Miscellaneous comments: Auto detailing as a business
from the Auto Detailing: Secrets of the Experts message board

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Author: John Sharp
Date: 04-16-03 19:17

You know, the love of doing this is something I sense from all of us. I dont know what it is exactly about the detailing trade that is so fascinating to me but I LOVE doing it. Everything about it is exciting. I love learning more and being able to do more for my customers.

I have very little interest of the mechanical work on a car. That has never interested me ever. Somehow though the appearance of the car seems to be my passion. I do remember though as a kid Turtle Waxing my Dad's John Deer! lol He laughed when I did it but let me tell you that tractor was awesome when I was done! :)

When I was a young teeneager I started on my way towards detailing but I wasnt aware of it. I remember everytime I would go over to my aunts house in Ohio I would be bored and I would go out into the garage and clean and wax her classic 66 Chevy.

As time went on I was doing it for my family and friends in High School. I loved it but I had no concept of what a professional detailers was, I was a farm kid from the country who had never seen a detail shop! lol

What helped me with learning real detailing was the internet. I started seeing sites for companies that offered detailing services and products. I requested information and began testing things as I went. I even became friends with a few guys locally who worked at dealerships and body shops and talked to them about projects I was doing.

As time went on I realised that there were techniques and standards FAR superior out there and that nobody around my area was really being progressive with the art of detailing. This forum has helped me in ways too. Talking with pro's showed me how far I had to go AND ways to progress in the art of detailing. I new that I wanted to detail sooo badly and that if I applied myself I could excel beyond the local shops who arent ecaxtly on the "cutting edge". lol

I now have set myself up to do detailing part time and I still work for my regular job as my main income for now. The biggest thing for me is the difficulty leaving a good position in the family business. I look at the seemingly secure future that that job offers and I compare it to the rough road of going out on my own with a new business. I guess even though I love doing this I am being cautious not to go over my head.

I am keeping it simple for now conerning my schedule. I do cars for a few dealerships and I have time usually for a few full details for individuals each week if things go just right.

Right now I am serious about the suggestion Bud made about auto recovery at crime scenes. I feel this and a few other services I could offer could possibly give me an edge on the market and a future. Eventually I see myself doing this full time. I am never happier than when I an detailing. I love doing it.


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Author: Woody Laird Jr.
Date: 04-18-03 17:13

I was a certified tool and die maker since 1978 and thought I had a career for a lifetime. I moved into the management end of the manfacturing game about 8 years ago and in January of this year it all ended with a company decision to move jobs to China. With so many companies doing this I thought I would try doing what I used to do only for myself, keep my vehicles looking good. I love this to death and being a toolmaker I am very precise at this too. It probably costs me a few extra minutes per detail but the look on my customers face is worth it. When you start on someones work truck or neglected vehicle and spend a few hours and it looks nearly new, the look is priceless. And your asking price to do this seems minimal to them. In fact they tell me I need to charge more (even though since I am starting out I try to be competitive to get my name out there).

Author: Jeff Copeland
Date: 02-21-03 20:53

Considering opening my own mobile detailing business. In you learned opinions, better to purchase my own products and learn as I go, or pay the price of an already setup system. One I have talked with is "National Detail Systems"

Thanks in advance for your thoughts...

PS - any other companies besides National Detail Systems that you know of, could you please let me know...

Author: Anthony Orosco
Date: 02-21-03 21:27


Congrats on the new biz!! I hope thinsg work out well for you.

I started off with $500 bucks and bought all my own stuff. My partner and I were about to drop like $1200 down on a "turn key package" but then we thought what is this guy selling us that we can't get on our own??

There are several other companies that offer "set up systems" for detailers. National Detail Systems is a popular choice but you need to ask yourself if you really need a trailer, generator and water tanks?

When our truck was out for repairs we detailed out of a Toyota Tercel. ASs long as it holds all our stuff.

You can try this link if you like http://www.topoftheline.com/mobdetsys.html

Happy Detailing,

Author: onthespot
Date: 02-22-03 20:23

Hi Jeff, I went through National Detail Systems. It was a good learning experience. If I had it to do all over again, I would have saved a lot of money by getting the stuff together myself. Don't get me wrong - they have great products. They are just (in my opinion) very overpriced.

Regards, Onthespot (On The Spot Mobile Detailing, North Carolina)

Whenever an individual or a business decides that success has been attained, progress stops. --Thomas J. Watson Jr

Author: Woody Laird Jr.
Date: 02-23-03 00:55

I had worked in manufacturing since 1978 and recently was laid off. After watching so many companies go south of the border or to China I decided that at 45 it was time for a career change. My daughter's fiance has worked in detailing for about 7-8 years and the trade interested me since I have known him. I used to take care of my vehicles(at least I thought I did) when he showed me some techniques that actually take care of your cars finish. Anyways, I recently bought my own things. I took my vacation pay and bought the trailer (enclosed), washer, generator, a decent extractor, cleaners and chemicals, and everything else I need. I was patient and got some really good deals. I have about $3K into it.
Hey On the Spot, where in NC are you located? I will be operating in NC also.

Author: Anthony Orosco
Date: 02-23-03 08:40


Congrats on the career change! That type of moves takes guts and is a good sign that you have the drive to make it work.

If I can be of any help in regards to products, tools, hints, tips and techniques please feel free to email me.

The others on this board are also very detail savy and are wonderful at answering questions.

Happy Detailing Anthony

Author: Jeff Copeland
Date: 02-23-03 12:20

Anthony & Others...-
Thanks for all the advice and support. I'm supprised, quite frankly, to find a group of individuals so eager to help.

I have another question - Trailer vs. Truck. I have a Nissan pickup and I'm trying to decide if I'm better off setting up a trailer or setting up the truck. Any thoughts???

By the way Anthony - saw your picture and I too see the Howard resemblence, but better to look like Howard than the others on that show...

Jeff Copeland
(soon to be of "Shine Time Mobile Detail")

Author: Anthony Orosco
Date: 02-23-03 16:34


I would go with setting up right now just your truck. Less cost and also less wear and tear on your truck.

You might want to see if towing a trailer is going to increase your car insurance any.

Good Luck Anthony "Stern" Orosco :)

Author: Woody Laird Jr.
Date: 02-23-03 20:31

Thanks for the offer for advise and I shall use it immediately. When setting up my water system, should I go from the bulk water tank to a small pump and pressurized tank and finally out to a spigot to hook a hose to. I thought this set up would give me the capability to use a garden hose as well as a pressure washer. I do want the garden hose option as well since I feel you have more control over simple tasks like rinsing, filling buckets, etc. Also I felt it would extend the life of the pressure washer which will in return pay for the pump and tank set up. Any suggestions out there?

