Here’s a topic that gets a lot of attention within the detail industry, especially from enthusiasts just starting out doing some paid car detailing work. Presently, I do a big majority of work that comes into LUSTR Auto Detail at our studio in Elk Grove Village, Illinois, but we do still offer mobile detailing and do quite a bit of it throughout the year. However, I did start out my business in my home garage years ago along with offering mobile detail work, so I will try to touch on the advantages of both and which I favor personally.
Car Detailing at Home
Doing work at your home location has a lot of advantages. Mainly, all the supplies and materials are stored at the garage, so getting access to anything is easy and there’s no worrying about forgetting anything on the mobile trip. On the other hand, if you forget something after arriving at the mobile job site, your best case scenario is that it’s something simple and can be purchased at a local auto parts store, such as wash mitt, metal polish, etc. Worst case, you’re going all the way back home and/or maybe even rescheduling the job. Even worse is being 50-80% into the detail job and realizing you’re 1-3 hours away from your wax or sealant! Speaking of packing stuff, when working out of a garage you don’t have to worry about lugging along some of the major stuff that might be necessary based on what the client has. Such things include hoses, extension cables, power generator, water tank/supply, etc. It’s definitely a big plus that all of that is nicely set up at home and there’s no worrying about whether the client has some of the supplies, is the water supply contaminated, low pressure, no enclosed garage, etc.
Another great thing about working at home is that you’re in the comfort of your own home when it comes to food, restroom and taking a nice long break if necessary. I find it much easier to go inside my home to sit down for a break and grab a snack, as well as a lunch break during the day. When doing mobile work, I normally have to pack food in a small cooler or head out to a local fast-food restaurant to grab some lunch. At home, just walk in and warm up something from the fridge!
Mobile Car Detailing
As you may tell already, I definitely enjoy detailing at my home/shop much more than doing mobile detail work. However, there are also advantages for mobile detailing that can help grow a business very quickly. The main advantage is simply that it’s available. Many of my clients don’t have the time or simply don’t want to travel 1-3 hours away from home for my services, especially since they normally have to drop it off and leave for a day or two. This means they have to take two trips to drop off and pick up the car, which can take a lot out of their day as well as their friend’s day if they get a ride to and from the shop. Thus, it’s much easier for them to schedule a day where the detailer comes out to their home, takes care of the car and leaves just as quickly as they came. Having this ability puts you in the driver seat in terms of gaining not only more clients, but really good clients with multi-car collections. I personally maintain about 15 vehicles for 3 different people every 4-5 weeks and all that work is mobile. If I was restricted to only detailing at my shop, I would lose out on meeting these owners and being the car detailer who takes care of their prized possessions regularly. Aside from that, mobile detailing can also bring in additional revenue and free advertising because people local to your client, whether they are 1 or 6 hours away, will inquire about your services. Next thing you know, instead of visiting one client in a town 1 hour away for one day each month, you’re scheduling 3-4 days for a few different people in the same area.
To conclude, I do find it easier and better to have a shop or garage, in other words “home” location. That’s where everything is set up to offer the best and efficient services without worrying about much at all. However, to grow as a business I think it’s almost a must to offer mobile services in order to reach out to a wider audience and expand your services. We at LUSTR Auto Detail probably do 80-85/20-15 ratio of shop vs mobile work and we do recommend clients bring us the car to the shop in order to provide the best service. However, we always keep the option open for us to go out on location, especially if there’s a few cars on which car detail work is necessary. I have never had to only do mobile detail work so I honestly can’t give much input on ONLY performing mobile work, but I would imagine the challenges are similar whether you do mobile full time or part time.
Well that’s about all I have on the topic for now, without writing a whole chapter and going into detail too much. Detailing at home or at the shop will provide you a better and more controlled work environment, but mobile detailing will almost definitely allow the business to expand to a certain degree and reach more clients. In a very short summary, both types of detailing will have challenges, but both will also provide great advantages, which is why I’d recommend offering both if that’s a possibility.