According to Grandview Research, the U.S. car detailing industry is a $10.8 billion business and is expected to grow by a CAGR of 4.4 percent through 2030. Based on research conducted by Mobile Tech RX, there are an estimated 28,515 detail businesses in the U.S. (2020), or one detail business for every 11,573 persons.

            The data implies average store sales of roughly $371,000.

            The detail business value proposition can be divided into maintenance services and restorative services. The meat and potatoes for detail businesses are restorative services including exterior and interior detail and complete service.

            Other restorative services include headlight lenses, paintless dent removal, factory paint repair, upholstery/trim repair, and paint correction. Detailers can also offer a host of a la carte car-care services, such as window tint, interior sanitizing, fabric protection, ceramic film, gel coating, and more.

            Like car washing, detail is a seasonal business.  According to Auto Laundry News surveys, the percentage of business done in the spring is typically twice as much as is done in the winter. Work usually comes from the general public (75 to 85 percent) and auto dealers (5 to 15 percent). However, over the last several years, the percentage of business attributed to wholesale (car dealers) has decreased considerably.

            The consumer profile is evenly split between men (52 percent) and women (48 percent). More than 60 percent of the vehicles serviced are three years old or older.

            Auto detailing is a competitive business. More than 75 percent of operators have three or more competitors. Unlike commercial car wash, detail is a low volume business.  According to ALN surveys, the average time required to complete a standard detail service is between three and four hours.

Annual detail car counts have been consistently greater than 1,000. The average for the period is 1,286.

            Historically, operating costs as a percentage of revenue have hovered around 20 percent for the cost of goods and 55 percent for operating expenses.

The package price for a standard service has increased considerably over the last several years.  Sixty-seven percent of detailers raised prices to keep pace with inflation.

            The highest operating costs are labor (35 percent) and rent (15 percent). In 2013, 50 percent of detailers paid between $10 and $12 an hour and 17 percent paid over $12 an hour. In 2024, 43 percent of detailers paid $15 to $18 an hour and 24 percent paid over $18 an hour.

   The most common forms of advertising and promotion are Internet, social media, and direct mail, and more than 90 percent of detailers have a website.

Bob Roman is a car wash consultant and can be reached at bobr427@protonmail.com.