Archived Blog Posts for January, 2014

Just about anyone can start their own auto detailing business. Some have started just with a bucket and a sponge and call themselves a professional auto detailer. Those types have not helped the reputation of this industry and actually have hurt it in certain instances, especially when they have driven the prices down and have done shoddy work. Typically these folks have no formal detailing training, did not attend an auto detailing school and are just trying to make a few bucks in between job employment. They generally do not have plans to invest in their future because it is a short term cash generator for them. This may of worked for them in the long run but they did not invest in any formal training hence did not realize the opportunity that could have been.

Learning how too properly and professional detail a car is only part of what you need to know if you really plan on starting a mobile car detailing business. Even if your detailing business is a part-time venture due to both family and financial obligations you should still get some education so you do it right! Many individuals start out part-time and invest in obtaining some good training so they can build a nice income stream. This new revenue stream can be a steady supplemental income or if you set your goals to eventually leave your job once your detailing business ramps up you could have an opportunity of a lifetime. Always keep this in mind – Every vehicle on the road is a potential detail job for you, you just need to develop a plan to reach-out to their “drivers” and offer a “best value” service for the various types of prospects. These prospects will vary from the senior citizen on a fixed income who really cares about preserving the vehicle they own to the corporate CEO that wants his or her car “spruced up” every week. See the potential? It’s enormous!

When choosing to enroll in an auto detailing class or attend an auto detailing training seminar be sure it offers both hands-on detailing training and training for the “business side” of operating an auto detailing business. Typically in this industry there are many really great “craftsman” but very few good “businessmen.” Most know how to detail a car and make it look like new but miserably fail when it comes down to operating the business and growing it to its full potential. A top-notch detailing class will teach you what you need to know with regards to; developing a business plan, choosing your business structure (S Corp, LLC, LP), permits and licenses needed, obtaining business insurance, developing a marketing plan, utilizing social media, having a web site and using good SEO practices, branding your auto detailing business, developing a data base and managing it, booking appointments over the phone, determining your overhead and profit margins, estimating and up-selling, how to obtain reoccurring revenues and referral customers, getting and staying organized, hiring and compensating employees, tools to manage inquiries, appointments and phone calls. Plus a whole lot more.

The hands-on curriculum of the detailing class should inform and educate you with the proper methods and procedures to professionally and proficiently detail a vehicle. The methods and procedures are very critical. If you do not learn these your details will either take unreasonably too long to perform or you will not be performing them well and your end product (the finished detail) will not be up to par. Your details not being up to par will lead to earning a bad reputation and a lack of revenues. Choose an auto detailing course that emphasizes proper methods and procedures and can educate you how to provide profitable; exterior detailing services, interior detailing services, engine compartment cleaning, and auto reconditioning services like headlight restoration, paint chip repair, plastic trim restoration, carpet dying, auto interior repair and odor removal. If you cannot afford the training that offers the auto recon services at least get trained how to detail a vehicle inside and out so you can start making some money right away.

 

Exterior detailing training should be comprised of the vehicle wash up and prep, paint correction, paint preservation, dressing and conditioning, finite detailing, window cleaning, final inspection and customer presentation of the finished product. There are many steps that encompass what is mentioned in the sentence above. Having a good reference check list and auto detailers inspection check list will help you remember what to look for and to execute the steps needed. Start out practicing the exterior detailing services on family and friends vehicles after you finish your training. Just after a few practice cars you should have enough confidence built up to actually start making money by acquiring customers.

Interior detailing training should be comprised of complete cleaning and detailing of the vehicles interior cabin including: cleaning of the headliner, sun visors, dash board, console, door panels, pockets, pedals, cracks, crevices, seating surfaces, steering wheel and column, carpets, mats, vinyl trim, leather trim, chrome trim, gauges, mirrors, and windows. Training should not only teach how to clean but how to condition the vinyl, leather and weather stripping. Special attention should be given to sued and microfiber interiors and the differences in the types of leather and seating upholstery. Proper use of a heated carpet extractor, automotive ozone generator and vapor steamer would also be part of the training components.

Learning the proper methods and procedures from the very beginning will save the detailer labor time and supply costs. Please keep in mind labor is the most expensive “cost” of the detail. Not knowing the proper way to professionally detail a vehicle will consume too much time and produce inferior results. Invest in a good training program, it will pay for itself just after a few detail jobs completed. Be sure to check out the student testimonials from graduates of Detail King’s auto detailing training school in Pittsburgh, PA.

