Archived Blog Posts for Auto Detailing Business Management

Strip-1-spring

Winter is here and the likes of it will be staying around for at least 6 more weeks according to Punxsutawney Phil. If you operate your auto detailing business in parts of the country that are experiencing snow and other nasty weather conditions you should be making the best of your time by preparing for the upcoming Spring and Summer seasons. Shown below is what your To-Do list should look like:

• Develop an email for my past customers offering my auto detailing “Spring” Clean-Up services. Schedule this email to be sent out to all of my segmented lists the last week of February.

• Prepare a flyer to be included with my chamber of commerce’s monthly email or snail mailer that will be sent out to all chamber members. Offer them an exclusive winter clean-up package for all of their employees. Be sure to list my other car detailing services too.

• Schedule face to face appointments with business principles and office building managers where there are multiple vehicles parked all day. I will use my LinkedIn account and Chambers membership roster to determine who the decision makers are at these businesses.

• Visit all the automotive service oriented businesses in my area to be sure they have my flyers and business cards on their counters for the up-coming seasons. I will go and see express lube centers, tire shops, tune up shops, stereo shops, muffler shops and service repair garages and ask them if they are interested in co promoting.

Strip-2-Spring

• Make a deal with some of the better local tunnel car washes that do not offer auto detailing services. Talk to them about setting up a canopy on Fridays to offer express services. Work them out a commission for every car I detail while I am there.

• Talk to the pro shop manager at the local golf clubs about working out a referral program with him so all the golfers are made aware of my services. Offer to detail the golfer’s cars while they are at the country club golfing.

• Call my past customers that I have not heard from in a long time and see how they are doing and what I need to do to earn their business back. Offer them a free car wash to entice them.

• Meet with my web master and review every page on my web site to be sure they are optimized for my core key words for each page. Update my web site with fresh content and new images. Have my web site optimized for mobile devices.

Strip-3-Spring

• Call the local college’s student placement dept. and ask to speak to a student that knows how to make short videos and hire them to create new short videos of me performing detailing services. I need to post these videos on YouTube, Facebook and my web site.

• Set up an Instagram business account and start posting my before and after detail jobs.

• Look at ads daily on Craigslist for pre-owned vehicles that are for sale and email the sellers with information about my Sell Your Car detail package and how it could help sell their vehicle quicker at top dollar.

• Be sure I am subscribing to Detail King’s blog posts at cardetailingblog.com and getting their e newsletters so I can stay on top of my game all season long and save money with their special offers. I must also meet with my advisors to discuss everything listed in this document and up-date my business plan accordingly.

Strip-4-Spring

Being organized and preparing for the busy season that is quickly approaching is very critical. You will be setting yourself up for success if you do this now. If you do not take the steps to set yourself up for success you will be challenged to succeed. Chances are your competitors are reading this blog too, don’t let them get the edge. You are now in the driver’s seat and know what it will take to boost your revenues in 2015. Get out there and make it happen!

When you fill up your gas tank, have you noticed that it leaves your wallet a little less empty these days? Gasoline prices have been falling for the last few months, and they should continue their decline through most of 2015.The national average is expected to drop over 20% in 2015 to about $2.58 per gallon, according to the Federal Energy Information Administration. If that projection holds up, then it would mean an average savings of about .80 per gallon through 2015.

That is a lot more than just extra change in your customer’s pockets! According to a Bankrate analysis of government petroleum stats, each American driver stands to save about $452 on gasoline this year. These lower prices could pump more than $100 billion into the American economy over the course of this year. Wouldn’t your business want some of that excess $$$? The lower gas prices will also decrease variable costs for mobile detailing business, which is a welcome benefit.

Gas-Prices-Blog-Strip

What does this all mean for your auto detailing business? How could lower gas prices impact your bottom line? Well the “average Joe or Jane” that always wanted to have his or her car detailed but couldn’t afford that extra couple hundred dollars may now be able to swing it. Gear your marketing to reach out to the prospects that you may not have been able to acquire in the past. Your advertisements should focus on the money they are saving with lower gas prices and why it would benefit them to spend it with you to “protect their investment.”

