How Do You Make an Auto Detailing Business Profitable?
For nearly a year, co-founders Brandon and Erika Rivera ran
out of a 2017 Hyundai Elantra. They worked remotely, driving to the customer to provide a unique waterless service. Brandon set up the appointments and performed all the detailing himself while Erika worked behind the scenes.
The duo’s car detailing business income continued to grow and, just last month, they moved into a fixed location in Gilroy, California. They also successfully raised their rates, charging an additional $25 to $50 per service. As a result, their revenue has jumped from $4500 to $8000 a month.
Brandon felt comfortable raising his rates because he knew he was providing a superior service, which isn’t just about his detailing services; it’s about providing a quality customer experience from booking to payment.
“Just because of the level of professionalism that I was able to showcase,” Brandon explained. “We’re in a fixed location and we're using software that's so much more customer friendly, why not bump the prices up?”
The customer friendly software he’s referring to is Housecall Pro. What follows are some of the differences that Housecall Pro has made to Brandon’s business.
Before Housecall Pro
In the beginning, Brandon managed all of his appointments from a Google calendar. The majority of his customers would text him to book their next appointment, then he’d create an event in his calendar.
He ran into problems with this two-step process. For instance, he risked double-booking when he didn’t see an appointment in the same time slot or if he didn’t time out his appointments appropriately. Things got especially difficult if he needed to reschedule someone.
Initially, Brandon used a Square app to take payments from his customers. While Square worked okay for credit card payments, it wasn’t tied to any central repository for customer information, which was scattered throughout his payment processor, his texts and emails, and his Google Calendar.
“Part of the problem was just using a bunch of apps that were not related to each other,” he explained. “I had a bunch of apps running on my phone constantly that I never closed out, and I wondered why my battery would die.”
Not having a field service management system led to another problem: finding the customer on the job. “Sometimes the customer won’t pick up the phone. We have the location and we're just trying to find the house or the back of the driveway, or they haven’t given us the correct address, and it's a 15 to 20 minute struggle, but 15 to 20 minutes can go a long way when you're mobile.”
With Housecall Pro
Brandon discovered Housecall Pro via the
hosted by Jimbo Balaam. “It would always come up on the podcast, and it must be good if he kept talking about it.” The platform gave Brandon one place to manage customer information, job details, invoices, and payments.
Now, when a new client gets in touch, the first thing Brandon does is take down their information, and their info is attached to any future service.
Once a job is complete and it’s time to get paid, he can invoice and
through Housecall Pro which connects the payments to the rest of the customer’s information.
Brandon also feels more confident about managing his
. “I'm able to see what I have booked out for the date, and it gives me a sense of direction on how to schedule out throughout the rest of the day.”
“I’m not in the market for making money, I'm here to make relationships with my customers,” Brandon explained. Through Housecall Pro, Brandon is able to easily message his customers or even
just to check in and see if they need another appointment.
Brandon’s Advice For Raising Your Rates
Brandon actually raised his rates above the regional norms. He has since learned that many clients will get cheaper estimates elsewhere and still choose his business. Besides offering customers exceptional services and customer experience, Brandon believes there are two main reasons why he was able to up his rates.
“Whether you're at a fixed location or if you’re mobile, it doesn't matter: just keep yourself nice and tight and presentable,” Brandon said. He and Erika always try to keep the shop cleaned up — it’s a matter of professionalism. So is listening to his customers.
When folks come in for estimates, he believes it’s his ability to really listen to them that truly wins their business. “I always hold myself to a high standard and make sure that I listen to my customers and provide exactly what their needs are,” he said.
Brandon’s other piece of advice to pros looking to raise your rates is to simply trust you worth. Whether we’re talking about a plumber or another detailer, Brandon explains that pros don’t always value their own quality highly enough. “You’re more rare than you really think. When people come in for services, just be confident about what you can provide for them.”
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