Author: Anthony Orosco
Date: 02-24-03 15:30


I would use a system where you can use the pressure washer only on very dirty vehicles. When I was using my pressure washer I started only using it for the first rinse plus the wheels and tires. After that I used a nozzle and a flow of water without a nozzle for the final rinse as this allows the water to follow gravity and the result being that the water rolls or sheets away from the car. Easier to dry then and you use less towels.


Author: Woody Laird Jr.
Date: 02-25-03 00:51

Right, I understand that part but what did you use to pump the water through the garden hose. A small utility pump or did you have a set up like in a home with a shallow well pump and pressure tank?

Author: onthespot
Date: 02-26-03 05:59

Hi Woody,

To answer your question - I'm in the heart of The Smoky Mountains in Western North Carolina. Up until about a week ago, I had a shop on Main Street in Andrews, NC. I decided to cut expenses (rent, electric, water, heat, garage liability, etc), and have closed the shop. Now it is just me and my trailer again. In my opinion, having a shop is more of a headache than what it is worth.... Besides, I feel more like a "hunter/gatherer" when I travel from town to town.

Incidently, regarding Anthony's statement, "You might want to see if towing a trailer is going to increase your car insurance any." , one has to have separate insurance on the trailer itself. I also carry a garage keeper's liability insurance for my mobile unit.

Regarding the pressure washer/garden hose topic. I have a 65 gallon bulk tank in the trailer. I have a hose from the bottom of it going into a Y adapter. On each part of the Y adapter there is a shut-off. One part goes to the pressure washer, and the other goes to a small section of garden hose that is free-flowing (no nozzle on the end of it). Since I can adjust the psi on the pressure washer - I use it for all of the cleaning tasks. The hose section is used to rinse & fill buckets, diluting chemicals, etc.

Onthespot, (On The Spot Mobile Detailing, North Carolina)

Whenever an individual or a business decides that success has been attained, progress stops. --Thomas J. Watson Jr

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Author: john finby
Date: 04-14-03 23:19

I have a question for you folks.
How do you pay your employees?
Right now we pay by the hour, but are contemplating going to piece work, or even flat rate. Any body have any pros and cons? What works best for you? Also, what do you think is a good rate of pay for a detailer with no exp.? Any help would be great. Thanks.!

Author: Anthony Orosco
Date: 04-14-03 23:53


You mean you actually pay your employees??

Just kidding.....I pay mine also......sometimes :)

I pay on a per job percentage plus a set salary. This seems to work outbest for us at the moment.
I have only one employee and it seems to be a good deal for her because if it rains for an extended period of time she still has some income coming in.


Author: Rob Preston
Date: 04-15-03 01:00

I would suggest going with a straight percentage rate. This I think works great and the best for both Employee and business owner.

John makes an excellent point if it rains a lot your employees are screwed, If they don't manage there money properly.

Most companies that do service work go this way.. Most sales positions, Mechanic, Pest Control, Brokers, Real estate agents go this way and are very successful

Pros: rainy days no money goes out
No overtime (this can kill your expense budget)
With Money motivated employees you both can make a lotta cash Less chance you have employees stiffing you for work (doing it on the side)
you may pay more to your employee this way but they would be far more happier this way which improves there quality of work and spirits. Paying them by the hour (its just another job to them). Pist off at the world because they don't make enough to make ends meat.

Cons: If work is slow both suffer business & employee
Employees may cut corners to get more jobs done
(this one can be depleted if you find someone that takes pride in there work).
I can't really think of to many cons...

Pro for the employee:
More the employee works the more money they will make
those who do to pride get tipped fairly well

Just a few words for thought hope I could help

Rob of Master Detailing

Author: Bud Abraham
Date: 04-15-03 01:40


Key questions is "what kind of employee do you want to hire?"

What kind of employee will work:

a. By the hour?
b. By the car?
c. On percentage?
d. On flat rate?

These are questions you must ask before making a decision as to how to pay employees.

Problem is that the only people who know that you can make good money in a busy shop by the car or by percentage are the typical flotater detail employee who is often very unstable and wants to do things his way and not yours.

If you do not care that you will attract this kind of employee then by the car or percentage is OK.

Regards Bud Abraham

Author: Rob Preston
Date: 04-15-03 14:42

Bud, now you've kinda confussed me..
Isn't B.C. & D pretty much the same thing?
Just a question?

b. By the car?
c. On percentage?
d. On flat rate?

Author: john finby
Date: 04-15-03 20:12

Well friends, Thoese were some good replys. Seems that flat rate is out the shop door. I have an idea that may sound crazy but I think I might find whats best for me and my shop. Here goes: Right now we have four employees plus myself and partner. I was thinking of talking to them during our weekly meeting and asking them to accept a different form of payment for one week. Well two of them anyway, one will have Anthony's suggestion of a base salary and a small but, fair percentage of the job , and the other will get just piece work. We'll see how it goes for a week. The other two will recieve normal pay.

Another idea is mabye some kind of spiff, take ten percent from every private job and put it in a pot and at the end of the week whoever brought in the most private work takes it.

Bud, I'm well aware of the floaters, I think they're a nessacary (?) evil. We can always use the help, and thats why I'm trying to address this now so I can have Happy detailers for the season. What kind of questions do you ask your people before you hire them?

Thank you to everyone for your reply's !!!!

Author: Bud Abraham
Date: 04-15-03 20:44

The first question I ask a prospective detailer hiree is:

"What two days of the week begin with T?"

"If they answer 'today' and 'tomorrow,' I hire them."

Only joking, of course!!!

My criteria for hiring people is not to hire people with good skills, but to hire people with good values and teach them the skills.

An detailer type who says he has experience ends up being an employee who is only good it you let them do what they want, not what you want. Then who is in control?

What I do is figure out how much I can afford to pay and then simply ask myself who can afford, in my area to work for that wage.

For example, if I can only afford to pay $8.00 an hour I realize the only people who are good employees and who can afford to work for that in Portland, Oregon are:

a. High school students
b. Jr College students
c. Hispanics

All of them with careful interviewing will have a good work ethic; good habits and most likely will need a job.

That has never failed me in hiring people for my shop. Everytime I broke my own rules of not hiring anyone with detail experience it came back to slap me in the rear.


What you have described I think this would be the best system for you to follow. Why? You set the time it takes to do the work. It also allows you to reward employees for their good work habits and tenure with the company by increasing their salary. And in the end if they take too long to get the work done you are not penalized. If they are hard workers and good detailers both you and they are rewarded.

If you want to put two guys on a car that is OK because if a detail would take 4 manhours they should get it done in two chronological hours.

Really I think you ought to reconsider this. It is great for the workers and for you too.

Regards Bud Abraham

Author: john finby
Date: 04-15-03 21:32

Bud, You make a strong point for the Flat rate option. The only problem is trying to make it work for us. The dealer's can send some pretty trashy cars, but the private work it might work out. I'll have one of them try it.

