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  1. #1
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    My journey in starting a detailing business

    I was board tonight and decided to write my story in detailing.


    Hello all.
    I see post on here almost daily about someone wanting to start a detailing business. So I thought I would share my story of my journey began. I first started working at a local car lot when I turned 17 detailing vehicles. While I would not technically call what they did detailing. I did learn a few tips a tricks while I was there. I had this job for some time until I enrolled into college as a CRNA. I left the car lot for a better paying job to cover my classes. My new job was installing generators for a back up source for cell phone towers. This job was terrible for what it paid. But I didn’t mind the hard work and it was paying for college. One weekend I get a voice mail saying “we are going to make some cut backs and we are going with cheaper contractors”. Now I was unemployed and very soon after this was forced to drop out of college because I was no longer able to pay for classes. I had close to 3.5 years of classes in at this point.
    A family member of mine who owns a car lot had some overflow vehicles that he wanted detailed. So at this point I had not detailed a vehicle in 10 years. Not knowing about what products are good or bad, at this point I didn’t know the difference between a DA or a rotary. I wasn’t 100% sure what “quick detailer” was.
    I took the only $40 dollars I had to my name and bought a $20 bucket shop vac, Bissell green head, two pump sprayers, carpet cleaner and some shampoo. For carpet and seats I would fill one pump sprayer with hot water and carpet cleaner, the other with just hot water. I would spray the carpet cleaner solution on a section scrub with a brush. Then spray with hot water and suck it up with the bucket vac with the Bissell attachment. This was my version of a poor mans hot water extractor.
    These first few vehicles is where I fell in love with detailing. The car lot liked the work I did. So they started giving me more and more vehicles to detail. The only problem with this was it took forever for me to finish a vehicle. At this point in my life I knew this is what I wanted to do. I started watching every video and reading every piece of literature I could find on detailing. If I didn’t have a vehicle that day, I was spending 8 hours of that day reading and watching videos on how to detail. The days without a vehicle were almost more beneficial to me at this point because I was so willing to learn something new.
    After my huge $40 investment. I knew I was going to be limited to what I could charge with what I had. So after the first vehicle I did. If I made $125 for detailing that vehicle. I was ordering $124.99 worth of products. For my products I would read hours and hours of reviews to see what the best products were for the money. I started out with Chemical Guys, PC and a Ridgid smart cart vacuum (I still use this vacuum cleaner to this day). I worked with these products for quite some time and still learning everything I can. These products sped up my time considerably.
    I worked out a deal with one of the car lots I was detailing for to let me use practice vehicles. They would have certain vehicles they would wholesale at auction and they didn’t care what they looked like. So they would let me do whatever I wanted to these vehicles. These vehicles is where I really learned how to compound and polish. I would compound a vehicle to clear coat failure. Just to see how much it would take and what not to do in certain situations. I would spend hours upon hours polishing and compounding these vehicles to make my technique perfect. While this wasn’t really necessary, it was very helpful.
    After experimenting with different products and different brands. I had found my lineup of products that worked for me. Next on my list was equipment. I did the same with equipment as I did with products. I would spend every dime I made to buy something new I needed. I did this for close to 3 years. It’s hard not to go out with friends and go out to eat and just stay home and save money. But I was determined not to fail.
    I always knew I would upgrade my equipment at some point so I started out with a steamer, Tornador and a Rupes 21. I’m sure it’s the same steamer that most of you have bought starting out. But it did work well for the money. These new tools cut my detailing time down by 40%. From this point on is where I would only buy equipment if it cut down on time.
    The next purchase I made was something I knew I wouldn’t have to upgrade. This was a electric pressure washer with hose reel. This was a $1,200 investment. But I knew it would pay off. As soon as I received the pressure washer I ripped it off the cart and mounted it on the wall with the reel. It may only take 3 minuets to hook up a pressure washer and unhook it. But if you do this 6 times a week for 52 weeks. That’s 15.6 hours a year. That equals roughly two full details a year I’m missing out on just by connecting/disconnecting a pressure washer. This why I started spending money on nothing but items that saved me time. Time truly is money.
    My next two big purchase were a Mytee prep center extractor and a Vapor Rino steamer. These were two very expensive items. But I could not live without them today. They have cut my detailing time down considerably.
    At this point I had all the products and equipment I needed. So I started venturing out more to individual clients instead of car lots. I thought if I made a Facebook page and some business cards that people would flood in. I wouldn’t know how to schedule them all. Because everything I’ve learned and all the sacrifices I’ve made to build what I had. They had to know how good I was. That’s almost laughable now. This is the part of my journey where I learned that the business side is equally as important, if not more important than actually knowing how to detail. All this time I spent learning how to become the perfect detailer. I neglected and overlooked how to become the perfect business owner. So I started reading and watching every business book and video I could find. This brought back memories of starting all over again. After some time I learned how to network and how to build a respectable client list.


