Adding Express Detailing sets to Your Already Successful Car Wash or Automotive Business

Adding Express Detailing sets to Your Already Successful Car Wash or Automotive Business




Express Detailing is a term, which has been marketed and inevitably defined by fixed site car washes in their attempt to increase average per ticket transactions. By using express detailing as an “add-on” service for between $35.00-$60.00 they are able to up sell a $4.99 exterior wash direct mail coupon that a customer brings in to a $40.00- 70.00 charge. Their theory is sound and tends to work well for them. A car wash in and out wash which takes 10-15 minutes for vacuum, tunnel wash and dry and then another 15-20 minutes for a solvent polymer wax, with dash and tire dressing is consistent with their industry $/hour goals. Now car wash owners have gone one step further with The Blue Coral Wax Treatment.

This is a wax put on while the car is nevertheless wet, consequently eliminating the drying step. The wax is rubbed on the wet car, dries to a haze and is wiped off which dramatically increases efficiency and adds already greater revenue. consequently by speeding up the time of action they cater already more to the new consumers attitude. “I want it now”, the quicker the better, give me my detail, I have things to do, I’m outta here. Similar customer attitudes are found in the demands of e-commerce where you buy a product today and it shows up at your doorstep next morning guaranteed by Fed EX or Two day service by RPS, Airbourne, UPS, Emery Express, or Fed EX.

In a world of co-branding, point of destination strategies and co-op marketing, all industries are evolving and diversifying to capture greater profits within a single brick and mortar location or as is appearing more commonly on Internet web sites. In general much of the new thinking has been customer pushed due to lifestyle changes, low unemployment, time factors and quality of life issues of the consumer. If you look at amazon.com which now sells tapes, records and toys when before it was strictly a books sales site. It can quickly add new revenue flows by offering it’s customer base more reasons to buy more things. You to see the reforming effect of this trend? We have on-line search engines being paid million dollars from car companies and furniture companies for their industries exclusive rights to e-commerce directly on those sites. As Starbucks begins to sell housewares on their web site, and Home Depots add McDonalds inside their stores and Bank of Wal-Mart opening it’s own brand of bank within its 5 superstores; you have to think that ‘express detailing’ at car washes is simply a natural progression. Many specialized detailers would disagree saying these types of sets are different animals. Some complain that fixed site car washes have ruined the true definition of the term detailing. however if you look closely this is nothing more than true capitalism in a free market system generating additional revenues with existing resources.

Think about it for a minute. specialized Detailing Centers often do glass repair, window tinting, pin-striping and graphics, gold plating, ozone treatment, dent repair, color sanding, upholstery repair, wood grain paneling, and already after market auto accessories. These are all industries in their own right and these industry leaders with their own definitions and trade publications and accepted operational procedures complain about us offering similar sets as specialized detailers. They say we are stealing their customers and not providing the same quality workmanship as the craftsmen do in those industries, which may or may not be true. For example a person specializing in upholstery repair for twenty years can clearly do a better quality job than a detailer on fiber of almost any kind. You are affecting his bottom line with an inferior service since you don’t have 20 years experience in upholstery repair understanding the dynamics of thirty different types of fabric, dyes, and manufacturers suggestions for preservation.

Should he be mad at you for offering a greater range of service to you customers? No, the upholstery craftsman will need to have his own set of value additional sets and products he can offer to his customers such as removing and replacing seats and headliners and using the highest grade fiber and stainless steel screws. You must have a specialty or an area of skill, but you must also understand and then cater to the needs and more importantly the wants of your customer. If you don’t know their wants and needs, ask your customers directly in an informal survey or indirectly during conversations.

