While boat ownership is less common than car ownership, the return from being a professional boat detailer can be high. That’s because boat cleaning services require intricate work done by hand to clean and restore boats to like-new condition. It doesn’t matter whether you offer general detailing services or you specialize in boat detailing. Creating high-value boat detailing prices will ensure that you’re maximizing your profits. 

Prices for boat cleaning services are normally done by the foot. The average cost to detail a boat can range anywhere from $10 to $125 per foot depending on its size and condition. Typically, the larger the boat, the higher the boat detailing cost will be. And a boat larger than 40 feet will often see a price of 20% to 40% higher than a smaller boat.

Just like any other type of detailing, there are a number of variables that should be factored into your boat detailing prices. Your main goal is to ensure you set your boat detailing prices so that you’re charging the right amount for your work and making the most out of every job. Keep reading to learn how.

The Problem with Charging Boat Detailing Per-Foot

Setting your boat detailing prices is complex, and it can be tempting to offer menu-style pricing to keep it simple. Even if you decide to charge per foot, this pricing method doesn’t account for all the variables that go into your work. This means that you could be leaving dollars on the table and under-valuing your time. 

Let’s start with an example, and let’s say you offer two different pricing packages. A basic wash, which would include a wash of the hull and topside as well as the gutter tracks, might be $2 to $4 per foot. Then the premium package, which would involve a thorough detail including a polish, mildew and rust removal, seat conditioning, protectant and wax application, would be $16 to $20 per foot. This boat detailing pricing method works well when the only variable is the boat’s size.

However, what if you come across variables that go beyond just the size of the boat? For example: stains, wear-and-tear, oxidation, etc. This is when you should consider implementing variable-based pricing. That’s because the type of boat and condition of the boar is equally or more important than its size. 

When setting your boat detailing prices, you should think about the variables it will take to get a boat back to looking like new. Instead of thinking about the size of the boat, you should think about your time.

If you start using variable-based pricing, you’ll start charging what your time is actually worth. But how do you come up with high-value detailing prices?

Consider Variable-Based Pricing

A boat detailing price menu with an itemized list of every potential charge could get very long and complicated. We recommend starting with base packages and then allow for add-ons based on a select number of variables to charge more for your extra time. 

Here are some variables you should consider:

  • Extra dirty boat. If it’s not been cleaned for a while, your boat detailing prices will be more than if it’s regularly maintained. (You might also recommend a regular basic boat detailing to your customers at a lower price point to get them to come back.) 
  • Level of oxidation. If a boat is heavily oxidized, then the rub rails, stern, and hull will need to be buffed with a specialist compound to remove rust and restore shine. You can expect to charge an additional $25 per foot for this type of service on a smaller boat and perhaps up to $70 per foot for a large one. 
  • Barnacle removal. This might be a little less common, but something you can price based on the complexity of the issue. Some recommend starting at $1 to $5 per foot.
  • Cleaning boat bilges. This service typically is charged at a set rate based on the boat’s size, ranging from $100 to $350.

By taking time to create flexible price packages and thinking about your add-ons, you can ensure you’re making the most out of every job. Price packages can cover the more common requirements at a price per foot and then you can offer add-ons to deal with the more complex variables.

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Set an Hourly Labor Rate for Yourself

In addition to the size and type of boat, another important variable to consider is your time. That’s because, like any detailing job that involves work by hand, your boat detailing prices should factor the value of your time. 

You need to spend time thinking about what you want your hourly rate to be—and stick to it. You’ll want to factor in your location, competition, and level of experience when coming up with your hourly rate. Once you have your target hourly labor rate, it can be a great tool for pricing the boat detailing variables and add-ons.

Take Advantage of Technology

The biggest challenge with variable-based pricing is maintaining consistency. When it comes to setting your boat detailing prices, there are many variables to consider. You could quickly lose track and end up charging the wrong amount. Thankfully, technology can help. By using an estimating app for detailers like Mobile Tech RX, you can ensure accurate and consistent estimates every time.

Using an estimating app built for detailers not only makes you look more professional, it makes pricing even the most complex jobs simple. With Mobile Tech RX, your first step is to choose which boat detailing price package will be appropriate for the job. These packages are created by you and can be customized for the type of work you do. They are then programmed into the app and ready for when you’re pricing the job.

You’ll then enter your hourly rate to help you calculate the price for your add-ons, such as a hull detail. You can then work through the app with your customer choosing any add-ons and pricing the job on the spot. You can choose to charge your additional service variables by the foot, by the hour, or at a flat rate. (So compounding might be by the foot, scum-line treatment could be charged by the hour, and an engine cleaning could be a flat rate.)

By setting these parameters at the beginning, you’re not trying to calculate complex variables under pressure. Using an app like Mobile Tech RX, you can easily validate your boat detailing prices. By providing legitimacy to your quotes or estimates using technology, you can cut out negotiations with your customer. And that means you save more of your valuable time and get the highest price for every job.

Make More Money

The Mobile Tech RX detailing tool can help you build packages and price additional services and add-ons to keep your hourly labor rate high. Showing your customer a detailed, line-by-line quote of your services on your phone or tablet comes across as professional and high quality. 

Mobile Tech RX is the country’s number one business management tool for detailing professionals. To make more money and grow your boat detailing business, try it now for free.

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