Car Detailing Business 101: How To Start And Operate A Car Detailing Business

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The car detailing business deals with cleaning and restoring vehicles to make them look brand new. Some of the major services provided by a car detailing business include washing and waxing the exterior of the vehicle, vacuuming the interior of the vehicle, cleaning the windows, and polishing the surface. In this article we will look into the car detailing market in India, creating a business plan, software, and resources to be used in the business.

Car Detailing Market in India

According to research done on the car detailing service market, the industry garners around INR 20,000 to INR 30,000 crore annually. One of the major reasons for the growth of the industry is the arrival of big car brands in the Indian market. The car detailing service industry is one of the most profitable industries to invest in India in recent times!

Creating a Business Plan for Car Detailing

In order to create the best car detailing business possible, a great business plan is required. This section deals with how to create a proper business plan for a car detailing business and all the details that must be included in it.

Executive Summary

An executive summary for a car detailing business plan must include an overview of what the business plan is about. It must be able to give an insight into the contents of the business in short so that the reader can know what your business is all about and choose to continue reading the business plan or not.

The executive summary must contain all the key highlights of the report, restate the purpose of the report and list out all the major elements in it. The following is a sample executive summary for a car detailing business:

“Jason & Co. is a mobile car detailing company that sets out to satisfy customer needs through our services and bring their cars back to their best condition possible. We care about our customers and the environment and seek to provide solutions to their problems in eco-friendly ways.”

Permits and Licenses

All businesses require licenses to operate as a legal entity in a particular place. Car detailing companies require certain licenses and permits based on the state or city they are located in. Some of them include the following:

  • Business registration such as sole proprietorship, partnership, limited liability company (LLC), or corporation
  • Trade license for car detailing from the local municipality board or authorities
  • Approval from the Pollution Control Board
  • Approved plans for waste treatment and disposal
  • Tax liability for the car detailing business

Define Your Brand

An industry may have a lot of competitors that offer similar products and services to its customers. In that case, branding is an essential tool to differentiate your business from any other similar business out there. Branding helps to define who you are as a business entity and what your company plans to achieve.

Branding also acts as a marketing tool that attracts specific customers. In order to make use of such a powerful tool, one must know what the company is all about and create a brand image for it. The first step of it includes defining the brand and then marketing the business in a way that supports it.

For example, if you want to establish your company as an environment-friendly brand, then you must first define what it means to your business. Are you planning on decreasing carbon print? What kind of products are you going to use in your service? Are there any other ways that your business is going to improve the environment other than through your business activity? All these questions help you define your business brand and create services and marketing activities that enhance this brand image to the customers.

Detailing Services Offered

When it comes to the car detailing service industry there are lots of different services provided by different companies. On a basic level, car detailing services are of two types: exterior car detailing and interior car detailing.

Exterior Car Detailing

Exterior car detailing involves detailing work that is done for the exterior parts of the cars. This service includes washing, degreasing, claying, sanding, polishing, compounding, making paint corrections, using ceramic coating, PPF, Wax, etc for paint protection. Specialized tools, equipment, and products are used to perform these functions. Exterior car detailing companies may perform specific activities for different exterior parts of the car such as the windshield, tires, paint, etc.

Interior Car Detailing

Interior Car Detailing deals with detailing the interior part of the car. It involves deep cleaning the interior parts of the car by processes such as vacuuming, brushing, steam cleaning, Leather conditioning, carpet cleaning, applying some dressing to protect the surfaces, etc.

The car detailing business must decide on what type of services they are going to offer their customers. This helps to attract niche customers instead of trying to attract everyone.

Equipment & Machinery

The car detailing business is a machinery-intensive business. The following are some of the types of equipment and types of machinery to be used in the business:

Technical Car Detailing Tools

  • Mechanical Polisher and Sander
  • Foam Pads
  • Paint Thickness Gauge
  • Headlight Restoration Kits

Basic Car Detailing Tools

  • Detailing Towels
  • Car Towel Detergents
  • Wash Bucket
  • Dirt Filter
  • Bucket Dolly
  • Sprayer Bottles
  • Detailing Hoses and Reels

Interior Car Detailing Tools

  • Vacuum Cleaner
  • Carpet and Upholstery Extractors
  • Detailing Steamer
  • Ozone Generator

Mobile Car Detailing Equipments

  • Detailing Water Tank
  • Tool Bag
  • Work Belt

Exterior Car Detailing Chemicals

  • Car wash soap
  • Waterless car wash
  • Paint cleaner
  • Clay bars
  • Degreasers
  • Compounds
  • Polishes and glazes
  • Waxes

You need to select and purchase only the Equipment, tools, and chemicals required for the type of detailing service offered by the business.

Marketing Strategy

The marketing strategy must complement the brand image of the business. All the marketing activities must reflect what the company is about and attract customers that help to achieve the goals of the business. The marketing strategy must also executive all the marketing functions through channels where they are most likely to find their target audience.

Advertising the business through radio channels, newspapers, TV ads, and websites may be more likely to attract the target audience than creating social handle pages on Instagram, Facebook, etc.

