Have you been thinking about how to set prices for auto detailing so you can make more money as a business? We have some ideas for your business when customers ask how much it will cost to detail a car.

Many of the strategies and tactics in this article can be done automatically and simply with the Mobile Tech RX estimating app for detailers. But, if you don’t have the app, don’t worry. You can still apply the same strategies!

Let’s jump right in.

The Strategy of Setting Prices for Auto Detailing

Let’s start by talking about your current pricing strategy. If you’re like most car detailers around the country, you have a set detailing pricing menu that your customers can choose from, starting with a “Basic” package and moving up to “Premium”. You probably adjust prices based on the size of the car. Since a van or an SUV is significantly larger than a standard sedan, you’ll probably charge a little bit extra for that.

A basic car detailing normally includes services like external washing, waxing, interior vacuuming, polishing, window washing, mirror and trim cleaning and tire cleaning.  According to our research on detailing businesses and prices, car detailing businesses around the country charge, on average, $160 dollars for their services. 

Are the prices you charge really reflective of the time and resources you give to each car? If one car takes you 3 hours and another car takes you 3.5 hours, you’re probably charging the same price for both. That means you’re definitely leaving money on the table.

Maybe you’ve thought about this before, and tried to charge a customer more money for a dirtier car. However, they refer you to your own menu and claim that that’s the price they should pay. You don’t want to come across as anything but honest and transparent. Besides, you want that customer to come back to you instead of going to your competitor on the other side of town. 

What if I told you there was another way, and that the original condition of the cars that come into your shop could dictate the amount of money you could make from them? Let’s talk about how you’ve been leaving money on the table all this time…

The Problem with Set Detailing Price Lists in Detailing

You probably have two types of customers. You have one type who comes in to get a detail fairly regularly. They take pretty good care of their vehicle(s) and you always give them a standard detail. It takes about the same amount of work every time, and you charge them the standard price.

Then you have a second type of customer. They haven’t taken very good of their vehicle or they use it for something that gets it really dirty. You always have to go above and beyond to get these cars to look good; you probably take extra time to do it, but you might still charge them the standard price. Why? Because they both chose the same package and that’s how you’ve set up your pricing and menu options.

If your customers both have the same type of car and they both want the same service, you’re charging them the same price even if one of the cars could take you at least twice the amount of time to detail. You’ll probably also need to use additional tools and products to get the second car to the same level of clean. Does it really make sense to charge these two different types of customers the same price? The answer is no. If you’re spending significantly more time and more product on one type of car than another, your pricing should reflect that. 

A New Way: Using Packages and Variables for Auto Detailing Pricing

Instead of a set auto detailing price menu, you could start setting prices based on factors and variables of each car that comes into your shop. Instead of a customer rolling up and selecting a package from your menu, you should first inspect the car and provide an estimate for what it will cost based on the car’s condition

Here are some variables you could look for and start building pricing around:

  • Pet hair
  • Sap/moss/algae on the exterior
  • Paint Oxidation
  • Mold growth
  • Stains
  • Dirt level
  • Take out seats/disassemble
  • Special tool/product usage

All of these variables are accounted for in the Mobile Tech RX detailing app. We have a list of these variables (and more!) with our recommended pricing.

If you aren’t using an estimating app, you can still assign your own prices to each variable. Once you start using variable pricing, you can be more fair and make more money as a car detailing business. Finally, you can charge your customers for the true value of your work!

An Example: How to Set Auto Detailing Prices

For example, let’s look at the difference when you switch from menu pricing to variable-dependent pricing. In the image below, we’ll use the menu-based pricing model. Here we’ll charge $160 for every single car that comes into our shop. You’ll see that the revenue we make per day varies a lot based on the condition of the cars that come in. On day 1, all of the cars are in decent shape, so we can detail five in one day. On day 3, we have a very dirty car that takes us all day to detail, which means we will make significantly less money than we did on day 1.

Menu-based pricing card for car detailers

Now let’s look at the image below. If we start using variable-based pricing, our daily revenue starts to stabilize, no matter the cars’ conditions. Now, we charge much more for the car on day 3, since it takes us considerably more time, effort, and resources to detail it.

Make more money as a car detailing business when you use variable-based pricing

If you switch from menu pricing to variable pricing, you make over 40% more money with the same amount of work. In just three days, it’s clear that your revenue will be significantly higher and more predictable. Now, you’ll make around the same amount of money for your time and resources. It won’t even matter what kind of the condition the cars are in when they arrive at your shop. 

Make More Money as a Car Detailing Business with an Estimating App

Now you have some strategies to come up with how much to charge for car detailing. We’ve created estimating technology in the Mobile Tech RX detailing app to help you take advantage of variable pricing – no complicated math required! We’ve already helped thousands of technicians in auto recon charge the true value of their work. And some have made over $100,000 in extra revenue with our app. You can make making more money than ever too with our leading estimating and invoicing software. 

Interested in trying it out for yourself? Click below to sign up and you can try the only detailing app that helps you write perfect estimates for free.

Upgrade Your Business with One Click
Start A Free Trial