3 min

What Is Car Detailing?

Discover why people go to detailing studios, what business types are there, and what professional detailing means today

Table of Contents

What is Car Detailing?
What Kinds of Detailing Services are There?
Who are Typical Clients of Auto Detailing Shops?
What Does It Take to Become a Professional Detailer?
Running a Detailing Business in 2022
Final Thoughts

If you want to start your own business in the car detailing industry, you are going to need to properly understand what you will do as a detailer, what challenges you will face, what target audience you will work with, and what trends you cannot ignore in 2022. Continue reading to find answers to these questions.


What is Car Detailing?

Automotive detailing in simple terms is a set of services aimed at making a car look as good as new. Detailing doesn't just mean deeper cleaning, it is much more precise and labor-intensive: the body and interior are dismantled into their component parts by hand and made to shine. Often, auto detailing is compared to a “car spa” because of the deep cleaning of hard-to-reach places and small parts where dirt and dust accumulate.

What is the difference between detailing and a car wash? Anyone can wash a vehicle with water and soaps but the detailing service is performed by experienced detailers using proper methods and high-quality cleaning products. They won’t damage even the most delicate material and will not leave any scratches or stains on the expensive paint finish.

What Kinds of Detailing Services are There?

So, what do they do in a detailing shop that people cannot get from a regular car wash? Auto detailing services can be divided into the following types:

Exterior Detailing

During the detailing process, detailers spray and wipe the car body with special agents by hand. First and foremost, car exterior detailing covers removing contaminants from wheel rims with special wheel cleaning products, door handles, and windows, polishing with a clean, non-abrasive cloth, sealing, waxing, headlight polishing, restoring bumpers, and other work related to the body. Often such services are used to maintain the appearance of expensive cars to make them look spotless.

Interior Detailing

This basic detailing service takes care of the inside of the car. It includes cleaning the mats, ceiling, seats with towels, and trunk of dust and dirt with a vacuum cleaner, brushes, or steam cleaner, cleaning the windows, and leather trim, and using an odor eliminator.

Complete Car Detailing

A full car detailing is a combination of exterior and interior car cleaning, the set of services of which may vary. In most cases, the package includes waxing, leather car seat cleaning, washing, and stain removal. Additional services such as engine pressure cleaning, bumper repair, trim repainting, headlight restoration, stain removal, pet hair cleaning, and more are included in the detailing if drivers wish depending on the condition of the car. 

Car Restoration

Some detailing studios specialize in high-quality restoration of damaged cars, e.g. after an accident. If the job is done well, this service will make the car look better than it was before it was broken. It can take up to several weeks to fully restore a car depending on its condition.

Who are Typical Clients of Auto Detailing Shops?

These are mostly individual car owners who take good care of their vehicles. There are various reasons why people spend money on having their cars detailed. Owners of luxury cars want the best looks, and those who just bought a new car want to protect it and keep it in good condition for a long time. Sometimes, it could also be a financial reason when one is going to sell a used car at the best price possible.

What Does It Take to Become a Professional Detailer?

The person who polishes, restores, cleans, and provides other car maintenance services is an auto detailer. She or he can work independently or as a part of a detailing shop’s team. They enjoy working with their hands making things clean and shiny. Everyday detailer duties also include inspecting vehicle conditions, dealing with client specifications, working with cleaning equipment and agents, and keeping records of the services performed. 

To obtain the necessary skill set you should learn car detailing and get experience at a shop for at least three months. You can also detail your own car to improve your skills without worrying about doing something wrong on a client’s car.

As an owner of an auto detailing shop, you should be ready to deal with the following industry-specific challenges: 

  • proper scheduling to avoid double bookings
  • developing an appropriate pricing policy 
  • setting up automatic alerts for clients to reduce no-shows
  • efficiently managing detailing supplies. 

But don’t worry, you can overcome these challenges by simply implementing good business management software.

Running a Detailing Business in 2022

This type of business is relatively easy-to-start and can be organized in the following ways:

  • A mobile business model will allow you to perform services out of a truck.
  • A temporary location business type means that you have agreements with local parking lots or garages to offer your services to their customers.
  • A fixed-site detailing shop requires renting or buying your own location which involves a decent start-up budget. 

The detailing industry is constantly growing and offering lucrative opportunities to ambitious entrepreneurs around the world. Let’s have a look at some of the trends in car detailing this year:

Customer centricity. Because of the high average sale, detailing services are considered premium. Clients in this segment appreciate not only the quality of work but also the high-class customer service.

If you've decided to get into the auto detailing business, do it with good taste. Provide the reception with everything your clients need to feel comfortable: coffee, fresh magazines, pleasant music, and a manager's smile. And when a client just wants to leave his or her car, organize a ride home for them. Paying attention to providing great customer service shows that you can be trusted even with a premium car.

Lack of boundaries. The next trend exists due to the fact that businesses are looking for more points of contact with their customers. And since some people like to watch their cars being serviced, the presence of customers during the detailing of their cars is increasingly practiced by detailing studios.

For safety reasons, this can be set in different ways: separate halls with stands, special canopies, and transparent glass in the workshops. As practice shows, such a client’s involvement in the process has an impressive effect on customer loyalty.

Hybridity. An average sale amount can be increased indefinitely in the car detailing industry by offering clients more and more options to improve their cars. And if just a few years ago, a detailing shop was a specialized place with a limited list of services, now there is a tendency to expand towards multifunctionality.

Modern detailing businesses often become a hybrid of a car wash, body shop, and car service station. For busy clients, it’s a great opportunity to get more services in one place and thus save more time. As additional services, you can offer noise isolation, film coating, dent removal, and others as long as you have the necessary skills.

Digitalization. The entire automotive industry is going digital and significantly adopting technology. Customers are already used to checking work order statuses online, observing cars through webcams installed in the workshops, and placing work orders via apps. Technology has even become an essential part of small companies' workflows, and the trend continues to grow rapidly.

Don't ignore this trend, even if you're not yet ready to use sophisticated technology systems. Make sure your existing or future business is provided at least with the basics — modern detailing shop management software that automates routine and lets you track key business metrics in real-time. RemOnline makes it possible not only to keep records of customers, work orders, finances, auto detailing supplies, and cleaning products but also to control your employees’ performance. And for mobile detailers, there's the Work Order App for quick and easy processing of detailing jobs on the go.

Final Thoughts

Detailing cars professionally is an attractive career path for everyone seeking opportunities in the automotive industry. With well-thought-out pricing, an extensive service list, and great customer service, you will have no other choice but succeed. And for even better results, follow the up-to-date trends, get to know your target audience, and automate all admin routines in your shop. 

Want to see how RemOnline can help you go digital with your business? Book a demo here.

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