Mobile Auto Detailing

Startup Costs: Under $2,000
Part Time: Can be operated part-time.
Franchises Available? Yes
Online Operation? No

America is a commuter country. Everybody has a car, and most people consider theirs an extension of their family or indeed of their own personality. The problem is that in our hectic, workaholic society, nobody has the time--or the inclination--to keep ol' Bess looking her best. But if you love cars and keeping them beautiful, you can provide the solution as an auto detailer. You'll travel to clients' homes or offices to wash, wax and pamper the family wheels. Besides the usual bath and wax, you'll shampoo carpets, clean upholstery, polish chrome and shine tires. The advantages to this business are that you can start on a shoestring, part-time if you like, you're out in the fresh air all day, and you get the glow of accomplishment that comes from putting in a good day's physical labor. You'll need some experience with washing, waxing and detailing vehicles. You must know which products are safe for which finishes and which give the best results. You'll also need the physical stamina to work outdoors all day doing fairly intensive labor and the drive to keep at it even when it's hot and sticky.

The Market

Your clients can be anybody who has a vehicle and the discretionary income to pay for your services. Place fliers on car windshields in office complex parking lots and distribute them inside the offices, too. Introducing yourself to denizens of small companies and the human resources staff of large corporations can go a long way toward gaining business, especially if you invest in a polo or good-quality T-shirt with your company name on it. Solicit business from car dealers by selling them 'free' coupons they can give to people who buy their vehicles. Go after homeowner and homebased businesses by placing your fliers under doormats or as door hangers, or by running ads in direct-mail coupon books.

Needed Equipment

Assuming you already have a vehicle, this is a real shoestring start-up. All you need is a wet/dry vacuum; minicarpet shampooer; buffer/polisher; brushes; rags; soap; window cleaner; wax; leather, upholstery and tire cleaners; a bucket; a hose; and a truck or van to cart them around in, plus access to an electric outlet and an outdoor water spigot. Since you'll be dealing with people's automotive babies, you may want to carry liability insurance--check with your agent for prices and terms.

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