3 min

What Is Auto Detailing?

Discover why people go to detailing studios, what business types are there, and what professional detailing means today.

Table of Contents

What is Car Detailing?
What Kinds of Detailing Services Are There?
Who are Typical Clients of Auto Detailing Shops?
What Does It Take to Become a Professional Detailer?
How to Run a Successful Detailing Business
Why Mobile Detailing is an Excellent Business Idea

Final Thoughts

If you want to start your own business in the car detailing industry, you will need to properly understand what you will do as a detailer, what challenges you will face, what target audience you will work with, and what trends you cannot ignore. Continue reading to find answers to these questions.


What is Car Detailing?

Automotive detailing, in simple terms, is a set of services aimed at making a car look as good as new. Detailing doesn't just mean deeper cleaning; it is much more precise and labor-intensive: the body and interior are dismantled into their parts by hand and made to shine. Often, auto detailing is compared to a “car spa” because of the deep cleaning of hard-to-reach places and small parts where dirt and dust accumulate.

What is the difference between detailing and a car wash? Anyone can wash a vehicle with water and soap, but the detailing service is performed by experienced detailers using proper methods and high-quality cleaning products. They won’t damage even the most delicate material and will not leave any scratches or stains on the expensive paint finish.

Orderry will help your auto detailing business shine and prosper. Sign up for a free trial now.

What Kinds of Detailing Services Are There?

So, what do they do in a detailing shop that people cannot get from a regular car wash? Auto detailing services can be divided into the following types:

Exterior Detailing

During the detailing process, detailers spray and wipe the car body with special agents by hand. First and foremost, car exterior detailing covers removing contaminants from wheel rims with special wheel cleaning products, door handles, and windows, polishing with a clean, non-abrasive cloth, sealing, waxing, headlight polishing, restoring bumpers, and other work related to the body. Often such services are used to maintain the appearance of expensive cars to make them look spotless.

Interior Detailing

This basic detailing service takes care of the inside of the car. It includes cleaning the mats, ceiling, seats with towels, and trunk of dust and dirt with a vacuum cleaner, brushes, or steam cleaner, cleaning the windows, and leather trim, and using an odor eliminator.

Complete Car Detailing

Full car detailing combines exterior and interior car cleaning, the set of services of which may vary. The package usually includes waxing, cleaning leather car seats, washing, and removing the stain. Additional services such as engine pressure cleaning, bumper repair, trim repainting, headlight restoration, stain removal, pet hair cleaning, and more are included in the detailing if drivers wish, depending on the car's condition.

Car Restoration

Some detailing studios specialize in high-quality restoration of damaged cars, e.g., after an accident. If the job is done well, this service will make the car look better than before it was broken. Depending on its condition, it can take up to several weeks to fully restore a car.

No matter how wide your service range is, you can efficiently manage them in car detailing software. Create service lists and add labors and services to work orders in a few clicks.

Who are Typical Clients of Auto Detailing Shops?

These are primarily individual car owners who take good care of their vehicles. There are various reasons why people spend money on having their cars detailed. Owners of luxury cars want the best looks, and those who just bought a new car want to protect it and keep it in good condition for a long time. Sometimes, it could also be a financial reason for selling a used car at the best price possible.

What Does It Take to Become a Professional Detailer?

An auto detailer is a person who polishes, restores, cleans, and provides other car maintenance services. She or he can work independently or as a part of a detailing shop’s team. They enjoy working with their hands making things clean and shiny. Everyday detailer duties also include inspecting vehicle conditions, dealing with client specifications, working with cleaning equipment and agents, and keeping records of the services performed in auto detailing software. 

You should learn car detailing and get experience at a shop for at least three months to obtain the necessary skill set. You can also detail your own car to improve your skills without worrying about doing something wrong on a client’s car.

