View Full Version : College business taking on boats

03-16-2017, 10:37 AM
Hi guys,

For the 2nd year in a row, I have boats to detail. I'm still in college so I can't charge what a good boat detailer would charge, but I also don't want to under price myself. I detailed a severely neglected 36' Sea Ray last summer that took me about 70 hours to complete and I charged $1,300. I had to buff the boat over 5 times(gel coat was hazy), paid an hourly helper, and materials (including a broken buffer) so I walked away with not much profit.

I'd like to prevent this in the future. My first question is, what is the "go to" compound that can tackle tough jobs and still finish nicely? If anyone can recommend a process I'm open to that as well. In addition, what is a good rate to charge? I have 2 cigarette style boats to do in the coming weeks, which are both 26 footers, and would like to charge accordingly.

03-16-2017, 01:20 PM
Cars are alot easier to price as they are usually smaller and have alot less work in most instances. I would price by the hour as you are doing so much work and such as big area at once.

03-16-2017, 02:53 PM
Thanks for the response Bill. My only problem with charging hourly is that I don't know how long it'll take me! I've only done one boat so far so I cannot estimate a job based on time.

03-16-2017, 03:03 PM
Call local places for a rough rate they charge. I used to do boats with a local guy in the summer as a summer job while in school. I was paid hourly but I believe it was in the 1000-1500 mark. And I'm in Canada so that would make the difference as well. Some big boats would be a full day adventure with 3 guys. Learned alot but this is just a hobby for me.

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03-16-2017, 03:14 PM
Thanks for the response Bill. My only problem with charging hourly is that I don't know how long it'll take me! I've only done one boat so far so I cannot estimate a job based on time.

I can understand, I took some time to dial in how long it takes me for cars, on a crossover, with not doing paint correction but more interior and exterior it should take max 8 hours usually about 5.

Im in CT too and my prices are more nyc area so they are similar in car terms

03-16-2017, 10:11 PM
5 times around with the polisher is too much... unless it involves sanding.

I have strictly went to marine 31 polished

Invest in a good rotary (currently using Dewalt and love it)

And a flex 3401.

Move fast and efficient. It's all about doing the best you can in the shortest amount of time.

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Mike Phillips
03-17-2017, 04:06 AM
If recommend clicking the link below and reading the article,


It's okay to detail boats - just learn to take on profitable projects and let the person that didn't come to AGO for help take on the projects you turn away.


03-17-2017, 05:03 AM
I do this for a living and usually stay away from boats.I'm picky when it comes to boats if I can't do it by myself than I won't do it.Also they must be on a trailer on dryland.I recently did a boat about a month ago,I think it was a 25ft searay and it was bad.No compound solely was making a dent in this but I knew that from the start before giving out a price.I sanded the sides real quick with 1500 then used the 3m brown rubbing compound on a rotary and wool.Then I used fg400 with a da on a orange foam cutting pad then waxed it with collinite.Took 2 8hr days and the other 2 I cut out by 1 o'clock and made 1350.00.you will get your but kicked a few times before giving a price on a boat.I make money 2 ways by time and the actual dollar amount.

Mike Phillips
03-17-2017, 05:07 AM
I'd listen to Jeff - aka GSKR

Hey Jeff, see you in a few hours. Glad you could clear your schedule to be on our TV show!