Go Green: Can Car Detailers Afford Not To?

By | July 29, 2017

Several years ago, I fielded enquiries from a prospective customer who wanted to get into the detail business and only wanted to purchase green products. Frankly speaking, I really did not know what he was talking about other than it had something to do with the environment. After some conversation, I decided this customer might not be worth the hassle so I passed on the opportunity.

However, today in just about every trade magazine you pick up — regardless of the industry — they are talking about one thing, a march toward everything that is green. So I began to think about “going green” and the environmental impact on detailing. Have a look at some going green car detailing tips if you are a business owner.

There is a growing demand to go green on the part of the government, environmental groups, and consumers. It is time, I think, for the detail industry to make a commitment to take our industry “green.”

Certainly, I am not a green fanatic. Rather, this is a smart business decision, and also a conscientious choice. In short, it is the way the country is going.


It doesn’t take much research to realize the truth of this position. Walk down the aisles at the local supermarket and take stock of the number of household chemical manufacturers with a line of green products. Read the Internet, trade journals, and watch TV. “Green” is the watchword today.

If this is not convincing enough for you, track the number of times your customers, at least, enquire if you use environmentally friendly products. Government and the media are driving this trend. According to one research company, the number of government-financed construction projects specifying only the use of green products has grown substantially in recent years, and that trend is spreading everywhere.

One reason for this is that green initiatives and products are being mandated at a local, regional, and even national level. This is especially true for corporations and commercial governmental facilities.

Another reason green products are specified is the desire for officials to enhance their reputation as leaders in the green movement. Consumers are increasingly aware of the environmental impact of products and are asking for, even demanding green products. Consumers also have pragmatic issues. Many have health concerns such as allergies, high-risk diseases, and welfare concerns for infants and the elderly.


Slowly detailers and car wash people are beginning to come around to the concept, but those are still in the minority. Few will attend seminars on the subject of going green, much to the frustration of industry leaders.

Go back 10 or 15 years and the attitude might have been justified. No one was really that concerned. Chemical companies did not produce green products because they were not forced to, and their customers didn’t demand them.

Today, green products are becoming available, but oh so slowly. The criticism of green products by some detailers and car wash people is that they are more expensive and don’t work as effectively. To some extent this is true, but as chemical companies put more R & D into green products you will see more effective products and, hopefully, lower prices.

Keep in mind some green products use premium ingredients and will carry a premium price. But that doesn’t necessarily mean higher costs for the detailer. For one thing, green products can increase the market value of services to consumers. You need to promote this fact in your marketing. What are you going to do if your competition starts marketing themselves as “environmentally responsible using only green products?”

You can purchase less costly chemicals, but in the long run, there are compliance issues to worry about and downtime of employees due to health problems. In short term, the customer will pay for the higher chemical costs; if you market yourself as “green” the customer will seek you out.


Be an industry leader in your area. Continue to educate yourself about green products, and most importantly, “test” the products. You don’t have to be the first one on the block to use green products, but you don’t want to be the last either. Try a few products to get a feel for how to use them. Stick with trusted brands, but be willing to experiment with new companies and products. There are many new green detail products on the market and this will continue for the next few years.

In the end, savvy detailers should recognize this trend as an opportunity to expand their business. Detailers should take stock of the opportunities presented by green products which address increasing customer concern for the environment.

It is also an opportunity for detailers to differentiate themselves to customers as a business that’s working to improve the environment. In fact, how detailers conduct their business may be more important even than the chemicals that they use. You will find customers will be increasingly appreciative of that side of the story. In other words, customers want to patronize companies that not only use green products but also embrace green practices. If you don’t, as a detailer you may well feel it in your pocketbook.