Mobile Detailing Business Startup Kit

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You can start a mobile car detailing business with little investment or almost no cash outs. The risk is minimal and you get to choose what time you work your business. It’s a great business to do part time especially if you are in college or you have a job and want to supplement your income.

If these features attract you then this mobile detailing business guide will instruct you how you can get started right away.

Here are a few tips to get your business running.

Put together a mobile car detailing business plan

First, know how much time it will to work on a single car. Time yourself and log down the time spent in detailing a car. This way you have an estimated working time per car and you can budget your time accordingly. Second, determine how much your rate will be. Survey other mobile car detailing competitors in your area. Know the rates they ask for and set your fees in the mid range level. Third, after knowing how much time is needed to work on a car and after determining your rate per car, compute how many cars you need to service in a day to be profitable. Quickly calculate how much overhead you spend per car and subtract these numbers to your total income for day. It will help you a lot if you keep a journal of your daily expenditures and the income that comes in as well. This way you keep track of your cash flow. Finally, set a goal of how many cars you will service on a daily basis to keep ahead of the game.

Think of a catchy detailing business name

Pick out a name that is inline to what you offer people. Use a business name that’s easy to remember and easy to associate with. Visit your local city hall for a business name. Now your potential car detailing clients will notice you.

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Get a car detailing business license

Visit your city clerk’s office and apply for the licenses needed to operate legally.

Things you will need to operate your business

First, invest on a spacious van where you can store a lot of cleaning supplies and other materials you could use to do a quick but efficient job. Second, search the web for a supplier that offers cheap but effective cleaning supplies. Buying supplies in bulk is cheaper in the long run. Find sources that will keep your overhead low. Finally, invest on a reliable portable car wash shower.

Areas where to start your mobile car detailing business

Begin by contacting offices first. Develop a promo deal or an office program that’s hard to turn down. Something like for every 3 job services you get, they get 1 free job service. Capturing office clients is a sure way to make money right away. It will save you fuel and traveling time too. Next, try developing home clients. Try working by neighborhood so as you don’t waste time traveling around like vulture. Try developing some loyal customers. Servicing 10-15 clients a week regularly on top of having office clients can already make you a decent living. If you still have time, you could wait on potential clients on parking lots. This way you could do their cars while they are doing their groceries or shopping.

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44 Comments

  • 1. Derriet J Reed said on 1/28/2009 7:17:41 PM
    How much insurance should I get to cover my business if a car is damage and I was at fault.
  • 2. JAY said on 12/4/2009 10:10:10 AM
    CHESAPEAKE, VA. I already have a van, a supply dealer, the tank, etc. I want to know how can i keep track of the money that my employee collect?
  • 3. JAY said on 12/4/2009 10:13:39 AM
    Derriet J Reed - i was talking to someone who is currently in business and he gets his insurance through state farm, he pays $50 per month, the insurance you need is garage keeps insurance. But from my understanding you can contact your insurance company and see if they offer garage keepers insurance that way you are covered in case anything happen to the customer car.
  • 4. lupe sanchez said on 12/7/2009 12:32:57 AM
    I want to start a mobile detailing business in orlando florida. Any advice for me.
  • 5. Michael Speede said on 1/22/2010 12:46:52 AM
    Hi Lupe, Just to let you know, I am new to the "mobile" detailing arena as I have conducted detailing practices over the past nine years site-based in a shop. Its a good way to start and certainly more advantageous with the flexibility of movement from place-to-place. I generate roughly $4000 a month departmentalizing myself in business parking lots 5 days a week. Its frigging insane and unbelievable. That's on top of my military retirement and I'm only 39.

    I simply started out with developing a business plan which was presented to a SBA (Small Business Administration) representative, opened a business account with CHASE bank, and used a high credit limit credit-card to purchase a van, equipment (wet-dry vac, microfiber rags, buckets, buffers, cleaning products, extension cords, clay kit, etc.), and registered my business name at the Dallas county clerks office.

    No license nor excise tax is required for small businesses in this state as there is no diminimous source of air pollution nor contaminants from certain products while they are eco-friendly, PH balanced, and biodegradable. I ordered a 150 gallon portable tank online which was mounted in the rear of my van, and purchased a pressure washer for $150 at a pawn shop. This all took me 5 months to establish and it was all well worth the work. I totalled $5800 for start up including the van for $3800.

