You can start your own mobile auto detailing business with only $500 in your pocket. That amount is enough to secure the basic products and tools you need.
You can start by practicing detailing your own car, some family members, and friends before getting clients.
Mobile car detailing is a great side hustle that allows you to be your own boss, make your own hours, and earn really good money.
You don’t need any special skills other than knowing how to do the detailing thoroughly and properly. It also only requires very little upfront cost.
When done right, this side hustle business can help you earn more than a full-time job ever will.
What is Mobile Detailing & How Profitable Is It?
In a nutshell, detailing is the process of restoring a car’s appearance; from old and dirty to new and clean. There are a lot of different services that can be included under the detailing spectrum.
From using a vacuum and power washer for simple car cleaning and washing to steam cleaning, ceramic coating, engine bay detailing, and so much more.
You can customize your detailing service according to the package that you’re willing to offer. The sky is the limit and each detailer has their own types of services that they provide.
But generally, detailing consists of simple interior and exterior car cleaning.
The best thing about a mobile detailing business is that you take your services to the customer instead of having them drive to the shop or to your place of business.
They schedule or book an appointment with you and you show up with your equipment and do the job.
What equipment do you need to start detailing?
With $500, you can purchase basic equipment to start detailing.
You’re going to need a wet dry vacuum cleaner, a power washer, some cleaning products such as soap, leather cleaner, tire shine and degreaser, lots of microfiber towels, extension cords, hoses, brushes, and buckets.
When you have complete equipment and the right process to detail a car, you can charge up to $200 per vehicle. On average, it takes about 4 hours to finish detailing a single car.
If you include tips, you can make around $400 to $600 a day easily just by cleaning people’s cars.
The Mobile Car Detailing Process
Every car detailer has their own detailing process, equipment, and cleaning solution that they follow and use. But to give you an overview of the general process, start by thoroughly vacuuming the interior.
Make sure to remove the mats first and power wash them if they’re super dirty. If not, vacuuming them will do.
If there are any stains, use a degreaser or any cleaning solution that removes the type of stain you’re dealing with.
Learn how to remove coffee stains and how to clean up vomit in the car interior with our other guides.
Clean cup holders, pockets, buttons, door, dashboard, and other crevices that have debris and dirt in them. Follow the right process in removing dog hair, sand, and stains.
Clean the leather and the windows thoroughly using a leather brush or microfiber towel. Power wash and clean the door jambs and do an exterior wash with soap and wax.
Remove any bugs or debris on the car’s surface. Clean the rims, wash the wheels properly, and dress the tires with tire shine.
That’s generally the entire process of car detailing. It may not seem like a lot but once you do it, you’ll notice that it really takes time to finish especially if the car is really dirty.
As long as you do the job well, you can see a significant difference in the look and feel of the car and so will your customers.
It’s important to start detailing your own car or your friends and family’s car just so you can get a good understanding of what it takes to achieve a high-quality detail.
How to Start Detailing with Only $500
If you’re planning to start your own mobile car detailing business but you don’t know where to start, we’ll give you a step-by-step process that you can follow.
Step 1 - Purchase all the equipment you need.
As mentioned earlier, you’ll be needing a wet dry vacuum cleaner, a power washer, some cleaning products such as soap, leather cleaner, tire shine and degreaser, lots of microfiber towels, extension cords, hoses, brushes, and buckets.
Here’s a complete list of $500 or less worth of detailing items:
Step 2 - Practice makes perfect.
You can’t clean other people’s cars if you can’t clean your own well. Practicing detailing your own car and some family members before getting clients.
Once you get the hang of it, start looking for clients.
Step 3 - Market your business.
Try many different things if you want to get as much work as possible. The key is to put your service in front of as many eyes as possible. You can put up door hangers, hang flyers, and utilize social media.
Using social media like Facebook, Instagram, Tiktok, Youtube, and such can really help grow your business.
These methods can be time-consuming and it can take a really long time before you can get the ball rolling but it’s totally worth it!
Get creative with your content by making graphics, writing blogs, or creating videos that show your detailing process. Create a website so people know your business is legit. Posting before and after pictures can also help.
Step 4 - Consider other alternatives.
If none of the methods mentioned above work for you, you can always rely on paid advertisement. This can help put your business in front of a lot more people than knocking on their door.
You’ll need to invest a significant amount of money in this matter.
Other detailers recommend marketing your service to dealerships near you. They can give you many cars to detail or perhaps sign you on as a private contractor that works for them.
This can be a great opportunity but dealings with corporate entities can be quite complicated.
They usually have their own way of doing things and they will try to spend the least amount of money on your service as possible.
As a result, you might not get as much as you’re expecting to get. Simply put, you’ll be working more for less money but you’ll have a stable flow of customers.
Step 5 - Manage your expectations.
Starting this business requires patience. It may take some time before you get your first client but once you get the ball rolling, you won’t have to spend a lot of time or money marketing your business.
As long as you’re doing a good job, word of mouth will do the marketing for you. You’ll be surprised how many people will contact you just because they love what you’ve done with their friend’s car and so on.
Important Factors in Succeeding in a Detailing Business
Hard work, determination, and dedication can make any business successful. In terms of detailing, these are the important factors that you need to remember if you want to succeed:
1. Treat every client as a VIP.
If you see all your clients as million-dollar clients, you’ll always do your best every time. Your effort will surely go unnoticed.
You will be rewarded with loyal customers who will remember you and have you as their go-to mobile detailer.
2. The power of Word of Mouth goes both ways.
Don’t overestimate the power of word of mouth. It can also be used to slow down, if not permanently close, your business once a client is not satisfied with the job or finds something wrong with their vehicle after detailing.
In the same way, it can bring you a lot of customers you’ll start to wonder where they came from.
3. High-quality service.
You’ll learn a lot of things as you go along this business. The most important thing is that your service gets better and better every time.
High-quality service is a service worth paying no matter what the price.
When you provide quality service consistently, there’s no doubt you’re going to succeed in this business. No matter how impressive your service is the first time, if you can’t keep up the same quality, you’ll lose customers fast.
Starting a mobile car detailing business is not a get-rich-quick scheme nor is it an overnight success. It’s going to take a lot of hard work, time, and patience but if you follow the steps and tips we’ve given, you’ll be on your way to running your own detailing business and being your own boss.
Remember, you can start detailing with $500 and all you need is the right equipment, cleaning solutions, and processes. Start practicing and detailing your own car. Ask your family and friends if you can detail their cars, too.
Once you get the idea of how to do it well, you can start marketing your business and getting clients. There are many ways to market your business but the best method is by utilizing social media.
We hope this guide will help and inspire you to start your own detailing business even if you only have $500 to spare.