Professional Carwashing & Detailing

Grow detailing profits with add-on services

November 16, 2012

When I started detailing cars in 2003, profits were disappointing. What appeared to be a low overhead business just wasn’t so after I subtracted gas, supplies, and oh yeah, stuff that broke. I came up 20 percent short of the profits I penciled out during planning. But I soon found a way to get my margins up and my income healthy.

The easier money in car detailing is in the “extras”

A rule in the restaurant business is that you break even on the entree, but make your money on the stuff that comes before and after: Soda, liquor, appetizers and dessert. And though I did far better than break even on car detailing, year after year this “rule of thumb” proved to be true when I did the accounting: The big profits truly were in the extras. 

Paint touch up, wheel repair, leather dye, windshield repair and odor removal made me twice, sometimes three timeswhat I made on detailing. And it was easier on my body.

Lets look at the hourly profits:

  • Auto detailing: $45/hr.
  • Headlight reconditioning: $75/hr.
  • Odor removal: $80/hr.
  • Paint touch up: $100+/hr.
  • Leather & vinyl recoloring: $100+/hr.
  • Wheel repair: $120/hr.

If you’re only offering detailing, you’re essentially a restaurant that serves just entrees. 

Here’s why now is the right time to expand your services and make more money in 2013.

  • You have time to learn something new. Make the most of your winter “downtime.”
  • Equipment is more affordable than ever. More companies are selling specialty equipment, which means lower prices for you.
  • Learning at home is now an option. Whereas before you had to fly to your equipment manufacturer, DVDs and Internet videos make it possible to master using new equipment at home.
  • Selling is easy.  Car owners are using Google to search for niche services like “San Jose leather repair” or “Dallas wheel repair.” And unlike car detailing, where customers have 50-plus choices, you may be competing with only two or three other businesses.

So if you’re a detailer looking to make more money, the solution may not necessarily mean detailing more cars. Adding a new service with higher margins and less competition is the shorter path to a better income.