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The car wash and detailing industry is worth more than $13 billion because some individuals treat their automobiles like children and want them to be spotless at all times. You may capture a portion of that market and establish a successful business by starting your own auto detailing business.

The start-up of a car detailing service is not without difficulties, though. To succeed, you’ll need to put in a lot of effort and have the necessary knowledge. Fortunately, you’ve found the correct spot since this step-by-step manual offers all the knowledge you’ll need to get you started on the path to entrepreneurship success.

Step 1: Find Out if this is the Right Business for You?

Positives Vs Negatives

Obtaining a mobile automobile detailing business at a minimal cost is affordable.
High profit margins are possible with auto detailing.
Being adaptable means making appointments on your own schedule.
Clients who have high standards – Some clients are extremely picky about the finer details.
Numerous vehicle washes provide detailing services, increasing competition.
  • sector size and historical growth: According to market researcher IBISWorld, the US car wash and auto detailing sector grew steadily for a number of years until experiencing a decline due to an epidemic in 2020. By 2022, it is estimated to be worth close to $14 billion.
  • Forecasted growth for the industry in 2022 is 4%. Possibilities for expansion are presented by the anticipated rise in per capita disposable income.
  • Approximately 56,000 car wash and auto cleaning shops operate in the US. 
  • There are more than 200,000 people working in the sector.

Cost of Starting Car Detailing Business

Startup costs for a car detailing business range from $4,500 to $28,000. The low-end costs include purchasing used detailing tools and a used trailer to transport them. The high-end is for new detailing tools and renting a physical location. You can get all the tools you need in an auto detailer starter kit which range in price from $2,000 to $15,000.

Investments Items: 

  • Buckets
  • Vacuum
  • Brushes and applicators
  • Foam cannons
  • tools for drying

Is Car Detailing Business Profitable?

Car detailing costs $100 on average. Starting a one-person mobile business will result in a profit margin of roughly 90%. Working from home and detailing 15 automobiles each week might earn you $78,000 in your first two years of employment. According to the assumed 90% margin, this would result in a profit of around $70,000.

With the aid of more detailers, sales may increase to 70 vehicles per week as your brand becomes more well-known. At this point, renting a place for a business and hiring workers would reduce your profit margin to about 40%. You would earn around $145,000 a year if your income were $364,000 a year.

Entry Barriers

  • Physical locations require substantial startup expenses.
  • Large chain car washes will be your competition.

Step 2: Create a Strategy

Identify a Gap

To compare services, costs, and customer feedback, research local auto detailing companies. Finding a market gap to fill is what you’re after. A mobile on-demand service, for instance, can be lacking in the local market.

Your word-of-mouth advertising may gain momentum as a result, drawing customers in right immediately.


Offering several service bundles may be something you want to do. Vacuuming, washing, and waxing all interior non-fabric surfaces could be part of a basic detailing service. A comprehensive detailing package could also include:

  • removing stains and cleaning clothing
  • Repainting the trim
  • motor cleaning
  • cleaning tires


Basic detailing can cost $75 to $150, depending on the size of the car. Up to $250 can be charged for full-service detailing.

You should strive for a profit margin of 90% since your only costs as a mobile detailer operating alone will be cleaning materials and gas. Utilize the Step By Step profit margin calculator to establish your price points after knowing your expenditures.

Target Market

Car owners will be your target market, especially those who own new or vintage vehicles, as they tend to be a more seasoned demographic. They are accessible on websites like LinkedIn and Facebook.


You can prefer to operate your company from home in the beginning to save money. However, when your company expands, you might need to hire personnel for a variety of positions and rent an office and/or garage. Utilize websites like Instant Offices, Crexi, and Craigslist to find rental opportunities for commercial space in your neighborhood.

You might want to abide by these general guidelines while selecting a commercial space:

  • central site that is reachable via public transportation
  • large, well-ventilated, and well-lit
  • As your firm expands, you can extend your flexible lease.
  • Unrequited big repairs or renovations, ready to use space

Step 3: Write a Business Plan

Every company requires a plan. This will serve as a manual to help you through the launch process for your firm while staying focused on your major objectives. An investor’s and partner’s ability to comprehend your company and its goals is also enhanced by a business plan:

  • The executive summary, which should be written once the plan is finished, provides a concise summary of the entire document.
  • Overview of the business, including ownership, vision, mission, and corporate goals.
  • Give a thorough description of your products and services.
  • Analyze the market by performing a SWOT analysis and evaluating trends like changes in demand and development potential.
  • Construct a list of the benefits of your services after analyzing your top competitors’ strengths and flaws.
  • Develop sales, marketing, and promotional tactics by considering your companies’ USPs (unique selling propositions).
  • Overview of the management team, including a description of each member’s responsibilities and educational background, as well as a corporate organizational chart.
  • Operations Plan: Your company’s operations plan covers logistics, office location, essential assets, and equipment.
  • Financial Plan: Three years of financial planning, including startup expenses, break-even analysis, profit and loss projections, cash flow, and a balance sheet.
  • Include any extra financial or business-related documents in the appendix.

Step 4: Create a Marketing Plan

You should still spend in digital marketing even though some of your business will come from infrequent online users. It’s crucial for new firms to spread the word because it will increase brand and client recognition. 

Establish links between your social media accounts and your website once it is live. The ability to create interesting posts that promote your items on social media makes it an excellent tool for business promotion: 

  • Facebook is a fantastic tool for paid advertising since it enables you to target particular demographics, such men under 50 in the Cleveland area. 
  • Facebook-like advantages with a different audience on Instagram.
  • Website: SEO will assist in advancing the position of your website higher in pertinent search results, which is essential for boosting sales. On your website, make sure to optimize the calls to action. Test different text, color, size, and positioning options for calls to action like “Buy Now.” As a result, purchases may rise significantly. 
  • Google and Yelp: Listing on Google My Business and Yelp might be essential for businesses that depend on local clients to increase visibility and attract new clients. 

Kickstart Marketing

To raise awareness of your services and establish your brand, make use of your website, social media presence, and in-person activities. Below are a few ideas.

  • Blog creation: Create a blog and post frequently. Share on many sites while varying your material.
  • Choose platforms that will allow you to reach your target market and run targeted social media marketing.
  • Use Google AdWords for pay-per-click advertising to appear in search results more quickly. Initial keyword research is required.
  • Create material for your customers’ needs and post it online using content marketing.
  • Send regular emails to consumers and prospects as part of your email marketing or newsletter strategy. Individualize them.
  • Publish infographics and include them into your material after creating them.
  • By handing out flyers in your community and at professional gatherings.