The Winter weather season so far has been horrible around the nation. Tons of sand and salt have been tossed around on the roads and it will truly affect the appearance of a vehicles exterior and interior. Not only will the recent weeks of bad winter weather affect the appearance but the salt and sand will strip the shine, create chips in the paint and severely reduce surface protection. Many vehicle owners will wait until Spring to have their vehicles thoroughly cleaned, polished and protected. So prepare for a very busy Spring season. But there are many vehicle owners who will Not Want to wait and are concerned about the wrath of what mother nature has caused. These individuals are “prime targets” to promote your “Vehicle Winter Survival Package” to. So Don’t wait until Spring, promote this package now – send out emails to your customer list, post on your social media channels, send text alerts, etc.

Your Winter Survival Car Care Package for the exterior could possibly consist of; power washing the undercarriage, hand washing the exterior with special attention to wheels, door jams, bezels and trim, claying the painted surfaces to remove invisible pollutants stuck to the surface and applying Aqua Seal for a quick layer of protection and shine. For the interior I would recommend a thorough vacuuming to remove sand and salt, carpet and mat extraction to remove salt and dirt stains and finally a quick spruce up of the vinyl components using the Tornador to clean the vinyl and Pearl Gloss to enhance the appearance.

The Winter Survival Car Care Package should be an easy way to generate revenues for your very best customers who take pride in the appearance of their vehicles. This service should typically take no longer than an hour if you have 2 auto detailing professionals performing the service. For the exterior besides a pressure washer to power wash the  underside you will also need a good wheel degreaser, tire and whitewall cleaner, car wash soap, and an express poly sealant. To clean the interior your arsenal should include a powerful car cleaning soap to clean the carpets, mats and vinyl components. So you will only have about $1 allocated in supplies and 1-2 labor hours, making this a very profitable express type detailing service. For an average sized vehicle like a BMW 3 series a fair price for your Winter Survival Package could be $79.95. For smaller vehicles $69.95 and for larger vehicles $89.85. Of course for over sized SUV’s and conversion vans you may want to include a $20 surcharge.

Detail King now offers a Winter Survival Car Care Kit that includes one quart each of our: Citrus Degreaser, Tire and Whitewall Cleaner, Black Cherry Car wash Soap, Aqua Seal wet surface polymer protectant, Magic Cleaner and Pearl Gloss interior dressing. You can also add the Tornador Classic, Tornador Foam Gun and an economy priced electric Pressure Washer if needed. Offering a Winter Survival cleaning and detailing service to your customers should generate revenues that you may normally of not acquired during these winter months. You must “set the stage” and get the word out to your customers that your detailing business is now offering this New express detailing package. Be sure you mention the benefits along with the features when speaking to your customers.

The benefits certainly greatly outweigh the reasonable cost of this service. Salt deposits left on the carpets can lead to permanent staining of the fibers and will need to be cleaned soon after the salt dries. Salt and sand will splatter up against wheels and the painted surface and left unprotected will begin to leave small rust deposits that will eventually penetrate through the clear coat layers and create rust along with an unsightly appearance. Be sure to educate your customers about these negatives and how you can fix them and keep their vehicle’s protected for the duration of the Winter Season.

Operating as a mobile auto detailer can be very lucrative. People today are just too busy to take their car to someone and leave it there perhaps for the entire day. They may have problems finding someone to drop them off or pick them up or they simply just do not want to sit around for hours in a waiting room. Having a mobile auto detailing business allows you to go right to the customer’s home or work place. The mobile auto detailing business owner is has a lower overhead and start-up costs are usually more affordable.

Mobile detailers usually operate their detailing business out of a van, pick-up truck, trailer or cube truck. If you decide to go with a van it should be used, white, at least a ½ ton model (2500) and not showing a lot of wear on the outside. Never buy new when starting out. You can get a half decent pre owned van with still a lot of life in it for under $5K. Be sure you get commercial insurance for the vehicle, because you will be using it for business purpose. You should be able to fit everything in the van. Be sure you letter it up good or even wrap it, to make it noticeable.

You may also want to consider a good used cube truck, or a reconditioned U Haul truck would be perfect! There is lots of room on the sides and back panels to advertise your business and the services you provide. If you make it look good it will stand out and get noticed. Plus there is a ton of room inside for your detailing equipment and supplies. Keep in mind you will need a pressure washerwater tankcarpet extractor, plus a high speed buffer and orbital polisher. It’s a good idea to purchase about 4 or 5 large plastic bins to keep your detailing chemicalspolishesapplicatorsdetail towelsdetailing brushes and other miscellaneous auto detailing tools stowed and secure. If you are going to operate your mobile detailing business close to a large body of water like a lake, river or ocean you must be sure you are not allowing your wash water to be discharged into any storm drain. Detail King offers eco friendly low pressure washerscar wash water containment mats and water reclaim system so you can operate your business and be compliant with your city’s car washing regulations.

