How to Start a Home-based Car Detailing Business

In this article we look at what car detailing kits are the best if you are thinking about starting up a car detailing business. In this article I will also try and explain how to successfully go about setting up your business. If you love cars then car detailing could be the ideal business for you.

Car detailing is a term that is used quite a lot and I thought it needed a bit of an explanation. People would have slightly different views as to what this means or to what extent they are prepared to go when detailing their car.

The word detail is self-explanatory and it means getting right into the nitty gritty of getting your car cleaned thoroughly and made to look its best. In simple terms it is about getting it back to when it was new and sitting in the show room.

Some people do confuse this with a car valet and that is not the same thing. With a valet you get, or should get the interior and exterior cleaned. Detailing simply goes a great deal further than that.

If you are anything like me and love cars then you will want it to look like this all the time. This can be difficult to do especially if you live in an urban area such as a city or out in the country where the roads are usually in pretty bad shape and frequently visited by the farming community.

Setting Up A Car Detailing Company

Setting up a car detailing business is similar to setting up any business and you will need to take advice on the very basics of setting up a small business. There is usually some type of council, regional or government help to get you started so be sure to take advantage of that. In this section I will cover off what else is actually required over and above the basic set up of a business.

There is a lot more that meets the eye with regards to setting up an auto detailing business. Sure it is a great idea to be the boss of a business that you would actually love but trust me being your own boss comes with a lot of hard work and responsibility. You will also need some capital to get started and buy equipment and supplies. You will need to do all of that before you actually make a penny.

Making A Basic Start

I spoke with many people who have started their own business and I also spoke with people who had specifically started a car detailing or a car wash business.  Here is the advice that they gave to me and I hope will help you. Before you even consider setting up as an actual business you need to learn the basics and be prepared to work hard and doing a really good job.

Start with family and close friends and ask them to be critical until they become very satisfied with your work. You will need some basic equipment for this of course but actually not a huge investment.

If they like what you have done, then you have started to build a customer base and they will soon pass your name around by word of mouth and that is actually the best business that you can get anywhere. You also need to be prepared that when you try this and the feedback is negative that you either need to change or get out.

Always check out the local competition and this part is really important. You do not need to be cheaper you just need to do a much better job and something that makes a difference. It is not always about price in this game as car lovers will pay a little extra for a really good job.

Your competition will also likely have employees who are being paid to wash and detail a car and are going through the motions. However if you bring your passion to this then you will already be streets ahead of them and still making money.

Start Up Car Detailing Packages

Meguiars G55032 Complete Car Care Kit

There are a number of these start up packages available which is great news as you will have a fixed investment when you start. You can then work out the number of cars you need to do and what profit you need to make.

This particular starter kit costs around $50 depending on where you buy it. It has the following items:

  • One 16-ounce bottle of Gold Class Car Wash Shampoo and Conditioner (G7116)
  • One 16-ounce bottle of Gold Class Liquid Wax (G7016)
  • One 16-ounce bottle of Gold Class Endurance High Gloss Gel (G7516)
  • One container of Quik Detailer (A3316)
  • One 16-ounce bottle of Quik Interior Detailer (G13616)
  • Two 50-gram clay bars with a clamshell container (R30-60-008, R30-60-120)
  • One container of PlastX (G12310)
  • One container of ScratchX (G10307)
  • One microfiber towel (M9910)
  • One foam applicator pad (R30-60-241)
  • One microfiber wash mitt (X3002).


My recommendation when you first start is to start a mobile business where you go to the customer and do your best work. Trying to get customers to come to you at the beginning is very difficult and you will need premises where people can come to and you will need a lot more money to fund that.

Typical start-up packages begin around $1500 and go all the way up to $20,000 depending on what you want or have to invest. I believe before venturing on anything new you should start small and then work your way up and always keeping an eye on the profit.

Nearly 50% of businesses stop trading in the first year and 80% of start-up businesses have gone in the first three years. In almost all cases this is down to one thing – cash flow. These start up companies have spent more money and owe more money to suppliers that they are getting in.

The only way to prevent this happening is to keep costs as low as you can and do high quality work. I would start with a small package at around $1500.  Here is what you would get for that type of investment.

  • Exterior Chemicals – Degreaser, tyre dressing, car wash, bug removers, tar removers, silicone dressing etc
  • Interior Chemicals – Stain remover, carpet cleaner, leather cleaner, window cleaner, conditioners, scents etc
  • Professional Polishes and Waxes – Car polish, car wax, car compounds, cutting compounds
  • Professional Equipment- Cyclo scrubber, brushes, bonnets, cutting brushes, orbital polishers
  • Professional Products and Supplies – Brushes, chamois, sponges, towels, micro fiber towels, blades, scrapers, buckets etc
The amount of products and supplies you get will allow you to do around 25-30 vehicles so if you charged say $100 a car you would bring in $2,500 with a cost of $1500 and a profit of $1,000 which is around $40 a vehicle.
If it took you two hours to do a car then you would be doing this for around $20 an hour.  If that is not enough then you need to charge more and the average car detailing price is $150. The other alternative is to work faster and if you can do both then you will have a nice profitable business.

Amateurs versus Professionals

There is a fundamental difference between what I call professional detailers as compared to amateurs. Professionals will start to invest in good quality equipment and really good car polish and waxes. They begin to understand what really makes a difference when it comes to tyres, chrome, interiors and showroom shine.

As your business starts to grow and you start to generate an income then you will need to invest some of this income into good quality equipment that will allow you to get the job done faster but to the same standards that you have set.  Time is money and if you can buy something that makes the job quicker then you will have more time available to do more of the same. Never ever drop your standards though or the business and the customers will quickly disappear.


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