Saying that fixed site car washes have destroyed the meaning of the information detailing may be true to some extent. however one must ask, “Did McDonalds destroy the definition of a hearty breakfast when it introduced the ‘Egg McMuffin’ in Santa Barbara, CA?” Comparing ‘express detailing’ with a complete detailing service is merely another apples and oranges issue. We as specialized detailers realize that there is no comparison. Why does this make so many of us angry? It is all those years of perfection being thrown out the window? But do not look at it that way, look at it as an incredible opportunity. Channel the frustration and anger into energy and perseverance. The fixed site car washes with their quick wax, ‘express detail’ have popularized the phrase ‘detailing’ to an thoroughly new group of consumers who typically might not be interested in your sets prior to this introduction. It is up to us to expand upon this and take advantage of the fact that now the general workforce is buying detailing sets. Sure it’s inferior, but a need, a want and desire to use money for detailing has been formally introduced. This has opportunity written all over it as Bud Abraham said in a speech he delivered at the ICA (International Carwash Association) annual conference in Las Vegas.

Many feel that this new spin on the old terminology of detailing has adversely affected the specialized detailers retail business. Fixed detailers must adapt to this market challenge or loose a large percentage of their retail detail quantity and consequently have their profitability affected. By differentiating their service and educating customers to the definition of a ‘complete Detail’ or ‘Complete Detailing Service’ the specialized detailer is able to cater to the ideal retail customer in the middle to upper income classes. Generally members of this market part understand the difference and are aware of the value of a real detail versus an express service. This high-end crowd can be as much as 15-35% of the specialized detailers retail clientele. Let’s say that a specialized Detailer has 70% of its business in new and used Car Dealerships and other fleet customers who sometimes need detailing. Vehicles such as rent-a-cars, work vans, or sales cars for corporations and 30% in individual retail, the higher per car profit of all sets offered. It is not good business sense for a specialized Detailer to simply ignore that much of their customer base, and consequently they must develop a strategy to help customers and clients understand the difference between the express service and complete detail.

Some of the communication problems come into play when a customer is convinced that the $50.00-$60.00 (sometimes as low as $35.00) he or she paid for an express detail is the same service they will get when they pay a $100.00+ complete detailing service. already when the higher price comes from a specialized and reputable detailing formation and not a 30 minute ‘express service’ from a car wash. Unfortunately unless otherwise educated, perception becomes reality.

The problems are compounded when you throw the mobile detailer into the loop. Usually charging $60.00-$80.00 and then calling his detailing sets a ‘complete detail’. This market player is fiercely competitive for price as he attempts to establish his new business and has the advantage of on-site service. Many of these new small companies will be in business for a summer or two, or at most a associate of years. Many opt later to establish fixed sites and raise their prices due to increased capital expenditures such as a phone system, fixtures, electrical work, reclaim devises and work benches and increased overhead or rent, electricity, office supplies, water, and reclaim waste water removal. Established mobile detailers who last over two years generally develop a larger clientele and raise their prices simply because of supply and need economics. Their prices will usually be $100.00+ for a complete detail.

Many also offer a monthly program including washes, detailing sets and monthly billing. Most mobile operations have not adopted the term Express Detailing because they believe they do a better job than the car washes with regard to quality. Many mobile operations will continue the low price of their original complete detail of $60.00-$80.00, but now use the term ‘mini-detail’. This allows them to charge a complete detail price to new customers but nevertheless offer past customers and those original customers’ information of mouth referrals a low price without giving away sets. It also allows them to tap into the customers that may not be able to provide a real detail but nevertheless wish to have detailing sets for ego reasons, being able to tell friends, “I had my car detailed.” Why own a BMW if you can’t have it detailed. This appeals to the young executive on his way up the ladder.

A few mobile detailers have used the term ‘express detailing’, which adds already more confusion to the issue. “What is an Express Detail anyway?” Most of the new mobile detailers ultimately go out of business or raise prices due to environmental reclaim issues, competition, seasonal weather, without proper image, inferior learn as you go training or without of industry knowledge. Many of the new specialized detailers in our industry come from the mobile sector and they tend to price and deliver in any case they can sell to the customer, using the information detail whenever they think it will command a higher price. They will use the information detailing loosely to sell the job.

