The services you choose to provide as an auto detailer can make all the difference when it comes to your bottom line – but which ones are worth your time to include?
I see many auto detailing companies create higher-tiered packages that include carpet cleaning and other add-on services, but offering certain services like headlight restoration as a stand-alone option can be a great way to make extra money.
While packaging services together is a great idea, you may find that some customers simply want pet hair to be removed from a used car they purchased, but not a complete $150 interior detail. In this case, offering one-off types of add-ons on your services menu may just bring in more business.
After spending some time analyzing what exactly auto detailers are charging customers for, I wanted to break down 7 add-on services to consider adding to your auto detailing menu beyond just the basics like washing or vacuuming.
If you’re interested in adding a few additional services download my free eBook 25 Essential Auto Detailing Products for Beginners for ideas on what equipment you may need.
1. Carpet cleaning
While it can seem daunting, using a carpet extractor to clean difficult stains from carpets (and having one for that matter) can be a huge differentiator as a detailer. If you specialize in reconditioning interiors for dealerships, this can be a service that can really be profitable if this is an ongoing service you are willing to perform.
Many interior cleaning services start at around $100 where I live according to Angie’s List, but many times auto detailers can charge extra for services like steam cleaning carpets which goes above and beyond what a customer would normally expect to pay in a standard interior detailing job.
The reason I think carpet cleaning can be profitable is because to clean carpets at scale, you really need a carpet extractor which many detailers don’t bother to carry around.
If you’d like to learn more about adding this service to your menu, check out my post Detailing Carpet Extractors 101: A Buyer’s Guide. Some of these devices can be pricier than others, but well worth the investment if you do a good job at marketing your services (particularly online) and have the customer base.
2. Engine bay cleaning
A dirty engine bay can make a beautifully-detailed vehicle…a little less beautiful. This is a great service to consider adding to your menu for customers who are looking to sell their vehicle and already need a total body detail.
From dirt and leaves to pollen and other debris trapped under the hood, the engine bay is one of those often forgotten areas of detailing that doesn’t take too long and can help reduce the amount of dirt and grime sitting on your engine’s hoses and other components. Over time, this debris may cause things to overheat or run a little less efficiently.
Often times all you need is a simple vinyl and plastic cleaner like Mirror Glaze by Meguiar’s that I really like. For extreme cases, you can even use something like the Tornador, a steam-powered cleaning gun that can also be used to clean around door jambs and other hard to reach areas.
3. Trim restoration
Another super-easy way to make a little extra cash after you finish washing a car is to perform trim restoration services. Really all it takes is a heavy-duty vinyl cleaner followed by a trim restorer product to bring back a dark gray or black color to those faded bumpers.
Trim restoration services usually cost anywhere between $5 and $20 per panel, so it’s definitely worth adding to your services menu. Restoring trim is one of those tasks that is super easy to do and is one of the areas that most people will notice right away.
4. Pet hair removal
Another service that can be pretty lucrative to include in your services menu is pet hair removal services. Since pet hair falls out of the realm of standard interior detailing, you can charge extra for clients who need to have pet hair removed, or also offer pet hair removal as a standalone service.
One easiest ways (when done carefully) to remove stubborn pet hair stuck to carpets is by using a pumice stone. This, combined with tools like a lint roller and vacuum is one of the more effective ways to remove pet hair from vehicles.
5. Air filter replacement
Not only are standard air filters an optional service you can offer to clients when you detail their vehicle, but you can also offer to change out their cabin air filter.
Since many people aren’t aware of what a cabin air filter is (many times located under the glovebox), their ventilation systems may not operate at peak efficiency since it obviosly filters air that exits through the A/C vents.
Dust, pollen, and other debris can clog these filters over time, affecting the air quality inside the cabin. Explaining what this filter is and educating your customers can be a great opportunity to upsell them on this additional service that can increase your profit per customer. This is a service that may not make sense if you don’t have a supplier that will sell your these air filters at a discount.
6. Light scratch removal
As an auto detailer, being able to remove light scratches can be a very valuable add-on service as long as you are familiar with the polishing process and what tools to use.
While paint correction is really an artform in itself, removing light scratches can be done relatively easily with a dual action polisher and some polish. With scratch removal, it always helps to have proper training and technique, use the right tools, and understand how to safely apply polishes and compounds to vehicles when necessary.
While scratch removers can help to fill in cracks, many light scratches can be buffed out relatively easily and is a service you can charge more of a premium for. This is a great service to include as a mobile detailer, because no one wants to wait at a body shop if they are just looking to remove a couple of scratches.
7. Leather reconditioning
Simply wiping down an interior with a basic leather cleaner is one thing, but professional leather cleaning and reconditioning is another service worth adding. This often involves separate products based on my experience, starting with a dedicated leather cleaner followed by a leather conditioner.
In-between these two steps it also helps to use interior brushes, especially if the leather is stained or very dirty. Using leather brushes like the ones pictured above can also help clean in between cracks and apply the amount of pressure needed to clean really dirty leather.
While it takes some practice to get familiar with a steam cleaning tool like the Tornador, these devices are great for really deep cleaning leather and removing years of discoloration when used properly and at a safe distance and temperature.
Hopefully you now have a few ideas to add to your menu of services. While many auto detailers simply focus on how many vehicles they can wash per day in order to maximize their revenue, in my opinion, a better strategy for beginners is to focus more on additional premium services.
Since many beginners usually charge somewhere around $50 per hour for a basic exterior wash, many of these additional services you can charge significantly more for per hour when quoting a potential customer.
A combination of additional services can sometimes be performed simultaneously in under an hour (like pet hair removal AND carpet cleaning) but the profit per hour is much higher, as opposed to your standard wash rate of $50, for example. Many detailers don’t bother to go above and beyond simply wiping down seats, so adding in these services can also make you stand out in a competitive market.
Have any other additional services that your customers commonly request that have helped to increase your bottom line? Let me know!