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Mobile Detailing Operation vs. Auto Detail Shop (Fixed Location)

Before you even buy the first hogs-hair brush, orbital polisher or bottle of shampoo  for your new vocation as an auto detailing professional, you’ve got an important decision to make. Are you going to run a mobile detailing operation — essentially taking your business to the customer — or are you going to establish a fixed location to do your detailing chores?

What we offer here are the positives — and negatives — associated with each option. What it will probably come down to is personal preference. You either prefer the stability of a brick-and-mortar auto detailing shop, or you like the idea of hitting the road each day, opening up shop in a new location.

Nonetheless, a decision must be made, so consider the following scenarios carefully. First, let’s start out with the pros and cons of a mobile auto detailing operation:

Advantages of a mobile detailing operation:

  • As a mobile detailer, you can pick up and go anywhere to do business, taking your detailing equipment on the road
  • Start-up costs are less and overhead is minimalYour mobile detail unit provides a rolling advertising everywhere you go
  • There’s plenty of room for expansion — just put another mobile detailing unit out on the road

Disadvantages of a mobile detailing operation:

  • You can only detail one vehicle at a time
  • The weather can be a big factor for outdoor detailing
  • Regulations such as water containment and location restrictions can hamper your operation
  • No guarantee of an ideal spot to set up for detailing
  • Limitations on the amount of detailing services that you can offer

Advantages of a fixed auto detailing location:

  • You can simultaneously detail as many vehicles as you have room for
  • You’re in a controlled environment where climate is not a factor
  • You can display additional auto detailing products and services
  • More visibility from drive-by traffic

Disadvantages of a fixed auto detailing location:

  • Start-up costs and overhead costs are considerably higher
  • Maintenance is ongoing for both buildings and grounds
  • You can’t just pick up and go anywhere —your customers must come to you
  • Your advertising must persuade customers to come to you
  • Your budget will require room for utilities and other costs associated with a fixed structure

Of course, the ideal situation would have you operating both a fixed and a mobile detailing business. That’s where the term “the best of both worlds” comes from. But it’s not always feasible from a monetary standpoint to have both a fixed detailing location and a mobile detailing operation right from the start. However, as your detailing business grows and it becomes time to expand, it’s often advantageous to acquire the other option whether that is a fixed location or a mobile detailing unit.

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