Californians love their cars. All you have to do is look at Los Angeles traffic to know that residents are more likely to drive than hop on a bus or train.
But it’s more than that. There’s huge pride in luxury vehicle ownership and a strong desire to keep them in top shape.
With that in mind, it’s easy to see why the auto detailing business is booming in LA. In fact, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), California has the highest employment rate of car cleaners. And the industry is growing in demand throughout the nation. According to Transparency Market Research, the auto detailing industry is expected to grow at a compound annual growth rate of 9.6 percent between 2022-2031.
So here’s what we did…
Our research team dived into LA auto detailing reviews on Yelp, Google Maps, and Trust Analytica to determine exactly what customers like and dislike about their go-to mobile car wash brands.
If your goal is to start or grow a car detailing business in Los Angeles, then now is the time to do it. And one of the best ways to find success is to look at what other highly-recommended detailers in the industry have done… and to avoid common mistakes.
What All the Top LA Detailers Have in Common, According to Local Yelp, Google, and Trust Analytica Reviews
Source: Ricardo's Mobile Detail on Yelp
Before you start an auto detailing business in Los Angeles, take a look at the common traits of the highest-rated companies. Each review lets you know how they do business and why it’s effective. Here’s a list we put together of the top characteristics of the most popular auto detailers.
1. They Respond Quickly
Customers love when businesses are responsive. It’s something that stands out in today’s fast-paced world.
According to Statista, 70% of consumers want a same-day response after contacting a business. This means that if it takes you longer, your potential customers might lose interest—especially if a competitor responds faster. The top-rated auto detailers in LA consistently have Yelp response times that fall between 10 minutes to 4 hours.
Small business owners often wear a lot of hats, which is why it can feel challenging to meet the needs of customers quickly. But there are ways to make it easier.
For example, an app or platform that brings all your customer communications and requests into one central dashboard can make it simple and faster to respond. Instead of hopping from app to app or between web pages, you can see all your communications in one place.
As you develop a habit of responding quickly to customer reviews and questions, here are things to consider.
- Manage expectations: Most people are happy to get any response, even an automatic one. It’s even better if it’s engaging. Set auto-responses up during busy periods that let people know, “hey, we’re busy making our customer’s cars look like new, but we’ll get back to you within x hours.” You can even list an average response time on your website and business pages. The more transparent you are when setting expectations, the happier your customers will be.
- Develop a timeline or response strategy: If you can take 5 minutes each hour to respond to inquiries, then do it. It’s all about looking at what’s possible. If your business is quickly growing, consider hiring an office manager to reduce your response times or onboarding a small business management tool that allows you to accomplish many things in a single click.
- Give customers a self-serve option: If you know many people are contacting you to schedule an appointment, then it’s probably time to invest in a self-serve calendar, where clients can choose a time. Make it even more efficient by automating appointment reminder emails and/or texts.
2. They’re Punctual
There’s a reason the DMV has a bad reputation—hardly anything gets done there on time. People have busy schedules, which makes it important for them to have accurate timing estimates and appointments that start and end on time.
The highest-rated LA auto detailers have reviews like “Great service! Arrived on time,” and “Arrived on time, polite, prepared, and did an excellent job.” Punctuality helps you earn trust. It shows customers that you value them.
To help you and your team be punctual:
- Have realistic time management expectations (for example, know how long each service takes and build in some wiggle room)
- Prepare your tools and job supplies ahead of time.
- Hire employees that are reliable and on time
- Look where you’re not punctual and figure out why so you can fix it
- Invest in online scheduling software that ensures you have enough time between appointments and notifies you of upcoming jobs.
There will be times when you fall behind or something unexpected happens. Make sure to communicate clearly and honestly with your customers right away. Clear communication is always your friend in the service business.
3. They Use the Latest Auto Detailing Tools and Techniques
It’s essential that you use tools and techniques that put you on the same level as the top auto detailers. The internet makes it easy to research what you need. Look at local reviews, industry magazines and websites, and competitors to see what’s popular. You can also join online auto detailing networking communities to stay current with the latest industry technology.
Some of the most popular in-demand techniques are:
Common auto detailing tools include:
- Ceramic coating
- Paint protection film
- Paint claying
- Steam cleaning
- Leather trimming
- Paint correction
- LED auto detailing light
- Drying tools
- Auto detailing belt
- Rolling work seat
- Foam cannon
- Mitts, brushes, applicators, and buckets
4. They Offer a Variety of Services and Keep Up with Trends
Giving your customers a choice, especially when it fits a range of budgets, is a great way to attract and keep clients. Maybe you have a basic, midrange, and deluxe package. Or you offer services outside of detailing, like window tinting.
It also helps if you offer services that are trending. Look at mobile car detailing, and the popularity of taking your services right to someone’s front door. Mobile detailing is expected to grow at a rate of 8.9 percent over the next decade.
Keep an eye on what competitors are doing, whether by looking at their websites or tracking what customers are saying about their services.
