Skip to content


How To Start A Mobile Detailing Business

How To Start A Mobile Detailing Business

If you’ve got a love of cars and a flair for entrepreneurship, then running a mobile detailing business might just be for you. Whether you want to focus exclusively on cars, or you’d like to branch out into boats, caravans, and other larger vehicles, it’s pretty easy to get yourself established.

Plus, with low starting fees and the ability to decide your own service offerings, set your own rates, and work when you’d like, mobile auto detailing can become profitable really quickly. Still, there’s a lot to think about, including the equipment you’ll need, the way you market your business, and everything in between.

But don’t worry, because we’ve pulled together all the insider information we think you’ll need to know. Keep on reading if you want to find out how to start and run a successful mobile detailing business.

Learn the ropes

First things first, you’ll need to know how to do a bang-up job when it comes to detailing cars and other vehicles. Realistically, you’ll never have a viable detailing business if you don’t learn to deliver top quality services.

From car washes and finishes to interior repair and so on, it’s crucial that you understand the ins and outs of auto detailing before you start to think about anything else. Don’t worry if your knowledge is limited, though, because you can always sign yourself up to a course.

Take this comprehensive Auto Detailing Certification course. It offers hands-on auto detailing training as well as modules on business management and marketing. So you’re guaranteed to come away with all the skills you need to run a successful car detailing business. And, because it’s taught online, you can complete it at your own pace and in your own time.


Developing your mobile detailing businesses idea

Once you have acquired all the necessary skills to offer full car detailing services, it’s time to consider the shape and scope of the business you want to build, the products you’ll need for it, and how to get yourself set up. Here are some of the main things you should be thinking about.

Why run a mobile detailing business?  

Mobile detailing can be a great business venture, more so than a car wash or detailing business based in a physical location. In fact, by going down the mobile car washing route, you can save yourself an awful lot of money on upfront costs and overheads.

All you need is your own mode of transportation, the right equipment, and enough temporary locations to set yourself up, and you’re pretty much good to go. Just remember to get all the appropriate licenses and permits before you start, too.

It’s also much easier to be competitive doing mobile detailing. Easily compete with brick-and-mortar car washes and car dealerships by offering top notch services in locations that are convenient for your customers, and at better price points.

Getting started

Now that you’ve made up your mind to start a mobile detailing business, it’s important to go in with a game plan. Remember that how mobile detailing businesses perform very often depends on the initial impression they make and the customer base they build in the early stages. So, here are some top tips for when you’re just starting out:

Step 1: Scope out the competition

Understand who you’re up against by checking out what auto detailing services are already available in your local area. Do that, and you’ll know how to offer your services in a way that better appeals to your target audience.

Step 2: Create a budget

Any entrepreneur knows that it’s not possible to kickstart a new business if you’re blind to your budget. Have a think about how much it will cost to get yourself established, and then consider how much you’ll need to spend on supplies, fuel, and paying yourself and any employees you might hire.

Step 3: Commit to quality

You must be able to build and maintain trust when you run your own business. If your customers don’t trust you, there’s no way they’ll buy into what you’re selling, especially if there are other auto detailing businesses nearby. Always strive to do the best possible job, and prove to people that they can rely on you for excellence.

What do you need to start a mobile detailing business?

Mobile auto detailing businesses need a lot of supplies and equipment. Especially because, if you want to detail cars as well as clean them, you’ll need dedicated detailing tools in addition to your standard cleaning products. Here are some handy product lists below that will give you a better idea of what equipment you’ll need to start a mobile detailing business.

1. Car exterior

The detailing supplies you’ll need for the exterior of your car will be different from those required to clean and finish the inside of a car.

However, while there’s no doubt that you’ll have to do a great job with both if you want to impress your customers, the car’s exterior is arguably more important. That’s because it’s the first thing your customers will see, which makes it an opportunity to make an impression.

The detailing supplies and car washing equipment needed to make the exterior of a car look good as new include the following:

  • Power washer.
  • Pressure washer.
  • Buckets and sponges.
  • Polishes.
  • Waxes.
  • Detergents.
  • Rim and wheel cleaners.
  • Clay bar.
  • Microfiber towels and chamois cloths.
  • Rotary buffer.
  • Water tanks.

You could also look to make your mobile detailing business more economical and environmentally friendly. Do this by adding a water reclamation system to your toolbox, which works by reclaiming used water and turning it back into water that is wash quality.

Water reclamation can help to make your car wash and detailing services much better for the environment, and, as such, give your business a great unique selling point.

