Most of your customers come to you for the basics, but perhaps you are seeing a stagnation in recent business. Whether it’s related to the season, a rough local economy or just a matter of needing more customers, the objective of any aspiring business is to maximize on opportunities with your existing customers and to continuously attract new customers.

For carwashing and detailing businesses, you may be missing out on revenue from services you have not considered or heard of because they are not typically seen in this market. Here are some add-on service ideas to give your carwashing and detailing business a needed competitive edge.

Keep it clean

On your website, on  the company’s social media channels or in your brochure, under the detailing or interior cleaning section, you probably have attention-grabbing photos of spotless interiors to help your customers envision the results if they come to your business. What if you approached interior cleaning services not only from a cosmetic angle but also from a sanitation angle?

Car interiors are breeding grounds for all sorts of bacteria and health-related infestations, which is probably the cause of that funky odor fresheners can only mask. It is well-documented that there are more bacteria found on a steering wheel than on a bathroom toilet. A growing trend in carwashing and detailing is to offer sanitation and disinfecting services aimed at killing bacteria on surfaces and in fabrics — and customers are into it.

Whether you incorporate chemicals that are aimed at disinfecting or you invest in equipment such as a steam cleaner designed for surface sanitation and cleaning, providing customers with a sanitation add-on option — or even a unique sanitation service — can up your average sale amount and attract new customers who are worried about what they can’t see. The current trend is that customers want organic and eco-friendly cleaning methods, so look into natural and organic chemicals or chemical-free steam sanitation methods.

And, to help show your customers that their cars have been sanitized (and don’t just look clean), consider using a bacteria counter, such as an adenosine triphosphate (ATP) monitor, that you can swab surfaces with to show bacteria counts before and after. Show customers how “dirty” their steering wheel, cup holders and even seats are before you start and then again after you finish. This way, they know their cars are clean, and they may even become regular customers for the sake of sanitation. Also, do not forget to use social media to spread the word. Pictures say more than a thousand words.

Services for families with kids

Customers with younger children may not bother to clean their interiors regularly because they dread having to remove car seats and sort through all of the things that have accumulated in their vehicles after having kids. Consider offering services specifically catered to their circumstances, providing a hassle-free experience that takes away those obstacles and makes their lives easier.

Offerings for families might include care for car seats (removal, cleaning, reinstalling, etc.), collecting clutter (perhaps putting everything removed from the car into reusable bags with your company logo on it), etc. Parents will most likely also be concerned about the sanitary aspect of their car, so combine this with disinfecting to add more value.

While you’re at it, offer to clean and sanitize strollers and highchairs. Using dry steam makes these cleaning jobs a piece of cake. Not only can steam get into nooks and crannies, but the dry time is very minimal, if at all.

Services like these can turn rare customers into regular customers. And, because you are servicing a niche market, customers will not balk at a premium price. After all, customers will likely spend a little more for what is best for their children.

Deodorization service

Continuing with the sanitation theme, adding a deodorization service — for such cleaning tasks as smoke, pet odor, water damage or mildew removal — is likely to bring in customers who might be trying to sell a car or who have just purchased one that needs some tender, loving care. The point is to expand on the services you offer with minimal overhead and effort to create additional options for a customer. Deodorization solutions range from chemical foggers and ozone generators to steamers. Therefore, depending on what equipment you already have, deodorization may not be a huge undertaking.

Mobile services

Mobile carwashing and detailing is a rapidly expanding business, especially in areas where washing one’s own car is either extremely difficult or simply not permitted. These challenges have spawned an entirely new segment of business coupled with the ability to have your own smartphone app made for scheduling and paying for services. But, you do not have to go that far to potentially get a piece of the action.

If you have the cash flow, you can invest in some minimal equipment to provide a premium offering beyond the walls of your facility. Do not price these services so competitively that you are guaranteed to lose money. In fact, without specialized equipment to provide mobile carwashing and detailing services, such as a van, generator, water reservoir, pressure washer, reclamation mat or, for some businesses, just a commercial steamer that does not generate any wastewater, your only option may be to look into waterless solutions that rely on chemicals. Where you may be able to gain some new business is from repeat customers who would prefer using your services over those of someone with whom they have no experience.

Engine cleaning

Customers who have sought out your interior and detailing services might not only be interested in a spotless exterior and an immaculate interior, but they may even be interested in services under the hood. Whether you have the proper facility and equipment to degrease an engine with chemicals and a hot water pressure washer, a commercial-grade steam cleaner or a dry ice jet machine, the ability to offer safe engine compartment cleaning can be an easy way to upsell and offer a true full-package service.

One-off automotive cosmetic services

Attend any industry trade show and you will see no shortage of businesses wanting you to consider adding their products or services. Some of the more popular offerings may not require tons of investment capital. Or, if capital is available, investments into equipment that is capable of enabling multiple services may be worth considering to help you cast a wider net.

Some one-offs that are proving to be the most popular are services like dent repair, windshield chip repair, paint touch-ups, window tint removal, decal removal and more.

Whatever additional services you decide on, keep focus on offering relatively affordable upsells that will not overextend your resources.


Curtis Anderson is the director of marketing at Steamericas Inc., a leading supplier of commercial and industrial cleaning products. For more information, please visit the company’s website at www.steamericas.com.