If you already have a pickup truck then considering a mobile detailing trailer or mobile car wash trailer may be a no brainer. Detail King carries 4 different models on enclosed and open bed trailers with various equipment options. The bed of the pickup truck can be used to store your bins, which contain your supplies and detail tools. You may want to consider installing a fiberglass lid or tonneau cover on the bed of your truck to keep the contents protected against the elements and theft. Open bed mobile detailing trailers typically consist of a commercial grade pressure washer, water tank, 50′ of pressurized hose and a generator to operate the power tools and vacuum. A 60 or 90 gallon water tank is all you really need unless you plan on doing commercial fleet washes, then you may want to consider a 200 or 300 gallon tank. You may also want to consider using a vapor steamer to assist with interior and exterior car cleaning. If you plan on using your personal pickup truck for business and also pull a trailer be sure to let your insurance company know you need a quote on a commercial policy. See if your insurance company can also insure the business by offering you an umbrella policy that would cover the vehicle, the trailer and its contents and the vehicles that you are working on.

You can establish weekly accounts at office building and business industrial parks where you are there the same day and time every week. You will find that there are many individuals that want their vehicles washed weekly and even detailed monthly or bi monthly. Work with the property managers of these office buildings to allow you on their property to serve their tenants. Your services may be an added benefit for the property management company to offer their tenants. You must be reliable and do outstanding work on every vehicle, every day! Operating mobile has advantages of running your detailing business out of a shop because you can take your “show on the road” and practically go anywhere to make money. Be sure you acquire the proper permits in the municipalities that you work in. And always get permission from the office building management if a customer requested your services directly from you. You may need $1,000,000.00 worth of general liability insurance to set up on some of these office building properties, so get a quote for that amount when shopping for insurance. General Liability insurance (slip and fall) does not cost that much, but you need it in case a customer get injured by possibly tripping over a cord or hose.

If you live in a climate where the temperatures never really get too cold then you can provide your mobile auto detailing services year-round. If you reside in the northeast for example you may want to rent a bay in a car wash or some other auto type shop (car repair shop, lube business, tint shop, etc.) for the winter months. Some detailers operate out of other states for the winter months like Florida or California and build up a diversified clientele for 4-5 months out of the year. Many smart mobile detailers bank enough money during the good weather so they don’t have to work too hard during the winter. But what they actually do is work on obtaining new business by attending networking events, chamber of commerce meetings, cultivating their territory and setting up accounts with office building and condo complexes.

Every car on the road is a potential car detail for your business! From the little old lady from Pasadena to the high powered corporate CEO. They all need your services, you just need to provide a service that is affordable for that little old lady and a program for the CEO that wants his Mercedes washed weekly and detailed every month. Set up the services, determine the pricing and cultivate the various niches. Before you know it you may have acquired numerous commercial accounts and retail customers that are booking appointments with you on a regular basis. Also as your business grows and your customer base increases with volume you may need to roll out another mobile unit. But let me caution you, do not make that move too early and only have someone operating that second unit that has been working with you for a long time and someone that you can trust with your customers and their automobiles.

If you are serious about starting a mobile detailing or mobile car wash business you should really consider attending a Detail King Training Seminar. We teach you what you need to know about starting, operating and growing an auto detailing business. We have been doing this since 1999 and can be a great business partner to assist you with taking your current detailing business to the next level. Tip #7 will discuss how important it is to be trained properly not on for the hands-on detailing side of your business but also for the business side!

Social Media is the future of communication, a countless collection of internet based tools and platforms that increase and enhance the sharing of information. This new form of media makes the transfer of text, photos, audio, video, and information in general increasingly popular among internet users. Social Media has relevance not only for regular internet users, but business as well. Any new or growing auto detailing business should have a social media marketing plan in place.

Social Media Channels like Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter have created online communities where people can share as much or as little personal information as they desire with other members. The result is an enormous amount of information that can be easily shared, searched, promoted, disputed, and created. Your auto detailing business really needs to be represented someway with the more relevant social media platforms. Facebook and LinkedIn can work very well if managed properly.

