Author Topic: Planning ahead - Auto Detailing this summer  (Read 5020 times)

GoStumpy

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Planning ahead - Auto Detailing this summer
« on: January 05, 2013, 09:53:49 AM »
Hello everyone!

Every winter I have regretted not doing more side-jobs during the summer for extra money... This winter I've turned my financial views around, and now I realize the power a second job has, especially one as lucrative as auto-detailing.  I've been doing it since 2004, from 2005-2007 I did it almost full-time (3 days per week) and made good money at it, with a large base of clients, it was going very well with referrals... every job I got was a referral from the last one...

Then I moved, and I lost all of my contacts, and I'm starting from scratch in a new city with little to no friends or family here... I've developed a lot of great friendships, which has resulted in a few details (3/year?). 

The part I enjoy the most, and what I focus on, isn't the cleaning part, but the near-perfection polishing... I've been using both rotary & orbital polishers since 2005 and as my Dad always said, they have become an extension of my arm... Layman terms are "power polishing"...  Here's an example of post-polishing:



I charge anywhere from $80-$100 for a basic wash, wax, interior clean, and polishing + cleaning, ie, full detail, ranges anywhere from $200 for a smaller car to $300 for a larger truck.  These jobs take me anywhere from 3-6 hours.  I try to average $50/h, that way if it goes longer I'm not feeling like I'm losing money.

Here are the issues:

- Mobile only.  I don't have a garage at home, and I can no longer use my Dad's glass shop like I used to.  I have a few glass shops around here offering, which is an option, however I feel like they should be compensated for allowing me use of their shop, key, etc...

- Time.  I work 8-5 M-F now salary, so all I have are evenings & weekends...  I've done evenings & weekends many many times, it's just draining detailing after an 8 hour dayshift, turns into a 14-16 hour day quite easily... Is this acceptable if it's only every other week on average?



So it is only January, where I live we're frozen for another 3 months minimum, I don't think I could start detailing above freezing until sometime in May.  This leaves me a finite amount of time to start planning for this year.

The first thing I should do, get business cards?  Simple "Auto Detailing & Polishing" business cards would allow me to at least market myself to people I know or anyone that asks.  I don't want to advertise too loudly, since this is a cash-only side-business...

Thoughts an opinions, questions, suggestions, all appreciated!

kudy

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Re: Planning ahead - Auto Detailing this summer
« Reply #1 on: January 05, 2013, 10:29:31 AM »
Awesome idea! My Internet marketing suggestions:

  • Build a simple brochure website (maybe with WordPress.org on a web host) - no need to have a logo or anything fancy, just a description of your services, your normal routine, hours, etc.
  • Register a Google account specifically for the business (stumpydetailing@gmail.com, or whatever) - then get a Google Voice number to act as your business phone number
  • Using your new Google account, submit your business details to Google Places, making sure to include some awesome photos (like the one in this post), a link to your website, your new business phone number, and most importantly, 5 optimized categories

A Google Places listing is crucial if you want to show up in your local area when someone searches for "town name car detailing", etc. on Google. The "Categories" are what determines if you show up for one of these searches.  1 of your 5 Google Places categories is required to be a category in Google's existing list of business types, but the other 4 can be whatever you want to include... so make sure to take advantage of the possibilities and fill in the 4 free categories with good keywords.

If you want to do a little keyword research to find out what keywords people actually use when searching for your services, check out the AdWords keyword tool: https://adwords.google.com/o/KeywordTool (make sure to log in when using it).

You can use your home address as your business address and then select the "Do not show my business address on my Maps listing" option, as well as set a service area in which you are willing to travel to come to your clients.

If done well, this can easily get your business details showing on the first page of results in the "local" section for locally targeted Google searches.

Some of this may seem too "official" for a side hustle, but I have helped set up a handyman, carpet cleaning company, etc. with this type of easy online marketing, and it works well.

plantingourpennies

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Re: Planning ahead - Auto Detailing this summer
« Reply #2 on: January 05, 2013, 10:45:34 AM »
I've thought for a while that detailing would be a perfect side business, but I have no interest in the work. Some ideas:

1.) Give cards out at local high-end repair shops (ones that specialize in foreign and exotics). Give the owner/foreman/whoever 25$ for every referral, and make sure they know that you do awesome work....they'll be happy to recommend you.

