29 December 2021

HOW TO START A DETAILING BUSINESS?

Auto detailing is snowballing in the whole world. Very few people today have time to take care of their car themselves, yet everybody wants their ride to be shiny.

The willingness is there, but we all lack time. We’re sure you know we mean.

Secondly, as buying new cars is much harder due to the pandemic,  people are more eager to take more care of their current four wheels than buying new ones when they get dirty.

These two reasons mean that the demand for detailing services is constantly growing. And, as a result, many people are willing to start their own auto detailing businesses.

As Ultracoat, we worked with many studios. We helped set up a few of them, so today we will advise you on how to start your own detailing business.

Firstly…

Get and validate your detailing skills.

Even if you are a self-taught detailer and have a natural talent for car care, it’s good for your knowledge to be up-to-date, structured, and, above all, documented.

On the market, you will find many courses and guides, from basics on external or internal detailing to specialized courses focusing on a small part of the detailer’s work, e.g., polishing.

You need to remember that expensive cars will come to your garage, and the owners care for them as if they were their own children.

Even if a course doesn’t teach you anything new, taking it will allow you to brag to your clients that you are fully entitled to take care of their beloved car. You will be able to boast of certificates confirming that you have the appropriate skills and can be trusted.

It will be easier to run a detailing business if you give your customers this certainty.

Acquire basic marketing knowledge

Besides technical skills, it’s good for you to know marketing basics.

Setting up an auto detailing studio will require you to stand out on the market and consciously build the image of the studio. You have tons of marketing tools for that, both online and offline.

Complete your knowledge about the basics of websites, positioning (SEO), or paid ads by Facebook and Google. Learn how to photograph the car so that your photos alone will bring you customers. Find out what word-of-mouth marketing is.

Keep an eye on your competitors and learn good advertising practices from them, both online and offline. Fortunately, auto detailing has already become so anchored on the market that some advertising practices can be simply copied well.

Do the necessary math

As a beginner detailer, you need to do business math. Plan your expenses as early as possible and estimate your revenues.

What do we mean by that?

Answer the following questions: what is your planned income, planned employment? First, count the costs of running a garage, including running a business in general. Then, estimate your spending schedule (we recommend a simple Excel spreadsheet).

Plan a price list relevant for your clients and place it appropriately on the local detailing market.

Adapt your garage to auto detailing

Opening an auto detailing studio requires a room adapted to professional car care. 

Primarily:

  • The division into a dry zone for polishing, car wrapping, coating application, and a wet zone for washing. The division into both zones must be clear to maintain control over moisture,
  • Drainage of water with a separator of oil derivatives and good ventilation in the wet zone,
  • Nice waiting room. You don’t want your customers to freeze, get wet, or huddle in a cramped space on an uncomfortable armchair. Car detailing is a premium service, and such conditions are expected by your customers,
  • Excellent lighting that will allow you to work on the cars and marketing materials effectively,
  • Comfortable, safe, hardened entrance and – if possible – parking spaces in front of the garage,
  • Heating and air conditioning. Temperature control is crucial, especially when it comes to ceramic coatings, which will (likely) be your key service,
  • A separate social and office area.

In our experience, it’s tough to find a place that meets all these requirements. For example, there is often no proper sewage system; garages lack additional water drainage and the separator.

Additionally, as mentioned above, auto detailing is an expensive and exclusive service, so apart from purely technical aspects, the garage’s interior should be neat.

Given all the above aspects, the question arises, how much does it cost to renovate a garage for auto detailing services? Unfortunately, there is no clear answer here. The prices for the renovation start from a few and end at several dozen or thousand euro.

We know studios that started in their own garage put 2,000-5,000€ and slowly started their business to earn money to renovate a bigger one. On the other hand, we know garages that started big from investing 20,000-50,000€.

It all depends on where, how big and how well adapted you will find the room here and now.

And of course, on how much money you have. 🙂

Fot. Piven Service Detailing – Warszawa

Studio equipment

A detailing studio can’t do without the right tools and cleaning chemicals. These are:

  • Professional car cosmetics (shampoos, ceramic coatings, waxes, chemicals for windows and rims, polishing pastes)
  • Cleaning equipment (pressure washer, wet and dry vacuum cleaner, gun for washing upholstery, foam sprayer)
  • Additional lighting (halogen lamps, headlamps, inspection lamps)
  • Polishing accessories (polishing machines with a various scope of work)
  • Other accessories (paint thickness gauge, ozonizer, buckets, cloths, pads, brushes, masks)

What exactly you need will depend on the scope of services in your studio. Once again, we refer to the article about the prices, in which we discuss this topic in more detail.

Costs? Again, from a few to a dozen thousand euros.

Take care of formal requirements

The number of formal requirements strictly depends on the country you’re operating in. As for Poland, meeting them is one of the more difficult stages of a fully legal auto detailing. We will not dwell on the Polish administration, though… 🙂

However, in most countries, whether the law is easy for detailers or not, meeting formal requirements is a one-time effort. Once you do it right, you’re done forever.

Breaking the administrative barrier will also distinguish you from garage amateurs and position your studio two levels higher at the start in customers’ eyes.

To be sure what formal actions you have to take, you need to ask your local authorities. In most cases, the first and essential step is to register your business as a car wash. 

The second requirement is a water permit for sewage discharge into water, soil, sewage system, and waste generation. For this, it may be necessary to have a separator of petroleum substances for the legal washing of cars on the property.

And finally…

Car detailing is a direction we have taken ourselves and loved forever. Working with cars is a job full of joy and satisfaction, also financially.

If you have any questions regarding the studio’s opening, feel free to write or call us.

We are happy to help you start your own business and take the first steps in the industry. Especially when it comes to professional care cosmetics and/or advice on them.

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