s Pro Detailer Line of specific products for all three detailing tasks if you are going to be detailing a lot of vehicles. I think they are very cost-effective and work well for detailing tasks when doing "volume" details.

    Otherwise, if you like 3D products, the BDX is suppose to be a good on both wheels and paint for iron decon.

    Even if you are doing this for fun-and-cash, it is best to know your customer/client and who they are, as well as the vehicle itself. The friend-of-a-friend thing can get costly to you if that client thinks you do something wrong to their vehicle or could not preform the detailing task completely that was requested of you, or if you break something on a vehicle or cause a mechanical issue, like too much water in an engine compartment and shorting out electrical systems or cause a scratch in the paint when your lighting tripod fell over on the vehicle.
    Five very important tips:
    1) Remove your watch, rings, or jewelry and metal piercings from yourself BEFORE you start detailing someone else`s vehicle.
    Watch your belt buckle or turn it to the side of your pants or shorts or un-tuck your T-shirt and let it hang over the buckle. Clothes and jewelry cause more scratches in detailing a vehicle than you know.
    2) Pre-inspect the vehicle before you quote a price for services. What may be just "clean it up" or "that should buff right out" are not that at all. Don`t be afraid to charge accordingly for your time to complete a detailing task or entire job you estimate it may take you as well.
    3) Take pictures inside and outside of a vehicles to document the condition of the vehicle BEFORE you start detailing. This includes any damaged or "problem" areas you may see from your inspection /assessment process. This can save you a lot of grief (IE, expense or litigation) from clients who may blame you for vehicle problems that you did not cause.
    4) Have a battery charger/starter box for those clients who have weak car batteries and the vehicle will not start because you have drained the battery when the doors are opened for hours on end cleaning the interior. Older classic cars or even newer sports cars that have been in storage are prone to this problem. I look at the battery myself or ask the client how old the battery is. Some have this very funny look on their face when you do.
    5) I assume you are doing this detailing from your resident or home. Not knowing where you live, you may need to check on local government ordinances to allow running a business out of your residence, even if you do not consider it "a business". Even if no such ordinances exists, running a gas-motor power washer for washing or leaf blower for drying a vehicle at 6:00 AM on a weekend to start your detailing of a vehicle may not sit too well with the neighbors, and common sense/good judgement may need to be exercised when to start and end your detailing enterprise endeavors. "Upset" neighbors are just that and they can make life miserable for you in your residence/home.
    GB detailer
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  9. #9

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    Re: Starting a part time detailing business

    Quote Originally Posted by Lonnie View Post
    Three products for detailing tasks I see missing are:
    1) As mentioned above, dedicated leather cleaner and protectant or restorer
    2) Wheel brake dust cleaner
    3) Ferrous/Iron Remover/Decon

    Personally, I`d go with Meg`s Pro Detailer Line of specific products for all three detailing tasks if you are going to be detailing a lot of vehicles. I think they are very cost-effective and work well for detailing tasks when doing "volume" details.

    Otherwise, if you like 3D products, the BDX is suppose to be a good on both wheels and paint for iron decon.

    Even if you are doing this for fun-and-cash, it is best to know your customer/client and who they are, as well as the vehicle itself. The friend-of-a-friend thing can get costly to you if that client thinks you do something wrong to their vehicle or could not preform the detailing task completely that was requested of you, or if you break something on a vehicle or cause a mechanical issue, like too much water in an engine compartment and shorting out electrical systems or cause a scratch in the paint when your lighting tripod fell over on the vehicle.
    Five very important tips:
    1) Remove your watch, rings, or jewelry and metal piercings from yourself BEFORE you start detailing someone else`s vehicle.
    Watch your belt buckle or turn it to the side of your pants or shorts or un-tuck your T-shirt and let it hang over the buckle. Clothes and jewelry cause more scratches in detailing a vehicle than you know.
    2) Pre-inspect the vehicle before you quote a price for services. What may be just "clean it up" or "that should buff right out" are not that at all. Don`t be afraid to charge accordingly for your time to complete a detailing task or entire job you estimate it may take you as well.
    3) Take pictures inside and outside of a vehicles to document the condition of the vehicle BEFORE you start detailing. This includes any damaged or "problem" areas you may see from your inspection /assessment process. This can save you a lot of grief (IE, expense or litigation) from clients who may blame you for vehicle problems that you did not cause.
    4) Have a battery charger/starter box for those clients who have weak car batteries and the vehicle will not start because you have drained the battery when the doors are opened for hours on end cleaning the interior. Older classic cars or even newer sports cars that have been in storage are prone to this problem. I look at the battery myself or ask the client how old the battery is. Some have this very funny look on their face when you do.
    5) I assume you are doing this detailing from your resident or home. Not knowing where you live, you may need to check on local government ordinances to allow running a business out of your residence, even if you do not consider it "a business". Even if no such ordinances exists, running a gas-motor power washer for washing or leaf blower for drying a vehicle at 6:00 AM on a weekend to start your detailing of a vehicle may not sit too well with the neighbors, and common sense/good judgement may need to be exercised when to start and end your detailing enterprise endeavors. "Upset" neighbors are just that and they can make life miserable for you in your residence/home.
    1. Do I need a dedicated leather cleaning sin e I bought Megs D101 APC? I have a few bottle of Adam`s leather conditioner I`ll pull to the customer side since I use a leather coating on our vehicles

    2 & 3. My plan was to use up the rest of the brake buster I have then go to Super clean for wheels and tires. At that point could I just use a paint iron decon...something like the Meg`s detailer line iron remover.

    Another question....at what point in time do acid based wheel cleaners come I to play?

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  10. #10

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    Re: Starting a part time detailing business

    How do you go about getting a logo designed?

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