How I Started A $36K/Year Auto Detailing Business Working 3 Days Per Week

Joseph LandWolf Sanchez
$3K
revenue/mo
2
Founders
1
Employees
Wolf's Auto Detai...
from Phoenix, AZ, USA
started April 2021
$3,000
revenue/mo
2
Founders
1
Employees
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How I Started A $36K/Year Auto Detailing Business Working 3 Days Per Week

Hello! Who are you and what business did you start?

Hi Starter Story! My name is Joey Sanchez and I'm the founder of Wolf's Auto Detailing in Phoenix, Arizona. We are a mobile auto detailing service that focuses on quality work and convenience. We specialize in interior detailing, Paint polishing, and ceramic coating just to name a few.

While our client list consists of many different types of vehicles and personalities, they all share one thing in common: they all understand the value of quality work. We hold our standards very high and measure our success not only in dollar amounts but in the satisfaction of our clients. However, making $3K a month only working 3 days a week isn't a bad deal!

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What's your backstory and how did you come up with the idea?

I come from hard-working parents who taught me how to deal with adversity. They taught me that anything worth having is worth the time invested. This is extremely important because this state of mind is what pushed me to start my business "all in" and not look back.

After working all kinds of jobs after high school I finally decided to take my future seriously. Growing up around cars defined my career path so naturally, I attended Universal Technical Institute in Avondale, Arizona. While attending UTI I worked at Autozone part-time. This seemed to set me up perfectly for a money-making side endeavor. Buying and selling cars.

I figured out that saving a $700 car destined for a junkyard could benefit more than just myself. Finding and repairing these vehicles was easy but cleaning them was a task at times. I mean a $700 car isn't always going to be clean! Detailing the cars with the help of my amazing fiancee was the best part of the process.

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The idea of starting my own business came to me while working for a company that worked me like a racehorse. Deciding that my effort could be an investment towards something bigger I decided to just quit my job and start an auto detailing business.

The cleanliness of the vehicles attracted many people and often the cars would sell quickly. This became an indicator that detailing was in the cards. Being able to completely transform a vehicle from inoperable to a clean reliable daily driver was a fantastic feeling.

I graduated from UTI in 2018 and immediately got a job at a classic car restoration shop. My dream job quickly became a letdown due to an unethical work environment. The idea of starting my own business came to me while working for a company that worked me like a racehorse. Deciding that my effort could be an investment towards something bigger I decided to just quit my job and start an auto detailing business.

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Take us through the process of designing, prototyping, and manufacturing your first product.

Playing with the idea of quitting my job and starting a business was very exciting. I would have conversations with my fiancee about the idea and felt nothing but support and excitement. With my best gal behind me, some serious research made way.

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I was doing research every second I had any downtime at work. From how to start a business to product research. I must have had 50 tabs open on my work computer every day for a month before putting in my two-week notice.

I dedicated countless hours to studying products, tools, and techniques. It was now time to start making some purchases. Spending money on business items can be intimidating but I was like a kid in a candy shop. Buying quality the first time could save you money in the long run.

Describe the process of launching the business.

Launching the business meant we had to be ready to detail a car from top to bottom. And if this isn't daunting enough, we have to be able to do the job wherever the client is! This means we had to build a way to provide maximum convenience for ourselves and our clients.

We decided on building a small carry-on trailer that would contain our water tank, pressure washer, and generator. Building this trailer ourselves only cost us $1,700 while one professionally built averages $3k to $5k.

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With our trailer fully built and functional it was time to move forward with a website and marketing. This for me was a grueling process and was very time-consuming. Not having an adequate laptop I had to get everything done using smartphones and at times became frustrating.

While frustrations ran high at times we managed to build a trailer, build a business plan with pricing, and a fairly decent website. From building our trailer to getting our first real client (not a family member) was 90 days. Everything was moving so fast and the work was booked out for weeks at a time. Our entire start-up price was about $6k and in our first month in business, we made about $3,100. Our entire process was funded by us. No loans, no credit cards.