Using Facebook: A good Facebook presence can help you engage your fans and grow your auto detailing business. But with so many ways to promote your detailing business on Facebook, it’s hard to know where to start. Your Facebook Page is your business’ home base on the social networking site. A Page is a lot like a regular Facebook profile, but for brands and businesses. You will interact with Facebook users through your business’ page, so make sure it truly reflects your brand. Use your car detailing business logo as the primary photo for your Page, and pick a cover photo that is attractive and showcases what your business does. Type up a few snappy sentences to describe your brand, and choose a memorable Web address. Facebook Page URLs appear in the form of www.facebook.com/(yourbrand).

It’s not enough simply to have a Facebook Page far your car detailing business. To rack up followers you’ll need to create worthwhile, interesting content for your fans. Users who like your page will see your posts show up in their main Facebook news feed, so get cracking. Let all your customers know about your page, have them like it and they can be your advocates and help promote your band. You can share updates, photos, videos, promotions and a lot more. The most successful Facebook posts – the ones that drive the most people to comment, share and like – are short and visual. Look for ways to add a visual element to your posts, whether it’s a short video clip, a photo from inside your store, or just stock art. Traditional marketing techniques can help you grow your audience beyond your existing following. That means advertising your Facebook Page’s Web address on signs in your store, on your business card, in emails you send, and on any other marketing materials you produce for your business.

Facebook offers is a tool that allows you to create coupons that can be redeemed at your detail shop or online. For a fee you can also have Facebook push your offer onto the news feeds of users who don’t already follow your detailing business. By establishing a budget you determine how many users will see your offer. Promoted Posts allow you to boost the visibility of any Page update. For a fee, your post will appear near the top of news feeds belonging to potential customers. New customers are more likely to try your detailing business if their friends already have used you. Facebook lets you leverage word-of-mouth to promote your products or car detailing services. Keep in mind that when a fan interacts with your Page, their friends will see the activity in their news feed. Facebook also offers traditional advertising options that let you position your custom ads in users’ news feeds. The ads appear as promotional posts and direct anyone who clicks straight to your car detailing business website. Because Facebook collects heaps of user data, it can target your advertisement to users who are most likely to be interested in your car accessory products or auto reconditioning services.

Using Google: Taking advantage of pay per click advertising and using Google for a social media presence will help your auto detailing business grow in ways you never thought possible. Pay per click ads also known as “sponsored listings” are ads on Google that are positioned at the top of search pages and also on the side. You are only charged for your ad if someone clicks on it and you can decide what you want to pay per click for each key word. For recently launched web sites or web site with poor page ranking these ads can really help drive relevant traffic to your web site. After polling several auto detailing businesses that are using Google pay per click advertising the general consensus is that the phone rings a lot more! Let’s say you are paying $1.00 per click for the key word phrase “mobile auto detailing” and you are getting 5 clicks per day. If your web site is informative and your prices are competitive you phone should ring at least 2 times from those five clicks or at least they would request information on your web site if you have a “call for action” to request more information. Be sure to look into Google AdWords and Google Local and see if this type of advertising can fit into your budget. Be sure to track your results and take advantage of the free tools Google has to offer to better optimize your advertising campaign.

If you do not have a Google+ page for your auto detailing business now is the time is NOW to make one. Google+ has already passed Twitter and is gaining on Facebook. We strongly feel that having a Google+ page for your detailing business will help your business get noticed more online. Google is now publishing conversational content from Google+ pages in their search results. This will bring more visibility to your business and help the search rankings of your web site.  We also realize that maintaining all these social media sites can be timely. There are reasonably priced online apps that can help you easily update and maintain your social media channels. HubSpot is one that we really like here at Detail King. Take advantage of what Google has to offer, it can help your business grow online and offline.

Using LinkedIn: LinkedIn provides a great opportunity to connect with customers and identify new leads. It may be a good idea to have LinkedIn accounts for both your company and yourself as a business owner. LinkedIn has special “Company Pages,” which allow LinkedIn users to “follow” your auto detailing company, and you can create a profile that clearly details your company’s expertise. On your personal page, you can still share company news about your detailing business , but you should also use it as a springboard for leveraging personal relationships with LinkedIn members who know you personally. Recommendations are awesome for instilling confidence. Auto detailing business owners shouldn’t be shy about asking loyal customers for recommendations about their services or products. However, you want to make sure your requests don’t backfire by leading you to lose customers.

If you have recognized that there may be an opportunity with a company in your area but are having a hard time reaching the decision maker, do a search on LinkedIn and once you determine who the “players” are send them a message about who are you are what your detailing business does. Sometimes making contact through “the back door” is the only way to get to the decision maker. The basic LinkedIn account is free. If you opt for an account with more robust features the upgrades start around $20 per month. If you use LinkedIn proficiently to obtain leads and establish important contact $20 is a mere bag of shells!