    email me anytime for more info. Mike
  • 6. rudy miguel said on 3/12/2010 1:30:00 PM
    do you need a tag number or tax number, i dont know do i need both
  • 7. Pamela said on 5/13/2010 4:06:38 PM
    I would like to start a Auto Detail business in Fort Lauderdale, FL, any suggestion!!
  • 8. Marvius said on 5/19/2010 7:22:01 PM
    Would like to start a detail business here in Memphis Tn whats the best way to get clients on contract. i have a full time job and would be doing this on weekends until i establish enough money to go full time
  • 9. Frederick Rorie said on 5/26/2010 1:30:31 AM
    WADESBORO NC USA NEED ANY AND ALL INFO ON HOW TO GET STARTED WITH MOBILE DETAILING. THANKX
  • 10. Timmy said on 6/14/2010 1:12:42 PM
    Hi, I want to start a detailing business in the Los Angeles area. What is the best way to start off getting customers? Thanks
  • 11. Ruben said on 6/23/2010 1:10:11 PM
    I am in the research process of wanting to open a Mobile Car wash business. Any advice and what supplies do i need??? I am told to get a 350 watt generator instead of a pressure washer and vice versa. Any advice/suggestions???
  • 12. Tyrone Norman said on 8/22/2010 2:15:17 PM
    HI I'M A BUS MGMT COLLEGE GRAD LOOKING TO START A MOBILE DETAILING BUSINESS IN THE HAMPTON ROADS AREA OF VIRGINIA. AS OF NOW I'M WORKING FULL TIME BUT LOOKING TO GET STARTED AND WHEN PROFITABLE CHANGE TO DOING MY MOBILE DETAILING BUSINESS FULL TIME. ANY ADVICE OR START INFO IS VERY WELCOMED THANKS ALOT
  • 13. Samuel Casey said on 9/6/2010 3:06:56 PM
    Virgnia Beach, VA. I want to start my business in the next few weeks, I know I need a business license but do I need a irs#, and how do I track the revenue for the irs. Is a hand written receipt from office maxx good enough. Thanks, Samuel Casey
  • 14. David T said on 9/16/2010 2:51:29 PM
    Although i am not new to detailing, i am new to starting a business and i have absolutely no idea where to start i could really use some help.
  • 15. Alex said on 9/30/2010 1:40:50 PM
    Virginia Beach, VA. Hey samual I wanted to know how its going for you as far as the detailing goes.. I am thinking about starting a mobile detailing business and I thought maybe we could help each other out.
  • 16. raymond said on 12/8/2010 9:56:48 PM
    hi my name is ray and i have experience in working for a car wash for about 9 years, i wanna start my own buisness in nj but dont know where to turn when it comes to having a place of buisness and the funds a loan, yeah i have bad credit and all i own is my car can i put that as collateral
  • 17. Jamie Race said on 12/23/2010 12:59:27 AM
    Mike Speede, Whats your email address? I have some questions I would like to ask you?
  • 18. Jason Hamilton said on 6/13/2011 1:28:35 PM
    I'm in Oakland, California. I would like to start a tire recycling business, I dont know which business will buy use Retreads. I have a pick-up truck, i would like to pick up tires off the street,and sale them to a purchaser or distributor just like a recycling can and bottle place. Do you know which places will buy from me, I would appreciate it if you can help me? Jason Hamilton
  • 19. janice blevins said on 6/23/2011 8:19:06 AM
    i am starting a business in the state of virginia,it is a mobile van,to repair alloy wheels.i have applied for ein#...do i need a business license to work in wheel repair?i will not be collecting taxes...will fickle on earned income at the end of year...thank j blevins.....also do i need to register name of company.
  • 20. jimmy c said on 7/10/2011 7:23:54 PM
    I have everything ready to start my business but my question is, how would i operate my business in the north east( Reading PA/ New york city during winter time)??
  • 21. Kendrick said on 11/3/2011 12:28:11 AM
    Atlanta, Ga I am looking to start my own mobile detailing business.... Any advice to getting started as for lic., ins., proper equipment etc.... Thanks
  • 22. Doug F. said on 2/23/2012 9:52:15 AM
    Im about to start a mobile detailing business in Augusta,GA and I wanna know if there are any special laws or requirements other then garage keepers insurance that I will need.
  • 23. Henry S. said on 3/7/2012 12:39:35 PM
    I'm starting an Auto Concierge Service in Atlanta. Can u give me tips services, type of insurance etc.
  • 24. Fel said on 4/10/2012 9:52:12 AM
    Hi, we're looking to start a mobile car wash and detail business in the North Fulton (Alpharetta/Roswell/Sandy Springs), Forsyth (Cumming), and Cherokee (Canton/Woodstock/Kennesaw/Smyrna) counties in Georgia...any advice you can give us is greatly appreciated. Thanks!
  • 25. Jeremy said on 4/19/2012 11:25:39 PM
    Hi, I was wondering if I get a pressure washer, is there any way to rig it or use it so that the water comes out slowly and gently? Also, can I somehow have my own water supply with a pressure washer or some other kind of mobile water machine and not have to hook it up to a building, well, spicket etc. to use it? Is there any other portable device, if it's not possible to do it with a pressure washer, that I could use that could give me a gentle rinse stream (gentle enough for the rinse after washing: as gentle as a free flowing garden hose with no nozzle on it) as well as strong water stream (strong enough to clean engine grime and grease when cleaning car engines)?

