If you want to start your own car detailing business, you must have the right equipment, the right training, and a solid marketing plan. Although you’ll learn most of these things “in the field,” it’s best to start with a solid training foundation.
Your first option is to work at a detail shop with the arrangement that the shop owner will train you as an owner. That is, not just show you how to detail cars, but show you how to get customers, order supplies, hire and fire…all of the things that only the shop owner does. It’s rare to find a willing shop owner. Only if you signed a contract committing to not compete within 30+ miles would someone agree. And even then, you’ll likely have to work for free to sweeten the deal.
Second, there are many well established car detailing schools across the country. RightLook, Detailing Success, Detail King, and The Total Pros all do a fine job of training detail business owners. They take beginners and show them how to detail professionally. This includes how to handle difficult challenges like carpet stain removal, odor removal, oxidation removal, water spot removal, food spill remediation, etc. But the technical training is only half as important as the make-or-break problem facing all new car detailing businesses: how to get customers!
If you enroll in a detailing school, be sure to opt for the sales and marketing training. You must know where to find the customers and how to sell to them. Most of the teachers are ex detail shop owners. They know how to spend their advertising money to get results, and how NOT to spend it (note: the phonebook is a poor investment; so is radio and newspaper advertising).
Expect to pay $700 – $3000 for training depending on the school you choose, the course you choose, and your travel costs.
Finally, there are solid and proven courses that train you at home. The best home training courses include videos. Some even include a starter website and go into detail about how to attract customers on the Internet. The Internet is perhaps the single most important resource for new detailing customers (outside of referrals), so be sure to spend many hours researching Internet marketing!
Ultimately, how you choose to learn how to launch your detailing business depends on the time and money you have available. If you are short on time and money, you can certainly learn a necessary foundation by studying at home and practicing on the cars of family and friends.
No matter how you choose to train, the most important lessons will always be learned in your first 6 months as a business owner, confronted with the infinite number of challenges a small business encounters.