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How to market your detailing business

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If you are starting up a business, it is important to market your business, otherwise people will not know you exist. But how do you do this? How do you make them aware of your presence and service, and then make them come to you? It is something that is difficult for any business. This is why there is big money in marketing. However, there are some reasonably simple steps you can take to get things started. Remember that this is just a simple guide, not some sort of marketing-bible.

To do proper marketing you need to know who your targets are, where they are and how you can provide a service they are looking for. This can sometimes mean that you need to change or expand your services to match the ones searched for by your target.


The basics with marketing:

  • The truth always wins. You can throw serious money into marketing, but you can’t cover up a lie. If you give people a bad service or simply do a bad job, your marketing will not safe you from this. Underpromise and overdeliver!
  • If marketing is done smart, it can boost your earnings seriously. But the trick is to do it smart and proper.
  • Don’t be afraid to spent money in order to make money. Just become very aware of where you are spending that money on, and remember that you can also say “no” to certain things.
  • Invest in yourself: do training’s, get certificates, do an online business-course, do a marketing-training etc. If you want your business to evolve, you will need to evolve!
  • The best marketing is free marketing: happy and impressed customers!
  • Something you need to spent money at one job, in order to get the praise that will result in very positive word-to-mouth. It’s better to spent money to get a client happy, then the money you could save by leaving a client unhappy.
  • Every unhappy client can result in 10 new clients that will never contact you. Every happy client can result in 5 impressed new clients that will contact you
  • Marketing is organic. It changes. People change, the world change and marketing changes with it. So take into consideration that you need to re-evaluate your marketing activities on a yearly basis.
  • Some things might work for some, others things might not. Not every community, business and/or targeted group is the same. So some things could work well for one, but might do nothing for another.
  • Although it can be great fun to show fellow detailers how awesome you are at your job, the paying customers are somewhere else.
  • Although the world is filled with people, they are not all going to come to you. Actually, in many cases you’ll find that the most logical potential customers are in your direct area, so focus your marketing at the area around you, and not the entire world.

First things first, get your stuff together

It is very important to know your customer. So there are several things you need to figure out before you even start with any form of marketing. If you don’t have an answer to the vast majority of these questions, then you are not ready yet to start your marketing campagne. The problem is that you are more likely to start spending money on things that are not giving you increased business. You might also feel like something isn’t returning anything, when it simply takes several weeks/months before the effects are noticeable. Knowing what to expect and how things work mean it is easier for you to understand when things are going to return what type of increased business.

Finding your target:

  • What is the minimum/maximum age of your customers? (don’t just pick “from 16 to 99″”, but try to think where the money is and who is going to call a detailer)
  • What is the average expectation of a customer? (super show-shine? Just a regular wash? A bit of a polish with some spit?)
  • Are your customers mostly male? Female?
  • What is the living condition of that customer? (car on the street? Big garage? Very small street with hardly any room?)
  • What price are you going to ask, and how much is your customer willing to pay? Do these 2 go well together?
  • Determine if you are going mobile, or get a workshop to detail from.
  • Is your focus group very active on internet? If so, where are the vast majority of them?
  • Does your focus group attend meetings or shows?

When you are happy with all the answers of the above:

  • What do your customers read? (Papers, magazine, tabloid, etc)
  • What are the top 10 places those customers go regularly in their daily routine?
  • What type of freebies to people keep at home? You know that free pen you got with your online order? Do you still have it? How about that calander from a car-part supplier? Do you still have that? etc.
  • If you are detailing from 1 location, invest in a clear and professional sign. This will cost money, but will also let people know who and what you are.
  • Get a facebook-page or a facebook-group. These are free and easy to make.
  • Spread the word about your company Facebook to your friends, family.
  • Post a notice with a friendly bit of text on fora, relevant Facebook-pages/-groups and ask your friends/family to share it too.
  • Remember that it will NOT help to re-post that same post every single day. People will get annoyed and get a negative impression of you.
  • Does your town/local area have an whatsapp- or facebook-group?

When you are just starting up

  • Invest in a proper website. This takes some orientating and asking around, but a good website can make a huge difference. Don’t be afraid to put some money into this because it might become your number 1 source of first contact.
  • Invest in a logo and stationary with a business card. Don’t call yourself the president of a company, just give your business name, your personal name and the contact details. Don’t be afraid to invest into this.
  • Remember that the first months of opening your business is probably not gonna get you serious money. People need to learn that you are out there. You also need to invest a bit in your reputation and maybe even your equipment, insurance etc.
  • Contact the local newspaper and ask them what an add would cost.
  • Tell your friends and family, and ask them to spread the word. It won’t make a difference, but every little thing helps. Besides, it’s free.
  • Remember that it is better to be out there, detailing, for very little money, then staying at home doing nothing. At least when you are out there detailing, other people will see you in action.
  • Contact local events and ask about the possibility to place an add.
  • Ask friends and family if they are willing to help you spread out flyers.
  • Place an add at the local supermarket if possible.
  • Stay active on social media.

Keep in mind that it can take up to 6 months for these things to actually show any effect. Marketing is an investment for the future. You spent money now, so you will earn more than that in the future.

