Is Detailing Still A Profitable Business?

Venturing into a business may seem scary and uncertain, especially when you are competing against grown and big businesses. Every other day, there seem to be a new detailing shop opening up, and many would wonder if the detailing business in Malaysia still that profitable?

So the ultimate question – Can you still make money by detailing cars in Malaysia?
Short answer : Yes! But only if you are doing it right!

Before pouring your savings into starting a detailing or car wash business, let’s run through some observations and highlight several concerns that are frequently asked by others.

Here’s something that might not come as a surprise to you.

Car wash prices have not increased much over the past 10 years! 

10 years ago, the average cost of car wash is approximately RM10. Fast forward today, the average car wash is approximately RM13. Any higher it would turn off many regulars.

However, cost of operation have gone up significantly and this doesn’t justify the minuscule increment that make up for such shortfall. The truth? Car wash service alone isn’t a profitable thing to do. Businesses are forced to innovate and promote other detailing services.

That being said, if the car wash service is a shoddy piece of work, it is very likely that your customers will not be convinced to pick up other detailing services that are offered. Getting the basics right is fundamental to up-sell other services.

Bundling services or promoting polishing package is a more strategic approach to increase customers’ spending. So, if the business is primarily focusing on providing car wash service as its bread and butter – which is also achievable through extensive quantity, it is however, not the best practical approach.

Here’s a simple math breakdown, based on the average price of polishing in KL, Malaysia:

Making RM26 per hour or RM260 over the duration of 10 hours isn’t sustainable for business owners.

Which brings us to the next point. In order to make a worthwhile effort, better and quality service should be rendered.

To produce a more profitable service, it requires higher skillset. How do I go about this for my business without breaking the bank?

To be able to market and perform a more profitable service, it requires one to be good at rendering quality service. There is no shortcut in learning detailing; it takes time, effort and skill to be good.

Technical skills are hard to duplicate, but luckily, can be taught and managed through implementing standards and approaches. Having a good system or SOP in place with detailing will ensure consistency in producing results.

When it comes to polishing, we make things easy. On soft paint, Perfect Cut 20 is your best ally, while for hard paint, NAO Compound 46 is all you need.

A quick trick to build a feasible SOP is by cultivating habits in your workplace. A repetitive behaviour breeds habit, and good habit means delivering consistency in results.

Being able to render quality service means being able to create more loyal customers and engage in a more profitable services on the long run.

Competitors are mushrooming in every corner, can the business stay profitable?

These are signs of growing trend in the market. Much like the craze that’s happening now in boba tea. (This article is written during the hype of boba tea, a drink consist of black sugar and milk with tapioca balls at the bottom)

An everyday scene in Boba Street @ Subang SS15

Yes, it is not a sign of a growing demand. However, based on statistics by Malaysia Automotive Association, there are more than 500,000 cars that are sold yearly in Malaysia, and there are more than 28 million cars registered on the road to date (2018, MAA). That’s a staggering figure! No wonder roads in Malaysia are only getting more and more congested each year.

This is a cake that’s too huge for anyone to gulp down and there is portion for everyone to have their own fare slice of it. As a matter of fact, demand of supplies in detailing products have actually increased over the years and it is a good indication that demands are growing in Malaysia. We know because we sell ‘em

There’s too much price war going around, is there still profit margin to gain from?

Indeed. Price war is something that doesn’t seem to cease anytime soon whichever industry we are in. Price still remains the ultimate make-or-break decision factor for many.

We are still trying to figure out the profit margin for such service; what is being sacrifice to achieve lower cost? Or perhaps it is a mere gimmick?

Nevertheless, price is NOT the only factor people will rely on when it comes to decision making. Evidently from people who are lining up to purchase ridiculously expensive boba milk drink. There are many who are still willing to spend more, especially when it comes to reliable and trust-able services. There are always consequences in price reduction in relation to quality; more resources and effort are always required to produce higher quality products or services.

Convincing customers is something business owners are constantly doing everyday and it can be exhausting. In our earlier blog, we spoke on how positioning matters in detailing business and having a clear direction and approach helps in attracting the right customers. Click here to read

No one goes into Mac Store and ask for discount, or even question why their prices are so premium.

The best way to beat a price war is to rethink your business strategy and approach such as – compete in quality without lowering the price, understand why you are in this price war to begin with, focus on brand building, or even improve your customers’ experience. There are some things money can’t buy.


Over the years, we have heard many that laments the industry is getting tougher, but we also witnessed many who have been thriving and growing continuously. Getting the business right is the winning factor in any business, not the nature of business that determines the outcome. It’s all in the effort and strategy.

We hope sharing these concerns by many would help our readers to understand the risk and potential in the detailing industry; as any other business ventures would face too.

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