Adding Express Detailing Services 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 still wet, thus 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 even greater revenue. Thus by speeding up the process they cater even 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 driven 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 previously it was strictly a books sales site. It can quickly add new revenue streams by offering it’s customer base more reasons to buy more things. You to see the revolutionizing 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 professional detailers would disagree saying these types of services are different animals. Some complain that fixed site car washes have ruined the true definition of the term detailing. Yet 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. Professional 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 even 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 services as professional 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 obviously do a better quality job than a detailer on fabrics of almost any type. 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 array of service to you customers? No, the upholstery craftsman will need to have his own set of value added services and products he can offer to his customers such as removing and replacing seats and headliners and using the highest grade fabrics and stainless steel screws. You must have a specialty or an area of expertise, 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 word detailing may be true to some extent. Yet 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 professional 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 entirely new group of consumers who normally might not be interested in your services 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 services. Sure it’s inferior, but a need, a want and desire to spend 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 professional detailers retail business. Fixed detailers must adapt to this market challenge or loose a large percentage of their retail detail volume and thus have their profitability affected. By differentiating their service and educating customers to the definition of a ‘Full Detail’ or ‘Complete Detailing Service’ the professional detailer is able to cater to the ideal retail customer in the middle to upper income classes. Generally members of this market segment 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 professional detailers retail clientele. Let’s say that a Professional Detailer has 70% of its business in new and used Car Dealerships and other fleet customers who occasionally 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 services offered. It is not good business sense for a Professional Detailer to simply ignore that much of their customer base, and therefore they must develop a strategy to help customers and clients understand the difference between the express service and full 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. Even when the higher price comes from a professional and reputable detailing establishment 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 services a ‘full 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 couple 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 demand economics. Their prices will usually be $100.00+ for a complete detail.Many also offer a monthly program including washes, detailing services 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 full detail of $60.00-$80.00, but now use the term ‘mini-detail’. This allows them to charge a full detail price to new customers but still offer previous customers and those original customers’ word of mouth referrals a low price without giving away services. It also allows them to tap into the customers that may not be able to afford a real detail but still wish to have detailing services 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 even more confusion to the issue. “What is an Express Detail anyway?” Most of the new mobile detailers eventually go out of business or raise prices due to environmental reclaim issues, competition, seasonal weather, lack proper image, inferior learn as you go training or lack of industry knowledge. Many of the new professional detailers in our industry come from the mobile sector and they tend to price and deliver whatever they can sell to the customer, using the word detail whenever they think it will command a higher price. They will use the word detailing loosely to sell the job.I think it would be fair to say that the word ‘detail’ has been over used for marketing purposes at fixed site car washes and has caused problems with the definition and mystique of professional automobile detailing. It has caused havoc for those true professionals who have worked hard and sacrificed to keep the word sacred 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 services to their menu of services. This appeases the customer’s desire for quick and affordable service between quarterly of semi-annual full detailing appointments. Sometimes this cannibalizes full detailing services but if done correctly it can attract new customers to your business ho will eventually try the real thing. Once they do they will be hooked forever. By letting your customer’s experience a full 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 full and complete detailing services include:FULL DETAILING-INSPECTION CHECK-LISTEXTERIOR:_____ 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 evenly_____ 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 oversprayINTERIOR:_____ 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 evenly 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 professional detailer will simply look past customer perception that “a detail is a detail” and educate them on the differences, then that professional 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, even if it is out of context and even if they lower the once high standards in the minds of consumers, they still 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 professional 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 extra dressings, and perhaps some carpet cleaning thrown in for good measure. It is hardly what professional detailers call a ‘complete and full detail’. Once your customer has become accustomed to a real detail and received a service which has exceeded their wildest expectations, that person will be a walking, talking one-person sales army for you and every other professional detailer in our industry. So press on! Let’s make believer out of our retail clientele one customer at a time.

What Is Automotive Paint Protection Film?

