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Home > Autos, Planes & Bikes > Professional Detail Supplies & Packages > Auto Detail Shops > Videos & Business Information > Outline for Success!

Outline for Success!

Outline for Success! Your Detailing Service will thrive if it is based on one, simple rule. Repeat Customers are the Secret to Success!

Give your customers more than just a clean car. Give them QUALITY, VALUE and PIECE OF MIND.

  • Insist on the highest-quality service, equipment and products. Your competition doesn't.
  • Give your customers value for their dollar. Never cut corners to save cost.
  • Instill confidence in your customers. Proudly advertise your commitment to excellence. Promoting a first class, "we care" image, develops loyal and lasting customer relations.

    1. Taylor your business to meet the needs of the local customer base. Study your community. Each hour spent on research, can equal a year of success.

    2. Determine if there is a demand for high-quality detailing in your area. Survey the entire area. Look for high concentrations of traffic. Locate retail businesses, auto dealerships, manufacturing plants, medical buildings, airports, transport companies, etc.

    3. Investigate local environmental laws with the EPA. State, county, and city laws vary greatly .
    4. Check-out the competition. Have your car detailed. Ask questions and observe.

    5. Educate yourself. The library is an excellent source for articles and books on detailing. If possible, work part-time in a shop. Practice your skills.

    6. Decide on the services you will offer. A well-rounded business should give the customer several detailing options, and offer specialized services.

    7. Decide on the types of vehicles you will detail. Fleet and emergency vehicles, boats, limousines and motorcycles can generate considerably higher detailing fees.
    1. Be conservative. Take your time and set priorities.

    2. Choose a location with easy access. This can be a personal residence, mobile rig, commercial building, or rental space in an existing automotive-related business (car wash, lube shop, stereo shop, window tint, etc.)

    3. Shop-around for financing. Interest rates vary. You might also consider alternative financing.

    4. Purchase adequate insurance. This includes full coverage on customer vehicles in the shop, and off the premises during pick-up and delivery.

    5. Invest in a good phone system. If you cannot be reached directly, you should be able to return a customer's call within 15 minutes.

    6. Set-up a credit card account for business purchases. Most suppliers do not offer credit terms or C.O.D.

    7. Set-up a credit card account for retail sales. You can now accept payment via your cell phone! Accepting credit cards offers financial safeguards and convenience for your customers.

    8. Investigate state and city tax laws. Some require sales tax on services.

    You get what you pay for still holds true. Invest in high-quality, professional equipment.


    Standard Equipment

    1. pressure washer ($800-$2500)
    2. wet-dry vacuum ($200-$400)
    3. random orbital polisher ($200-$300)
    4. generous florescent lighting ($200-$500)
    5. high-speed rotary polisher ($200-$300)

    Optional Equipment

     1. carpet extractor ($700-$2000)
     2. interior dryer ($200-$300)
     3. odor removal (ozone or fogger..$200-$500)


    Standard Equipment

     Same as above plus:
     1. van or truck with covered bed
     2. trailer w/ water storage tank ($1500-$2300)
     3. electric generator (gas..$300-$800)

    Optional Equipment

     Same as above plus:
     1. portable canopy $1000)
     2. portable florescent lighting ($180-$250)
     3. portable propane heater ($150-$200)



    Exterior Products

     1. shampoo (1-strong, 1-mild)
     2. tar/grease remover
     3. paint cleaner (oxidation/wax remover)
     4. swirl remover
     5. one-step cleaner/wax (express detail)
     6. carnauba paste wax (depth and shine)
     7. paint sealant (extended durability)
     8. wheel/tire cleaner (non-acid)
     9. rubber dressing (tires, bumpers, seals, hoses)
    10. glass cleaner (alcohol-based)
    11. engine cleaner/degreaser (non-acid)
    12. engine dressing (water-based)

    Optional Exterior Products

     1. pre-soak (bug remover)
     2. paint leveler (acid rain/scratch remover)
     3. clay bar (over-spray/sap remover)
     4. glass polish (water spot removal)
     5. aluminum polish
     6. chrome polish
     7. plastic polish
     8. vinyl dye (textured trim)
     9. adhesive remover

    Interior Products

     1. carpet/fabric shampoo (non-foaming)
     2. carpet/fabric protectant
     3. vinyl/leather cleaner (non-solvent)
     4. vinyl dressing (water-based)
     5. leather conditioner (non-solvent)

    Optional Interior Products

     1. vinyl dyes 
     2. leather dyes 
     3. deodorizer (cigarette odors)
     4. disinfectant (bacterial odors)