    Lastly, any tips on licenses, regulations, IRS stuff, etc. for starting mobile auto wash and detailing business in North Carolina? What do I need to have before I can start the business legally? Thanks so much for your help and time with this that will in turn help me to a place where I can be debt free and pay back my parents for all the financial support they've given me while raising me (paying off their debts for them.) And then giving money to build water wells in financially poor countries to save children and families who don't have much of a chance without clean water.
  • 26. Ray Ballesteros said on 5/28/2012 12:42:12 PM
    Ray here in San Antonio, Texas. We are in the process of ordering equipment and stock. We are looking for a classy name and starting to build clientele interest. Any suggestions or things to look out for? Thanks..
  • 27. Cormac Chandler said on 7/18/2012 1:45:20 AM
    I am a Veteran launching a mobile detailing venture in Middle Tennessee area. Jeremy, what kind of vehicle are you using for your business?
  • 28. ncedo said on 7/24/2012 12:09:42 AM
    hi my name is ncedo from Bloemfontein SA my strategy is to open a business in phase 4 why i want to open these business is because my people spend a lot of money to go to the city to driving school please guys help me to get the license i am really hungry for the business
  • 29. ncedo said on 7/24/2012 12:31:39 AM
    i am interested in these business please help me where can i go in SA if i want to get started
  • 30. Kelvin Johnson said on 9/27/2012 7:26:51 PM
    Houston, Texas, United States starting mobile detail business. To do aircrafts, luxury autos, water-crafts, RVs, motorcycles, heavy equipment
  • 31. RAJAN said on 11/10/2012 9:10:40 AM
    What is a car detailing business stand for ? Rajan - Gujarat - India.
  • 32. Spha said on 12/21/2012 5:56:45 AM
    Hi I'm Spha I live in Durban(South Africa) I like to start a mobile detailing business. Please send me some guidelines eg what is a 1st move must I take. Please assist I'm hungry to start this business. Thanks regards. Spha
  • 33. Rebecca said on 2/16/2013 3:03:10 AM
    In SA Adelaide whats the regulations for owning and running your own mobile detailing business? Do you need license etc? Thanks BEC
  • 34. Jon said on 3/2/2013 1:37:54 PM
    I have a mobile detailing rig which is a 5x8 enclosed trailer and my Ram 1500 quad cab truck. I have a 250 gallon tank, 5k watt commercial generator, 2200 PSI pressure washer, wet/dry vac, extractor, DA/RO polishers, and all of my pads, rags/towels, waxes/polishes, etc. I also have a water pump mounted at the front of trailer when I do not need the pressure washer. I also do pressure washing decks, homes, window cleaning, planes, trains, aquatic vehicles, ATVs, etc. It can bring in a lot of money if you plan it out right. I've also added foggy headlight repair and undercoating to my services and will be adding spray on bed liner and windshield repair later on.
  • 35. Isaac chidakwa said on 5/24/2013 9:30:04 AM
    Do i need to register if i'm doing car wash business in south Africa
  • 36. Denise said on 8/24/2013 11:13:17 AM
    Do u need a business license and insurance in florida to start a mobile detailing service and how do i get a ein number i keep hearing about that and not to sure what that is
  • 37. Rachel said on 10/29/2013 4:24:55 PM
    My fiance currently works for a detailing company but is interested in starting his on mobile detail business where does he start
  • 38. Ali said on 11/25/2013 2:10:41 AM
    Hi, I want to start a car wash business in Adelaide sa
  • 39. Leroy Robinson said on 5/25/2014 7:53:40 PM
    Hi my name is Leroy, I have a motorcycle detailing business already with tax ID on the books in Texas. How do I get funding?
  • 40. Elbert Richard said on 3/7/2015 3:26:46 AM
    can i get a small business loan to start detailing business.
  • 41. Rysheen said on 3/24/2015 11:31:21 AM
    Are there any license limitations in Pennsylvania.
  • 42. long said on 5/6/2015 11:29:18 PM
    i want to start a mobile high pressure car wash business , do i need a license to legally operate my business and id tax number for state of pennsylvania ?
  • 43. Charlie Vanderbilt said on 6/25/2015 10:45:58 AM
    I have been thinking to start my Mobile Auto Detailing business but my question is, how would i operate my business in the North east ( Rockland, New York during winter time)? I also plan on Headlight/Windshield Repair add-ons.
  • 44. Jared Pucker said on 7/31/2016 9:07:44 PM
    I rub my own small detail business in san.antonio tx and it's great I have a trailer that I pull and just calculate your time per car and charge in the upper mid range it's just me and my wife.
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