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  1. #21
    Senior Member Dr Oldz's Avatar
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    Re: what do you charge?

    That is my maintenance wash procedure minus the claying. I only do it for people who see me at least 2 times a year for full exterior details that I am just boosting their LSP and keeping their vehicle clean. Depending on the vehicle, it averages 100-150 plus any upsells.

    My basic package is similar but adds at the very least a paint work cleaner and a true sealant or wax instead of the express wax. That starts around $300.
    Jim

  2. #22
    Senior Member sudsmobile's Avatar
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    Re: what do you charge?

    Quote Originally Posted by j.williams@perpetualradiance View Post
    In my town the people are cheap, they don't care how much higher quality the products I use are, or how I use a technique that won't mar up the paint. $50 in my area for a wash is unheard of, at my prices I'm above all the others by almost double. All my next door neighbor knows if I told him I'd wash his car for $30, and the person who comes to his house does it for $15. I can preach to him till I'm blue in the face about quality, all he see's is I'm twice as expensive. If all I did was correction and coatings, I could maybe drum up a single customer a month. Where you live and what's available plays a big part in what you can charge. Doesn't matter if I was as good as Larry from AMMO or Renny Doyle, if I charged what they do I might never get a single job. 3 of my neighbors laughed at me when I said $45 to wash their ginormous trucks. A raised F250, Chevy 3500 or whatever and another big chevy. There's no market for a high end detailer in my town. I charge $30 for a wash only, which takes me about 35 minutes. The competition all charge 20 or less for the same thing, and by same thing I mean a wash only. I'm going to move next year, but for now this is where I'm at. lol

    Jimbo on his detailing podcast has spoke on how where he started, to make it he had to wash cars for 10 hours a day to make $250. You have to start somewhere right? Why I'd rather not do 8 $30 washes in a day day, it sure beats 1 $400 coating every 2 or 3 weeks. *shrug* So until I move, I'll wash and wash and wash and when a coating or correction job comes along I'll gladly do it. I would love to sit down with someone who started detailing and was already successful enough where they only did big jobs. Then I could pick their brain. I guess I just assume everyone starts in the trenches and had to work their tail off to get to where they won't go a persons house for less than $150. Or, maybe they lived somewhere like Laguna Beach where the people are uber rich and drive nice cars and will shell out the $$$. I'm sure it also has to do with me not being some super salesman too.

    I totally agree with what you said, believe me I don't want to do $30 washes, but I also don't want to go back to working in a warehouse, so until I can figure out how to make what you suggested work for me. Unfortunately I have to compete with bottom barrel dudes, and I'm still getting told how expensive I am by 90% of people I approach about being their car detailer guy. So while you're in awe why I'd go to someone's house for a measly $45, the people I deal with are in awe I charge that much. It's weird how different people see things so differently lol.
    Have you ever mentioned where you live? Although I live in SoCal, it's not at the beach. I have some very wealthy customers but the majority of my customers are just working class stiffs like the rest of us. Maybe they make slightly more than the national average, but I mean if you're making $150k around here you're just an average Joe. And surprising our wealthy customers tend to be the stingiest, I guess the old saying "you don't get rich writing a lot of checks" is true.

    Until recently we were doing three cars every two weeks for a husband and wife team of lawyers. $175 for the three cars, never once gave us a tip, in fact you could tell that they literally had to round up the cash to pay us the exact amount rather than give us even a dollar more. Once they paid the last two dollar in metal change LOL. Seriously, two lawyers and they paid the last two dollars in quarters and dimes. They dumped us about a month ago to go back to their old guy who moved back to town after failing in another town. I'm 1000% positive he was far cheaper than us.

    Today is a perfect example. I did a full interior and exterior detail plus engine cleaning for a lady who told me she was an elementary school teacher. School just started and her car was pretty dirty inside from the summer off. The total price tag was north of $300 and she was obviously not wealthy nor even driving a particularly nice car. That's a pretty typical customer for us, somebody that wants their car nice and clean and doesn't mind paying for it to be done right.

    Here's why I hate your business model and it's the same thing I preached to my son when we started this business. You say that most people are already saying your prices are too high. But you need by your own admission 8 of those customers every day for what 5-6 days a week? That's 40-50 customers per week, every week. Let's say 40. That puts you at $1200 before expenses per week. That's before gas, advertising, supplies, insurance, normal wear and tear on your equipment, maintenance on your equipment and vehicle. That's a tough business model when people aren't knocking your door down to begin with.

    And it's not that I won't go to a person's house for less than $150, because I do. It's just that most of the time I don't have to. We do have a very few customers that we wash for, coating maintenance, cars we paint corrected and a few people who keep their cars immaculate so I'm not losing money unpacking my trailer for $65-80. I can count these customers on two hands. When somebody calls or Yelps and want's a "wash", I simply quote them for our mini detail (which is a wash and express wax plus the inside) and let them decide for themselves. If they want it cheaper, more power to them, it's not hard to find. I'm also selling something that's hard to put a price on. Reliability, communication, timeliness, professionalism. People like that. People like it that I answer the phone when they call, that I show up on time, that I don't look like a bum, that my rig isn't an eyesore parked in front of their house all day.

    I don't know, I guess my suggestion is move if you want to be a "detailer" for a living because I'm telling you right now, you will be sick of washing cars all day every day stop after stop for $30 in about six months.