    Standard Accessories

     1. wheel/tire brush
     2. spoke and slot brush
     3. vent brush
     4. carpet/fabric brush
     5. sponge (preferably natural)
     6. terry towels (several sizes)
     7. spray bottles
     8. squeeze bottles
     9. bug/tar sponge (nylon)


    Optional Accessories

     1. foam-tipped swabs (crevice cleaning)
     2. magnetic paint gauge (measures paint  thickness)
     3. decal remover
     4. polisher pads (paint cleaning)
     5. engine detail brushes
     6. single edge razor blades


    Impact advertising is the key to a successful start in business.
    Consistent advertising keeps you in business.

    Select a descriptive, easy-to-remember name for your business:  A great name is the first step to success. Don't leave the public guessing. Include a brief description. (We selected the name "Top of the Line", followed by Automobile Enhancement).

    Design professional-looking business cards: Make them bold and colorful. Keep the text short and easy to read. Additional info should be put in a pamphlet.
    List services and pricing in a flier or pamphlet: Describe each level of service with easy-to-read, bold print. Highlight with graphics.

    Display your company name, phone number, and services: Utilize fixed or portable signs, banners, tents, the yellow pages, and vehicle doors/windows for on-site advertising.

    Dress for success: Look professional. A polo shirt, lab coat, or apron can advertise your business name.

    Set a budget just for media advertising: Keep your ads short and frequent. Local radio and cable television can be tailored for a particular audience and are usually affordable. Newspaper ads are often not productive. The yellow pages are inexpensive and used by everyone.

    Use your imagination:  Use the newspaper for a grand opening photo opportunity. Join your local Chamber of Commerce. Trade detailing services for advertising spots.

    Promote your expertise:  With a few years of experience, you can easily write an article or column for the newspaper. Offer your expertise to radio and TV stations. Question and answer shows are very popular.

    Always guarantee your work: This is the best advertising in the world. It develops the REPEAT CUSTOMER and the REPEAT CUSTOMER does your advertising!


    Remember who is really responsible for paying the bills!
    Customers are your #1 priority.

    Know your business: Mistakes can cost you money and your best customer. Experience develops trust and makes a lasting impression.

    Be consistent: Always get the job done on time and do it right the FIRST TIME!

    Attitude makes all the difference: All employees should be considerate, patient, honest in their opinions, and above all, always listen to the customer.

    Make your customer's visit a pleasant experience: Keep your shop, waiting area, bathrooms, equipment, and all employees immaculate. Cheerful colors, soft music, comfortable seating, and pleasing aromas can soothe an impatient or weary customer.

    Educate your customers:  Explain and demonstrate the difference between high-quality service and an average "Ho-Hum" detail.

    Go the extra mile: Give your customers more than they expect. Offer an occasional FREE service to a good customer. Offer a FREE service with a full detail.

    Encourage money-saving maintenance programs: Not only does this develop repeat customers, it maintains a high resale value on their vehicles.

    Keep in touch: A thank you card or follow-up phone call will impress just about anyone!


    Expand with Demand!

    Hire competent employees: At some point you will need additional help. Don't be afraid to hire older or retired people. They are dependable and eager to work. Women have an uncanny eye for details and finishing work.
    Education:  Make sure your employees are well-trained. Re-train those with past experience.
    Insurance:  Protect your business with an employee "non-compete" document and liability insurance.Designate the high-speed polisher for "your use only".

    Offer products and accessories for resale:  Don't waste floor space. A waiting area can generate a lot of profit. Use eye-catching displays. Offer exclusive items not found in discount stores.
    DIVERSIFY SERVICES: Double your income! Eliminate your competition. Odor Removal, Carpet Dyeing and Glass Repair are in demand and easy to learn. Interior Repair requires hands-on training, but well worth the investment. Paintless Dent Repair (PDR) requires a major investment and weeks of training. It should be set-up as a separate business.

    Portable Repair Systems

     1. Odor Removal ($200-$400)
     2.Glass Repair ($500-$2500)
     4.Carpet Dyeing ($350-$400)
     3.Carpet & Fabric Repair ($300-$700)
     5.Vinyl Repair ($300-$1000)
     6. Leather Repair ($300-$1000)
     7. Paintless Dent Repair ($2,000-$3,000)
     8. Training for some services ($1,000-$2,000))

    Start-Up or Product Information:  800-533-5743 
    Questions?   Phone:  479-638-7302