Stay Clear of These Mistakes While Running Your Auto Detailing Business

detailing business, auto detailing

An auto detailing business can seem like a cash cow to many. Unfortunately, as is with everything else, there are, for sure, many ways to fail. Countless enthusiastic beginners have spent hundreds and thousands of dollars only to see their shops fail to pick up speed.

So what exactly causes auto detailing ventures to sink? Plenty of mistakes, and you are probably making some right now. Let’s get to know a few of them.

Core mistakes that sink an auto detailing business

Here are some mistakes you need to steer clear from to avoid sinking your boat:

1. Toxic pricing 

Many beginner detailers have a severe problem of undercutting. They lower their charges to 25% to 35% below the average market price, which is all in the name of being “affordable.”

Low prices attract bargain shoppers. Now, suppose it’s time to up things and push the price a little higher. As we can all guess, bargain shoppers will jump ship, leaving you without a loyal customer base. 

For newcomers, it’s normal to keep your figures between 10 and 15% lower for a start. Nonetheless, set prices that you feel are comfortable and are almost within the same range as others nearby. If you must bring them down, then use special promotions and discounts.

2. Poor customer service

How much time do you take before getting back to a customer you just detailed their car? A day, one week, never? Get this; it’s a good practice to call your clients a day, two, or three to ask how their cars are holding up.

Contacting clients after a detailing job makes them feel special. They will realize it wasn’t just about money in exchange for service. And once they know how much they mean to you, they won’t hesitate to try you out once more. All in all, make sure to reach out to clients occasionally to find out if their cars are ready for a bling up.

3. Careless customer service

Besides poor customer service, there is also a habit where some detailers are careless. They don’t show up on time or finish the project within the expected time frame. Some don’t even follow instructions from their customers. And the worst of all; arrogance.

You will make some mistakes and create delays for some customers, but do not be careless. Clients can pardon poor effort, but they will never forgive or forget arrogant and reckless individuals.

4. Making decisions with inadequate market insight

There is this quote; without insight, we are doomed to get the same results. When starting a detailing business, many people ignore to pick their niche. Others don’t carry out price or completion analysis. Instead, they blindly adopt other detailers’ strategies without the complete information about the existing market conditions.

You can study these easy-to-execute marketing strategies for your detailing business.

5. Lack of online presence

If your shop is not represented online, then you’ve been leaving money on the table. Practically every other business has a website, and there is absolutely no reason you shouldn’t have one, and it doesn’t even cost a lot.

The advantage of having a website is that customers can book online and see what you charge for every service and product. Creating social media pages on Instagram and Facebook can also be a great way to showcase your work to potential clients.

Leveraging multiple digital platforms is the actual SEO booster. Since they all can link to each other, your business gains wider visibility. Thinking of advertising your business further? Try Yahoo places, Google map listing, and placing banners on high-traffic local websites.

6. Failing to stick to product instructions

This is possibly an issue beginners are battling. They apply chemicals and start scrubbing right away without giving it sufficient dwell time. If the final result doesn’t glow as they wanted, then apply the chemical again, this time applying too much pressure. Results? Scratches and potential discoloration.

Chemicals used for car detailing need roughly 2 to 3 minutes to mix better. When in doubt, read the instructions on the back of the container.

7. Excessive investment 

Mobiletechchrx posits that the average costs of starting an auto detailing venture range between $5,000 and $100,000. The estimate isn’t far from the truth, considering you will need a lot of things from equipment to local government permits and licenses.

However, some highly enthusiastic beginners can’t help themselves but go all in, spending bucks on high-end equipment. There’s a lot of cheap stuff on eBay and craigslist that can help you start small. You can also look around for equipment from someone exiting the business.

Why start small? Well, the fact is, there are a lot of variables to consider. First, your sales skills are possibly not tested. Then there’s competition, weather, and the state of the economy. 

So starting small is the best approach for testing the waters. If your business survives the first four months and you are still passionate, then step on the pedal and accelerate things a little more. 

8. Working with old technology

There is no problem with outdated car cleaning solutions like spray bottles, sponges, and portable shop vacuums. It can be understood if you are getting started. But with time, you’ll need to update to modern technologies to avoid losing customers.

The idea behind adopting the latest technology is to keep on top of things and avoid competitors from shielding your light. Besides modern car equipment, you will also need to incorporate auto detailing software solutions to streamline day to day operations of your company.

Wrap up

Car detailers make many more mistakes, such as using the wrong cleaning solution, detailing in the sun, using too much wax, and others. These mistakes can be easily corrected or avoided. If not, their effects will keep compounding, and that can hurt your business badly. So steer clear of all the blunders we’ve mentioned, and you’ll be okay.


This story was written by Ashley Johnson, who runs content strategy at DetailPro, a cutting-edge cloud-based software solution for auto detailers and mobile detailers.

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