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A few years ago, as COVID loomed and working from home became the norm, I needed a way to get out of the house. As it turns out, cleaning my own cars was the catalyst for starting a detailing business. But as I soon learned, it takes more than a vacuum and a can-do attitude to become a professional detailer

You’ll need more patience than you understand

Matt Moreman, Obsessed Garage, car detailing
Workers apply soap to a Cadillac | Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

Chances are, if you’re considering becoming a professional car detailer, you like to keep your cars pretty clean. If I can bestow upon you no further wisdom, at least remember this: we are the weird ones.

Most people simply don’t have the time or motivation to keep their cars clean. For many, it goes beyond crumbs, dust, and a few stray hairs into truly challenging territory. Getting coffee stains out of carpet is a breeze with the right chemical, but more or less impossible without it.

And if you’re dealing with grease stains or, worse yet, bodily fluids, that requires a completely different process.

Then there is the pet hair. Everyone loves to take their dog on a road trip. Nobody likes cleaning the fur out of those carpets afterward. So they’ll call you, the respectable local detailer, to help out. If you’ve never done it before, you’ll lose your mind trying to figure it out. Fortunately, there are a few simple tips to help make the process easier, and I’ve discussed those here.

Detailing is about more than cleaning cars

It doesn’t matter if you can take a dumpster-worthy interior and make it showroom new if nobody knows who you are or what you’re about. Social media makes things a touch easier, but for top-tier services, customers expect a top-tier experience.

A name, logo, website, and online booking form will set you apart from other startup competition. These conveniences alone were worth at least one to two appointments per week, even in my first year of business. And that was without any paid advertising. Put a little cash in to goose Facebook or Google visibility and your results may be even better.

Practice, practice, practice!

A professional detail shop in Miami
A professional detail shop in Miami | Jeffrey Greenberg/Universal Images Group via Getty Images

The key to maintaining a successful car detailing business is delivering a high-quality result. Moreover, it’s about NOT delivering a poor quality result. If you’ve never picked up a polisher before, your first time shouldn’t be in a client’s car.

Sure, it’s not as complex as some might make it out to be. But it’s also not the kind of thing you can just jump into and expect good results. Find a junkyard, grab a spare body panel or two, and bring them back to life. Grab some quality products, queue up a tutorial like this Rupes series, and follow along without the risk of ruining someone’s actual car.

Before you become a professional detailer, film yourself working on your own car

It may seem like a waste of time, but filming yourself detailing your own car is a great way to improve your craft as a professional detailer. Not only will you see inefficiencies in your process, but you’ll learn about setting up your equipment to make your life easier. Once you’re in business, every second counts. Understanding how to become both effective and efficient will make every aspect of running your detailing business easier.

Related Watch: Larry Kosilla of AMMO NYC Detailing this Disaster of a Fiat is a Reminder to Drive Your Cars

Watch: Larry Kosilla of AMMO NYC Detailing this Disaster of a Fiat is a Reminder to Drive Your Cars