The Professional Car Detailer

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How Much Do Detail Shops Make


How Much Do Detail Shops Make

Detailing count If you have a passion for detailing along with some good business acumen, you can actually make a very pretty decent living from your detail shop. Before we talk figures, let’s break down what detailing the business is and what are the building blocks that will make it lucrative for you.

At retail level, detailing is a very personal experience for the customer. Moreover, these owners tend to be very knowledgeable about their cars and take great pride and pleasure in keeping their vehicle assets in top condition. At the wholesale level such as for fleets, it’s about the public image. For car dealerships, it’s about the product image. Above all, professionalism is at the heart of what they seek. If they like the quality of your service and know their assets are in good hands, they will not think twice about paying, even if it is at premium prices in some instances.

How well-versed and trained you are in detailing

Even if you have been exposed to detailing from when you were young, there are always aspects of it that you will need training in. Additionally, thanks to technological advancements, many of the equipment, tools and accessories have been updated by leaps and get the job done more efficiently. Identify where your weaknesses are and get the right tools and professional training that will leapfrog you in front of your competitors.

How long have you been in the business

If you are a detailer that has just set up shop, you will obviously not make as much as someone who’s been at it successfully for a while. Before we go into how long before you make good money, let’s suppose in year one, your retail rate starts at about $150 – $180. Moreover, if you do just one car a day for 20 days each month at $180, you will make an average of $3,600 per month. Or $28,800 (for 8 months of work in the year). Certainly, that in itself is a good start for a new small business.

Year one is the teething stage when you polish up your skills of the trade, establish your name and build your customer relationships. This year is also the toughest as you have to put in the hours to market your brand, find customers who will give your first breaks and deliver your best services.

Business is complex and can be messy sometimes. You will have to take charge and plan, organize, (oftentimes) execute and manage – sales and marketing, inventory planning, cost controls, staff hires, customer service, accounts among others.

How well you know and are engaged with your customers

The detailing service business is as much about the detailing as it is about the relationships you build. Understandably, when someone hands you the keys to one of their vital possessions, there has to be a level of trust and confidence that you will do the work as promised and deliver their vehicles back to them in top condition.

To achieve that, you have to demonstrate in-depth knowledge of vehicles and detailing in order to answer their questions informatively; coupled with proven integrity in your words and actions. Once you have their full confidence, they will stick with you even if you charge a rate that is higher than the detailers you compete with. Why? Because they know you will detail the vehicle as if it was your own.

The best part is if both, detailing and building relationships, are second nature to you. You will draw in the right clients and have advance bookings into the weeks by year two.

How well you market and position your brand

Provided you market and position your brand accurately, consistently and regularly. Moreover, you will get customers trickle in at first and then by the of quality of your service and also by word of mouth, that will turn into a bigger flow. This does not take long to make happen if you have a clear plan of execution which is regularly refined to reflect your business circumstances.

This table gives you a picture of how much you can be earning during the peak summer months.


No. of Vehicles/day

Retail Rate

Monthly Income

(20 days)

Summer Income

(4 months)






















The above figures are attractive but they do not come without perseverance, hard work, resilience, and polished detailing and business smarts. Nevertheless, the idea of a one year investment of slogging it out for the income, goodwill and business value that can be achieved makes it a most worthwhile 1-year boot camp.

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