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Detail Prep: The Extra Work Involved Before and After Detailing



Detailing is a business. With any business, as they say, time is money. In a service based business this could not be more true. You have to make sure you are being compensated for what you feel your time is worth. Now of course this means quoting clients based on the time it will take you to do the detail. However, there is another part of detailing that takes up a significant amount of time.

This extra work is the cleaning of pads, refilling bottles, re-diluting products, washing microfiber towels, etc. You have to make sure you are taking this extra time into account as it is work directly related to providing a quality service.

This work involves many steps before AND after your detail. For us, our process is as follows, keep in mind we are a fully mobile operation specializing in paint correction and only do waterless detailing so our process may differ slightly to those of you who do maintenance washes and foam cannons, but the idea is the same.


  • Ensure my vehicle is clean (crucial as first impressions are huge)
  • Make sure all bottles necessary for the specific detail are full (refill/re-dilute as necessary)
  • Make sure I have ample microfibers cleaned and ready to go


  • Wash all contaminated microfiber towels
  • Clean all contaminated pads
  • Check inventory and restock as necessary (wait forĀ larger ordersĀ if possible to save on shipping)

On top of that there are other aspects of your business, not related to the detail but crucial to the success of your business.


  • Check appointment schedule
  • Confirm appointments
  • Watermark all photos used for marketing
  • Post photos on various outlets
  • Check and reply to emails

Now, I understand that the price you have are based upon several factors, location, clientele, skill level, etc. So there is no set price for what you can/should make for this additional time as well. Just keep in mind that the detail job is the only thing bringing in income for that business and that income must support your time in all aspects. Do not sell yourself short. Many detailers get caught up in a price competition with the local car wash companies and this is one of the most detrimental things for your business. If you are a detailer who offers premium services and premium quality, you are not a commodity, you offer value for the price. You own a business, and business need to be profitable. Make sure you take all aspects of your work into account.

Ian Martinez
Gloss Angeles
Irvine, CA
Instagram | YouTube

4 comments on Detail Prep: The Extra Work Involved Before and After Detailing

  1. Peter says:

    Great post Ian! It’s easy to overlook the time involved with the extra, but still important work. Out of everything that comprises detailing, I definitely find that part to be the most tedious.

  2. Steve says:

    Since many of “car guys” have clear bras (as I do on my Corvette) on our cars I’d like more info on detailing the paint without damaging the clear bra. For example what details products are recommended?

  3. Greg@DI says:

    Great article, I think detailers very often forget to factor in this time in their pricing. On big details it could easily add an hour plus for this work. When clients use to drop off their car sometimes it could be another half hour plus talking to them and that time adds up too.

  4. Casey Woods says:

    You’re a very persuasive article writer. You are totally right on with this. Reddit pros would agree with you. Thank you for putting this up on your website. I certainly enjoyed every single bit reading this.

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