When you are making a bit of money

  • Keep a close eye on local events, if your customers go there, sponsor them.
  • See if you can sponsor a local sports-team. Something like a soccerclub, rugbyclub, swimmingpool etc. Anything that is popular in your area.
  • Invest in a company car. Talk to local financing companies what an interest way of financing this would be for you. And get that car covered with your business name.
  • Place a regular add in a local newspaper, tabloid, etc.
  • Re-think your website, logo’s, signs etc. If there is the need to change these (and don’t be vain!) it can be a positive thing. People can be impressed when a company shows how to grow, re-invent themselves and improve their business.
  • Invest in SEO knowledge (a training, evening-course), and update your website with better text.
  • Make up a plan about when you are going to place a certain add. For example: you already know when Christmas is going to be, so you can put that date on your calender. 2 weeks before Christmas, you start advertising about your special Christmas deal.
  • Make up a plan about social media. Design 1 plan of when, how, what and where you are going to post things about your work.
  • Make a business-video. And show regular videos about the work you do. Don’t forget to put the Youtube link on your website (and if possible the video’s themselves as well)
  • If you are mobile, then consider getting yourself an A-frame with “…… is detailing here. You want your car to be the next?”. Or something similar.
  • See if there is a car event/meeting that you can sponsor.

When you are making good money

  • Consider the need to buy a new company car. Make sure it is something that gives out a message. And don’t forget the signing either.
  • Consider getting employees that aims solely on spreading your name. If these people do their job correctly, they will make you more money then they are going to cost you.
  • If there is no money for an employee, contact a marketing-company, and see what they can do for you on a temporary or freelance basis.
  • Get professionally designed flyer, and get them spread out to every household in your area.
  • Sponsor local events. People can be positively impressed when they see your name at events that are important to the community.
  • Get involved with charity work. Consider something like: wash cars for free to raise money for a local school or sportclub. These are most effective when done on location of a local event.
  • Consider re-doing your signs on the wall, and the lettering on your windows.
  • Get a simple, and small sticker designed that you will put in an inconspicuous place that tells the reader that this vehicle has been detailed by ……..
  • Talk to your suppliers, and see if you can put together a very simple “maintenance” kit that you will give out for free after a detail. See if you can put your own label with your name on them.
  • Consider getting your website completely re-done. This can often be the most important part of how the customer comes into contact with you.
  • Think of a way to get a local paper to write an article about you, or you can simply pay them to write one
  • Try to become a regular at car shows/meetings

When you are making very good money

  • Consider giving your customers a loan-car. Obviously, this car has lettering on the side with your name on it. These cars can simply be leased cars.
  • Invest in the looks of your shop. People pay good money for a professional, and they wanna see a workshop that they believe is professional. Don’t think about what really is professional, but think about what a customers considers that looks professional.
  • If you have employees, get those people 1 set of company clothes, so that every person is recognizable as your employee.
  • Invest more in giving back to your community. Organize open days, give trainee-ships, talk with the council about getting problem-kids to do some work at your shop and treat them kindly, sponsor bigger local events, give away freebies, run a competiton with a cool price.
  • Re-think your way of advertising. Is it still as good as it can be? Don’t be afraid to pay a professional to come and visit you to give you some advice.
  • Consider getting a new employee that knows his online and offline marketing stuff, and let him sweat to get your name out there.
  • Be more active in online communities such as social media and fora.
  • Remember that there is no shame in re-inventing yourself.
  • Invest in people who help to turn your company name into a notion/synonym, instead of just a name.
  • Consider writing a blog, people love when people share their knowledge
  • Launch your own product-line, and offer this to your customers. Make sure the labels clearly show the link between you and the products.
  • Organize car meetings and or shows.

Things you can always do, regardless of your size

  • Sponsor local events.
  • Spent effort in your website and business cards.
  • Always do your best for your customer, even if the customer is an !@#$%#@$.
  • Underpromise, overdeliver.
  • Ask your customer to leave you feedback, either via your website, a review website, e-mail, social media, whatever the customer feel happy to use.
  • Make a flyer with proper maintenance tips, because you can easily include that you offer “maintenance service”. Include your contact details, website and perhaps some general pricing. But don’t make the part about you to obvious.
  • Don’t hesitate to get a professional involved when you are talking about graphic designs, marketing or market-analysis. Put your pride aside, the feedback you are getting is aimed at helping you to become bigger and better.
  • Having a successful business takes very serious time and effort. Be prepared that you need to give 200% to get 100% result. To grow 10% you will have to work 50% harder.
  • Look at freebies, people love free stuff, and you can put your name on them.
  • Invest in yourself! Your company can only grow if you grow as well. Become better so you can make the company better.
  • Standardize stuff. Write down how everything is done. Your workflow, your weekly orders, your detailing steps, your social media posts, your administration. Write down what, when, why and how you are doing things. It helps to have these things clearly written out. It should be so clear that anybody can do your job if you would become sick.
  • Check if there are car related events that are interesting for you to visit or to sponsor in one way or another.

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