2.) Contact local car clubs-these guys are usually older, and willing to pay for services.

3.) Be an expert-I think that this field suffers from a lot of amatures with a wax pad an a bottle of canuba, and they'll beat down your prices if you let them. Think of ways you can establish yourself as a professional services, with high standards, a scientific methodology, impeccable service, etc. Its a luxury product, but you gotta market it as such.

Let us know how it works out-the more you track things and self evaluate, the better I think you'll do. I could have sworn I saw a service that offered a 1k price for a detail, but I think he was working on Ferrari's, bentley's, etc

Best,
Mr. Pop

GoStumpy

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Re: Planning ahead - Auto Detailing this summer
« Reply #3 on: January 05, 2013, 08:45:13 PM »
1) Guess that means I need to get some business cards, eh?  Since I don't know my typical high-end clientel where I live here, I took the liberty of drafting up a 1-page flyer for myself, and blanketing a high-end neighborhood on foot, tucking the flyer in unique & pleasant ways near their door.  It worked to a point, I got at least 2-3 jobs out of it, plus a few referrals from those jobs...  I completely agree that business cards at the high-end performance & repair shops is a great idea...

2) Business cards at car-shows would be a good idea, and contacting the owners of various local car clubs as well

3) COMPLETELY AGREE!  Absolutely anyone over the age of 7 can 'wax' a car, but to do it properly is a skill that cannot just be 'explained'.  I am regarded with my friends as the 'go-to guy' and expert on auto polishing, so that part is definitely a go.  I am the best polisher that I have ever seen.. I don't hide swirl marks, I remove them :)  95% of detail shops use products that 'fill' swirl marks & make them dissapear for 2-3 weeks... cars I detail look good for YEARS after!  Hard to argue with those kinds of results!

I have charged $400 for a polish/in and out detail, I think that was a Ford Excursion... Haven't done too many exotics except Corvettes & a few Porsches..  Wet-sanded an entire Toyota MR2 once... That was $800 that should have been a lot more!

Thanks a ton for the advice guys, I really appreciate it!

GoStumpy

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Re: Planning ahead - Auto Detailing this summer
« Reply #4 on: January 05, 2013, 08:49:16 PM »
Oh, and Kudy, LOL!  I used to have the domain www.stumpydetailing.com when I worked part-time at it... I had my business registered & I did all the official business tax filing... think perhaps it's worth creating a website for a possible $800/mo side income?

This was my truck, selling it is one of my biggest lifetime regrets:






Moving forward, I think perhaps an enclosed trailer with all my stuff inside would be a nice way to just 'hook up and go'?  Right now I have all my detailing supplies stored in my shed, so any time I need to do a detail, there is at least 45mins to an hour of loading, and half the time I forget something... last time it was my de-greaser :(
« Last Edit: January 06, 2013, 11:26:42 AM by GoStumpy »

tooqk4u22

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Re: Planning ahead - Auto Detailing this summer
« Reply #5 on: January 07, 2013, 10:24:47 AM »
3) COMPLETELY AGREE!  Absolutely anyone over the age of 7 can 'wax' a car, but to do it properly is a skill that cannot just be 'explained'.  I am regarded with my friends as the 'go-to guy' and expert on auto polishing, so that part is definitely a go.  I am the best polisher that I have ever seen.. I don't hide swirl marks, I remove them :)  95% of detail shops use products that 'fill' swirl marks & make them dissapear for 2-3 weeks... cars I detail look good for YEARS after!  Hard to argue with those kinds of results!

Absolutely this.  Before my "professional" career I detailed both for my own and for a company that subcontracted into dealerships - btw good source for regular business but doesn't pay as well as private.  Washing and waxing is a basic skill but quality detailing needs to be learned through experience.  The thing I loved most was taking a car that looked like a turd and making it look almost new again, the second best part were the owners of BMW/Mercedes that were will to pay for a full detail when the car basically looked new.

