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    Articles — Starting my Own Business

    What Do I Need to Start My Own Detail Bay?

    Starting your own detailing shop can be a great experience and an opportunity to turn your hobby into a profession. Professional detailing has been around long before the automobile, detailing goes way back to the horse drawn carriage where resellers would hire professional detailers to refinish the carriages for resale.

    A combination of increasing values of automobiles and a decrease of spare time for today’s busy people adds up to a great opportunity to make a career in detailing. Auto detailing is also a great compliment to other auto services such as a garage, rental cars etc. One of the most frequent questions we get here is “I want to start a detail shop, what do I need?”. This can be a very hard question to answer in an email. A question like this can be answered in a book but we will try our best in this article!

    Where to start

    Start detailing for yourself, family members and friends. Get an idea of what you are getting yourself into. Many assume detailing is easy money, IT IS NOT! Detailing is a skill and takes many years of practice to learn techniques and problem solving. It is also hard on the body and requires decent physical shape. The simple fact is you will not be successful if you are inexperienced! Starting a detail shop cold turkey without any experience is a recipe for failure. Keep in mind, a customer is paying good money and they will scrutinize your job. Good news travels fast but bad news travels faster!

    What do I need?

    This question is answered with a question, what services do you plan on offering? A full blown detail shop that offers services from interior shampoos and steam cleaning to paint correction will require much more equipment and knowledge than a person that only offers interior vacuuming, exterior washing/waxing and so on. I will separate this into two groups below, Cleaning and correction. I will also keep this as simple as possible. There is no set package that will accommodate all detailers trying to start a shop; this is why we do not offer full detailing product packages.

    Exterior Cleaning

    It is possible to run a successful detail shop without offering polishing. Many customers are simply looking for a good interior cleaning/shampooing and exterior wash and wax. Below are the different steps of an interior/exterior cleaning with a few different products (In no specific order) that can be used on each step. Products are for reference but can be substituted for any product of your choice that performs the same job.

    Exterior Prewash. One of the most used chemicals we use in our detail shop is an All-Purpose Cleaner (APC). We use properly diluted APC’s as a prewash on every vehicle; this removes grease, wax, oils, loose dirt etc. We also spray this onto wheels, wheel wells, and engine bays. APC’s are then rinsed off with a pressure washer before we hand wash the vehicle.

    Examples of products needed:

    Examples of products needed:

    Examples of products needed:

    Examples of products needed:

    At this point you have yourself a clean dry vehicle. If you are equipped and skilled for paint correction this would be your next step. If not you will at least want to offer waxing/sealing to protect the vehicle.
    • Waxing or Sealing. We won’t get into a “Which wax is best?” debate, let’s just say you will need to have a few different selections of waxes or sealants on hand for your customers. Most customers who daily drive their vehicles are looking for long term protection as they may only detail their car once a year, in this case sealants are preferred.

    Examples of products needed:

    Paint Correction and Clay Bar

    For paint correction (Swirl removal, scratch removal stain removal etc.) You will need a good electric polisher, Several pads, and compounds. For clay barring or decontamination you can use a good clay bar or a liquid chemical.

    Examples of products needed:

    You should not need more than three different grades of compound as most jobs should not require more than two steps of correction.

    Additional supplies needed.

    Above are the basics you will need to fully detail and correct the exterior of a vehicle. Although there are many specialty products and tools you can purchase you need to start with the basics and add to your products as you come up with different needs.

    Interior Detailing

    Interior Fabrics, Plastic and  Leather. Although the interior contains many materials and different textures it is possible to complete interiors with just a few products thanks to multi-use products that are now available. Below is a list of products you will need.

    Examples of products needed:

    • Hot Water Carpet extractor, Mytee HP60 or 8070. This is the most valuable tool to any detail shop. In most cases the hot water alone will remove all dirt and grime from interior carpets and seats. It can be used together with cleaning chemicals to amplify its effectiveness. Although it is a large initial investment it quickly pays for itself and I cannot imagine running a detail shop without one. For low volume shops the 8070 is fine, for higher volume go for the HP60.
    • Chemical Guys Inner Clean, Griot’s Garage Interior Cleaner

    The above products can do 95% of the interior! They work on plastic, vinyl, rubber, leather, and fabrics!

    • Dedicated Leather Care. Although you can use multi-use cleaners on leather it is a good idea to have a dedicated cleaner and conditioner for leather. If you want to use a multi-use cleaner on leather you will still need a leather conditioner.

    Examples of products needed:

    Examples of products needed:

    Examples of products needed:

    In summary, the above is a great start to what you will need to start a detail shop. Your final chemical collection will start to get tailored as you start detailing. It is unlikely you will first purchase products and love them all the first time around.. Everybody has different opinions and preferences, different detailers here at eShine use their own favorite products.