Using Twitter: Think of Twitter as a relationship-building tool for your auto detailing business. Twitter enables you to interact with people by sending short messages. It can also be thought of as a “micro blogging” service, which means you can post short, 140-character updates about your detailing business. By interacting with customers via Twitter, you’re keeping your business foremost in their minds — especially when it’s time for a hand car wash or auto detail for their vehicles. The most obvious business use of Twitter is to meet potential customers and leads the same way you would at a networking event, tradeshow or car show. Ask your customers if they are on Twitter and if so, ask them to follow your Twitter business account.

You can also use Twitter to develop and promote your brand, interact with your customer base, track what people are saying about your auto reconditioning business, create buzz around upcoming events and special offers and generate sales leads for your detailing business. You can also use Twitter to promote new car reconditioning services, a new product,  or a new hire, even new equipment that you added to your arsenal and so much more! Twitter helps you develop relationships with bloggers and journalists for potential public relations placement. Auto detailing businesses today need a well-rounded mix of social medium marketing, and Twitter is much more than just a way to sound off. Use Twitter just as you would with your Facebook fan page. Develop a following and engage with them! The whole game plan is to keep your company high on their list as a choice merchant. Always ask your customers if they have a twitter account and mention that they should “follow you” for special offers and secret sales.

Using Instagram: Facebook paid 1Billon dollars for Instagram, there must be something to this! With Instagram on your phone, you’re able to share your work immediately, without having to load it into your computer and possibly spend time in Photoshop to get it exactly the way you want it. What a better way to show off your work of vehicles you have detailed. Here are some tips professional auto detailiers are using to promote their business with Instagram:

Connect your Instagram account to your Facebook account – Facebook and Instagram users are very connected, they share photos they post on Instagram and Facebook. Connect both accounts and cross pollinate those accounts to build your audience.

Use popular hashtags – People follow hashtages like they do popular products. You can use witty hashtags like #TheDirtiestCar and entertain a bunch of people or use something like #BeforeAndAfter to show off your work!

Use your established audiences – This is classic social media strategy. Use your Instagram photos of cars you have detailed  where you already have audiences established. Be sure to use the photos on Facebook and twitter and even in your emails. There is nothing better than displaying a before/after picture of a car you recently detailed that was so horrible and you made it look like new again!

Host events – Companies are using efforts of their clients and subscribers to host events on Instagram. For example your auto detailing business can host an even on Instagram asking people to share photos of their favorite vehicles.  Classic cars and muscle cars are always favorites especially if you have established a niche in that area. Use hashtags like; #LoveCorvettes or #LoveTransAms. Any niche that you have established can be promoted even more to grow that niche through Instagram. There are tons of other ways to use Instagram to promote your brand. Be creative and think out of the box to take advantage of this tremendous opportunity to show off your work!

Using Pinterest:  If you are you interested in getting more traffic to your site? Then consider using Pinterest.  The experts are saying that Pinterest drives more referral traffic than LinkedIn, Google+ and YouTube combined. In order to take advantage of this, Pinterest users first have to be attracted to your pins and repin them to their boards. The most successful pins on Pinterest have some traits in common. They combine great images with content to solve a problem, inspire, offer something desirable or appeal to interest in a hobby or activity. This doesn’t have to be difficult or expensive. For example, let’s say you have established certain niches that your auto detailing business does well with. Possibly you have detailed many Corvettes and you are the “go to” guy or gal to detail a person’s Corvette. Establish a business page on Pinterest and begin posting Corvette pictures of the Vetts you have detailed. Other Corvette enthusiasts will easily be able to find you once the cars that you have detailed are repined. Before you know it you will have many Corvette owners contacting you to detail their Corvette. Women make up over 85% of Pinterest subscribers. Women love clean car interiors, you may want to show some great before/after pictures of some real nasty car interiors that you have cleaned. Offer a “lady’s day” special for car interior cleaning and detailing services through Pinterest!   Be sure you always publish relevant content with your pictures that you post. There are some really cool tools that will let you measure the reach of your content on Pinterest. The Pinterest Pin Count tool will show you the number of times a page or blog post from your site has been pinned and repinned within Pinterest.

To create and manage a successful social media marketing program for your auto detailing business will take some time. Don’t get discouraged if you are not seeing results right away. Just like anything else, this will take some time too. Be patient and set aside an hour or so every day to keep your social media channels updated and looking as good as the cars you detail. Tip #6 will be out in a few days, be sure you check back to the Detail King Blog again soon!