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Author: carl Davis
Date: 04-12-03 22:08


I am new to this board, and just beginning to detail for profit. I was wondering if any of you vetern pros may be able to help me with a checklist and the order in which you perform complete interior-exterior details.

I guess I am not sure of the most expeditious way of performing all the tasks involved, and I know some of you experienced guys have found the "pefect system". Please, if you would not mind, share your secrets with me!

Author: Bud Abraham
Date: 04-13-03 02:37

Happy to help you. I train people to do a complete detail in the following way:

1. Exterior Prep
Engine first
Wheels and Wells & tires
Door and trunk jambs & gas cap area
Remove bugs from front end
Clean fender edges as needed
Body wash
Tar & Grease removal

2. Trunk clean and shampoo


Front -
Headliner first half
Panel steering column; glove box
Seats and Console
Door panel
Door jamb

Headliner second half
Back deck
Rear seats
Back of front seats
Door panel
Door jamb

Dress the same way

Clean windows the same way


Use a 3; 2 or 1 step paint finishing process


Apply dressings to tires, trim and engine
Remove wax from car
Final detail with towel and small detail brush
Windows when complete

That is how we do it at DETAIL PLUS. If you contact me directly I will send you our steps cards.

Bud Abraham

Author: Diane Salisbury
Date: 04-13-03 07:03


Bud is giving you the same steps my shop uses on #4 I do touch up paint and blacken the wheel wells.
Make a list from what Bud gave you and check off as you go through the steps until it becomes routine.


Author: David Maciel
Date: 04-13-03 11:37


Can you e-mail me the list please I do all the same t hings that you have listed but in a different order. I want to see if your process will save me time, a full detail with out the engine ( I'm not setup for it) is about 5 hours.


Author: john finby
Date: 04-13-03 19:38

Hello all, Another tip that we found out is to hit the carpets with a quick but decent vacume before we wash the car, and then we use the pre-spot for the carpets, that way the chemical can do its thing while other tasks are being done, we find that this really helps when we hit them with the extractor. Also the quick vacume saves the extractor from being harmed from the foreign matter on the carpets.

Author: Bud Abraham
Date: 04-13-03 21:43

John is giving you good advice about vacuuming.

According to the Carpet Cleaning Institute about 80% to 85% of the dirt in carpets is dry dirt, the other 15% to 20% is oily dirt.

Therefore the steps they recommend in cleaning carpets is as follows:

1. Thorough vacuuming, more thorough than probably is now being done.
2. Spot stains with one of about 6 different stain removers
a. Red Dye stain remover
b. Coffee/tea stain remover
c. Rust stain remover
d. Tar & Grease stain remover
e. Protein stain remover
f. Pet stain & odor remover

3. Pre-Spray with carpet shampoo

4. Work out stains as required

5. Friction shampoo with a brush or better yet Rotary Shampoo Tool

6. Extract with a heated extractor using a 60 to 1 dilution non-foaming extractor shampoo to remove the dirt and shampoo residual left from stain remover; carpet shampoo and friction shampooing

If you follow this procedure you will get completely clean carpets and get no residual resoiling or wicking.

Bud Abraham

Author: Dan
Date: 04-14-03 17:13

Bud, just curious, why does your shop use an extractor shampoo for the final rinse when you are already friction shampoing the entire carpet Im sure with a traffic lane cleaner type product. Why would you not just use plain water or plain water with fabric rinse in your extractor? Thanks

Author: John Sharp
Date: 04-14-03 19:20

And to add to Dan's question I have my own. This is truly for my education not to question the techniques of others. I want to know what real professionals or doing.

When you Shampoo a carpet what do you mean exactly? I imagine you are spraying a shampoo onth the fabric then scrubing with a brush or a machine. But after the scrubing how do you remove the dirt and shampoo if you dont use an extractor or ARE you using an extractor everytime you shampoo? Is it possible to do a good shampoo job without extracting the chemicals and dirt we have now mixed and agitated? Do some people just use a towel to wipe off dirt and to dry instead of extracting?

I am curious about all of this since I have never seen first hand a pro do an "official" shampoo only job. I basically want to know the difference between shampooing alone and shampooing/extracting.

What I do it make a mix in my sprayer of a concentrated extractor cleaner. It is sprayed and extracted by the machine. If there are bad grease spots, spills, heavy soil I pre treat it with an appropriate spotter then go over it with my extractor and the spray cleaner in it. If I feel I have really put alot of chemicals into the fabric I will rinse with clean water to hopefully rinse out all the residue from the solutions I have used.

So far I have had good results doing this. Is this what you guys are doing or are you using a different shampoo/extractor technique?

I appreciate the replies, John

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Author: hfrankz
Date: 04-12-03 00:01

i detailed about 5 cars and already decided to retire, my equipment is almost like new, if you need to see a pic just email me with your interest. i have a awsome powerful hot water extractor with 140 water lift, air compressor,Honda water pressure 5.0, mytee air blower( for fast carpet drying), high speed buffer (variable speed) dual head polisher, and if your skills are weak or just want to learn the pro way, i have the great RIGHT LOOK's detailing for profit videos( 3- interior, exterior, engine and wash) well like i said i have a pic of all the equipment, i spent alot for everything but im not asking for to much infact offer me and ill take the best offer, remember all the equipment is like new just used a few times and everything works perfectly, my email is hfrankz@netzero.com

Author: Rob Preston
Date: 04-12-03 22:49

Hay man Don't give up so easily!!!!!! Starting your own business is probably is awsome we all here, know the feelings that your going threw. If you've on;y Detailed 5 cars then your Brand new to this... Watching Videos doesn't give you experience but it does give you knowledge... A good starting point... you at least started your research end of it. Don't get discuraged things don't start overnight. thhink we all heard that before starting out is a pain in the ass. A lotta cash goes out, close to nothing is coming in. You obviously had a plan or a dream..

Owning my own company at the age of 23 was a dream that i had about a year ago... I set up a plan and stuck tp it. hell over high water, that dream was going to come true and be sucssesful.. the first three months were misserable first month I made $300. (my thoughts) what the hell I just spent close to $9250 to setup up this F***in Van and i can't make more than minimum wage..... I've been in this business now for my self for 9months I have an income of 6-9K month after expenses. my next step is to add a/an empleye train hime for the next 2 months then after i can trust that he knows what he is doing he can help me with my work load, solo on his own mobile unit..

Advertizing on your van or mobile unit is a key roll
Phone book ads
business cards and a flyer with your detail packages and prices (specifiy car sizes (small,large,small suv, large suv, Suburban and full size vans or any way you wish, and what you do with each package .

Knowledge, experience,profesionalizem,Time, persistance, and self dicipline, all play a key roll in starting your own Detailing business.

