Mobile or Fixed Location?
Let’s start out by giving you some basic terminology…
Mobile Operation: This is where you build a system that can take your business to your customer’s home, office, or remote location. A mobile system can consist of many options these days. You can use a small SUV, minivan, truck, cargo van, or trailer. The options for mobile detailing systems are incredible.
Fixed Location: This is a warehouse, former gas station, or building where you place your detailing business and customers come to you. For some, a fixed location can be at home or in a garage, outbuilding, or barn. This is not ideal in all markets, but I know of several people who have a nice detailing studio right at home and this option certainly does save money and can offer a great quality of life. I will advise that if you are setting up at a residence, think about legal issues with homeowner associations, cities, and counties as all of these agencies have rules and regulations pertaining to home-based businesses. Another concern is perceived value and how your clients might view this. I once had a studio at my residence and for me, it worked out fine. It was a great situation, and one worth thinking about for your business.
I will share this with you: I am a strong believer in going mobile when you first start a detailing business. My reasons are cost, long-term debt, and how hard you are going to have to work when you first start. Debt is a killer within business, especially if you are already tight on start-up funds. The mobile detailing model is not only the ideal start-up system when you are getting your business off the ground, it also offers the advantage of being a home-based business. Even today, whenever I can I work from my home because it also allows me time with my wife, kids, and my dogs. So while I have a large sexy shop all decked out, when I have my choice and am just doing paperwork, administrative work, and marketing, I work out of the house. Here are all the facts I can muster on the positives and negatives of a mobile operation and a fixed location:
I will tell you, having a shop is very convenient. I love walking into my shop each morning and not having to set up my equipment. I have collected everything I could possibly need, and never being too cold or too hot while working sure is nice.
There are many factors to think about when you are evaluating the type of detailing business you will be starting. Look long and hard at your local market and think about some of the items outlined above during your decision-making process.
I have had up to six locations at once and if I were to do it all over again, I would start mobile, concentrate on the services with the highest prospects of sales and profits within my desired market, and keep the business small, specialized, and quality-based. We are talking lifestyle here and mobile offers the best chance of success when you first get going within this industry. Remember,you can always grow into having a fixed location when you have the client base and therefore the capital to support a shop.