Do Detailing Services Matter

Order Reprints

Auto detailing is very similar to vehicle maintenance. Both are necessary to keep a vehicle running and looking great. The consumer is trying to protect his or her investment by maintaining the reliability and value, but many times is unaware or confused on what their vehicle really needs pertaining to its appearance. Many people try to maintain their vehicle’s appearance themselves and yet still search out a trusted professional. Full-service or express detailing added to a carwash or quick oil change done correctly can boost revenue and increase customer loyalty. Most consumers would like to think they can detail their own vehicle, but they quickly find out they don’t have enough knowledge to get the desired results for the time invested.

So, how do you get started offering full or express detail services to your customers?

Do a Site Evaluation

Considering only 11 percent of oil change locations offer some kind of detailing service, the first question that needs to be answered is, do you have enough available space. Do your oil change and/or carwash locations have the space to provide express or full service detailing?

One key to this requirement is, can you spend 15-30 minutes on an express detail or 1-3 hours on a full detail and still keep the flow of your core business uninterrupted? The work can be done in an oil change bay, a planned detail stall or tents that provide much needed space and protection from the elements without the major cost of brick and mortar. Some additional considerations will be needed if you’re in a colder region. If your location does not have a carwash, does it have an area drain equipped with a triple trap oil separator? How is the lighting? Is it bright enough to provide proper illumination around the entire vehicle, from every angle?

Personnel Requirements

With proper training on the product offering, express detailing can be done with existing personnel. In most cases, the service takes just a few minutes longer than a full-service oil change. An added bonus, some of the services can be performed simultaneously. When doing full-service detailing, depending on the needs of your customers, a fully trained detailer can do three to six vehicles per day. So do the math: ‘X’ number of vehicles through your location, with an average penetration of 20 percent into detail services, with about 15 percent to express and 5 percent to full service. The number of services sold will determine the right manpower for an average day. Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays are commonly the busiest days.

Marketing Your Services

People can’t buy what they don’t know you offer. The last time they visited your location you may not have offered detail services. Cross-marketing your services is always a good start, along with specific service advisor recommendations. This helps to introduce the consumer to the new services. (e.g. While your oil change is being done, would you like us to clean your interior with our express interior service? Do you want to take advantage of our multi-service package discount?)

Detailing can be a very profitable extension of your current offering. Detail packages range from $39.95-$89.95 for an express service and $129.00-$189.95 for full-service. Detail prices will always be driven by regional labor costs and services rendered.

Measuring Profitability

Profit is controlled by labor costs. The startup costs of the chemicals and supplies may appear pricey at first, but are minimal per vehicle. In detail services, the profitability key is labor. Profits can range from 35-45 percent and can be controlled by managing labor costs per vehicle. A perfect example of this would be spending more time than has been allotted to perform the service. Offering express detail can deliver thousands of additional profit dollars to the bottom line.


If you pick a reputable source for your detail chemicals and supplies, your training and signage needs should be part of the launch plan offered by your supplier. Most skin-in-the-game distributors have been factory certified and continue their education on regular basis. They should be able to provide a certification process for your employees. The really good distributors will represent a manufacturer who offers training curriculums that address the educational requirements of your detailers.

Choosing a Knowledgeable Supplier

Believe it or not, this is one of the single most important decisions in adding detailing to your shop. A good supplier will not only supply you goods, but he will also become a resource. Their salespeople should be factory-certified professionals who can assist you in the set-up and training of your detailers, both initially and ongoing. The supplier should stock a complete product offering, including all of the products you need, when you need them. They should provide new ideas or systems, whether labor-saving or technology, regularly and keep you posted on regulatory issues that affect your business. If they are really in the game, they should be able to provide signage for both express and full detail.

In the future, will your service offering focus continue to be maintenance alone? Or will detailing become part of your new definition of vehicle maintenance? With the average vehicle spending its life on the road for just under 12 years, vehicle detail services will continue to become a bigger market segment. So why not ask yourself and your team, can we be part of a more than $6 billion industry and offer our consumers services they want and need? It may be time to clean up the shop and make room to focus on the details.

To learn how Mighty products and services can work for your business, call 800.829.3900 or visit:

Related Articles

Inspect Your Accessory Drive System

You must login or register in order to post a comment.