    This has been a 7 year journey so far. I now make a decent living doing what I love to do. Plus I own my own business. But I write this for the people wanting to start out with a detailing business thinking it’s easy or someone has some perfect blueprint to start. Looking back now it would’ve been a shorter and less expensive road to just become a CRNA. But I don’t think I would’ve been truly happy on that road.

  2. Thanks WristyManchego thanked for this post
    Likes Cg6LeMoN, SWETM, PaulieB, UncleDavy, PaulMys and 3 others liked this post
  3. #2
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    Re: My journey in starting a detailing business

    I apologize in advance for my auto correction. It’s acting crazy on my phone and misspelled some words.

  4. #3
    Senior Member sudsmobile's Avatar
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    Re: My journey in starting a detailing business

    Good story. Great story!

  5. #4
    Senior Member Cg6LeMoN's Avatar
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    Re: My journey in starting a detailing business

    Quite a journey. One thing i noticed was that every job was related to your end goal almost. People jump from job to jobs that doesnt relate to what they truly want or passionate about. I understand some situations are worse than others but you also only had 40 left and you stuck with your plan and did not get off track.

    Click on image to view work

  6. #5
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    Re: My journey in starting a detailing business

    Thanks suds.
    The story is added every day. It’s a long race. But it’s been a enjoyable one.

    Cg6LeMoN best $40 I ever spent. My story just happened to be detailing. I think if you truly want something to succeed you can’t give up. I listened to a speaker a while back. He said if you hold someone under water for two minutes if they want air at that point as much as they want to succeed in business.They will.

    It gets frustrating reading some of these posts “how do I start a detailing business”. I don’t think a lot of these people realize what they are getting into. It’s hard as hell and it’s a struggle. But like anything in life. If you stick to it and work hard. It will pay off in the end.
    If you don’t love doing it and you are not willing to make the sacrifice. You might as well quit before you begin.
    But for the ones who are willing to follow through and will do whatever it takes to make it work. It will be one of the most fulfilling experiences of your life.

  7. #6
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    Re: My journey in starting a detailing business

    Awesome story!

    Thanks for shareing your experience!

    /Tony

  8. #7
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    Re: My journey in starting a detailing business

    Thanks SWETM.

    Hopefully it will help some starting out. Or at least give them some idea of what they are getting into.

  9. Likes LEDetailing, SWETM liked this post
  10. #8
    Senior Member Belo's Avatar
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    Re: My journey in starting a detailing business

    liked reading your journey. Really shows the great possibilities this country can offer anyone who is willing to work hard and learn.

    Remember you're never done learning and growing. Good luck!
    2009 Pontiac G8GT
    2015 Ford Explorer Limited
    2016 Chevy Silverado Z71 LT

  11. #9
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    Re: My journey in starting a detailing business

    Thanks Belo.

    It really does. You can make anything possible if you put the time in.
    No doubt. I learn something new everyday. I still have the same drive to learn as the day I started.

  12. #10
    Senior Member Calendyr's Avatar
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    Re: My journey in starting a detailing business

    Welcome to the forum.

    I was unable to read your post, I am tired and the wall of text without any break is just unreable to me. Might want to edit that and make paragraphs.

    If you have any questions, feel free to ask us. You will find a lot of people willing to help in here.

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