Top 5 tips for starting a vehicle valet service


Even though you might think that a car washing business would be an easy one to create, there are actually a number of obstacles you have to think about first. Remember there are car dealers, mechanics and other businesses operating in the industry that can offer the same service. It’s definitely a competitive business to get into and the key is finding a way to deliver an excellent service while keeping profits rolling in.

Furthermore, the overhead costs alone are high and the challenge of advertising can be a difficult one as many people are happy to do the dirty work themselves when it comes to washing their car.

But that is why we have created this guide, as we know how to navigate all of the biggest challenges. So before you start your vehicle valet business, take some time to consider exactly what’s involved and some of the challenges you may face.

For example:

●       Setting up business insurance

●       Funding the initial set-up costs

●       Finding suitable premises

●       Sourcing reliable skilled staff

●       Dealing with competitors

●       Finding your USP

Motor trade insurance is a critical element of setting up a business in the industry so if you are already open or are in the process of launching your business, click here to find out more about this type of insurance.

We’ll deliver a bespoke quote based on the size of your business and what you need.

Finally, before we launch into the steps to follow for starting a vehicle valet service, we’re also going to answer some common questions relating to setting up this kind of business, just in case you need any more clarification.

What is valet cleaning?

Valet cleaning is a service provided by cleaning specialists who focus on every part of a car, including the interior. The cleaning job is carried out on the interior and exterior of a car, with special tools and cleaning products used to restore a car back to how it felt when it was brand new – almost!

Many owners get their car valeted for this reason, because your car stays clean and they know both the interior and exterior are always looking shiny and clean. Having your car properly cleaned can make such a huge difference to its presentation and how it feels to sit inside the driver’s seat.

How often should you valet your car?

It’s advisable to valet a car once every six months to ensure that the paintwork remains protected and there is not a build up of dirt anywhere that could cause damage if left for too long. Having your car valeted regularly will help to keep it in tip top condition and prevent dirt and material stains from causing longer-term damage to the interior of the vehicle.


How do I valet my car at home?

You will need to purchase a number of specialist cleaning materials and goods if you want to valet your car at home, which is why it is much easier to take your car to a professional who will be able to complete the job for you, saving you both time and hassle.

What do you need to start a carwash business?

An orange car dripping with shampoo bubbles during a car wash

There are a number of things you need to start a carwash business, including capital, motor trade insurance, staff, a business model and equipment. All of which are covered in more detail below.

Now that we have answered those questions for people who may stumble across this article looking for more answers about valeting, we’ll tell you how to start a vehicle valet service. Here are our six top tips plus some handy additional advice.


1. Create a business model

The first step to creating any kind of business is to make a plan and strategy for launch.

This means that you need to sit down and think about the financial implications of launching a business, and where you are going to find the money to invest in buying or renting business premises, the equipment and the staff you need to hire.

Hopefully, you already have experience in the valet industry or in the car care sector, as it will be difficult to get going if you are moving industry completely. However, it’s never impossible.

When creating a business model, the easiest thing to do is take inspiration from others working in the same sector.

At the end of the day, you don’t need to reinvent the way in which a business is run, you simply need to stick to the best principles in order to be successful. But a business savvy mind and fresh approach can go a long way.

Furthermore, if you want to apply for a bank loan to get money to start your business, it is critical that you are able to provide a clear business plan, to give the bank confidence that you will be able to pay the money back.

So, here are the basic steps for creating a business model and what you should include when putting it in front of somebody to review.

2. Start small

The first step may be the hardest but it is the most important.

Your business model should work with the smallest amount of money being used and the maximum amount of effort on your part.

So when it comes to car valeting, the first stage should be spent on establishing relationships and knocking on some doors, offering your services as a mobile valet specialist. A lot of valeting businesses that have grown substantially started out as a small local business. Start with friends and local contacts and then branch out to advertise locally.

This will help you meet people face to face and build up relationships in the area where you eventually hope to open a premises.

A good way to ensure you stay in the mind of your customers is to leave a business card in the car and with the people you complete work for.