Another current trend mentioned by customers is virtual consultations. This saves time and money for business owners while adding convenience for the client. During virtual estimates, detailers can determine the scope of a job and provide an estimate.
5. They Go the Extra Mile
Many 5-star reviews mention the little things an auto detailer did that made the difference.
Source: VI's Mobile Auto Detailing on Trust Analytica
Sometimes it is as small as tightening a loose screw. One reviewer raved about a perfectionist auto detailer who “enthusiastically spent the entire day buffing out 90% of the scratches, blemishes, and pinstriping before applying the ceramic coat.” The reviewer went on to tell readers that they should only use that person.
Another detailer was praised for coming up with a clever idea to prevent an ongoing issue that involved hard water stains on the windows. The detailer suggested that the customer prepare a small cleaning kit to remove hard-to-get hard water stains on the windshield manually on a regular basis.
People remember and become loyal to businesses that deliver exceptional service. It’s an excellent way to stand out from the crowd.
6. They’re Flexible
A common theme with 5-star reviewers is flexibility. When businesses are open to changes and adapting to circumstances, customers appreciate it. If you’re running an LA detailing business, you might end up cleaning cars in tight parking spots, changing an appointment due to weather, or starting work early because it makes a huge difference to the client.
Source: Eco Mobile Detailing on Yelp
One reviewer “couldn’t be happier” that a top-rated detailer was able to detail her car right away. She was nine months pregnant and couldn’t do it herself, and badly wanted to get rid of the mess. The business’s willingness to do it quickly made all the difference for her.
Flexibility can make customer service interactions positive, which can help grow your business. According to a Gartner study, 94% of consumers are more likely to repurchase a product or service if the customer service interactions are effortless.
7. They’re Transparent and Do Exactly What They Say They’ll Do
When auto detailers in Los Angeles were “honest,” “gave the details up front,” or “let you know that stains or scratches would be problematic,” customers were much happier.
Highly-rated businesses are commonly described as transparent. And the more you can set realistic expectations, the better. While you may be able to fix something, don’t promise it unless you can deliver. Instead, leave yourself room to do what you’ll say you’ll do with the potential to go above and beyond.
Think about it as establishing your credibility. Your reputation depends on being able to follow through with the work and being honest when you can’t. A survey of US consumers found that 86 percent believe transparency from businesses is more important than ever before.
8. They Make it Easy to Become a Repeat Customer
One LA auto detailing business that received numerous positive reviews consistently booked clients’ next appointments at the end of a service. By making it easy for existing customers to schedule repeat appointments, they built a loyal following.
Other reviewers mention being able to schedule online easily or being able to talk through what they needed with a customer service representative as they booked.
By offering several ways to schedule service appointments, you’re more likely to get repeat customers. Today’s technology makes it easy. Some platforms centralize your data and keep it up-to-date, so you avoid double booking. You can also set things up to book several appointments at once if you have multiple detailing teams.
9. They’re Professional and Great Communicators
What does it mean to be professional? Often, it means being the whole package—responsive, punctual, having the right tools and techniques, and communicating well with a customer.
Source: Sam’s Steam Auto Detail on Google
The top-reviewed detailers in Los Angeles were often labeled as professional and easy to communicate with. And communication didn’t just mean talking face to face but also receiving questions or updates via email or text. For instance, one reviewer who left five stars said they texted back and forth about an issue until a solution was reached. They went on to say the owner was knowledgeable and straight-to-the-point but kind.
Other common themes for professionalism were people who were passionate about what they did, paid attention to detail, and were highly respectful to their clients and the vehicles they detailed. It was also about how they conducted business—for example, it was easy to schedule and pay for services.
10. They Have a Lot of Reviews
Reviews have become an important part of business. What your reviews say about you either interests or deters potential customers. Think about it, are you more likely to go to a detailer with no reviews, a review that says “you'll do a better job yourself with wipes and a vacuum,” or a review that says “100% recommend without reservation.”
The most popular businesses have hundreds of reviews, and it helps paint a picture of what kind of service they offer. Customers are more willing to go to someone with 100 good reviews than a business with just one. Having reviews is crucial—especially since recent review statistics from Exploding Topic found that 93% of users say online reviews had an impact on their buying decisions.
Small businesses now have tools to help gather reviews from customers. You can use platforms to send text and email review requests, and even install a widget on your website to display your best reviews.
Use Small Business Technology to Build or Grow Your Auto Detailing Business in LA
Small business technology can help new and growing auto detailing businesses in LA match the professionalism of the best LA detailers. It allows you to offer customers what they want and helps you streamline the business side of things. Platforms and apps geared toward small businesses and mobile businesses can give you the power to schedule, invoice, accept payments, communicate with customers, and manage your reviews and reputation all in one place.
If you’re ready to start your LA detailing business, look at what the most popular local auto detailers do. You can use their insights, and add a unique stamp to create your own top-rated business.