Auto Detailing Business

 Starting an auto detailing business isn't as simple as buying a bucket, some soap, and a bunch of rags.


There are many things to consider before making a final decision. First, are you wanting to make a living from detailing, or simply make some extra money on the weekends? Do you want to lease a building? Do you want a mobile business? Are you just looking to do the odd job once in a while in your garage?

All the options have benefits but they also have drawbacks.

One of the benefits to a traditional mobile detailing business or to the even more simple waterless mobile detailing business is that you don't have the overhead costs associated with leasing a building.


For this article, lets say that you have decided to go the route of leasing a brick and mortar building. When beginning a new auto detailing business, start small. A bay in the 1000-2000 square range is a good start.


Another point to consider is how much competition you have locally. Find out what the going rate is for detailing, polishing, etc. It is important to charge the customer enough so that you can make a profit, but you don't want to charge an amount that prices yourself right out of the market.

There is nothing worse than signing the dotted line on a huge building only to find out later that you don't have enough business to support it.

Here is a 2003 Peterbilt 379 in our shop. It makes the bay look small! Our shop here is 1300 square feet.

The best advice I can offer when starting a new auto detailing business is have enough money put aside to support yourself for a minimum of 3 months.


If you work hard at getting your company name out there, the work will come. It will take time for people to learn about your business though. When the economy is in rough shape or the weather is poor, business could be slow going at the start. This is why its extremely important to have some money saved as a back up.

If you live in a part of the world that has cold, snowy winter months, wait until spring to start your business. If you live in a warm climate, you can pretty much start anytime.


The best form of advertising is word of mouth! Get your company name out there by talking to people and passing out business cards. Not only is this effective, its free!

Throwing money into advertising when starting out is not a good idea. It could work, but if it doesn't you could be out hundreds maybe thousands of dollars which could be disastrous for a new business.

Avoid signing a multi year lease when beginning your auto detailing business. The first year is the hardest to get through, if a business is going to fail, it will be in year one.


Starting with a one year lease is smart. If for some reason the business does fail at the end of the first year, you won't be on the hook for the remaining years of a multi year lease.

Leasing a building is a lot like renting a house. You have to consider heating costs, electricity costs, water, phone/internet, and insurance. Its very important to have enough insurance for the building as well as the customers vehicles in case of a disaster.


You will need to get an occupancy permit from the city which also means your bay will have to be inspected before you open for business.


Some things to look for in a bay: it needs to have a sump in the shop floor for water drainage. If you are considering detailing semi trucks you will need a 14 foot high bay door at a minimum. Lighting and electrical outlets are extremely important for an auto detailing business.

Here in our wash area you can see where the sump is located in front of this 68 Camaro.

Most likely extra lighting and upgraded electrical outlets will need to be added once you move in. The better the lighting, the better job you will be able to do for the customer.

A detail shop doesn't need to be in a fancy state of the art building. However it is very important to keep a clean store front and detail area. A clean shop provides the customer with added confidence that their vehicle is in good hands.

This BMW is about to be polished. Notice how the detail bay is clean and organized. You can also see the lighting we added to the wall which made a dramatic improvement.


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