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What Do Car Detailing Services Include?

So, what does car detailing include? To start off, let's answer what detailing cars is not. It is not simply washing a car. It is a much more in-depth process that involves cleaning and returning a vehicle to a nearly new condition. While a car wash usually involves an automated washing process, professional car detailing services are done by hand and includes cleaning both the interior and the exterior. Detailing cars is important because it extends the life of a vehicle, helps customers enjoy their cars, and saves them money in the long term.

What does a car detailer do exactly? Common car detailing services offered include:


  • Exterior wash and dry by hand, including the rims, door handles and glass.
  • Paint the claying from claying to remove any contaminants, overspray or residue left after the car has been washed.
  • Polishing using an abrasive compound to remove small layers of clear coat from the car's paint.
  • Sealing or waxing to give the car a glossy shine and to add a protective layer to the car's paint.


  • Vacuuming seats, carpets, mats, headliner, rear cargo area, and trunk.
  • Scrubbing and brushing with a carpet cleaner to remove stains on floors and mats.
  • Steam cleaning to remove tough stains.
  • Cleaning the windshield and windows.
  • Using a special leather cleaner and soap on any leather parts.
  • Spraying a deodorant in the interior to leave it smelling clean and new.

There are other car detailing services you can offer, but these are the most common. You will have to look at the possibilities and decide which ones you want to focus on for your car detailing business.

Are Licenses Required to Start A Car Detailing Business?

Starting a car detailing business means you will probably need a combination of licenses and permits from local, state, and federal entities. You will definitely need a business license to operate in your city or state. You may also need special permits or licenses if you provide mobile car washing and car detailing services. The requirements and costs can vary from state to state, and even from city to city. If you're unsure what permits or licenses are required before you start detailing cars, a great place to start is your local county clerk's office, usually located in your county courthouse. The Small Business Administration can also be a great source of information and assistance.

Another important step to take is to establish your car detailing business as an LLC. This will limit your personal liability for any business debt. Setting up an LLC will protect your home, personal bank account and other personal assets from any claims against your business.

If your car detailing business operates from a physical location, you'll need a Certificate of Occupancy showing that your business meets building codes, zoning laws and government regulations in your area.

Another government requirement to keep in mind is that many cities and counties have regulations on the discharge of water produced from washing cars, as well as the chemicals you can and cannot use. Your state's Environmental Protection Department will have this information.

Do You Need A Car Detailing Business Plan?

A business plan is a good idea for anyone looking to start a new business. Having a concrete plan will help you answer the questions you need to ask and focus on what the core of your car detailing business is.

There are different types of business plans you can create, but they normally include the following:

  • A mission statement that describes the main focus of your business.
  • Information including your registered business name, address of any physical business locations and names of key people involved in the business.
  • An objective statement explaining the goals of your company.
  • A business strategy looking at your goals and how you plan to achieve them.
  • Your business and management structure showing your key employees, managers or other owners of the business. This should include the percent ownership and the extent of each owner's involvement.
  • The car detailing services you will offer and how you will set pricing.
  • The potential customers you plan to target, their pain points and how your car detailing business can solve them.
  • Your unique value and what sets you apart from other car detailing businesses.
  • A marketing and sales plan, including messaging on why your services are worth buying and the channels you'll use to promote your business.
  • Financial plans including your revenue goals, the amount of start-up investment required, and opportunities for growth you have identified.

Do You Need to Hire Employees For A Car Detailing Business?

When starting a car detailing business, you will have to decide if you have enough work to hire employees right away. If you have enough customers lined up that you can't handle it all yourself, you will need to consider your hiring options. You can choose to hire employees, which gives you more control, or you can go with contractors, giving you more flexibility and less financial risk. Whichever method you choose, make sure you understand the tax requirements involved with hiring employees. You don't want the IRS to come after you down the line.

How Do You Set Pricing For Your Car Detailing Services?

Is car detailing profitable? It can be if your pricing is on point. Creating service packages and setting prices for them is a great place to start. You'll also want to consider offering variable-based pricing. You'll quickly come to see the cars you're cleaning will have a range of cleanliness and conditions that need to be addressed. You will want to be able to price your services based on the time it will take you to clean each car.

Ralph Brothers Can Help When You're Starting A Car Detailing Business

Now that you have some idea of how to start a car detailing business, let Ralph Brothers help. Whether you're just looking for a starter kit or you need a wide range of accessories and tools for use in your car detailing services, Ralph Brothers have everything you need. We offer a line of products that are designed and manufactured by professionals for professionals. Contact us today to find out more about how to start your own car detailing business and how we can help you achieve that dream.

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