How To Start A Detailing Business

A detailing business can be a great source of part or full time income.  While auto detailing is the most popular type of detailing business, there are many opportunities for a detailing business besides cars, including trucks, motorcycles, boats, airplanes and more (basically anything that transports people!)

Starting and running a profitable detailing business is a lot more than knowing how to wash a car.  Being a successful detailer involves organization, knowledge, perseverance, people-skills, and a number of other traits.  Many detailing business owners aren’t successful, not because they weren’t good detailers, but because they were not skilled in running a business.

The larger you want your detailing business to be, the better you need to be as a business owner, as the responsibility will be greater.  It is not wrong to dream big, but if you are a new business owner, it is best to start small and work your way up.


There are three basic steps to starting a detailing company from scratch.  First is planning.  Second is registering with proper government institutions.  Lastly, you will need to promote your detailing business in some way to attract customers.

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1.  Plan Your Detailing Business

Develop a Business Plan

Before diving in to any business, you should develop a business plan.  If you want to start any type of detailing business, either full or part-time, you definitely need to start with a business plan!   Don’t forget about insurance costs, not only for you, but for any employees you may plan to have.  A business plan doesn’t have to be anything complicated, but is something that will help organize your goals and priorities and help you make wise decisions.

Planning properly will help you decide if you are going to specialize in a specific niche such as boat detailing, or if you will offer a variety of services.

  • Set short and long-term goals – Plan your business before you spend a dime.
  • Decide what services you will offer – Decide the scope of your business.
  • Find a niche – What will be your specialty?  What will set you apart from the competition?
  • Choose a business name – Put some thought into deciding a name for your detailing business.  If you think you will expand in the future, don’t limit your name.
  • Decide what you will charge for your services
  • Financing – You may need to get a business loan

Get Organized

As soon as you start your detailing business, you will need some sort of organizational structure so you can keep your customer communications and detailing-related paperwork in order.  You won’t necessarily need a full office when starting out.  An office desk dedicated to your business paperwork would be helpful.

Get a daily planner or use your smartphone to schedule estimates, jobs, and other work-related appointments.  An easy way to lose customers is to forget a scheduled appointment or neglect to complete a customer request.  A schedule will help you plan your day, week, and month, so you can make best use of your time and your customer’s time.

  • Set up an office
  • E-mail
  • Business phone
  • Estimate forms
  • Bill Forms

Equipment needed when starting a detailing business

Equipment usually accounts for the largest portion of your startup costs for any business. Fortunately, a detailing business doesn’t require a huge amount of expenses up front. Much of what you may need can be purchased when you need it.

2.  Register Your New Detailing Businesshow to start a detailing business

Make it legal

Make sure you are following proper protocol in your region.  This means having necessary insurance, following tax codes, getting proper licenses and permits, etc.  This applies even to a part-time detailing business.

-Offer Payment Options to Customers

Offering payment options with your bids will help you work with clients that don’t have all the cash up front.  Hearth’s software allows you to pre-qualify your customers (without affecting their credit score) directly from a mobile app so that you can win more business and larger project sizes, even on deductibles. With Hearth:
  • Loan amounts can range from $1,000-$100,000, and customers can get funds into their account in 1-5 days.
  • You can serve clients with credit scores as low as 500.
  • You’ll never pay per-loan dealer fees.
  • There are no minimum requirements to join!
Claim your $100 Roofer's Helper discount and get started here.

Some steps to starting your detailing company legally:

  • Select your business structure (sole-proprietor, LLC, Corporation, etc.)
  • Register your business name
  • Register your business entity
  • Open a business bank account
  • Taxes- either get an accountant, or do research on filing yourself
  • Liability Insurance
  • Worker’s Compensation
  • City Licenses and Permits

3.  Grow Your New Detailing Business

In order to grow your detailing business, you will need to work hard, have people skills, and be patient.  You will also need to market your business effectively.  Success and profit won’t come overnight.


Beside employees, dealing with customers can cause a great amount of stress.  Learning how to communicate well with customers can help boost sales and increase word-of-mouth leads.

  • Learn how to sell a detailing job to a potential customer
  • Price your work appropriately
  • Communicate regularly and clearly with the customer
  • Be fair and honest- take responsibility for your mistakes


After you start a detailing business, you need to market it.  Some low-cost advertising to get started can include a basic 1 or 2 page website, setting up a free business listing for your detailing company on Google and other online directories, social media accounts, business cards and a few yard signs.  Much of your business will come from referrals.  If you do a great job, word will spread quickly.

How To Start A Detailing Business in The United States

(the links below are directed at roofers, but will help with starting any business)


New Hampshire
New Jersey
New Mexico
New York
North Carolina
North Dakota
Rhode Island
South Carolina
South Dakota
West Virginia