Washing a limousine: what you need to know
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Washing a limousine: what you need to know

On average, a limousine is 30 feet long, three times as long as a car. So that would make washing a limo like washing a car three times over. Not too bad, right?

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While there are indeed similarities between detailing a limo and car, the main challenge you’ll encounter is size. Due to the proportions, you’ll likely need to scale your equipment. You’ll also want to consider how you’ll charge your customers for your services.

So, where should you start?

Buy the right equipment

Before you begin washing limos, you’ll want to ensure you’ve purchased the proper equipment for the task. When you buy the right equipment, you’ll do a better quality job, you’ll satisfy the customer and, ultimately, you’ll make the job easier on yourself. Here are the basics of what you’ll need.

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Pressure washer

If you don’t yet have a pressure washer, it’s a wise investment. You can start by getting an electric pressure washer, as it’s a more affordable option. Most electric pressure washers on the market offer 1,300 to 1,700 pounds per square inch (psi). However, many professional detailers switch to gas-powered pressure washers over time due to their durability and higher psi, around 2,000 to 2,800 psi. If you find yourself routinely detailing dirty limos, you might want to consider investing in a gas-powered pressure washer.

Foam cannon or gun

You already know the best way to wash and detail a car. You can undoubtedly choose to wash a limo by hand, but you’ll save precious time by using a tool like a foam cannon, the perfect accessory for your pressure washer.

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These devices mix water and soap into a thick foam and apply it at a minimum of 1,000 psi and a maximum of 3,000 psi. The foam works well to dislodge dirt and grime from all surfaces. If you don’t plan on using a pressure washer on limos, instead purchase a foam gun as an accessory and use it with your garden hose.

Detailing pole

Because of the sheer size of a limo, it might be a good idea to purchase an extendable pole for detailing work. The top of the stick has a soft chenille mitt for hard-to-reach areas. It will make drying the limo and applying those finishing touches a much easier task.

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Carpet extractor

It’s not enough for the exterior of the limo to look fabulous. You need the interior to look just as good. Purchase a carpet extractor to remove difficult stains or dirt from the carpet and upholstery.

Carpet extractors work by applying suction and water to lift and remove the impossible stains. These tools are crucial if you plan on doing good detail work on the interior of any limo.

Make the limo shine

If you want to wow your customers, add an extra step on the exterior. After you finish washing and drying the body of the limo, ensure the surface is free of any impurities. Apply your glaze to create a strong bond with the clean paintwork. This will allow the glaze to last and enhance the limo’s natural shine.

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Once your glaze dries, you can wax the limo, as wax acts as the protective coating to the entire exterior. When possible, choose to wax the limo in the shade or under a carport, since waxing in the direct sunshine can harm your paintwork.

Disinfect the interior

Because customers use limousine rentals for wedding parties, including food and alcohol, you’ll want to make efforts to sanitize the interior for the next customer. Since limos can hold up to eight passengers or more, you may have a lot of work on your hands.

You can use bleach cleaners and disinfectant wipes to disinfect all hard surfaces. Utilize makeup brushes, Q-tips and rags to detail difficult-to-reach areas like cup holders, crevices, and vents. This conscientiousness will keep customers returning to you for service.

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Ensure your team is large enough

Something that separates washing limousines from other cars is just how much work the job requires. To make sure you can meet all the demands of detailing limos, you’ll need to see that you have enough people working. Depending on the vehicle’s condition, you’ll likely need two people on the job to tackle the task.

How to price your services

Limousine detailing requires additional equipment like foam cannons, pressure washers and carpet extractors, plus workers and time to clean. These added necessities require a financial investment on your end. Likewise, you’ll need to consider how you want to charge for your services to compensate for these investments.

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Charge by the hour

As stated previously, limos are, on average, three times larger than most cars. So, most limos take two to three times longer to detail. One option to consider is to charge your customer by the hour at your current work rate.

Charge by the linear foot

Another consideration is to price your services by the size of the vehicle. You might choose to start with charging $10 per linear foot, which includes standard cleaning services. A simple rate for pricing is $10 because most limousines are 30 feet long. At the standard rate of $10 per linear foot, your services would cost the customer $300.

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However, it’s wise to research pricing in your area. Pricing by linear foot depends on various factors, including location, customers and detailing services provided. You don’t want to find you’re the most expensive limo detailing service provider in town and get no business. But you also don’t want to find out that you’re the cheapest.

Pricing by service

If you’re not satisfied with charging your customers by the previous options, you could try a pricing strategy that falls into two categories — a reconditioning price or a maintenance price.

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Reconditioning

Sometimes you might encounter a customer who brings a scratched or dinged-up vehicle. After inspecting the limousine, let the customer know you can quickly improve the exterior appearance with your reconditioning service and charge them a reconditioning fee.

Set this fee a bit higher, as it will be a bit more time-intensive, but assure the customer it will do the work of restoring the limousine to its superior look. After doing the reconditioning work, you can fast track the customer to the maintenance service option.

Maintenance

This service is just routine cleaning work and requires less from you and your employees. Set the maintenance service rate to be lower than the reconditioning price to encourage goodwill with your customers in the hopes they’ll return to you for repeat service. 

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Offer loyalty discounts

Another way to encourage customers to return to your business is to offer discounts and loyalty rewards. Customers like rewards programs with actual cash value or that offer convenience.

Consider offering a reduced or free detail package after five purchases to motivate customer loyalty. You can also designate one week where your company will come directly to your customers to detail their limos. Ensure you create a program that works for your customer and is still profitable for you.

When washing a limousine, there are numerous factors to consider. Know that it’s not just like washing another car and that you should have the proper equipment before you proceed.

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Ensure you take time to consider just how you price your services before you begin as well. Stand behind your newly learned limousine washing techniques and watch as your reputation with customers shines.


Oscar Collins is the founder and editor-in-chief of Modded, where he writes about cars, car trends and auto news. Follow him on Twitter @TModded for frequent updates on his work.

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