How to start a car valeting business

If you’re passionate about cars, have strong attention to detail and excellent customer service skills, a car valet business could be for you…

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What is a car valeting business and who is it suited to?
Creating a car valeting business plan
Car valeting rules and regulations
How much does it cost to start a car valeting business?
How much can you earn running a car valeting business?
Tips and useful contacts

What is a car valeting business and who is it suited to?

Since Karl Benz patented his gasoline-powered Motorwagen in 1886, car enthusiasts have been keen to keep their prized automobiles in factory condition.

From the very first hand car washing business, which opened in 1914 in Detroit, through to the launch of the first semi-automatic car wash in 1946 and present day full detailing services, car valeting businesses have been keeping automobiles pristine for over 100 years.

Car valeting, or detailing, covers a wide range of processes and treatments for cars including cleaning, waxing, polishing and vacuuming the exterior or interior of a car, designed to get it in showroom condition.

Chris Keir, owner of CK Detailing, a Northumberland-based detailing and valeting service for luxury cars, describes his profession as a “thorough interior and external cleaning of a car which often includes polishing and waxing, which enhances the look of your car”. Compared to a basic car wash, “when a car is valeted it will achieve a much more thorough finish”, he explains.

Keir, who started CK Detailing as a bespoke service, explains what drew him to the profession: “Since I can remember I have had a passion for cars and in particular car care and detailing. As soon as I turned 17 and got my first car I wanted to improve it’s appearance and basically make it stand out. I bought my first machine polisher and started learning, cleaning and detailing not only my own car but my friends and families building up quite the reputation in my local area. Over 11 years on, here I am with my own successful business doing what I love”.

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Rob Tyler, managing director of iValet UK, a Cambridgeshire-based car valeting franchise, agrees: “Our business was born from a love of automotive and the freedom of being your own boss. […] A car valeting business can range from a basic drive through wash and go service to a full prestige detailing service”.

iValet UK is fully mobile an eco-friendly service covering Cambridge and the surrounding areas. It arranges a time and place to come out to, be it home or work and perform as full valet service.

If you’re considering starting a car valeting business then be prepared before you commit as you’re likely to have to work long, physical hours on the weekend and on weekdays as you look to build your brand.

It’s clear that a passion for cars is a must, as well as a dedication to the craft, care and tenacity it takes to do a good job – consistent and high quality work is the way to get noticed.

If you don’t have any experience washing or servicing cars, you should consider working for a car valet business to get an insight into the industry and learn the necessary skills. Apprenticeships are available in this industry too.

The government’s National Careers Service estimates the starter salary for a car valet at around £14,000, rising to £16,500 for a more experienced professional.

It also recommends having a methodical approach, a strong attention to detail and excellent customer service skills.

So if you think launching a car valet service is the right small business opportunity for you it’s time to get started on the blueprint for your company going forward – the business plan…


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