I think it would be fair to say that the information ‘detail’ has been over used for marketing purposes at fixed site car washes and has caused problems with the definition and mystique of specialized automobile detailing. It has caused havoc for those true professionals who have worked hard and sacrificed to keep the information holy for many years and have prided themselves in the most excellent service.

Many Old Time Detailing Professionals have been forced to address this express detailing issue by adding express sets to their menu of sets. This appeases the customer’s desire for quick and affordable service between quarterly of semi-annual complete detailing appointments. Sometimes this cannibalizes complete detailing sets but if done correctly it can attract new customers to your business ho will ultimately try the real thing. Once they do they will be hooked forever. By letting your customer’s experience a complete detailing service you will build your complete detailing customer base.

See the chart provided to us by Nicholas J. Vacco, a seasoned detailing veteran. These are the things most complete and complete detailing sets include:

complete DETAILING-INSPECTION CHECK-LIST

EXTERIOR:

_____ Make sure all wax is removed

_____ Check for wax dust

_____ Check emblems and crevices

_____ Check to see if chrome has been polished

_____ Check grill and all front areas for bug removal

_____ Look at rocker panels for tar

_____ Check wheels for brake dust

_____ Check white walls

_____ Make sure tires are dressed uniformly

_____ Check wheel wells

_____ Make sure wheel well lips are clean

_____ Check all bezels for wax removal and cleanliness

_____ Check windows for smears/paint overspray

_____ Look at mirrors for cleanliness

_____ Check headlights/tail lights for cleanliness

_____ Check moldings, weather striping, front air dams, bumper strips for dressing

_____ Make sure vinyl top is clean and conditioned

_____ Check wipers for overspray

INTERIOR:

_____ Make sure carpet is vacuumed

_____ Check under seats

_____ Check ash trays

_____ Check rear shelf

_____ Check carpet for stains and cleanliness

_____ Check seats for stains and cleanliness

_____ Look at door panes for cleanliness

_____ Check dash board; ac vents, gauges, radio knobs, steering column, levers, crevices

_____ Check all chrome including seat belt ends, door handles, step plates

_____ Make sure all vinyl and leather has been uniformly dressed

_____ Check headliner, visors, sail panels

_____ Check dome light area

_____ Check seat belts

_____ Make sure all pedals are cleaned

_____ Check lower dash for dressing

_____ Check all door jambs for cleanliness and tar removal

_____ Check consoles and glove compartment for cleanliness

_____ Check windows; below inspection stickers, inside rear brake lights, window tips

_____ Check rear view mirror

_____ Check vanity mirrors

_____ Make sure mats are in trunk

_____ Check to see that personal items are placed in clear plastic bag

_____ Check for plastic drivers seat cover

_____ Check for paper mats

_____ Be sure a hand-out flyer has been placed in car

——–

If a specialized detailer will simply look past customer perception that “a detail is a detail” and educate them on the differences, then that specialized will get the best of all worlds. By letting car washes introduce the idea and market to the consumers of the world, you will get free advertising. By car washes using the term detailing, already if it is out of context and already if they lower the once high standards in the minds of consumers, they nevertheless have opened the market ten fold. Now that this market is wide open and almost everyone has become in their own minds a detailing customer; it is up to the specialized detailers to show them ‘a real detail’. It is up to us to expand our retail market mix, to expand that percentage of our business’ total sales.

Once the customer experiences the difference, they will see our point and know that an ‘express detail’ is merely a glorified wash with a hand wax, some additional dressings, and perhaps some carpet cleaning thrown in for good measure. It is hardly what specialized detailers call a ‘complete and complete detail’. Once your customer has become accustomed to a real detail and received a service which has surpassed their wildest expectations, that person will be a walking, talking one-person sales army for you and every other specialized detailer in our industry. So press on! Let’s make believer out of our retail clientele one customer at a time.




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