  3. #23
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    Re: what do you charge?

    Quote Originally Posted by sudsmobile View Post
    you will be sick of washing cars all day every day stop after stop for $30 in about six months.
    This is very true. You end up working harder, not smarter. Plenty of these car wash guys going around, ending up selling their rigs 5-6 months in, to the next guy, and the cycle repeats. SoCal is saturated with this stuff

  4. #24
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    Re: what do you charge?

    Quote Originally Posted by j.williams@perpetualradiance View Post
    In my town the people are cheap, they don't care how much higher quality the products I use are, or how I use a technique that won't mar up the paint. $50 in my area for a wash is unheard of, at my prices I'm above all the others by almost double. All my next door neighbor knows if I told him I'd wash his car for $30, and the person who comes to his house does it for $15. I can preach to him till I'm blue in the face about quality, all he see's is I'm twice as expensive. If all I did was correction and coatings, I could maybe drum up a single customer a month. Where you live and what's available plays a big part in what you can charge. Doesn't matter if I was as good as Larry from AMMO or Renny Doyle, if I charged what they do I might never get a single job. 3 of my neighbors laughed at me when I said $45 to wash their ginormous trucks. A raised F250, Chevy 3500 or whatever and another big chevy. There's no market for a high end detailer in my town. I charge $30 for a wash only, which takes me about 35 minutes. The competition all charge 20 or less for the same thing, and by same thing I mean a wash only. I'm going to move next year, but for now this is where I'm at. lol

    Jimbo on his detailing podcast has spoke on how where he started, to make it he had to wash cars for 10 hours a day to make $250. You have to start somewhere right? Why I'd rather not do 8 $30 washes in a day day, it sure beats 1 $400 coating every 2 or 3 weeks. *shrug* So until I move, I'll wash and wash and wash and when a coating or correction job comes along I'll gladly do it. I would love to sit down with someone who started detailing and was already successful enough where they only did big jobs. Then I could pick their brain. I guess I just assume everyone starts in the trenches and had to work their tail off to get to where they won't go a persons house for less than $150. Or, maybe they lived somewhere like Laguna Beach where the people are uber rich and drive nice cars and will shell out the $$$. I'm sure it also has to do with me not being some super salesman too.

    I totally agree with what you said, believe me I don't want to do $30 washes, but I also don't want to go back to working in a warehouse, so until I can figure out how to make what you suggested work for me. Unfortunately I have to compete with bottom barrel dudes, and I'm still getting told how expensive I am by 90% of people I approach about being their car detailer guy. So while you're in awe why I'd go to someone's house for a measly $45, the people I deal with are in awe I charge that much. It's weird how different people see things so differently lol.
    Where do you live?

  5. #25
    Senior Member sudsmobile's Avatar
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    Re: what do you charge?

    Quote Originally Posted by mckobe View Post
    This is very true. You end up working harder, not smarter. Plenty of these car wash guys going around, ending up selling their rigs 5-6 months in, to the next guy, and the cycle repeats. SoCal is saturated with this stuff
    It's funny that you say this because I scan CL constantly for stuff I might want. The IE and SD areas have no less than 6 "detail trailers", the majority of which is your standard open trailer with a water tank, generator and pressure washer strapped to it. And then of course there's the one guy trying to sell his barely used fully enclosed fully stocked trailer for $17k LOL. This business is a sales and people business, not a car detailing business.

    For the OP or anybody else struggling to make this work, if you want to do this for a living, I suggest you work on your sales skills and your people skills. I know from your postings this suggestion is going to be met with trepidation, but save up some money and advertise using Google AdWords. Even if it's only a couple hundred bucks a month. There's people in your town that want your services, you just don't know them. They're not your neighbors, maybe they're people in higher end occupations or maybe they're in the next town over, but they're out there. Trying to find customers the way you're trying to find them now, out of your neighbors and casual acquaintances is a needle in a haystack approach. I've done almost a quarter of a million in business in just a touch less than two years and I've done one job within a mile of my house. One. And to give you an idea of the kind of saturation I live in, my kids go (went) to a high school two miles from my house with an enrollment of 5,000 students. I've preached this over and over, you simply can't rely on people you know, handing out business cards at local businesses/shopping malls or neighbors who might know what you do for a living. You have to target the customers that are actually searching for your services.

  6. #26
    Senior Member Dan Tran's Avatar
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    what do you charge?

    Quote Originally Posted by webringtheshine View Post
    whats the going rate for a package including:


    • clean wheels & tires
    • bug removal
    • wash
    • dry
    • clay
    • express wax
    • dress tires
    Ex.

    Audi RS 3 - $125
    Time - 1.5 hours

    Audi Q8 - $155
    Time - 2 hours

    I serve in Southern Maine and primarily the Seacoast Region of New Hampshire.

    People used to like to dispute my prices over the phone. And eventually word spread that you do get what you pay for...high-quality. After that, people started paying with no questions asked.

    There are at least 6 detailers who compete for the same business in and around Portsmouth, NH—whether they are a shop or a mobile service. I no longer let my competition dictate my prices. Only I do.

    Lastly, set the market if you have to.

    High-End Paint Correction and Opti-Coat Ceramic Coatings * Portsmouth, NH

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