If anything else you need to find cash right a away. get a job,but hold onto your equipment and if applicable your dream....
if you've haven't been in this buissness professionally before. I'd say work for a dealership. Not the greatest pay but its a starting point to the eperience of of it, while your setting up your network of people..

well i have to go.. i hope that I've at least inspired you a little bit and a few ideas in helping you make your company happen

happy Detailing Rob Preston of Master Detailing

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Author: John Sharp
Date: 04-06-03 12:20

I was wondering how many gallons of water you moblie detailers carry in your mobile tanks?

I was also wondering how many car washes you can reasonably get out of your systems?

I know Anthony and several other on this board use mobile units succesfully and I figured you all would be able to help me with this.
I am working on a tank to be mobile with and I want to know what the other pro's are doing since I have no real competition in my area to compare myself to.

Thanks guys,

Author: Rob Preston
Date: 04-07-03 02:33

I carry a 125 gallon tank that attaches to a 2500 psi ( 3 gpm )pressure washer. Generally I can get about 3-5 complete details done with my mobile unit. For a lot washes (pre-rinse hand wash then final rinse off) about 15-25 depending on the sizes of the cars.

I fill up my van every morning just so I have full tank to start the day out. Even though I have scheduled appointments and I know how much water I'm going to use, occasionally you get the impulsive people that see you out there working and want there's vehicles cleaned right then and there.. Not a prob as long as have time and it won't delay any previous engagements.

Two things you wanna keep in mind.... The space that it takes up. can your vehicle handle the weight that your putting in there. I think the formula is 8 lb. per gallon 8 x 120 = 1000 lb.
I drive a E250 cargo van with the heavy duty package.

Author: ron dibling
Date: 04-07-03 06:21

Hi John, I have a 150 Gallon tank which is located in the rear of my older model Chevrolet 20 extended Van. I can do as many as 18 vehicles depending on size and service required but in actuality 6-8 is closer to the average out of a tank. My regular service includes not only a pre-rinse and final rince but also pressure washing of wheels, tires, wheel wells and accessible under-carriage which requires a lot of water. Some detailers I know get a lot more cars out of a smaller tank but I feel that water is the least expensive item I use and is an absolute necessity for a thorough detail so I do not skimp in this area. Like Master Detailing I fill the tank daily. Though I try to work by appointment only, it is inevitabe that I will have vehicles other than those scheduled that require detailing on a given day. Good luck and Happy Detailing.

Author: Dan
Date: 04-07-03 18:43

I also drive an E250 van and it serves up just fine for 100 gallons of water. If you mount your tank on a vehicle make sure you put it right over the rear axle since this is the strongest part of the vehicle, it could be too harsh for the front ride with the weight of the engine and 900 pnds of water.

I got my tank for $160? If I recall correctly from Chemtainer, saved some shipping since I picked it up from the wherehouse. You could be able to find a lot of great equipment on Ebay or the recycler. YOu should stick to honda GC engines and Cat or general pressure washer pumps, you should have these engines and pumps for a lifetime if you baby them. I would also get a generator that has idle down so the generator wont annoy the hell out of you at full tilt all day long. Need anything else?!

Author: John Sharp
Date: 04-07-03 19:20

Im loving these replies! :) And I do have another question hehe.

What do you mobile pro's do concerning sunlight? I have never had to worry too much about this since my mobile jobs usually provide some kind of shade. Do you have techniques to overcome this issue?

Is it a problem washing a vehicle in full sunlight? Do you have trouble applying wax or polish in full sunlight? Do you need shade and if you do how do you provide it? Are shade canopies effective?

I have so many more I want to ask but Ill wait till you answer these. :) I appreciate you help guys. I love this forum!

Many thanks, John

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Author: Josh Combs
Date: 04-01-03 18:29

My name is Josh Combs and I'm going to be doing a detailing service this summer. Im a college freshmen with a good bit of experience in detailing, but nothing like a professional. There are no detail shops in the city where I live so I think I can make a decent amt. of money this summer. I plan to come to the person's house to do the work. Are there any "secrets" that you professionals would like to share with an aspiring entreprenuer? Here are my (tenative) prices for my work. I don't want to lowball myself but Im not a professional. Please tell me what you think.


Wash and wax- $30-40 (wash, wax, and do wheels)
Vans, SUV's, and full size trucks $15 more
Add sealant for $15 more
Add a glaze coat for $10 (cars) and $20 (trucks, etc.)
Chrome Polish $10-15
Vacuum, dust and clean interior $25-35 Vans and SUV's $15 more
Leather, add $10
Armor all add $10
Clean cloth seats $15-25

Like I said these are estimates. Please let me know what you think. I have a fair bit of knowledge tucked away but I'd like to learn everything I could. Also, if you don't mind asking how much does a professional auto detailer make per year. I live in TN if anyone is near and would like to discuss anything.

Author: David Maciel
Date: 04-01-03 18:41

Sounds like you have a full summer ahead of you.

I would NOT break the costs of each service down. Wash to include the tires, wiping down the inside doors, dash, etc and cleaning of the widows should be at one price. The additions can come from, washing rugs / mats, polishing and waxing, head liners, polishing rims and chrome, etc. I would try to separate the wash standard service from the more detail type of service. Do not cheapen yourself.

You are giving them to much to choose from and that can become confusing for you and them.

My details are any where from $150.00 to $300.00 depending on the amount of work needed. Because you are doing them at their house you should make price adjstments from that. This is a full detail trunk, wash, polish wax and you name it after that.

This is what I think and will look forward to seeing what other think.

Author: Bud Abraham
Date: 04-03-03 00:09

I suggest you not make it so complicated. The customer is really not the expert on what their car needs you are.

You should listen to what the customer thinks they want and politely acknowledge that, but then sell to the needs of the car.

Does it need only a wash and wax Or, does it need a buff; polish and wax

Does the interior just need a carpet shampoo Or does it need a complete interior clean and shampoo

Does the trunk need to be cleaned and shampooed?

Does the engine need to be steam cleaned?

Once you have accessed the needs of the car then quote a price.

We offered on a menu (without any pricing) the following packages:

Wash and Wax
Complete Exterior Detail
Complete Interior Detail
Combination Exterior/Interior
Complete Detail including engine and trunk

The general price ranges for these services were

$60 - $75
$100 to $125
$100 to $150
$150 to $175
$175 to $225

While we knew the price ranges we never posted them anywhere or printed them until we had a chance to sell to the needs of the car.

Remember this about detail service customers:

1. They recognize a need for the service
2. They do not want to do it themselves
3. They have the money to have someone else do it
4. They are not price conscious, just price reasonable. That means if you can convince them that what you will do is worth what you ask they will pay. You never see a BMW or MB customer question the price Hans the mechanic charges for a tune up do you? Why?

Good luck

Bud Abraham buda@detailplus.com

Author: Josh Combs
Date: 04-03-03 21:41

I have gone and gotten prices from the local stores here in Cookeville, TN. Auto Zone paid no attention to me but Advance Auto wondered why i was walking around with a notebook and even offered me bulk discounts. He said the manager would probably offer me a discount **back scratch**. I'm wondering if they'll give me a discount and let me advertise there if I buy from them?

