With so many cars on the road valeting seems like a growth industry. While there is a lot of business to grab, there are also many competitors. However, it can be a great opportunity for first-time entrepreneurs or those with a passion for vehicles. Good market research, as well as maximising potential revenue streams by making the most of assets, is key to success in this market.

With so many cars on the road valeting seems like a growth industry. While there is a lot of business to grab, there are also many competitors. However, it can be a great opportunity for first-time entrepreneurs or those with a passion for vehicles. Good market research, as well as maximising potential revenue streams by making the most of assets, is key to success in this market.

What is car valeting?

The standard definition of valeting is a high-end cleaning job for the interior and exterior of a car. The service is more upmarket than a car wash, which will offer a basic cleaning service, while a valeting will provide a more in-depth clean followed by protective coatings such as wax.

Repairing bodywork and refurbishing alloy wheels does not tend to fall into a valet’s remit but that doesn’t mean you can’t offer this as an additional service. Offering this service is more worthwhile if you cater to other businesses, such as driving schools and taxi firms, in order to maximise the amount of money you can make from each account.

It’s worth making clear that valeting is not car washing – the margins and business model are totally different. Manual car washing is extremely hard to make profitable because not only is it time-consuming to wash cars, but the staff costs and the rise of automatic, faster car washes eat into potential profits. Valeting is a more ‘luxurious’ service demanding higher prices, which leads to profit.

Mobile versus fixed unit

Mobile valeting has become widespread in recent years – there are obvious advantages to the consumer, as they can have their car cleaned up without making a special trip. From your point of view, your potential market increases dramatically although the distance you drive to a job must be considered alongside costs such as fuel and time taken. Rapidly-increasing fuel costs make mobile units costly.

Going mobile initially may be the best choice to avoid over-investing in the business. Bear in mind you will need to make sure you have water and electricity hook-ups for your jobs and may also need to negotiate on rates if you are using the car owner’s supplies.

Start-up costs are lower if you opt for a mobile unit. Renting business premises will be expensive, as will retrofitting them for purpose. You'll also have to pay for overheads such as lighting, cleaning and electricity. However, you will be able to offer a more complex service from fixed premises, and some customers with expensive vehicles may insist on it.