On average, a limo is 30 feet long, three times longer than a car. So that would make washing a limo like washing a car three times. Not too bad, right?
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While there are indeed similarities between detailing a limo and a car, the main challenge you will encounter is size. Due to the aspect ratio you will probably need to scale your gear. You will also want to think about how you will charge your clients for your services.
So where to start ?
Buy the right equipment
Before you start washing limos, you need to make sure that you have purchased the correct equipment for the task. When you buy the right equipment, you’ll do a better job, you’ll satisfy the customer, and ultimately, you’ll make your job easier. Here are the basics of what you will need.
If you don’t already have a pressure washer, this is a wise investment. You can start by getting an electric pressure washer, as this is a more affordable option. Most electric pressure washers on the market offer 1,300 to 1,700 pounds per square inch (psi). However, many professional detailers are switching to gas-powered pressure washers over time due to their durability and higher psi, around 2,000 to 2,800 psi. If you regularly find yourself detailing dirty limos, you might want to consider investing in a gas-powered pressure washer.
Foam cannon or gun
You already know the best way to wash and detail a car. You can probably choose to wash a limo by hand, but you’ll save valuable time by using a tool like a foam cannon, the perfect accessory for your pressure washer.
These devices mix water and soap into a thick foam and apply it at a minimum of 1,000 psi and a maximum of 3,000 psi. Foam works well for loosening dirt and grime from all surfaces. If you don’t plan on using a pressure washer on the limos, buy a foam gun instead as an accessory and use it with your garden hose.
Due to the size of a limo, it may be a good idea to purchase an extendable pole for detail work. The top of the stick features a soft chenille glove for hard-to-reach areas. This will make it much easier to dry the limo and apply those finishing touches.
It is not enough that the exterior of the limousine is fabulous. You need the interior to look good too. Purchase a carpet extractor to remove tough stains or dirt from carpet and upholstery.
Carpet extractors work by applying suction and water to lift and remove impossible stains. These tools are crucial if you plan to do a good detail job inside a limo.
Shine the limo
If you want to wow your customers, add an extra step outside. After finishing washing and drying the limo body, make sure the surface is free from any impurities. Apply your polish to create a strong bond with the clean paint. This will allow the polish to last and enhance the limo’s natural shine.
Once your polish has dried, you can wax the limo, as the wax acts as a protective coating over the entire exterior. Whenever possible, choose to wax the limo in the shade or under a carport, as waxing in direct sunlight can damage your paint.
Disinfect the interior
Since guests use limo rentals for weddings, including food and alcohol, you’ll want to make an effort to sanitize the interior for the next guest. Since limos can accommodate up to eight or more passengers, you may have a lot of work to do.
You can use bleach-based cleaners and disinfectant wipes to disinfect all hard surfaces. Use makeup brushes, cotton swabs, and cloths to detail hard-to-reach areas like cup holders, crevices, and vents. This awareness will keep customers coming back to you for service.
Make sure your team is big enough
Something that separates washing limos from other cars is the amount of work the job requires. To ensure that you can meet all of the detailing limo requirements, you will need to ensure that you have enough people working. Depending on the condition of the vehicle, you will likely need two people to tackle the task.
How to price your services
Limo details require additional equipment such as foam cannons, pressure washers, and carpet extractors, as well as workers and time to clean up. These additional necessities require a financial investment on your part. Similarly, you will need to think about how you want to charge for your services to compensate for these investments.
Billing by the hour
As stated earlier, limos are, on average, three times larger than most cars. So most limos take two to three times longer to detail. One option to consider is to bill your client by the hour at your current work rate.
Load per linear foot
Another consideration is to price your services based on vehicle size. You can choose to start by charging $10 per linear foot, which includes standard cleaning services. A simple fare for pricing is $10, as most limos are 30 feet long. At the standard rate of $10 per linear foot, your services would cost the client $300.
However, it is wise to research prices in your area. Linear foot pricing depends on a variety of factors, including location, clients, and detailing services provided. You don’t want to find you’re the most expensive limo service provider in town and get no business. But you also don’t want to find out that you’re the cheapest.
Pricing per service
If you are not satisfied with charging your customers with the previous options, you can try a pricing strategy that falls into two categories: a refurbishing price or a maintenance price.
Sometimes you may encounter a customer who brings in a scratched or damaged vehicle. After inspecting the limo, let the customer know that you can quickly improve the exterior appearance with your reconditioning service and charge them a reconditioning fee.
Set this fee a little higher, as it will take a little longer, but assure the customer that they will do the job of restoring the limo to its top appearance. After performing the reconditioning work, you can expedite the customer’s follow-up to the maintenance service option.
This service is just routine cleaning work and requires less of you and your employees. Set the maintenance service rate lower than the refurbishment price to encourage goodwill from your customers in the hope that they will come back to you for repeat service.
Offer loyalty discounts
Another way to encourage customers to return to your business is to offer discounts and loyalty rewards. Customers like rewards programs with real monetary value or convenience.
Consider offering a discounted or free itemized plan after five purchases to build customer loyalty. You can also designate a week when your company will come directly to your customers to detail their limos. Be sure to create a program that works for your client and still pays off for you.
When washing a limo, there are many factors to consider. Know that it’s not like washing another car and you must have the proper equipment before proceeding.
Also, be sure to take the time to think about pricing your services before you start. Stand behind your newly learned limo wash techniques and watch your reputation shine with customers.