They currently have a special for 10% off everything you can fit into a bucket. I think the bucket is $2, so that's a good way to save a few dollars if nothing else. Advance has better prices (mostly) than AutoZone and I think they will price match. Anything they don't have in stock they can usually order, also, so that's convenient for me. Here is the list of products I'll be using. Should I consider anything else? Is a rotary really necessary or does it just make it more convenient for me by saving time? (I won't be using any machine specific products.) Thanks for everyone's help so far. -Josh

Interior Care:

Exterior Care:


Wheels and Tires:


Applicator's and tools:

Thanks again for your help in getting an aspiring detailer started out right. I've learned so much fromm everyone here already, whether its from replies or just reading the posts.

Author: onthespot
Date: 04-04-03 13:16

Hi Josh,

Welcome to the Phorum.

Here's some more "cost-cutting" ideas for you:

1. Consider going to a Walmart and buying Simple Green in bulk supply. Simple Green is a very effective and economical product that could be substituted for many of the products you have listed. Research some older posts here regarding unique and innovative ways to use this cleaner...
2. Stoner's Invisible Glass is a very good window cleaner; However, similar less costly window cleaners could be purchased or even made for a fraction of the price. I personally use a "Miracle Spray Washer" which is an all-in-one container/sprayer/sponge/squeegie which I got from Walmart in the RV section for a few bucks. I fill it with my own homemade window cleaning solution and use it in combination with a microfiber towel when doing windows.
3. You live about 180 miles from "Blue Ridge Products" in Blue Ridge, Georgia which is where I buy many of my chemicals and pressure washing equipment in bulk (exterior tire dressing, all purpose cleaners, degreaser, truck panel cleaner, interior dressing, etc.) It may be a worthwhile trip to go there, and buy a lot of supplies in quantity. The savings and professional quality would be very significant.

Don't misunderstand me - I love Meguiar's products!! I have them in my arsenal. But I also have an understanding of this business somewhat in terms of what products work best versus what doesn't work, and the chemical cost versus profit margin. Not all of Meguiar's cleaning products will suit your needs. Especially when you do battle with some of the tough stains, spills, bugs that adhere like varnish, oxidation, scratches, waterspots, brake dust, fallout, road marking paint, etc. that detailers often come up against... I've discovered that I'm extremely eclectic in my product selection.

Hope that some of this info was informative for you. Good luck in your new business!

Onthespot (On The Spot Mobile Detailing, Western North Carolina)

Author: Josh Combs
Date: 04-04-03 14:14

Could you give me some ideas and prices of the products found at Blue Ridge? Do they have a website or Catalog. I'd like to save money and do the best work I can, but do I need an orbital AND an extractor? Any orbital with shampoo is a product I like, but would I need an extractor for use with that, how do I dry the seats/carpet. I only have a limited startup fee so I think the orbital and the products is all I can do for now.
Thanks guys.

Author: onthespot
Date: 04-04-03 15:49


Blue Ridge Products doesn't have a website or a catalog. They have way too many items to list individually, but to give you an idea regarding prices - they sell a great concentrated wash shampoo that I use for less than $9 per gallon. They mix their own chemicals there, and sell by the gal, 5 gal, and 55 gal drum. Their "Blue Ridge Tire Dressing" is about $11 per gallon. I use their "panel cleaner" when I pressure wash trucks and heavy equipment - a concentrated mixture that sells for about $6 per gallon... For more info give them a call at (706) 374-6911.

Regarding your question of needing "an orbital AND extractor", I'm not exactly sure what you are referring to. I use a Gem orbital/polisher for exterior work, but have never used an orbital for cleaning carpets.. Perhaps someone else here can answer this question... I have heard some here talk about some type of rotary hand scrubber. I'm a little more "old school" and foam scrub with brushes and clean/extract with my E-machine... (Used to just use a shop vac before I got the extractor!)

Also, some here on this board prefer to use some type of dryer to dry the carpets and seats; Being a mobile detailer, I'm limited in how much equipment I can haul around with me... My preference is to not saturate the interior (foam only) when scrubbing, and do a thorough extraction... When I'm finished things are slightly damp, but dry rapidly while I'm on the exterior. Everyone has their own techniques and methods.

Hope this helps.

Onthespot, On The Spot Mobile Detailing (Western North Carolina)

Author: Josh Combs
Date: 04-04-03 15:54

What exactly is an E-machine and how mush do they cost?
I may give them a call or drive down there next week dep. on my school sched. Thanks for the help.

Author: onthespot
Date: 04-04-03 16:36

"E-Machine" = "Esteam E-250 Soil Extractor"... This is the one I bought, costs about $550. Very portable yet powerful...
Here's a link to more information on it:



Author: Bud Abraham
Date: 04-04-03 17:05


The only problem with that machine that "On the Spot" recommended to you is that it is engineered to be a "spotting" extractor for the commercial carpet cleaner. It has no HEAT, only cold water.

They still use a heavy-duty, heated extractor for cleaning carpets and they are nowhere near as dirty as what we have to clean in autos.

You can get a 13lbs 1.5 gallon unit with a tank heater that heats the solution to 200 degrees + for only $595.

If you email me I will send you a info sheet so you can compare features.

Regards Bud Abraham

Author: onthespot
Date: 04-04-03 18:14

Actually, there is no problem...

I fill a bucket with 2.5 GALLONS of water, insert my Electra Immersion Water Heater (1150W 120V AC) into the bucket, and start up my generator. Before I've finished scrubbing the carpets I have very hot water. Then I add my extractor solution in the 2.5 GALLON solution tank and add the hot water (approx 2.5 GALLONS).

Been running hot water in this machine for 10 months now. The machine disperses the solution in a nice wide fan when I press the trigger, and has a very powerful suction... The handtool is clear molded plastic and one can watch the dirty water being sucked up into it... The carpets are clean when the water being suctioned is clear. With a 2.5 gal. solution tank and a 2.5 gal. recovery tank, it is large enough for all the floor space in a Tahoe or even an E150 Econoline Starcraft Conversion Van... Cleanup after I'm finished is quick and efficient. Very ideal for a mobile detailer...

Immersion heaters aren't very expensive... and they heat the water up just fine. There's no problem with this machine...

Everyone has their preferences... ;-)

(On The Spot Mobile Detailing, Western North Carolina)

Author: Josh Combs
Date: 04-04-03 23:58

ok guys, here's my main concern. I only have $250 to start out with, so that limits me on my funds. Id like to buy the porter-cable 7424, and thats $120 ish, so the resta the money is gonna go towards my products and a few advertising costs. I will give Blue Ridge a call but I dont have money for anything else. Any suggestions for the budget minded? I can start out now (small) and expand a bit more seeing on how it progresses.


