How to Start a Mobile Detailing Business

The birth of any new business is an exciting time for an entrepreneur. What was once an idea spinning around in your head is now starting to take shape and come to life. Planning out your business rather than jumping right in can pay dividends down the road. To help you with your new mobile detailing business, we’ve put together a set of steps for getting started.

Create your Business Entity
The first step you’ll want to take as a new business owner is to establish a legal entity for the business. For example, will you be operating as a sole proprietor, LLC or corporation? There are plenty of options available and you’ll want to pick what’s right for you based on your situation. Contact a qualified attorney or your local SCORE office to help you get started in the right direction.

Obtain Permits
Each city and state has their own unique regulations on what you’ll need to operate your business. Contact your local county clerk to check on special permits that may be necessary to conduct business. Also be sure to register with your state for tax certificates and tax id numbers. Here’s a helpful link to all the Secretaries of State:

Research the Competition
Customers today have instant access to the competition. You’ll want to be armed information on what your competitors are charging, the services they offer, and what people are saying about them. Much of this information is normally available on their website. Be sure to also checkout Yelp or other social review sites to get a sense of how people are rating their business and how you’ll compare.

Here’s a list of some helpful questions to ask while researching the competition: 

What services are they offering?
How much are they charging? 

What clientele are they targeting? 
Are they fixed or mobile? 
What are their customers saying? See Yelp, Yellowpages or Google. 

Create Your Brand
How customers perceive your new business is just as important as the quality of work you provide them. Establishing yourself as a professional company which is well-branded will set you apart from “Joe” down the street who does detailing on the side. Some key elements to creating a reputable brand are as follows: 

• Name
• Logo
• Slogan

Creating a memorable brand name is harder than it seems. As consumers we are constantly bombarded by advertisements throughout the day. For your detailing business there are a few different directions you can take…

Name after the services you offer. For example, you could incorporate the following words into your name: mobile, traveling, to-you, premium, luxury, easy, convenient, etc.

Name after your geographical location: For example: coast, inland, city, bay, mountain, etc.

The second step in preparing your brand is to craft a professional logo. By all means, spend the extra money and hire a graphic artist to make this for you. In fact, there are now websites you can use to effectively “crowdsource” your logo and receive hundreds of different options. Check out either or  for more ideas.

Some more resources for you to check out:

Free Detailing Business Card Templates
7 Keys to Creating a Killer Brand

Three Best Ways to Create a Brand Name
Visual Thesaurus

Obtain Insurance
Obtaining the right insurance is absolutely critical to protecting both your own (and ultimately your clients) vehicle. The most popular type of insurance is referred to as “Garage Keeper’s Liability”. Even if you are simply showing up at someone’s house to detail their vehicle you’ll want to be protected, you just never know what could happen on the job. The cost for this type of insurance is relatively low, and is well worth the peace of mind.

If you plan on hiring employees you’ll also want to get worker’s compensation insurance. This will protect you and your employees in case there is ever an accident on the job.

Purchase Your Products
Selecting the right products depends on the services you’ll be offering. For example, are you just doing a quick wash and vacuum? Or a full detail? Eco Touch offers some excellent detailer starter packages which give you a full range of products to get your new venture off the ground.

Detailer’s Starter Kit Level 1

Detailer’s Starter Kit Level 2

Market, Market Market!
There’s nothing worse than launching a business and just waiting for the phone to ring. Customers need to find you! Thankfully you don’t need to spend a small fortune to get the word out there. Here’s some easy and free ways to market yourself:

• Flyers on billboards across town
• Create a Facebook business page and invite friends/family
• Yelp
• Create a press release and submit to local newspapers

If you’re willing to invest a bit more into marketing, consider creating a highly targeted campaign through Google AdWords. You can segment based on geographical region and other demographics. For just a few dollars a day you can be reaching new customers right away!

James Dudra on Google+