After you have established a strong base of customers, you can start to think about moving into permanent premises. No matter how you kickstart your business, be sure to spend some time doing some local audience research in order to determine what sort of car owners to target.

3. Plan for the short term and long term

A solid business model is one which works in the short term and the long term, so it is important that the model is proven to work economically over a number of years.

At the end of the day, if you are setting up a business, it’s because you’ll want to be able to earn a lot of money and eventually stop working.

That is why you need to show how the business will operate in one, two, three, four and more years, with the number of staff and investment clearly shown.

4. Include potential setbacks

No business model should exist without contingency plans for setbacks.

This is because setting up a business is far from simple and anything can happen, like a huge national valeting business moving into your area and taking customers off your hands.

That is why you should always have solutions to problems within your business model, so you are prepared for any eventuality.

For example, if you are suddenly struggling for work and nobody is requesting a valet service, you could choose to subscribe to a specialist platform which sends garages and valet providers thousands of customers each week.

5. Research competitors

Once you have created a business model, it’s time to check out the competition.

There are a number of benefits in doing this.

The first is that you will be able to copy any of the best practices you see your competitors carrying out.

For example, if you see that a local valet service gives away a free discount voucher for a local restaurant with every valet service, you can do something along the same lines.

This can be a powerful tactic for generating leads for the restaurant and they will be happy to provide a discount if you are able to get people into their business.

You do this for a number of businesses in your local area and therefore, get the same in return, with those businesses recommending you to their own customers.

The point is, the more you know about your competition the better, so it would be worth getting a valet service of your own from your main rival, to find out what kind of service they provide.

At the end of the day, if they are a large chain you may struggle to make an impact in the local area. However, such big businesses find it hard to deliver a personal service, which is where you can find your niche.

6. What makes your vehicle valet service different?

Of course, many valet centres follow the same sort of business model. You’ll obviosuly need to test out what works best for your business. But a key thing you need to outline before kicking things off is what makes your business different?

You’ll need a clear USP to help you stand out, whether that’s speed, a loyalty scheme, customer service or using specialist equipment. Perhaps you can specialise in certain types of car – classics or supercars, for example, alongside the more ordinary motors.


Investing in the most up-to-date equipment is the best way to ensure your success. This is the case for several reasons.

The first is that the best tools do the best job when it comes to cleaning cars meaning you’ll be able to provide a service which is of the highest quality for your customers.

The investment may be heavier but it is worth it in the long run. The tools which cost more, are also more likely to last longer.

The same goes for most things in the automotive world as mechanics regularly advise drivers that a cheap fix won’t resolve the main problem.

For example, if the rubber on a wheel is being worn down, a driver may think that it simply needs to be replaced, however, it’s possible that the suspension and alignment are off, causing the problem.

This means that the new tyre will just wear down as well.

The same can be said of equipment for cleaning, the last thing you want it to invest in low-cost goods, only for them to break after a few weeks, meaning you have to buy a new set all over again.

The costs for setting up this type of business can vary depending on whether you have a mobile van (up to £10,000 estimated start-up cost) or your own premises (think more around the £30,000 mark). And don’t forget to include motor trade insurance costs in your calculations.


Choosing the right location for your valet business is probably the most important decision you have to make.

A number of factors need to be considered, and the number of competitors should be high on that list.

It is also important to think about how many people will walk and drive past your business, so choosing a high-traffic area is the best bet for ensuring you get as much exposure as possible to passing trade.

The issue of cost is also a big factor in the location of your business, due to the fact that it is much cheaper to buy and rent properties in the North of England compared to the South.

Therefore, even if it means you moving away or having to travel a distance, it may be worth the move to ensure the success of your valet business.

Insurance, rules and regulations

When it comes to insuring your valet business, it’s best to compare lots of quotes to ensure you’re getting the best value for money and the proetction you need.

Our team will be able to deliver a bespoke quote to you, no matter the size of your business, so make sure to get in touch by calling us on 0192 668 0120 or click here to enter a few details and get a call back.

As far as the regulations go for operating in the motor trade, the bottom line is that you must have motor trade insurance to protect you, your staff and your business.