Author: Josh Combs
Date: 04-05-03 00:53

What about (starting out with) something like the Bissel Little green Machine to clean the interiors with? Could I scrub or use a foam on the interior cloth and then use this machineto suck up and clean the interiors? I know it wont produce as good a result as a professional extractor, but anything is better than scrubbing with a rag, right? please remember I dont have alot of starting funds as Im in college. Thanks

Author: onthespot
Date: 04-05-03 07:49


Since you are on a budget. Why not start out with an eight gallon wet/dry shop vac from someplace like K-Mart or Walmart for about $40. This way it can double as a vacuum and an "extractor". I used a shop vac for years, and although not as effective as an extractor - it still produces good results.
You will always use a shop vac in detailing. But if you purchase the Bissel Little Green Machine - you will eventually upgrade to something more practical - and stop using it...

Since you are just starting out, you should probably just get the basic necessities. Bear in mind, that my idea of what constitutes the "basic necessities" may be radically different from others' on this board... You can read more about my "starting on a shoestring" story at the following link: http://www.web-cars.com/detail/phorum/read.php?f=1&i=4131&t=4127

Remember, it is not so much the tools that get the job done right... It is the skilled hands and innovation that the craftsman has. This is what separates him from everyone else. This is why he is a master craftsman. He is able to produce something from nothing - using a minimum amount of resources...

Onthespot (On The Spot Mobile Detailing, North Carolina)

Author: David Maciel
Date: 04-05-03 10:02


For a starter rug cleaner you can get a little green mashine for under a 100 bucks. Its what I have used and for someone that is not going to be doing 3 or more cars a week it will fit your bill or budget. Bare in mind this is a quick fix for your needs and budget. Long trem you will need ot invest in a larger unit, I am.

Author: Jason Whitaker
Date: 04-03-03 07:45

Gentlemen and Ladies, How are you all planning to make money after you can't do this anymore? The reason I am asking is I have been making a little $$ and I have been saving it. My goal is to be able to sell my business one day, but after that I will not be making any from the business. I guess so my question to you all is how are you going to make money off of this in the future?

Author: David Maciel
Date: 04-03-03 09:36

That's a dam good question, I'll look forward to seeing what others are thinking. I guess for me is to get my buz up and running and them manage it if I can't do all the work.

Author: Jason Whitaker
Date: 04-03-03 13:46

Thanks for the reply. I have this guy that keeps trying to tell me that going BIG is the way to build a biz. Well, I know from this and other forums that keeping it managable is the way to go. Now if that is 2-3 vans and a couple of workers then that is what it is. If that means 1 guy doing all the work that is what it is. I feel that the 1 guy model is the better way to go. I told him that I am not into doing 12 cars a day for 1/4 for of what I usually charge. I'd rather do 3 at a good price and build from there.

I continually ask this guy how does he plan to insure that the jobs are done to your own high standards and quality? But he turns around and asks me how I plan to make $$ besides going out and busting suds everyday. How can we make $$ and not have to do t his everyday, but we can insure that our clients are being taken care of? That is the tough question for us. Is there a detailers retirement fund we can all contribute to? :-)

Author: David Maciel
Date: 04-03-03 16:43

My plan of attack is to build my biz which is out of my home, I'm keeping a low profile. At which point that I can afford a stand alone operation or find a place similar to that I will move it from home. From that I am focused on the higher end cars with a pickup and delivery service. I am building a repetition for the highest quality work in the area or shall I say the go to guy for the best work not PRICE.

In sales which I have been in for years, "if you sell by price you will die by price". My biz plan is to build monthly people by adding new customers daily, weekly, etc. At which point that I cannot keep up with it I then will hire someone that I can train to do the same level work that I require. I will then continuing to repeat this process growing the biz. The key as I see it is to build this biz with new blood (customers) in 1999 I went public with a electronics firm in San Jose CA. The model on a much lesser scale is what made that happen. We averaged one to two new customers every day. Realistically that would be hard at the level I'm at but in a year it will not. What I plan to do is then become more of the marketing arm rather than the guy with the wax in his hand, not compromising the quality of work. Find good people pay them well and they will stay. I don't see having to stop working just changing what I do for the company.

Author: Anthony Orosco
Date: 04-03-03 21:27

Duplication of oneself in a service based industry, like auto detailing, is almost next to impossible.

No one I hire is going to care for my business, my clients cars and also my clients like me. No one is going to spend an extra hour Q-tipping all the nooks and crannies.

How do I know this? Well when one multi-millionaire hired me for 5 days a week to do no one elses cars but his 7 cars, I had to hire two folks to take over my other clients.

It worked out ok for awhile but soon I was getting calls from my clients and many of them were dropping my services or were complaining that the work was not what they were used to. Corners were being cut, the personal interaction was not there and overall workmanship was lacking. I learned that I could not spend all those years caring for both the car and the client, some of them 10 years, being there for their kids births, even deaths, through weddings and divorces and helping out in car choices and then merge out while trying to merge in another to take my place.

IF it was my plan to build a business and then seek to sell it I would NEVER have gotten so personally involved. That though is not my plan, rather I plan to work at this until I can no longer do so. I plan to train others but it will be a long process because I can never really teach anyone everything I know, just as a martial arts instructor can never teach his students all that he knows, nor could his teacher teach him all that he knew. In other words I see detailing as an art form, the car being the blank canvas, and my buffers the brushes and my products my medium and this is an aspect that I can never "teach" to anyone. People come to me not because I have cheap prices or offer discounts and coupons but rather because they have seen my work and understand that I am not doing this for the money alone because I can think of plenty of other business to be in that make tons more money, but because I literally and truly love detailing cars.

It does me no good to think that one day I can turn this over to others who will view my business as I do because they have no personal interest in it other than....."Hey, it's the 14th, tomorrow is payday!" If you plan to build your detailing business in such a way that you will hire others and perhaps branch out and have other locations then I suggest that you do not get personal with the clients and do not do more to a car than absolutely necessary because it is either quality or quantity in this business. Very difficult to have both.


Details, Details, Details....It's all in the details!

Author: John Sharp
Date: 04-03-03 22:24

Anthony you have brought out a point that I appreciate.

I have worked for a family owned and operated business for several years. I work part time as a detailer but my real bread and butter is the garage door business. I didnt pick the job I was just born into it. My father currently owns it and I am the third generation to work in it since my grandfather started out 50 years ago.

Although detailing is my true love I really care about the family business and I have seen many of these people stay as loyal customers for many years. After 30 being in business you build a relationship with the people you service. I care about every job that our employees install or service but thats because I have pride in our quality and its my family that built this to what it is now. When I am on a job, no matter if it was a door or detailing I see the finished product in my mind before I even begin. I have my own style of getting there but in the end I want to create that picture of a well done job. It's like you said, it's like an art. Your creating something beautifull that the customer cant get just anywhere. Its seeing he customer with a look of suprise and a smile telling you how great it looks and you know they have become a dedicated customer.

