Everything You'll Need to Start a Professional Car Detailing Business

AutoGuide.com Staff
by AutoGuide.com Staff

There’s more than one example on this Earth of entrepreneurial people needing a product, discovering a suitable item doesn’t exist, and inventing something of their own to fill that gap. The same can be said for businesses as well—particularly your author’s local performance shop that was founded 25 years ago by a gearhead unhappy with the selection of speed parts in town.

Necessity, meet invention.

That’s why we’ve partnered with the experts at Fortador, a leading car care company, to create this guide to starting your own car detailing business, from choosing the right supplies to selecting the best equipment—while also recognizing that maintaining and growing a successful business takes more than simply purchasing the correct tools. Being deeply involved in the company is critical, as is surrounding yourself with the right people who have expertise in areas which you may have little interest in (marketing and finance spring immediately to mind).

With a solid work ethic, good people skills, and a desire to provide the best service to your customers as humanly possible, the following list of products will give you a jump on launching your own detail business, whether you’re starting from the ground up or simply looking to add professional car detailing to your existing list of automotive services.

Top Notch Consumable Supplies

Darting down to your local hardware or auto supply store and picking up a bucket of generic car wash isn't going to do the trick if you're actually serious about starting your own detail shop. Make sure to thoroughly research what you're buying, ensuring it’s pro-grade stuff and not simply a consumer product repackaged in bulk.

Here’s a shopping list to help get you started:

  • Car washing suds
  • Microfiber towels
  • Detailing spray
  • Glass cleaners
  • Buffer pads

Of course, you’ll also need professional-grade car detailing equipment as well. In other words, it’s not enough to stop at a bucket and hose. Here are some options to consider.

Commercial Pressure Washer

Commercial pressure washers are a different breed than those on sale at big box stores. There are wheeled and skid-mounted varieties, each with their own unique set of advantages. Careful research and thinking about your intended purpose for this machine (and budget) is key before shelling out the big bucks. Look for units powered by gasoline or diesel with the ability to fire hot water out of its high PSI jets.

Professional Steam Cleaner

Investing in a car steam cleaner will raise your game above others who are simply offering a $10 paint scratching with their mop and bucket. Steamers are available for a variety of car detailing tasks. By creating a clear list of the detailing work you wish to achieve using this tool, you will have an easier time zeroing down on which steam cleaner is best for your business.

Many businesses are now switching to steam detailing exclusively, which means they will have one high-performance steam cleaner that will be used to wash the exterior of the car and fully detail every inch of the interior. These kinds of steamers are referred to in the industry as steam car washing machines, a great example of which is the Fortador Pro Plus, a unit that brings the goods and is quite literally Lamborghini-powered.

No, really. This steam cleaner is powered by a plug-in electric-diesel engine cranking out 50hp and built by the famous Italian brand. In other words, it'll feel right at home caring for your client's fleet of high-end supercars.

With a boiler temperature capable of heating steam to very nearly double the boiling point of water, this machine is just the ticket for spic-n-span detailing jobs that are as easy on vehicle paint as it is on interior surfaces. Over six gallons of water capacity and enough onboard fuel to keep the thing running for 25 hours means less downtime and more time spent working on customer cars.

Paint Coating Applications

Detail companies which go beyond a simple steam clean can make a name for themselves by providing customers with paint coating options, ones designed to make a vehicle's paintwork look like a million bucks while also protecting that paint for the long term. Different methods exist, ranging from simple waxes to the current trend of ceramic coating.

The detail crew at Fortador have designed a ceramic Kevlar protection coating, one which has been put through 1,200 installations and durability tests across different countries and varying weather conditions. It protects the paint from elements of nature and the inevitable chips or scratches that come along with the daily use of a car.

Using the Kevlar coating is a multi-step process but one that can be learned using the company's online tools rather than packing up to attend an in-person course at a far-flung location. Today, more than ever, that's an important consideration.

Ask Those Who Know

While it may seem counterintuitive, seeking advice from those already in the business can be extraordinarily helpful. If a cohort owns a detail shop across the country, it's unlikely they'll be giving away any business or see you as encroaching on their territory. Use online resources to find pros sympathetic to your cause and who will permit you to bend their ear. Chambers of commerce could also be a good resource to find those in the biz, as well as online forums and websites.

For more on Fortador’s offerings and how their premium car care products and equipment can help you launch your own professional car detailing business, click here.

AutoGuide.com Staff
AutoGuide.com Staff

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