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How to Send Emails as an Auto Detailer (Beginner’s Guide)

If you’re new to sending emails and you’re an auto detailer, you’ve come to the right place. Simply put, for every $1 spent on email marketing, brands can expect a return of $42 according to Litmus.

That’s great, so what’s the catch?  The simple answer is that to take advantage of email you don’t have to be an expert or to spend thousands on software and training. In this blog post I’ll cover the basics to get started sending emails to your prospects or customers.

I’ll also add a few free resources throughout this post that may be helpful.

How to get started sending emails as an auto detailer

When it comes to sending emails, they are quite effective in a service-based business like auto detailing if you take the time to understand.

If you simply want to send emails that answer basic questions you may receive, you’re better off starting with a free service like Gmail or Outlook.

If you’re a beginner (without a website) having at least a basic email address gives your customers another method to contact you outside of your phone number. When done the right way, sending emails can help you build the relationships you need to start creating more customers and repeat customers.

As you begin to build your brand, you’ll probably want your own branded email domain, like [email protected], but it’s not absolutely necessary for beginners.

Phase 1: Send emails using Gmail, Outlook, or another free service

Although you can technically use one of these email services to send out sales or marketing-focused emails, it’s really not best practice.

With free services like Gmail, deliverability (the rate at which your email lands in someone’s inbox) can be a big problem as opposed to using an email service provider (ESP).

These ESP’s (like Hubspot) make it less likely for your emails to get caught in spam filters if sent with best practices in mind.

Creating an email address to respond to customer inquiries

Gmail and other free services should really only be used for one-on-one conversations with your clients, or people that reach out to you after seeing a flyer or business card.

If a customer sees a flyer and has a question, they’re probably more likely to email you about the cost of detailing an SUV vs a truck, instead of picking up the phone.

Think of email as push vs pull. You can either push your message out to someone (email marketing) or pull someone into your inbox by offering up your email address for any questions.

If you’re a beginner needing business cards to add your email address to, feel free to download these free templates to get started.

Marketing emails vs. operational emails

As a detailer you really have two different types of emails. The first type are classified as marketing emails where you can send coupons, run specials, and really nurture prospects or customers that may be considering your services again.

Then you have water called operational emails. These are emails that a customer would expect to receive after paying you. Something that a customer wouldn’t consider spam or a promotional-type email. This could be an announcement about a national emergency, like COVID-19, for example.

Operational emails to send as a detailer

Here are just a few examples of operational emails you’re probably familiar with (there are hundreds).

  • Invoices
  • Receipts
  • Order confirmation emails
  • Confirmation emails after submitting a form

Pros:  Great for sending emails to confirm appointments and general communication

Perfectly okay to send using free services like Gmail

Free software like Yesware can help you determine if your emails are being opened.

Cons: No analytics, features for sending promotional emails

Lack of customization – no templates

Operational emails are typically sent automatically

An example of the email that’s operational might say “thank you for requesting a free consultation. I will follow up with you as soon as possible.”

Operational emails do not fall into the category of marketing emails meaning that a customer couldn’t consider the email as spam, but rather essential or expected (like a confirmation).

Phase 2: Sending promotional emails as an auto detailer

As an auto detailer, at some point in your business, you will likely want to send both types of emails. One thing to know about promotional emails is that you need to have consent. Customers need a way to opt-out of email communications, and luckily with an ESP the whole ‘unsubscribe’ process is built right in.

As long as you collect emails from your customer base and they agree to receive updates, you’re in the clear. This usually just means agreeing to your privacy policy before submitting a form (although there is something called GDPR in other countries where the privacy laws are different).

To help you get started, here are a few examples of emails that you can create as a detailer to keep prospects informed and your customers ready to re-order a service.

Welcome emails

These are great for introducing your brand, your detailing services menu, and pointing people in the right direction for booking appointments. This is also where you can establish your brand and credibility as a detailer.

Tip: keep emails short and to the point. Studies have shown most people don’t read emails — they skim them.


If you plan any type of limited time offer, email is one of the best channels for doing this effectively.

In addition to one-time offers, you can also run specials around major holidays like Valentine’s Day. For example, some detailers offer coupon codes or basic coupons that can be printed and redeemed. Many point of sale solutions offer this type of functionality built-in for auto detailers, so it’s a pretty easy process to set up.

I cover this and more in my post, Car Wash Software 101: POS, Booking, Marketing & More.

Informational emails about car maintenance

car wash tips email

While every promotional email should include some sort of call to action like a button (that says click here) or a simple phone number, it’s also important to educate your customer about proper car care and maintenance. This can include a weekly tip or a simple newsletter.

The main ideas to keep your audience engaged, and to always make it very easy to book an appointment or take an action. A good email program shouldn’t be focused on simply pushing your services, but rather adding value and building trust.

Reminder emails

If you have data that tells you 10 percent of your customers request carpet cleaning twice a year, sending a reminder email can be a great strategy to increase your overall revenue. The value in email marketing is really about having good customer data to pull from when deciding what emails you want to send out.

Tip: Use email segmentation as you grow your email list. The more data you have the easier it will be to separate your high paying customers vs low paying customers, and everything in between.

Present your packages and services menu

At the end of the day you want a customer to book an appointment, but how exactly can they book an appointment?

It’s important to make it very clear to the customer how exactly they can book an appointment with you. This may include:

  • Phone appointments
  • Booking through a mobile app
  • Booking an appointment on your website
  • Offering an email address for booking an appointment

One of the benefits of email is that you can present your brand (and the services you offer) in a unique way.  This is really where you can stand out as an auto detailer by offering services that may be difficult to find in your area or ones your competitors don’t offer.

Specialty services like carpet cleaning or pet hair removal can help set your auto detailing business apart from others, and email is one of the best channels to communicate this information to your customers.

For more ideas on extra services to include in your emails, check out this post I recently wrote.

Sending drip emails

As an example, email marketing allows you to educate your customer on the services you provide. Sticking with the carpet example, before sending an email offering 15% off your first carpet cleaning service, it may be wise to send out a couple of emails educating your customer about this process.

By sending basic before and after photos with some testimonials, you can help your customer feel more confident that it will be worth paying for.

Setting up nurture campaigns for repeat customers

Let’s say you have a customer who typically orders your #4 detailing package which includes a basic exterior play wash and wax, followed by a simple interior detailing service.

By using a marketing automation tool like HubSpot, you can import additional data from your POS system (or excel sheets) and begin to create a user profile.

If you have a customer that hasn’t requested service in a while, you can set up an email nurture campaign that offers them a 15% off coupon for their next wash.  Tactics like this can be done in a very automated way and can add tremendous value to your business.

The value of email to your detailing business

The reason that email is so valuable for auto detailers is that you’re able to generate more per customer, as opposed to always having to find new ones. Customer acquisition is difficult enough as it is, which is why email is so important for maximizing the amount of revenue per customers.

Make no mistake, detailing is competitive — but with a simple strategy for sending emails you can begin to grow and legitimate sustainable business.


Many paying customers will not check out your website, but they may pay attention to your emails from time to time if you aren’t too pushy.

Outside of Hubspot, you have several good options like MailChimp or Constant Contact that are ideal if you are only looking to send emails and come with some great templates out of the box. They also have really affordable plans.

Do you have any best practices to share that could help other detailers? Let me know in the comments.

Baxter Overman is the founder of Carwash Country and has been been cleaning up dirty vehicles for nearly 20 years. Since 2017, he's helped thousands of beginners see better results by learning the fundamentals of washing and detailing. He's on a mission to make the car wash process more fun...and way easier.

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