No matter what training I give an employee in the end he is only there because he needs the money. I cant teach or train the guy to care about the job if it isnt in him. I will go the extra length to make the customer feel they always got a value and the best quality. Its the personal care you put into it that makes us different from the rest. If service and personality wasnt important the customer would just call Home Depot and get whatever the college kid working weekends told them they needed, but they call me because they trust me just like there father called my father and his father.

No training can duplicate this in my opinion. I DO think that employees can be an asset but I feel that having anymore than I can control and oversee is too many. Even the nicest installers will cut corners when they think they can get away with it.

When our employees go home they can turn their minds off from work and forget about it untill the next day but when its your neck on the line the job never really goes away. Its always on your mind and its this responsibility that makes us care.

lol I have a love/hate feeling concerning employees. They can be profitable and enjoyable but they are also a test of your patience. The liability is all mine if the door falls on the customers head even if it was the employees mistake that caused it to happen.

hehe I guess I feel that employees are ok but finding one that cares enough to really try his best is one in a million and if you find that person pay them alot and keep them forever! lol

Author: turbomangt
Date: 04-07-03 08:24

Anthony has really put it in perspective, I agree totally with the committment to attitude in ones business. Of course the money issue is important to live on as well. I could not survive if this was my only source for income. I do not want to hire people and let go of the personal touch I have with customers. Doing one car a day, lets face it, you can't sock much away for retirement unless you have a nest egg already> turbomangt

Return to Auto Detailing as a Career

Author: Jason Whitaker
Date: 03-22-03 20:54

Here is what I do to keep my clients coming back can some of you let me know what you think of it?

When I finish a car, I walk with the client around the vehicle. I point out areas that were particularly tough and show off my work. Then I schedule them for their next service right on the spot. Kind of like the Dentist without the free toothbrush. It has kept me busy for sometime and I like knowing that I have a job in a couple of weeks. Now if for some reason we loose touch I just drop them an email/or letter just letting them know that the service they received from me may need some reworking by now and that so and so date in the future is open. This way has been ok, but on the spot scheduling has worked out much better.

I also do my best to try to schedule several cars at the same time if all the cars will be in the same area, example schools and businesses. So every week this month has been a busy one, but I could use your input of some better strategies. Thanks a ton.

Author: Dan
Date: 03-22-03 23:24

Sounds like your on the right track, its always good to be time efficient in all aspects, especially scheduling clients. I always try to keep a route with my maintenance customers so Im not driving around town aimlessly, saves labor time and energy. That is a good idea you have with rescheduling them on the spot, but then comes the hassle of follow up reminder calls. I always walk the customer around their car like you.

I emailed you regarding the storm drain, but it didnt go through. If you email me I can reply back to you, it wasnt working under the name you provided. Later!

Author: wayne
Date: 03-23-03 07:28

Jason, great idea:)
Also, post cards work well. After you "put them on the spot" with the new appointment, sending a "thank you for your business" post card with the new appontment date, it serves as a reminder to the appointment/verification and makes the customer feel like you really appreciate his business too!

Author: John Sharp
Date: 03-23-03 10:45

Of course we have all heard the one where the detailer takes a picture of the customers car after the job is done. The idea is to have the best looking picture possible then in a year os ao (whenever you choose) you send the picture to the client showing them how great the car looked and remind them it time again for you to detail it!

I have recently picked up a nice digital camera and I am taking a pic of every car I do. I made a file on the pc for each customer and I keep the digital pics there. I plan on printing something like a postcard with the car's photo on it and sending it out like a mailing list.

An email reminder is even better since its a nice free way of sending the pictures! :)

If you are carefull this isnt too expensive of a way to send pictures. Its cheaper than getting real film developed. I also like have a picture of each car I have done for other reasons too. If I am going out on a mobile job and I dont remember what the car looked like I check out the picture and see what I am working on.

I have quite a few pictures saved now and I am considering using the best ones to place in a little job booklet my customers can see. It will show them the kind of things I work on.

Good luck,


Author: DMaciel
Date: 03-23-03 11:43

I always walk the customer around the car and tell them to look at the job. What I point out is the attenetion to detail, the door jams, wheel wells, scratches or marks that I have removed. I point this out because the detail shops in my area are not doing this level of work.

I then put them into a data base on the PC and call them back in 3 to 4 months for a reminder to rework the car. I tell people that the first time threw is the high dollar job after that I can go threw the car allot faster so the cost to them is reduced. This has brough people back time and time again.

Author: John Sharp
Date: 03-23-03 21:32

Good point DMaciel. I too feel that I am doing higher quality work then the other shops around. When you show the owner the little details they start to appreciate the quality of your work.

Recently I did a job that at first the customer was very negative about my price. He reluctantly agrees to have me do the work and I told him I would let him pay me what he thought it was worth when I was done.

I gave him the treatment. Door jambs, underneath side of the engine hood, the engine, wheel wells, spare tire compartment, ect. You know, all the areas that make it a total clean car. When we were done I walked through it with him and he was really suprised. He was used to the $50 wash and wax routine where the guy does a once over with a cleaner wax/polish. He was so happy with my work that he offered me my full price PLUS a $20 tip!

I say dont ever talk bad about the other shops, just do good work and focus on showing the customer your strong points that the other guys dont offer. If they are a discerning person they will see the difference themselves.


Author: jackimoe
Date: 03-24-03 10:08

the "walkaround" was the only way to deliver a car or detail back in the day. i can't see how someone could vary from this method unless it was raining or a used car recondition. you can't beat the oppurtunity to express your knowledge and skill by telling the customer how good you are and by pointing out things that he didn't see! confidence, not arrogance, will take you a long way. to see a customer cry or teat you like a god definatley will swell your head up!

Author: David Maciel
Date: 03-24-03 10:14


Great points the only way to get and keep customers is to not only meet but exceed their expatiations of service and work. I have done jobs for people that thought that my price was high, but once they got the car back they could see the difference in the job.

Return to Auto Detailing as a Career

Automotive Suicide Cleanup
Author: Bud Abraham
Date: 03-07-03 19:49

As promised, I have done some research into this type of cleanup and found that it is a virtually untapped market for detailers who have done it, hit and miss. However, if you position yourself as an expert in this field you could make a HUGE amount of money.

It is an under served market that offers high profit margins.

The industry is composed of numerous "professionals" in several different fields such as housekeeping managers for hospitals and nursing homes; emergency medical techs; surgical or coroner's techs; former funeral home directors.

Many of those in the field have been some how involved in the medical or death industry. There are also many who have had no experience in the field or related fields. Just an alert sense of a business opportunity.