Ready to open your own auto detailing studio? This guide will help you get started

As an owner of an auto detailing shop, you should be ready to deal with the following industry-specific challenges:

  • proper scheduling to avoid double bookings
  • developing an appropriate pricing policy 
  • setting up automatic alerts for clients to reduce no-shows
  • efficiently managing detailing supplies. 

 But don’t worry. You can overcome these challenges by simply implementing good detailing software.

How to Run a Successful Detailing Business

This type of business is relatively easy-to-start and can be organized in the following ways:

  • A mobile business model will allow you to perform services out of a truck.
  • A temporary location business type means you have agreements with local parking lots or garages to offer your services to their customers.
  • A fixed-site detailing shop requires renting or buying a location with a decent start-up budget.

The detailing industry constantly grows and offers lucrative opportunities to ambitious entrepreneurs worldwide. Let’s look at some of the latest trends in car detailing:

Customer centricity. Because of the high average sale, detailing services are considered premium. Clients in this segment appreciate the quality of work and the high-class customer service.

If you've decided to get into the auto detailing business, do it with good taste. Provide the reception with everything your clients need to feel comfortable: coffee, fresh magazines, pleasant music, and a manager's smile. And when a client just wants to leave his or her car, organize a ride home for them. Attention to excellent customer service shows you can be trusted even with a premium car.

Lack of boundaries. The next trend exists because businesses seek more contact points with their customers. And since some people like to watch their cars being serviced, the presence of customers during the detailing of their cars is increasingly practiced by detailing studios.

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This can be set differently for safety reasons: separate halls with stands, canopies, and transparent glass in the workshops. As practice shows, such a client’s involvement in the process impresses customer loyalty.

Hybridity. An average sale amount can be increased indefinitely in the car detailing industry by offering clients more options to improve their cars. And if just a few years ago, a detailing shop was a specialized place with a limited list of services; now there is a tendency to expand towards multifunctionality.

Modern detailing businesses often become a hybrid of a car wash, body shop, and car service station. It’s a great opportunity for busy clients to get more services in one place and thus save more time. As additional services, you can offer noise isolation, film coating, dent removal, and others if you have the necessary skills.

Digitalization. The entire automotive industry is going digital and significantly adopting technology. Customers are already used to checking work order statuses online, observing cars through webcams installed in the workshops, and placing work orders via apps. Technology has even become an essential part of small companies' workflows, and the trend continues to grow rapidly.

Pay attention to this trend, even if you're not yet ready to use sophisticated technology systems. Ensure your existing or future business is provided at least with the basics — work order management software that automates routine and lets you track key business metrics in real time. Orderry makes it possible to keep records of customers, work orders, finances, auto detailing supplies, and cleaning products and control your employees’ performance. And for mobile detailers, there's the Work Order App for quick and easy processing of detailing jobs on the go.

Why Mobile Detailing is an Excellent Business Idea

Mobile detailing offers convenience, customization, affordability, high demand, and flexibility, making it an excellent business idea for those interested in starting a successful business in the automotive service industry.

Mobile detailing business eliminates the need for customers to drive to a physical location and wait for their vehicles to be serviced. It also allows for personalized and tailored services—professionals can assess the specific needs of each customer's vehicle and provide customized services accordingly. Additionally, mobile detailing has a relatively low startup cost compared to establishing a fixed location— no need to invest in a physical storefront or pay high rent and utility bills. This makes it a more affordable option for entrepreneurs entering the automotive service industry. 

Furthermore, mobile detailing allows for flexibility regarding working hours and locations. You can schedule appointments at times convenient for both you and your customers. You can also provide services catering to many customers at various locations, such as homes, offices, or parking lots. And handy mobile detailing software will help you keep track of every customer and detailing job wherever they are.

Final Thoughts

Detailing cars professionally is an attractive career path for everyone seeking opportunities in the automotive industry. With well-thought-out pricing, an extensive service list, and great customer service, you will have no other choice but succeed. And for even better results, follow the up-to-date trends, get to know your target audience, and automate all admin routines in your shop.


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