The average “buy cycle” for automobiles is now 9 years, meaning people are holding onto their new car for 9 years before replacing it with a another one. You can bet they want them to look good and be worth something when they trade it in or sell it. Once they get their car professionally detailed they get “hooked.” Be sure you offer “after care” detailing services to keep their vehicles looking great year round. In business today you must think out of the box not only to thrive, but to survive!

We get calls all the time asking us to review service menus for new and existing auto detailing and mobile detailing businesses. What we are hearing and seeing is that most of the service menus we are reviewing are too complicated with too many choices. There is nothing wrong with having choices and options for your customers but you may want to “keep it simple stupid.” You will have a better chance of converting more prospects into customers by offering fewer choices on your service menu.

Kiss-Blog-Strip-2

You may want to consider offering just three detailing packages with three different price points. Have an entry level package consisting of a wash and wax, cleaning of carpets and seats, windows and mirrors with a price of $99 for medium size cars. Your mid-level detail package would include a light buff and then wax, carpet and upholstery cleaning, wet dusting and dressing of interior vinyl, and cleaning the windows and mirrors. We suggest $149 for medium size vehicles, you can adjust your price based on the size of vehicle. For your top of the line package consider offering paint correction with a poly sealant and a complete interior cleaning and detailing. For mid-size vehicles $189 would be a fair price and the customer would receive your best service.

Kiss-Blog-Strip-1

It is a good idea to offer an ala carte menu of some profitable add on reconditioning services. Headlight restoration, paint chip repair, glass repair, cigarette burn repair and even carpet dying are easy to do and yield nice profits. All of these services can be printed on the front side of your flyer or service menu. The back side may consist of hand washes and express services which we will discuss next time.

sell-your-car-get-money

An untapped, but extremely well accepted market niche would be targeting individuals and businesses that are selling their vehicles and offer them your “Sell Your Car Detailing Package.” Prospect by seeking vehicles that are for sale on craigslist and other on-line vehicle for sale web sites that you would want to detail and offer them a skinny version of a complete detail. If you are looking to increase revenues and fill in some gaps in your weekly schedule this is a way to do it!

We at Detail King actually mention this to our students that attend our auto detailing training seminars in Pittsburgh. We get very positive feedback from our students once they have had a chance to go back and execute this type of prospecting. To see how one of our top Authorized Licensees displays this service on his web site visit Bling Bling Detail KingShown below is a template you can use when emailing these prospects:

Hello,

I see that you have listed your (make & model) for sale on Craigslist. We provide professional mobile auto detailing services and actually offer a reasonably priced detailing package that should help you sell your vehicle quicker and get closer to your asking price!

Our Sell Your Car Package includes:

• Hand wash & chamois dry
• Engine cleaning & dressing
• Machine polish exterior
• Condition tires & trim
• Vacuum interior & shampoo carpets & mats
• Wet dust dash, door panels and console
• Condition interior vinyl trim
• Clean all windows & mirrors
• Apply new car scent
• Address any special requests

We understand that you probably do not need our very best detailing services because you are selling your vehicle so we developed our Sell Your Car Package to give your vehicle the grooming that it needs to make it stand out and be more marketable.

The cost of our Sell Your Car Package is based on the size and condition of your vehicle. Prices range from (publish your price range here) and is normally about half of what we would charge for a complete detailing service if you plan to keep your vehicle.

We also offer New Car Protection Packages if you are planning on purchasing a new vehicle after your current vehicle is sold. Please don’t forget to ask us about this package.

To schedule your appointment or ask any questions please reply back to this email or call us at (phone number). Remember, a shiny and clean car sells faster than a dull and dirty one, that is why car dealers detail their cars for their front line. Car dealers actually increase the trade-in value up to $1200 for a vehicle that looks and smells good!

Thank you,

(your name)
(name of your business)
(tag line)
(phone number)
(web site)

Note: Link your web site pages that host your Sell Car Package and your New Car Protection Package to your email.

 

If you own and operate your own auto detailing or mobile auto detailing business chances are you do not know what it costs to operate your business on a daily basis. You are providing a service which is very labor intense; you actually need to know what your hourly operating cost is. Once you know what it takes to operate your detailing business per hour you will be able to price your detailing jobs better and provide more accurate estimates for over sized vehicles.

