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How to start Auto Detailing Business to make money for individuals want to quit their jobs and start their careers as an entrepreneur are as follows:
Description of Job
• Clean cars inch by inch to return them to factory-new condition . . . or better
than that.
• Perform some jobs on a regular basis, others on a one-time basis for resale
to a new buyer.
• Work closely with your client to understand expectations; every job is unique.
The Need
Some people’s cars are like a teenager’s room, carpeted with six months of newspapers
and fast-food wrappers and possessed of an exotic but nonspecific odor.
Other people like to maintain their cars in better-than-factory-fresh condition.
The auto detailer uses hoses, sponges, vacuum cleaners, toothbrushes, toothpicks,
and magnifying glasses to pick up every crumb, polish every surface, and
renew every cosmetic feature of a car.
Challenges
Your job is to run a beauty salon, not a plastic surgeon’s operating room. An auto
detailer’s job description does not include removing dents or significant interior
or exterior work; clients should be referred to an auto body shop or an automotive
paint shop for that sort of preparatory work before the vehicle is brought in
for detailing.
Do you go to the car, or does it come to you? You’ll need the same equipment
either way, but if you travel to the job, you’ll need a vehicle—perhaps a truck or
van—to carry supplies. (Your vehicle should become an example of your work;
it should sparkle like a showroom demonstrator.)
If the cars come to you, your setup and cleanup will be easier, but you may
bear some liability for the vehicle while it is on your property.
Record existing damage to the car and the odometer reading on the contract,
and have the client initial that section to protect you against certain claims.
Know the Territory
Detailing is, for most car owners, a luxury. Take a look around a neighborhood
and appraise the value—and condition—of the cars you see.
Before you accept a vehicle for detailing, make a close inspection in the presence
of the owner and note any damage or special conditions. Look for tears in
the upholstery, scratches or dents in the sheet metal, and missing parts.
Think twice before accepting antique or collectible vehicles. You don’t want to
be responsible for replacing African burl wood in a Rolls-Royce if you scratch it.
How to Get Started
Post flyers in auto supply stores. Place ads in auto club and collector newsletters.
Ask friends and relatives for referrals.
Up-front Expenses
You’ll need a few hundred dollars worth of detergents, vinyl and leather renewers,
tire and wheel cleaners, polishes, and waxes.
Necessary equipment includes clean, soft towels—many detailers use cloth
diapers—for polishing and cleaning. Sponges and washing mitts are useful to
clean the exterior. To apply wax and polish, many detailers use real or synthetic
chamois cloths; final buffing can be done with a power orbital buffer, although
purists prefer hand finishing.
You’ll need stiff-bristled brushes to clean tires and wheels; you’ll need small,
soft brushes, including toothbrushes, to clean inside small enclosures.
Spray bottles and cans are needed for glass cleaners, vinyl and leather renewers,
and other chemicals.
Interior cleaning begins with a powerful vacuum. Carpets can be cleaned
with a steam cleaner or shampoo machine.
Cleaning the engine compartment is usually a job for a power washer, carefully
applied to avoid damage to sensitive components of modern motors. Detailers
use a degreasing solution and a brush to remove oil and grease, taking care to
avoid getting the chemical on the paint surface. Rubber belts, hoses, and door
gaskets can be renewed with a silicone dressing.
How Much to Charge
Proper detailing of a car that is already in reasonably good shape will take from
several hours to a full day; a car that has major cleanliness issues may demand as
much as two days.
You can charge on an hourly basis or set a flat rate based on an underlying
hourly rate. Plan on additional charges for difficult cases; conversely, offer discounts
for repeat customers who bring cars to you regularly.
Add extra charges for special polishes, cleaners, or paints.
Estimated charges: $50 to $100 for ordinary jobs, $100 to $200 for difficult
cases.
Legal and Insurance Issues
Special notes: In dealing with your client’s property, seek to limit your liability
for damage or loss to the actual replacement value of items in your possession.
You should protect yourself against claims for sentimental value or loss of use.
An insurance agent can offer counsel about commercial vehicle insurance
and liability coverage.

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