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Earning profits in 15 minutes or less

Express detailing is a quick, yet efficient, service sure to bring in revenue.


To those of us who understand how much time and effort is involved in traditional automotive detailing, the term “express detailing” seems an oxymoron. But the carwash industry has insisted over the years that it can offer an abbreviated version of detailing to waiting customers. It is possible to do so, given we make sure the service offered is appropriate for the customers’ needs and vehicles’ conditions.

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It is important that we as an industry create and maintain a standard definition of express detailing. To that end the International Carwash Association (ICA) offered the following definition in its Express Detailing Certification Program of the early 2000s: “Express detailing is a quick-serve, appearance-care process that can be satisfactorily and conveniently delivered within 15 minutes or less after vehicle washing.”

This definition implies that express detailing is:

  • Something more than just a carwash
  • Done quickly (preferably within 15 minutes)
  • Performed while the customer waits (offering customer convenience).

The target customer for express services includes customers who have newer vehicles or those detailed on a regular basis.


List of common express services

Exactly what services are performed on the express menu? It depends on who you ask. Across the country there is a large range of services performed which operators call express detailing. But the most common express services are the following four:

  1. Exterior hand wax
  2. Interior “super clean”
  3. Seat cleaning
  4. Mat and carpet shampoo.

The express hand wax typically involves a quick application of an easy-on/easy-off wax product with short-term durability. Additionally, the windows are cleaned, and the tires are dressed.

The interior super clean service typically involves a vacuum, dust and light wipe-down of the interior as well as dressing the dash and other panels. The seat cleaning option involves either extracting fabric seats or cleaning and conditioning leather seats. The mat and carpet shampoo involves extraction of those items.


Read more on exterior express detailing here.

Now that exterior express is covered, what about interior express? An in-depth look at interior express, written by Prentice St. Clair, was featured in our July issue. You can find that article here.

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