Competitor analysis

Analyzing the competitors in the industry is key to being sustainable in the industry for a really long time, especially in a highly competitive industry like the car detailing service industry. This helps to analyze what kinds of services are being provided by competitors, what are kinds of products are used, who their ideal customers are, etc. It has a number of pros and cons to it such as the following:


  • It helps to analyze if their strategies are working and implement them in your business
  • It helps to fix a USP that is different from the competitors
  • It helps to implement strategies that are based on real evidence in the industry


  • Sometimes the strategies that worked for one business may not work for your business
  • It takes a lot of time and money to perform competitor analysis


The type of personnel required to run a car detailing business depends on the types of detailing services provided by the business. The specialists required for an exterior car detailing business may be different from the specialists required for an interior car detailing business. The employees must be trained in special tasks such as the following:

  • Washing the exterior and interior of the car including the tires and windshields
  • Applying polish and sanding
  • Restoring headlights
  • Spray painting or wrapping cars
  • Vacuum Cleaning the car interiors including the carpets
  • Degreasing
  • Claying
  • Compounding
  • Making paint corrections
  • Brushing, and steam cleaning the interiors
  • Leather conditioning

The employees may be hired from a training institute or hire employees first and then train them in the respective tasks. Other general roles required to run a car detailing business include marketing manager, workshop manager, cleaning staff, accounting manager, security, administrative staff, etc.

Location and Storage space

The location of the car detailing business and the space required for running the business also depend on the type of services provided by the car detailing business. A mobile car retailer goes directly to the customers and performs detailing duties. Such car detailers do not require as much space as a car detailing studio.

They may need a storage space though to store the inventory of chemicals, tools, and types of equipment. Mobile car retailers also require a vehicle large enough to transport all the required tools and types of equipment to the location where they are going to provide the service.

A car detailing studio on the other hand is a fixed place where the customers bring the car to have the detailing works be done to it. The studio must have a space large enough for the cars to come in and move out of the studio easier. It must have space to Move around the vehicle and perform the detailing functions with ease. It must also have a storage space to store all the equipment and tools. You need to check into the electricity connection, etc., and make sure that the place is approved by the pollution control board in order for it to be suitable for detailing cars.


Insurance is very important to protect the car detailing business and its assets. These insurances are usually not expensive, especially considering the probability of losses that may be faced without proper business insurance. The following are some of the commercial insurances that you can apply to:

  • General Liability Insurance
  • Public Liability Insurance
  • Professional Liability Insurance
  • Employee Insurance Policy
  • Property policy
  • Commercial Vehicle Insurance
  • Business Interruption Insurance

Financial plan

The financial plan is one of the most important parts of the business plan since it deals with money. Proper management of the finance of the company will help manage unexpected losses.  It helps to structure the business based on how much of the capital is invested by the self, and how much of it is going to be sourced from outside. The financial plan also deals with the profit margin and the cost and investment required for running the business.

Profit Margin

Profit margin is a way to measure how much profits a business is earning. It is calculated by subtracting all the expenses incurred in running the business including direct and indirect expenses. The business plan must include a projected profit margin for the car detailing business. With the increasing love for cars among the general public in India, the profit margin is expected to be around 50-55% of the total revenue when the business is run successfully.

Cost & Investment

The cost and investment required for running a car detailing business depend on a number of factors such as the following:

  • Space required
  • Rent amount
  • Types of equipment and tools required
  • Required manpower
  • Chemical and other inventory that is needed
  • Electricity and water charges

You must take care to look into all the expenses that are likely to occur when you run the business in order to estimate the cost of running the business. That’s the way you can estimate the investment required and look for sources and make arrangements for funding the business.

Invest in Auto Detailing Software

Investing in a good auto detailing software helps to manage the car detailing business efficiently. The following are some of the tasks you can perform using an auto detailing software:

  • Manage each of the service outlets of the company
  • Analyze the performance of each outlet through digitized metrics
  • You can estimate the cost of detailing a car quickly
  • You can figure out the time it will take for the car to be detailed
  • It makes the job of creating invoices easier
  • It helps to assign work to employees and analyze their performance easily

Resources on Car Detailing

Before you start a car detailing business, you need to know the details of the services, both the good and the bad to provide better service to your customers. The following are some of the resources that you can use to know more about car detailing:


Books are a great way to gain a solid knowledge of car detailing. The following are some of the books that give a great explanation of car detailing:

  • How to Start a Home-Based Car Detailing Business (Home-Based Business Series) by Renny Doyle
  • The Profitable Auto Detail Shop: How to Start and Run a Successful Auto Detailing Business by J. M. Cook
  • Start Your Own Automobile Detailing Business (StartUp Series) by Entrepreneur Press


Car detailing experts are a great source of knowledge to know more about car detailing practically. You can look into training institutions and experts who provide classes to gain the knowledge and skills required to run a car detailing business.


A car detailing business is a highly technical business that requires knowledge of the technical aspects as well as the administrative aspects of the business. With the rise of car lovers in the country, the car detailing business is booming at a great speed.

With the right skill and knowledge of car detailing you too can start a successful car detailing business right now!

Not the right car business for you? Don’t worry there are a variety of car business ideas for you to choose from.

This post is also available in: English


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