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Car valeter: Pricing policy

When you come to setting your prices, remember that you must be able to cover your costs, overheads and drawings. It's important to be realistic about how many vehicles you can valet in a day - assuming that you get the work - and then make sure that the price you intend to charge is enough to make it a viable business. However, be aware that the car valeting industry is competitive and you may have to price in line with your local competitors unless you are targeting a niche market that they do not cater for.

Car valeting is time consuming and labour intensive, so make sure when you set your prices that you will be working for a reasonable hourly rate. The same goes for any staff you employ - be sure that you will earn a reasonable margin for the business on top of the wages you pay them.

Most valeting firms set a fixed price for a range of services such as a standard valet, a full valet or an interior valet. Prices generally reflect the size and type of the vehicle, and unusual vehicles may need to be quoted for individually. An extra charge might be made where the vehicle is particularly dirty. Extras such as an engine clean or alloy wheel refurbishment are usually priced separately. If a car is to be collected from and returned to a customer's home or workplace, then a separate charge is often made for this too. The exact amount you decide to charge may depend on the going rate, so check to see what your competitors charge. Your customers will not be prepared to pay much over the odds for a service that they can easily obtain elsewhere. Think about how often you will review your prices.

Decide whether up-selling will be part of your business and pricing strategy. For example, you might decide to offer a very competitively priced 'mini valet', but to try to sell customers additional services such as paintwork polishing or engine steam cleaning. Take care not to irritate customers though by trying too hard to sell them services they don't want.

If you offer extra services, such as small paintwork touch-ups and SMART body repairs (small to medium area repair techniques), it's probably best to assess each job as it comes in and agree a price with the customer beforehand. Experience is necessary to estimate the extent of the work required and set a fair price. Only undertake jobs that you are confident you can complete quickly and effectively.

If you're going to offer premium services like paintwork correction and you think you'll be travelling around the country to customers' homes then you'll need to take into account your travelling costs when working out your prices. A big detailing job on a high-value supercar may take several days, so you'll need to budget for overnight accommodation too.

Special offers and discounts

Decide whether you'll offer any discounts, promotions and special offers.

You may well offer a discount as a matter of course to your trade customers. How much discount will depend on your pricing policy and the level of local competition. You could offer further discounts for valeting fleets of vehicles or to customers who have their vehicle valeted on a regular basis. You might decide to offer special promotions from time to time, and perhaps a loyalty scheme.