Starting a Car Detailing Business

January 19, 2002 | By | Reply More

QUESTION ON Starting a Car Detailing Business

I eat, breathe and sleep cars. I own and show (successfully) my custom Corvette. At shows, the judges drool when they see my car because the detailing is spectacular – you can eat off my engine.

I own a small mobile home in a quiet safe community, cheap ($405) rent. Do I sell it ($20K) and jump into this great space I found on the main drag of Encinitas where I can live and work in the same place or build my business first then hope for a reasonable place later on? The rents here are obscene.

The back yard is big enough to hold three cars at one time, the house is barely big enough for me and a small office – but it’s across the street from the largest mall in the area, four exotic car dealers, and the area is full of used car dealers who need my service.

I got laid off four months ago, have about one month’s living money left and no job prospects – I have nothing if not guts, believe me. I go see the inside of the place tomorrow. I also have three credit cards with no balance, worth about $6000. I know I can make this work – I can sell ice to walruses. How do I start a car detailing business?

– Stephanie


Advice by Nach M Maravilla

Dear Stephanie,

What can I say? You’ve got everything waiting to be tapped. But I suggest that you stay calm and proceed with caution. The market is there as you see it. Now, I suggest that you try to approach these prospective auto dealers whom you say, needs your service. Talk to them. Try to get their honest opinion whether they will give you that benefit of referring to you their detailing business. Try to get a commitment. Of course, they don’t have to sign a contract with you yet, but their comments and opinions can give you an idea whether it’s worthwhile pursuing your dream.

Now, try to write a business plan so that you can see for yourself how you will start and run the business. Here are some considerations that I suggest you look into. As it is at the moment, you have personally done the detailing to your car by yourself. Have you considered how you will handle the business when customers starts coming in? Will you hire people? How about if more than three cars come at one time, have you thought of how you will park them? How much will you charge? Would the expected profit compensate for the “obscene” rent and leave you with a decent profit? How about your utilities, telephone, equipment, etc? If the business does not pick up as fast as you expected, will you have additional source of capital other than the $6,000 you have with credit cards?

Also, check the zoning of that area. Consult the City Hall authorities if that area is zoned for your planned business.

It is always better to write a business plan and properly lay down the details before you jump start the business. At least, you will be prepared and eliminate many possible errors that you might make..

But if everything is fine, start small and grow as you go on. Everything is there – go for it.

Good luck!

Nach M Maravilla

Recommended Resources on How To Start a Car Detailing Business

Article originally published in January 2001 2000. Updated February 19, 2012

Nach Maravilla is the President and CEO of LLC. He has over thirty years experience in sales and marketing of various products, which covered as he jokingly describes, “from toothpicks to airplanes” He also had extensive experience in International trading and he always excelled in special promotional ideas for retail outlets.

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Category: Business Ideas, Q & A

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