How Much Do Car Detailers Make Per Hour

Beginning a mobile car detailing business means you will likely want to know how the payments you receive for your services translate to an hourly rate. If you are like most mobile car wash businesses, you probably offer your cleaning services in tiered packages such as a Bronze, Silver, and Gold level. If this is the case, you may not have calculated your hourly rate.

Calculating your hourly rate can be helpful for several reasons. Most importantly, it will assist you in projecting your total revenue. This is especially important if you are beginning your mobile car detailing business and want a more concrete idea of how much you will be making or estimate your total annual revenue.

Mobile car wash hourly rates vary because of many factors. The first step in determining hourly rate is familiarizing itself with the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). The information compiled by the BLS is necessary information allowing a business to have foresight into industry standards and the fluctuations the industry may be used to observing. Companies will also want to ensure that any information viewed is relevant to their locality because states also vary in hourly rates. Finally, calculating the business’ hourly rate requires that the amount paid for services be divided by the number of hours it took to complete the job. These aspects contribute to understanding a mobile car detailer’s hourly rate.

Understanding National Mobile Detailing Hourly Rates

The BLS is a valuable resource to become familiar with. Unlike what comes to mind when most think of survey-takers — census-style and paper if needed — the BLS uses conversational interview techniques and collects samples throughout one year. During this time, the BLS surveyor will review a list of employees for an establishment, determine the correct occupation code and work level, and collect job requirements such as part-time or full-time status, working conditions, the required level of education, etc.

These details are essential because they allow businesses to peruse BLS’ extensive database to find statistics that will help further grow and develop their business. For example, the BLS website is helpful for a new mobile car detailing business because it gives detailed information on the average national hourly rates for mobile car detailers. Companies can use this information in determining how to price their services. It’s even more helpful to find the business’ state-specific average to assist in forecasting the mobile car detailing business’ potential revenue.

As reported by data collected in 2021, the average hourly wage for cleaners of vehicles and equipment was $14.69. Additionally, the BLS reported that California had the highest number of detailers, with just over 50,000 personnel. In California, the average hourly wage is $16.24, a significant difference from the national average. This is a critical element to keep in mind because the difference in average hourly wage can vary substantially from one state to the next. If that happens to be true for your business location, be sure to remain diligent in differentiating between what is worth spending hard-earned money on and what is not.

How the State of Residency Affects a Mobile Car Detailers’ Hourly Rate

As previously mentioned, California has the most cleaners of vehicles and equipment, but the state only has the second-highest average hourly rate for said cleaners. On the other hand, new York tops the BLS average hourly wage chart with a little over 19,000 employees classified as cleaners of vehicles and equipment. With less than half of the number of cleaners of vehicles and equipment as California, New York state offers the highest average wage at an average of $19.47/hourly.

These elements are essential when beginning a new mobile car detailing business because the business’ profit may vary drastically from crossing one border to entering another state. For example, Texas has the second-highest employment level in the vehicle cleaning industry, but their hourly average pales compared to neighboring California’s, coming in at $13.20. While cost-of-living and area specifics must also be considered, knowing the average hourly wage can help new business owners make more accurate long-term forecasts for their businesses and set realistic expectations.

For example, if a mobile car detailing business is in an area with a low average hourly rate, entering that specific locality’s mobile car detailing market expecting to turn a steep profit immediately would be unrealistic. Drastic times call for extreme measures, but in such cases, it is always best to err on the side of caution rather than taking an aggressive approach. Especially as new entrepreneurs, business owners may be unaware of just how aggressive their system may be received, potentially inadvertently discouraging others from speaking out for fear of judgment.

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How a Business Can Calculate its Hourly Rate

While having the national average for hourly wages is helpful, nothing beats having an hourly wage estimate based on work the business has completed. Here we will review a simple yet effective method to quickly calculate your mobile car detailing business’ hourly wage based on your services.

We will base our calculations on a three-tiered service model to keep numbers simple. So, for the Bronze package, calculating the hourly rate is simple if you charge a flat $75 fee for a two-hour job. Take the $75 fee and divide it by the two hours spent on the job, and you get $37.50, your hourly rate for your bronze package. To calculate the hourly rate for your three-hour, $100 silver detailing package, repeat the previously outlined steps. Again, divide the $100 fee by the three hours spent completing the service for an hourly rate of roughly $33.33. Finally, for the four-hour $175 service package, divide the $175 fee by the four hours needed to complete the task for a final hourly rate of $43.75.

Viewing the breakdown of the business’ hourly rate does more than specifying how much was earned hourly. Viewing an hourly rate analysis also allows a company to identify any potential discrepancies in pricing. For example, the lower hourly rate of $33.33 for a mid-level service package may indicate that a price increase is warranted to ensure uniformity in pricing. A $10 difference in the hourly rate is most certainly a detail that an investigative customer would discover.

By drawing out these small details, mobile car detailers are essentially offered an opportunity to snuff out potential issues, such as accusations of unfair pricing, by correcting their pricing immediately upon discovering the deficiency. For example, fixing the deficit may mean that the mobile car detailing business chooses to lower all other service-package fees closer to the $33 per hour range. Alternatively, the company may decide to raise the price of the mid-level service package.

All things considered, it is advantageous to have access to national and state hourly wage statistics and for mobile car wash business owners to understand how to calculate their hourly rate based on the services offered. Business owners will also find that the Bureau of Labor and Statistics collects a substantial amount of data that can be helpful when trying to determine the business’ hourly wage.

Further, as long as care is taken to find locally relevant figures, using the BLS data will ease the process of calculating the hourly wage, making it smoother for all involved. Finally, a mobile car detailing business owner can easily calculate their hourly wage using actual prices for their services.

The business owner should consider all learned information and see any shortcomings as opportunities for growth and development. Though the hourly rate for mobile car detailing varies widely, a savvy businessman or businesswoman can easily tackle the tasks necessary to find and maintain a stable mobile car business.

We write on topics related to the car wash business industry.

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