Knowing what your hourly break-even cost is will enable you to determine what you want your profit margin to be per job. Detail King has prepared a simple but effective cost/profit model that will enable just about any auto detailing business owner determine what their hourly break-even costs are. You need to know if you are making or losing money on each job especially the super-sized vehicles like super stretch limousines, boats, big rigs, box trucks, etc.

Your expenses can be broken down by what’s known as fixed costs and variable costs.

cost_profit_model_pic_strips_1

Fixed costs are costs that you have to pay every month and usually are the same “fixed” amount every month. Some examples could be rent on your building or your truck or van payment. Other examples of fixed costs could be a monthly loan payment for your start-up costs or your insurance premium for your business or company owned vehicle.

Variable costs are expenses that usually will fluctuate every month. Some typical variable costs would be utilities, auto detailing supplies, office supplies, advertising, marketing, fuel costs, labor, educational expenses, equipment maintenance and repairs, uniforms, trash pick-up, gray water disposal fees, and travel expense. The list will vary depending on the size of the business and the goals of its leader.

The formula to quickly compute your hourly operating cost is really quite easy. If you use an accounting software package like quick books for small businesses then you can easily total both fixed and variable costs. If you do not have use of accounting software you can still figure your over-head out easily.

cost_profit_model_pic_strips_2

First, list all of your monthly fixed cost for a typical month and total them up. Next, list all your variable costs and take a 4 month average of those expenses. The 4 months to include for your tabulation should include 2 of your busiest months, 1 slow month and 1 medium busy month. Add all of the 4 month totals together and then divide by 4, this will give you your average monthly variable cost total.

Now add both totals together. Let’s say your fixed costs to operate your business every month total $2150 and your average monthly variable costs total $1075. Your total monthly overhead is $3225.

Now take the amount of days you work per month, let’s say 26 days per month. Divide $3225 by 26 and your average per day cost is: $124.03. Now take the average amount of hours you work per day, let’s say its 8 hours – then divide $124.03 by 8. Your hourly break-even cost is $15.50.

Now you need to determine what your hourly rate should be. Deciding what you actually want to make per hour will help you develop what you should charge for your standard detailing services and how much to estimate for over-sized vehicles. You should at least triple the value of your hourly break-even cost. So if your hourly break-even is $15.50 your “hourly service rate” would be $46.50. So you will me “making” $31.00 per hour! That beats flipping burgers for $7.75 per hour doesn’t it?

When developing a service menu and listing your services and their price ranges the prices should be based on the amount of time you think it will take you for each service times your hourly rate. So let’s say you provide a wash, clay, buff and wax service for regular size vehicles and you determine that it should take you about 2.5 – 3.0 hours. Your advertised price range for that vehicle would be $116.50. For rounding purposes you could advertise that service at $109.00 – $129.00 depending on condition of the vehicle (and or size). You would use this same formula for determining what to charge for all of your services.

cost_profit_model_pic_strips_3

If you get a phone call whereas the customer is asking “how much to detail my RV” after you get all of the particulars including the length, color, surface type, etc. you would then determine how many hours this will take you. Let’s say it is 8 hours, and you know your hourly rate is $46.50 then you would quote your customer $372. For rounding and price range purposes; your quoted over the phone price range may be $375-$425. You cannot firm that up until you actually see the vehicle. But now you know how to price these over-sized vehicles while being fair with the customer and making $31 per hour or at least a $248 profit for a day’s work. Not bad!

Keep in mind if you have to bring along a helper your hourly rate goes up so you must factor his or her hourly wage plus at least 25% for employee taxes. But you should also be able to get the job done quicker; so you can be more productive and get more detail jobs completed per day.

cost_profit_model_pic_strips_4

It is critical to understand that if your overhead is too high and you use the formula for your cost and profit model stated earlier you may price yourself out of the market. Keep your over-head manageable. A good example would be if just starting out as a mobile auto detailer and you need to buy a mobile rig, don’t purchase a Cadillac Escalade as your mobile rig, your monthly bank note payment will be outrageous! A better decision would be to consider purchasing a reliable pre owned work van for $2500 versus paying $50,000 for a pre- owned expensive luxury SUV.

If you work smart, and work hard, you will be able to buy a Caddy Escalade someday as your personal vehicle or whatever motivates you. Keep your over-head down, do great work and keep taking your business to the next level and you will Thrive!