Paint protection film is a layer of thermoplastic urethane applied to the painted surfaces of an automobile to protect the paint job from chips, splatters, and small abrasions. Is is also commonly used on airplanes, motorcycles, electronic, cell phones and other electronics. Almost all automotive manufacturers have approved the usage of paint protection film on vehicles. It is also commonly referred to as Clear Bra which was the original manufacturer.It is recommended by manufacturers to entrust the application of the product to certified Vinyl Wrap and Clear Bra professional shops as the installation requires unique skills and techniques to get it to look right and last the life of the film. Many Window Tinting and detail shops also perform the installation.The primary purpose of Clear Bra is to prevent scuffs, rock chips and other types of vandalism which cause damage to a vehicle’s paint and body. It is commonly applied on the front facing portions of cars, trucks, and SUVs. It may also be used on the full body of a vehicle to provide maximum protection for the vehicle’s factory paint.Originally developed for use in military applications, it is now commercially available for public use. The automotive industry took note of the benefits offered by the paint protection film and began applying it to race cars to protect the expensive carbon fiber and fiberglass bodies. Originally the film was thicker and tough to install because the thick film was designed to protect helicopter blades from sand erosion.The film available on the market today is specifically designed to be flexible and conformable to a vehicle’s body. There are many options available in the market with specific types manufactured primarily with the technical capability to offer top level protection and even self-healing capabilities.Why use Paint Protection Film?Scratches on brand new or well-maintained vehicles not only destroy the look of your car, truck or SUV, they reduce the resale value. To prevent a car from suffering at the hands of vandalism or road debris, paint protection film is the perfect solution.Clear Bra has the strength to withstand the hazards on the road such as debris, rocks, sand and cement. It will shield the areas on the vehicle where it is installed and keep the body looking like it did the day you applied the film. Many of the premium films have self-healing properties so the film will heal itself when damaged by scratches and cracks. Another great application is to protect your vehicle from children playing near the car and scratching the paint surface with their toys.Which Paint Protection Film Brands are the most trusted?The most reliable brands of paint protection film on the market today are the original Clear Bra, 3M, Suntek, and Xpel. Xpel and 3M are the preferred films used in our shop due to their self-healing properties and industry leading warranties. In addition to full rolls of film, many of these manufacturers offer the DIY enthusiast pre-cut kits that are unique to a vehicle’s make, model and year.Today there is no shortage of cheaply made films imported from places like China and India and sold on sites like eBay and Amazon. Always be wary of any material that does not come from a reputable manufacturer. Cheap paint protection film will not protect your vehicle, and often the cheap adhesives used in this type of material will damage your factory paint when you attempt to remove it.How is It Applied?There are many types of installation for paint protection film. Most installers do not have plotters. Therefore they have no choice but to apply the fill directly from the roll and cut the material to length on your vehicle. Reputable installation shops that have invested in plotters use specially designed software to create a pattern for the shape of the panel on which the film is to be installed and have it plotted or cut with precision. A plotter can also be used to modify the cut pattern to fit custom patterns such as aftermarket body kits and bumpers.A popular installation technique for the DIY customer is a pre-cut kit. A pre-cut kit can be ordered by your vehicle make, model, and year and comes ready to install out of the box. The downside of a pre-cut kit is if you damage one of the sections of material during installation, you’ll have to purchase an entirely new kit. Pre-Cut Kits are also not available for any custom parts you have on your vehicle such as an aftermarket bumper, body kit, or spoiler.When you are looking for a Clear Bra installer, it is imperative to select a reputable shop with good reviews. The installation requires cutting near your car, truck or SUV’s paint with razor blades. An impatient or unskilled installer can quickly cause substantial and irreversible damage to your expensive vehicle.Where can the Film be Applied?Paint protection film is manufactured to appear practically invisible to the naked eye to maintain the appearance of your vehicle. It can be applied to any area of the car however it is mostly recommended for portions of the car that are susceptible to damage. The most common areas are the side mirrors, front bumper, and hood of your vehicle. Another area that Clear Bra can be used is door edges as they are prone to wear and tear from the constant opening and closing. Protecting door edges offers an excellent shield against chipping and scrapes which often happen in parking lots.It may also be applied to door handle cups because they get damaged from constant use. The scratches and scrapes can are prevented through the application of an invisible film of Clear Bra on the door handle cups.Benefits of a Paint Protection FilmClear Bra is flexible and stretchable as well as long lasting. It is almost invisible and can be molded to fit any surface of the vehicle. It seals the painted surfaces to give a long lasting glossy appearance and shiny exterior. Clear Bra is a branded self-healing coat which is resistant to scratches and cracks. It puts up a tough defensive front to damage of any kind which in inevitable when it comes to cars.

2011 Ford Fiesta Enters US Market

Due to the fact that consumers automotive tastes and need differ from country to country, it is not uncommon for car manufacturers to offer different cars in different markets. For example, BMW produces and sells a 1 series hatchback which is absent in the U.S. market. Similarly, the Ford Fiesta has been in production since 1976 but has not been sold in the U.S. since 1980. Ford has recently announced that it plans to bring the car back to its home country.The Ford Fiesta to be sold in the U.S. will actually be produces in Mexico and is planned to enter the market in late May. Other than a few minor changes to meet safety regulations, the car should be very similar to the one sold in Europe. The car will come with a 1.6-litre four-cylinder engine under the hood which will produce about 120-horsepower. This should be sufficient given that the car only weighs around 2,500-2,650 lbs., which depends on specific model and options. The car will be great for those trying to spend a small amount of money on a car that will provide them with excellent gas mileage. So far news is that it will be available in four-door and five-door versions.With a price tag starting at $12,999 for the base model, the Fiesta will prove to be tough competition for cars like the Honda Fit and the Toyota Yaris. All the Ford Motor Company has to do is market it well and get consumers to drive the car and high sells will follow.