2. Car interior

Your car detailing and wash business will also need to offer interior services. Some of the products you might want to consider investing in to clean the inside of a vehicle include:

  • Vacuum.
  • Steam-cleaner or vapor steamer.
  • Carpet and upholstery shampoo.
  • Deodorizers.
  • Brushes.
  • Air compressor.
  • Detailing brushes.


Where to shop for mobile detailing tools?

There are several places you can buy your detailing equipment from, including specialty online stores such as Detail King and Autopia. Buying from superstores and hardware stores is also an option, with Walmart, Target, and Ace Hardware all offering a wide range of products.

Many stores that sell detailing supplies also sell startup kits, which include bundles of products available at a lower overall cost. Shopping for bundles and buying in bulk could help to save you money in the early days of your business.

The mobile detailing services you could offer

You’ve got all the supplies you need, so now is the time to figure out what services you want to provide with them. When coming up with a services menu, you must make it clear that you can offer more than just a clean car.

Otherwise, your mobile detailing business is basically indistinguishable from drive-through car washes. You will need to first scope out the competition in your local area to figure out what services you want to offer, as well as the price points you want to pitch them at.

If, for example, you find that there are plenty of places that only offer overpriced exterior car cleaning packages, consider offering more basic services with additional add-ons.

These add-ons, which could include chip repair and window tint, will allow customers to tailor your services to their needs. Or, if a lot of local businesses offer basic exterior and interior detailing at affordable prices, you could offer a more professional, higher-priced service.

Creating the perfect service menu

Always ensure that you include exterior as well as interior car cleaning and detailing on your service menu as it shows you offer a variety of services. If you do, you’re much more likely to appeal to a wide range of people.

As well as your standard cars cleaning service, some other offers you might want to consider including are:

  • Glass repair.
  • Paintless dent repair.
  • Paint chip repair.
  • Convertible top cleaning.
  • Headlight restoration.
  • Car waxes.
  • Carpet dyeing.
  • Trim restorer.

How to make money with a mobile detailing business?

People who run auto detailing businesses often make good money. And, since the startup costs are relatively low, the profits can start building up early on.

The amount you’ll have to invest to get your business off the ground will probably be between $5,000 and $25,000, depending on the scale of your operations. After that, since you shouldn’t have too many expenses to pay, you can quite quickly earn enough to make that money back.

To help your business start in the most lucrative possible way, there are a couple of key things you must get right. The first is setting your prices, and the other is marketing your business.

Setting your prices

Different people will opt for different auto detailing business plans. But, as a rule, professional detailers should set their prices lower when starting their business from scratch. This will help to attract more people, giving you the opportunity to really prove that your services are worth the money. Then, once you’ve achieved that, you can start to increase your prices.

However, if you want wider profit margins straight out the gate, then you should consider offering luxury services using higher quality products. Offering ceramic coating rather than standard wax or sealant paint coatings could help you stand out from the crowd, as could deep shine applications and stain removal.

Marketing a mobile detailing business

While mobile car detailing can be very rewarding very quickly, it is still a competitive industry. There are car washing businesses all over the place. To make sure your business really stands out, you’ll need to put time and effort into your marketing strategy.

Build a brand that sticks in peoples’ minds, starting with a catchy business name and eye-catching logo. Then, design a business card and print fliers, leaflets, and other marketing materials that will help you get your name out there.

Running a business is all about sparking interest, particularly in the early days, and that takes a lot of effort. However, once you’ve got the ball rolling and people start to make use of your services, word of mouth will take over a lot of the work for you.

In your marketing campaign, always try to get across the fact that you are professional, that your work is high quality, and that you can offer customers something that your competitors can’t. If you don’t, people won’t have any real reason to pick your cleaning business over someone else’s.

Legal requirements for starting your mobile detailing business

There’s just one more thing you’ll need to make sure you get sorted before starting a mobile auto detailing business — the licenses and permits. Now, different locations will have different legal requirements in place, so make sure to research the area you’ll be operating in thoroughly, to find out what sort of business license you’ll need.

For more information on licensing and permits in your local area, you can check out the US Small Business Administration’s guide here.

Don’t forget that you’ll need business insurance and liability insurance as well as business credit. All of these legal requirements are intended to keep you, your company, and your customers safe. As time consuming as they are to contend with, the appropriate permits and insurance policies are essential for your business to run smoothly.

Enroll in a car detailing course today

The right course will teach you how to complete all aspects of an interior design project, from detailing the interiors, engine bay and wheels to business management and marketing. The Courses for Success Auto Detailing Online Certification Course is a great introduction into car detailing, and will help you to kickstart your car detailing career, right from the comfort of your own home. Check out the course units of study and enroll today.

Previous article What Is Self-Development?