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Tired? Good. That means you're busy. Busy means it's working. Stay consistent and keep breathing life into your business. Don't lose sight.

Since launch, what has worked to attract and retain customers?

Since we launched our business every day is a learning experience. Learning how people shop for services is something I never considered learning until I had to. Call me old-fashioned but I still prefer face-to-face interactions. However, starting a business in 2021 means your social media game has to be strong.

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We started an Instagram to showcase our work. We started a Facebook business page and started introducing ourselves. Posting about our services and getting our logo out to the public was a focus of ours. While paid Facebook ads ended up being a very low ROI, posting regularly made a huge improvement in traffic.

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We made a pretty decent platform for ourselves but one thing was lacking. Proper SEO knowledge is very important to any aspiring business. Our SEO is now in the very capable hands of someone that knows what they are doing. Since we've made the move our small business is on come up every day to be on the #1 page of Google.

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In the end, we have many repeating clients because of our work ethic. We tackle every detail as if the vehicle was our own. Knowing the areas your eyes are drawn to keep our details one step ahead. Reliability, honesty, and great communication keep our clients loyal to our business.

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How are you doing today and what does the future look like?

Wolf's Auto Detailing has proven its worthiness as a successful small business in Phoenix, Arizona! Newley accredited by the Better Busines Bureau we plan on upholding our reputation for quality work and reliable service. After all, we went from just an idea to doing interviews with Starter Story and Voyage Phoenix Magazine!

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Wolf's Auto Detailing has given me the freedom to stay focused on my goals of building a successful business. Not every day is a good day but we've overcome many obstacles and will face adversity head-on. Oh yeah, and all the bills are paid so that's nice!

Wolf's Auto Detailing will have a shop location one day in the near future. I would like for Wolf's to become a staple in the community and a go-to for auto detailing services.

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Through starting the business, have you learned anything particularly helpful or advantageous?

I've learned so much from this business venture. I'm learning something everyday. Some lessons hurt. Financially or mentally and sometimes both. The trick is to not overthink the solution.

One habit I adopted is to do my due diligence and make sure to keep up with equipment so sudden failures are less likely. However, things happen and we've experienced it all. From our generator randomly shutting off when working or our work truck having a catastrophic engine failure. We've always bounced back strong and fast.

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One thing that has been advantageous to our success is being open-minded. Learning from other people's mistakes. If something isn't working don't beat a dead horse, move on. Try different approaches and see what works best for you. Sometimes taking a little time to think helps the plan come to life.

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What platform/tools do you use for your business?

Reliability is the name of the game for auto detailers. Our equipment gets used in the heat every day and needs to hold its own. We use brands like Ryobi, Predator, Torq, and Simpson Hose.

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We use Instagram to showcase our work and Facebook to post about our services or packages. We also use our Better Business Bureau portal for accredited businesses. This has many resources for small businesses.

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What have been the most influential books, podcasts, or other resources?

I listen to David Goggins interviews. He's very motivational and leaves no room for excuses. If you want something you have to work for it and he preaches hard work and never gives up. Also, Luke Wilson with Wilson Auto Detailing is very knowledgeable in the auto detailing world. Oscar Gill with Detail Groove has great podcasts with lots of information on SEO.

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Advice for other entrepreneurs who want to get started or are just starting out?

Race horses have blinders to stay focused on what's in front of them. This applies to building a business. Distractions can absolutely derail your motivation. The only businesses that succeed are the ones that stay working. Even if it means working through all of your distractions.

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Tired? Good. That means you're busy. Busy means it's working. Stay consistent and keep breathing life into your business. Don't lose sight.

Where can we go to learn more?

If you have any questions or comments, drop a comment below!

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Joseph LandWolf Sanchez, Founder of Wolf's Auto Detailing
Pat Walls,  Founder of Starter Story
Want to start your own business?

Hey! 👋I'm Pat Walls, the founder of Starter Story.

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