1. How to Run a Mobile Detailing Company
2. Licensing for Auto Detailing Business
3. Budgeting for Auto Detailing Business
4. Marketing for Auto Detailing Business
5. Detailing Equipment and Supplies
6. Advanced Detailing Equipment
7. In-House Detailing or Outside Contractor?

Updated November 3, 2020:

Auto detailing contracts are the agreements made for periodic washing or cleaning of automobiles. They are usually made between a car owner and a car detailing service provider.

How to Run a Mobile Detailing Company

Mobile automobile detailing is a form of car washing that appeals to customers who seek the convenience in maintaining the looks of their vehicles.

Starting a mobile detailing business is easy, and the start-up costs are lower. However, it may be challenging to stand out among other providers and build your clientele.

Running a mobile detailing business requires you to obtain the licenses, and perform marketing and budgeting tasks.

Licensing for Auto Detailing Business

  • Buy a liability insurance policy for your business and vehicles; it will protect you against property damage and accidents.
  • Obtain all the required licenses and permits from the local government. County governments usually require you to register your business, while city authorities may have licensing requirements.
  • Find out whether you need to obtain a permit in your city for mobile car washing.
  • Some cities also regulate the location where mobile detailers may wash the vehicles. For example, in Calabasas, a city of California, mobile car washers must obtain a permit and meet certain water quality standards to prevent pollution of the city's water.
  • Keep your business documents readily available whenever requested by potential customers and law enforcement agencies.

Budgeting for Auto Detailing Business

  • Prepare a budget to manage your funds and expenses. Make sure you make provisions for maintenance, supplies, salaries, and advertising expenses, among others.
  • Pay your taxes (personal and business). Tax requirements vary depending upon whether you are a business owner or an independent contractor.
  • Maintain proper records of your business transactions, including purchases, contracts, and expenditures.

Marketing for Auto Detailing Business

  • Get your business cards and marketing materials printed. Having your business name and logo on these materials not only looks professional but it also provides contact information to your prospective customers.
  • Advertise your business. Distribute flyers on cars, especially those parked in parking lots of shopping malls and large corporations. Send announcement mails to car dealers and corporate houses. Place advertisements in local papers and magazines. Launch a local online campaign.
  • Pitch the importance of having a detailing contract to customers. If you manage to get some weekly cleaning contracts, it will provide you with regular income.
  • Maintain a professional working environment. Wear a shirt with your business name or logo, and provide a price list to your customers.
  • Provide excellent work and customer service; this will help you get repeat business and build goodwill through word-of-mouth recommendations.

Detailing Equipment and Supplies

  • Using professional equipment increases productivity and improves the quality of your work. Have appropriate equipment like van, water tank, and rotary buffers.
  • Keep your equipment clean and in good condition at all times; this will build confidence in customers about your handling of their property.
  • Always have a ready inventory of all the necessary supplies, so that you don't have to put a job on hold. Some of the important auto detailing supplies include detergents, chamois cloths, tire cleaners, waxes, car deodorizers, and upholstery shampoo.
  • Upgrade your equipment as your business grows.

Advanced Detailing Equipment

  • You will require a steam cleaner to clean carpets and upholstery.
  • Have an air compressor for quick and efficient cleaning of car interiors.
  • Use a portable work cart to store and organize chemicals and supplies.
  • It's also essential to have a good vacuum system. Regular shop vacuums may not withstand hard use for more than a few months. If you can afford, consider buying a central vacuum system that most of the car washing centers use. These vacuums are usually mounted in the room, and only hoses are visible in the work area.
  • Interior drying units are useful in eliminating moisture and smell inside the vehicles. They generate airflow and dry the interior in less than an hour.
  • You will require an ozone generator to remove odors from interiors and trunks. It's placed inside the car and turned on for half an hour to several hours to neutralize the odor.

In-House Detailing or Outside Contractor?

Auto dealers often struggle to decide on whether to maintain an in-house detailing service or outsource the task to an external detail shop. Those operating an in-house service claim that it's more economical and provides better control and quality of work. On the other hand, those who outsource the task feel that outsourcing eliminates the hassles and cost of in-house management.

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