Before you enter the business you must realize there are some very real dangers what you need to know about and for which you will receive compensation.

The first step, is to learn about the regulations for dealing with these types of debris that would be found in an automobile where someone has died.

Next you need to have the tools of the trade which are in many cases similiar to what you already use, but there are many others unique to this type of clean up.

Protective equipoment is a must. You need to know what you need to protect yourself and employees.

You need to know what it will cost you to enter this field totally and completely.

It is stated that an average invoice in other fields for a clean up is over $2000.

An important factor to realize before considering this field is that the work can be very, very stressful. Dealing with families and friends of someone who has committed suicide and will cause a wide range of emotions.

Many techs in this field suffer from Critical Incident Stress Syndrome (CISS)as do many firefighters and police officers.

Symptoms include nightmares, stress dreams and general irritability which can lead to reclusiveness and interpersonal relationships.

The work does require traininig. Going out yourself or sending an employee out without proper training and awareness of what is in store for you/them is an accident looking for a place to happen.

One key thing you must do is have a hepatitis shot. If you do not have this shot it is a violation of the OSHA standards. Which could result in fines of up to $50,000.

Is it something you want to do? The most is fantastic, but there are consequences. There is both a physical and emotional drain and only you can tell if you can handle what is involved.

This opportunity really excites me for the detail industry. Many detailers have been called upon to do this work, but none that I know of has positioned themselves to do it professionally, thereby claming the huge rewards.

I am going to continue to research this field and see if a complete program cannot be put together to help detailers enter this market, if they can stomach it, literally.

What do you all think?

Regards Bud Abraham

Author: jackimoe
Date: 03-09-03 10:23

bud, you hit the nail on the head. there is definitley good money to be made in this type of clean-up. we have a local company that responds to homicide scenes and cleans up what is left. it is kinda gruesome because when people die of natural or unnatural causes, there are always certain factors that can drive up the price. it amazes me how the guys from the funeral home ( commonly called "the wrecker"-sick and twisted blue humor at work here by comparing these guys to the wrecker drivers that come and pick up totaled vehicles at accident scenes)can breathe in the stench from a few day old death scene and not be bothered. when you say p.t.s. there is nothing like the smell and you never forget it. with the proper respirator or tyvex suit and booties, one should be good to go. there are less upsetting things like sick kids or back seat baby deliveries!i beleive it is all considered "bio-hazard".

Author: Gary Stevens
Date: 03-15-03 19:58

about 2 months ago i had talked about a suicide car that i had done. Ayoung man had shot himself in the head with a rifle. i did not want to ask my employees to work on this car so i did the work myself. I took all the precautions that i knew. However it was still a very unpleasant job. to add insult to injury the parents of the young man did not have the money to pay the detail bill when the job was completed. In fact the bill never has been paid. I had no idea that there was that kind of money to be made from doing this kind of detail. Does anyone have any suggestions how to guarantee that the detail bill is paid. It is very hard to ask a grieving family to pay the money up front.

Author: John Sharp
Date: 03-15-03 22:27


I can imagine that you would feel bad asking a family for the money BUT didnt they ask for the service? I imagine they sold the vehicle or it went somewhere and they are benifiting from the cleaning you gave it.

It is an extra effort job to clean up a vehicle of that condition and you deserve to be paid. I would make a friendly phone call and explain to them the need for you to be paid. I feel sorry for people too sometimes but sometimes customers know this and look to take advantage of us for it. If you are kind and tactfull they should not have any cause for complaint if you ask for your money.


Return to Auto Detailing as a Career

Author: Gary Stevens
Date: 02-06-03 21:33

In Late November 2001,I detailed a Honda Civic Hatchback that a young man had shot himself in. He put the gun in his mouth and pulled the trigger. You can imagine the mess. I did not really want to do it, but I felt sorry for the parents. Have any of you ever done a job simialar to this, or would you? As for me, never again.

Author: Anthony Orosco
Date: 02-07-03 10:10


Not to make light of the tragic event but I would likely turn that one down myself.

I did a car were a teenager of a client went on a drinking binge and.....well lets say that I knew what he had for dinner. It was all over the CLOTH seats, windows and down in the door panel itself. Not a pretty site.

My best to the family


Author: james nash
Date: 03-02-03 21:32

whaooooo, man thats rough like anthony said i would have let that one go one time i did this ladies car and there was a creamated cat/dog in the trunk i freaked it was in this plastic box.i read the paperwork with the box it turns out the thing had been there for like 6 mo`s NASTY i feel bad for u on that one i couldnt do it my best to everyone involved especially you !!!!

p.s. im gonna think about that story for a while , yep its got me pretty freaked out ,did all the blood stains come out ?

p.s. man thats nasty id need counseling after that ,in fact i think i might need counseling just after reading that , not trying to poke fun dude its just after thinking about it for a few , i can only imagine how bad that must have been . sorry gary that sucks man !

my best james nash ultimatefinishdetial phx az usa

Author: David Maciel
Date: 03-03-03 09:28

There is a job that I would have turned down. The police have people that can do that , its the unit that they send in after a shooting crime to clean up. Should you have anything like that in the future. Call them ask for the homicide unit and ask who they use. I can't even imagine what that was like and feel sorry for you having to do it!

Author: Detail Doctor
Date: 03-03-03 16:24

I have thankfully never done any death cars, but if asked, would likely refuse politely. There are some people in our area that actually specialize in this kind of reconditioning, but as for me, Thanks but no thanks, I can't even handle pukers.

The Doctor Is In...

Author: Dan
Date: 03-04-03 14:24

Theres a lot of health issues to do a job like that. I would turn it down also. Theres too many other cars to detail, WHEN ITS NOT RAINING!!! Im locked down today, freeking rain!

Author: wendy
Date: 03-04-03 17:39

man oh man oh man!!!
one thing about suicide cars is if the body has been in it for any length of time the odour WILL NOT COME OUT. these units are often sold for $50 and some companies pick them up as 'courtesy cars' expecting you to think there's a dead mouse in the heat vents or something. fat chance. death and cat spray are write offs in the car world.

Author: Bud Abraham
Date: 03-04-03 22:47

Read an article in a janitorial magazine about "crime-scene" clean up and it prompted me to think what an opportunity for detailers who might specialize in this type of cleaning for automobiles.

Yes, there is mess and gore, it is a tough job, but someone has to do it, as they say.

If you became an "expert" in cleaning these type of vehicles you could literally name your price as those in the janitorial business do when they specialize in "crime scene" clean up.

For the owner, the insurance company will pay for the clean up. For the insurance company that might take the car back, they too will pay. For the dealer that buys the car, they might pay.

I think it is a great opportunity if you could lock on to these jobs with the local police; the insurance companies, etc.

You might need a Tyvex suit; rubber gloves; and a respirator, etc. But think of what you could make doing an interior.

Just a thought.

Bud A


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