Moving forward, I think perhaps an enclosed trailer with all my stuff inside would be a nice way to just 'hook up and go'?  Right now I have all my detailing supplies stored in my shed, so any time I need to do a detail, there is at least 45mins to an hour of loading, and half the time I forget something... last time it was my de-greaser :(


Trailer is definitely the way to go and it can be towed with a basic vehicle, unless you have a large water tank on the trailer.  But you need to be careful about storage as you don't want it stolen.

fiveoh

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Re: Planning ahead - Auto Detailing this summer
« Reply #6 on: January 07, 2013, 11:40:08 AM »
Great idea!  I enjoy detailing my own car and have a orbital polisher but I'll be the first to admit im not the best with it.  It takes me a looong time and I still end up with some marks at the end.  I never really had anyone show me how to do it, just tried to learn on my own, guess I need more practice.  What brand of products do you use?  I've got a bunch of stuff from adams polishes that I like. 

Sorry I got a little off topic there.  I think another big resource for you could be internet forums.  There are tons of car forums out there and quite a few local ones for each city usually.  Also the larger national ones almost all have regional boards on them.  Create an account and talk to the moderator about posting about your services on there.  Most would probably let you do it for free but you could always them a free wash or something in exchange.  Those will be the people(car guys) who will want your expensive services the most.  If you need suggestions for some of the larger national domestic brand boards let me know.   

Good luck!  Let us know how it works out.  I wouldnt mind doing something similar one day a long time from now if I ever figure this stuff out. 

SunshineGirl

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Re: Planning ahead - Auto Detailing this summer
« Reply #7 on: January 07, 2013, 12:35:12 PM »
I choose many services based on their reviews on Yelp and Angie's List. I advise that you do everything you can to have happy clients give you positive reviews.

GoStumpy

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Re: Planning ahead - Auto Detailing this summer
« Reply #8 on: January 07, 2013, 01:02:37 PM »
Thanks for all the replies!

My absolute favorite is BMW/Mercedes owners as well, they have a car that looks great, but want it to look 'perfect'.  No gross seats, no gross carpet, just the high-end polishing that I love to do.  And the pay is even better than cleaning grungy carpets!

I was an active member of Autopia.org, the biggest auto detailing site around... I may pop back in there and discuss with some old friends :)

Completely decided I need business cards, and soon.

GoStumpy

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Re: Planning ahead - Auto Detailing this summer
« Reply #9 on: January 12, 2013, 09:23:10 PM »
Thought to myself, I'd love to have a trailer for all my detailing supplies & tools...

Then I realized that even a good deal on an enclosed presentable trailer is $2000.....

I cannot and will not SPEND $2000 on a trailer to detail a dozen times a year... it'd take the first full year just to pay off the trailer!

Guess I need to re-organize my detailing supplies in an easier to access manner.  That's my first job once the shed dethaws enough I can open it.

I'm going to start designing very simple business cards and shop around locally to see what prices are compared to getting them done online... 

Skyn_Flynt

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Re: Planning ahead - Auto Detailing this summer
« Reply #10 on: January 13, 2013, 07:48:31 AM »
Dunno about BC, but in the USA you can often find "Thrify Nickel" or "Weekly Penny" publications in supermarkets and gas stations. These consist entirely of services offered and items to sell. The publication is free, and the ads are cheap to place.

One ad for painters that stuck in my mind is "We show up" - an implicit acknowledgement that it's a profession that attracts a lot of flacks who can't stay organized. Just as you've explained here - come up with a phrase that differentiates your level of customer service beyond the bottom rung.

GoStumpy

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Re: Planning ahead - Auto Detailing this summer
« Reply #11 on: January 13, 2013, 11:07:55 AM »
I found Vista Print online, ordered 250 business cards for $8 shipped.... we'll see what the quality is like!
« Last Edit: January 13, 2013, 04:24:46 PM by GoStumpy »