How Much Do Car Detailing Businesses Make?

If you own a car detailing business or you’re thinking about starting one, it can be a very lucrative opportunity given the detailing industry trends. To start, car ownership is increasing, which means there are more vehicles on the road every day. People are also keeping their cars longer than they have in the past and spending more money to maintain them. As a result, there are plenty of opportunities for you to make a decent car detailing business income. What does that mean in terms of how much money you can make? 

Profitability Scenarios

According to guidetodetailing.com, a one-person detailing business can bring in as much as $90,000 per year. That figure is based on an average of three jobs per day for five days at $120 per job. However, we think this pricing is fairly conservative. According to our research, the average cost of a detail in the U.S. is about $160. With this pricing you could be making $124,000 in yearly income. 

But if you want to know your potential income, you need to think about both revenue (what you make) and expenses (what you pay). These numbers can vary significantly depending on the type of business you have.

Mobile Detailing

For a mobile detailing business, you should expect to pay around $20,000 in start-up costs and then $1,300 in monthly expenses. So if we take that off your expected revenue of $124,000, you can expect to make $88,400 in income in your first year. After the first year, you could make well over $100,000 your next year.

Physical Shop

For a detailing shop location, your start-up fees and monthly expenses will be higher, at around $30,000 and $11,500, respectively. If we use our same calculations from the “one person business”, you might come out at a loss of $44,000 your first year and might come close to breaking even your second year. 

However, if you open a physical shop, it’s likely you’ll have a bigger operation than just one person. According to Guide to Detailing, you could generate annual revenues of $500,000 or more with a good location and marketing plan. If that’s the case, you could be making profit up to $300,000 in your first year.

These ranges above are large; the profitability of your car detailing business is dependent on a number of factors, including location, expenses, number of employees, and the time that you invest. There are also ways of increasing your revenue and attracting new clients by adding special services, for example. If you know your potential car detailing business income, you can make adjustments to your spending and service offering to maximize profits.

This is where financial forecasting comes in. Financial forecasting is the process of estimating or predicting how your business will perform in the future. A good financial forecast lets you see your future car detailing business income ahead of time. This helps you make decisions and develop plans that will make your business a success.

Figure Out Your Expenses First

Before you begin to calculate your car detailing business income, gather the data that’s easiest to find. If you’re running a business already, that means adding up your regular expenses to give you your total monthly and yearly expenses. You want to include anything you spend money on every month such as rent, utilities, employee pay, tools and supplies, products, taxes, etc.

If you’re just starting up, you’ll want to factor in your initial set-up costs too. Thankfully, the majority of your start-up costs, like your incorporation fee, tools and equipment, and licenses are one-time fees. Total your start-up costs before making estimates on your monthly expenses, as outlined above. 

If you’re a mobile business, you don’t have to factor in rent or utilities. But you will want to include the cost of gas, auto insurance, and any additional wear and tear to your vehicle to create your expense report.

If you are planning on hiring staff, you can read our report on average salaries for detailers across the U.S. This will give you a good idea of what you can expect to pay, depending on which state you’re in. 

Once you know how much you have going out each month, you have a baseline. This is the amount you need to make to break even. Obviously, your goal is to make more than your expenses to start making a profit.

Calculate Your Income Per Job  

To get a good idea of your car detailing business income, you will want to know how much money you can make per job. If you’re in business already, you can start by gathering all your invoices from the previous year and adding up the total to give you your revenue. You can then divide that total by the number of jobs you did to get your average cost per job. 

If you’re just starting your business, you should be coming up with a pricing strategy based on research and data. You can learn about the average car detailing prices in the U.S. here. Your aim is to sit somewhere near the top end of the average.

Remember, even if you’re in business already, there is still value in revisiting your pricing strategy. Many detailing businesses offer menu-style package pricing. While this is a great place to start, it doesn’t account for the number of variables that come into play when pricing a job. And that could mean that you are undercharging for your time and services. See our article on how variable-based pricing can make your detailing business more money. (For help on how to raise your detailing prices, check out the Mobile Tech RX detailing app that helps you create perfect estimates.)

Once you have your average amount per detailing job, you can calculate how many jobs you’d need to do per day to cover your expenses and start making a profit. So if you make $150 per job and you do three jobs per day for five days a week, you would be bringing in $2,250 per week, which is $9,000 per month. Then take your expenses away from that and you have your car detailing business profit. 

Create Your Financial Forecast

Using the data you’ve collected, you can now forecast your expenses, revenue, and profits for the rest of the year. 

Since a forecast is only an estimate, you should have a plan for the best- and worst- case scenarios, so that you’re prepared for anything. 

If you’re not covering costs, what can you do to increase revenue? Where can you cut expenses? Or would it be financially worthwhile to bring on a staff member if it meant you could do more jobs per day? There are a lot of different options to consider, but the key is to think about them ahead of time.

Track and Adapt

Planning ahead is crucial, but it’s only part of the story. Once you have a sense of your car detailing business income, you should then focus your efforts on tracking. That way, you’ll be able see the accuracy of your forecasting and make any adjustments as needed. It will also make it easier for you to build forecasting models in the future.

Using data and analytics is the best way to measure return on investment, spot inefficiencies, and increase team performance. And thankfully there is technology that can do it for you. 

Look for business apps that offer analytics as part of their software, like Mobile Tech RX. By showing all of your business data in one place, our app lets you quickly pinpoint operational strengths and weaknesses, as well as find and cut inefficiencies.

Make More Money!

As time goes on, you will develop a better sense of your car detailing business income. Once you’re established, you can start finding areas to grow and expand. While you can run a basic, bare bones detailing business by itself, there is plenty of scope to grow into a complete auto care service. The sky’s the limit!

To learn how Mobile Tech RX can help you increase your detailing business income, start your free trial now.


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