How to Set a Price on Car Detailing

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If you're willing to work hard, a car detailing business can be a great way to earn a living. One of the most frequent questions from those getting started in detail is "How much do I charge?" The answer to the question depends on where you live, the cost of living and the amount of competition. Competition can create price wars in the detailing business (or any other business). Other important factors include your level of expertise and your average cost of doing business.

  • Compare the price of other shops in your area. Contact a few local detail shops and automotive dealers to determine what they charge. Keep your price in line with theirs; whenever possible, set your price lower, especially if you are just getting started and trying to build a clientele.

  • Determine your cost of doing business. Your overhead, including the cost of cleaning supplies, tools and property will eat away a great deal of your gross profits. Keep this in mind when setting a price. If you are operating a mobile detail business, consider the cost of fuel and maintenance on your vehicle.

  • Categorize your services; set a price for each service. Consider offering basic, mid-level and advanced service packages. Your basic package could include an exterior wash and wash along with a light interior detail. Add more services and increase the price for each ascending package, such as a full interior detail for your advanced package.

  • Offer specials, discounts or coupons to repeat customers. One of the most important factors in establishing a successful detail business is establishing a clientele. Throwing in a freebie or extra from time to time may increase the chances a customer comes back to you--instead of going somewhere else--when they need their next detail.

Tips & Warnings

  • Never set your price higher than your competitors, at least not before you are established. If you have years of experience and plenty of satisfied customers, you may be able to get away with charging a higher price.

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