Who to use…who to use…
At some point or another, all of us are going to call upon a professional car detailer to take care of us and our car, boat or plane. Maybe you usually take care of your personal detailing needs yourself. But inevitably, someone will spill a coffee that leaves a smell and stain, a shopping cart will scuff your door or maybe swirl marks in the paint job will get too bad and you’ll need a professional’s touch.
Maybe you have been using professional car detailers but have not been satisfied. I know that most people will say that after having their car detailed they will always find something that was done poorly.
This article is about how to find that *special* someone that will take care of your car as well as you. For most people, an automobile will be the second most expensive purchase in their life, behind a home. You’d better be sure you’ve found the right person before you hand your keys over to a stranger!
I offer this information with experience as a professional car detailer and business owner. I am the owner of a detail shop that specializes in quality paint protection film and clear bra, restorative detailing and paint correction serving the greater Atlanta area.
When you first begin your search for the right company and person to take care of you, be aware that the industry has some major flaws. The majority of professional car detailers are going to be uninsured, newly formed/inexperienced or are just looking for a quick buck. There are no organizations that a quality and legitimate company will be a part of that will set them apart from those types of companies. It is completely up to you to distinguish who will be the right fit. I am going to give you information that will make it easier to decipher who’s real and who’s not.
This will be done by spending some time, on the phone or in-person, with the detailer and asking a few key questions.
Why is insurance so important? It may seem a small thing, but insurance is a safety net for you as well as the company. I doubt any company would intentionally damage a car, but it still happens. That’s why it’s called an accident. Some accidents can be paid out of the pocket and some can ruin a life. If a company does not have insurance and an accident were to occur, chances are it will effect you far more than the company. After all, it’s your car. So it’s your pocket and wallet that will suffer should an accident occur.
Why don’t most companies carry insurance if it’s so vital? The answer is very simple and I am sure you already know the answer…dollars and cents. Garage keeper’s insurance is very expensive. Many professional car detailers do not want to spend $2,000+ per year on something they feel they won’t ever use.
Garage keeper’s insurance is the most ideal type when working on cars. It completely covers a vehicle when someone or a company has taken possession of a car, in a shop or if a car must be driven, say, for a pick up or drop off. Some general liability types of insurance are acceptable. It’s best to make sure your detailer as well as you have a full grasp of what his insurance covers.
Given the chance of costing you a lot of money and headache, as well as the fact a lot of professional car detailers are not going to carry proper coverage, it should be the first topic discussed with the detailer you are interviewing.
You should outright ask them:Do you have insurance? What type? When I drop my car off(or when you come by), may I see proof of insurance? If they do not have insurance, thank them for their time and be on your way. If they are unsure of what they have, that will give you some insight as to how organized they are. Just because they are not sure of what they have does not mean they don’t have insurance and it doesn’t mean you will get a sorry job. You can make the call as to if they are going to be the right fit. In my opinion, if they are unsure of what they have, pass. If everything checks out, move on to the next questions…
2)Newly formed and inexperienced
Many people are experiencing hardships due to layoffs. Unfortunately, many are turning to cheap start-up companies to make some money. “Detailing”(and I use that term loosely here) fits the bill for many looking for a cheap start-up. They can spend $200 on a used shop vac, used pressure washer, some buckets, a mitt, soap, some brushes and a few cleaners and be in business! How exciting! ….erm…no…it’s not exciting, it’s scary.
Why is using an inexperienced “detailer” scary? Because you will be paying them to figure out what works and what doesn’t on your car! Results will be spotted and there’s a far greater risk that you will come away with expensive damage or you’ll be unsatisfied with the results. We live in a time where we all guard our money and want more bang for the buck. If you spend your money and are not completely satisfied, you’re going to be left disappointed and may end up spending more money somewhere else to get a proper job. The most expensive job is the one that is done again, and again, and again…
Think about it this way. What do you do for work? Are you good at it? Why are you good at it? Is the answer because you have been doing it a long time? Maybe you’ve encountered many bumps in the road and know what to do when you come across that odd problem or issue. You’re not intimidated by your job because you know it inside and out. Do you remember when you first started? How much more do you understand and know of your job now with years of experience? Are you worth more to your employer now than when you started? It is the same with professional car detailing. There is no substitute for experience.
You should ask questions that will test the professional car detailer’s knowledge. This is tricky because he should know more than you do. But a few well thought out questions will give you a lot of insight into the detailer. Inquire: Tell me about yourself and/or your business. How long have you been in business?(It’s up to you as to if the answer seems sufficient) How long have you been detailing(if not professionally)?(MANY car enthusiast have a wealth of knowledge and skill in detailing but were not professionals/paid for their services) What products do you use?(Search the internet for reviews on those products. A LOT of shops use cheap products that will only give temporary results and/or may cause lasting damage!) Will you educate me on how to properly care for my car after you’ve detailed it?(If he does not know how to show you how to properly care for your car, he is not properly caring for it either)
This is one aspect most people will not think about and it’s a shame. We live in a throw away society. That throw away attitude is not limited to material objects. Many companies view customers as throw away. If they make you upset for any reason, there’s someone behind you to fill the spot. You are nothing but a number. This is bad because they have no tie to you except that money in your pocket, today. If you’re not happy with the job, you will hear, “welp, that’s the best we could do.” Then comes the cold shoulder. You’ve just been replaced. They don’t have a desire to keep you as a lifetime customer. They are not going to give you the attention you deserve. You are a dollar bill and that’s all.
But not all professional car detailing companies feel that way. Some actually value you as a customer as well as an individual with individual wants and concerns.
The absolute best way to find out which type of person or company you are dealing with is to spend a little bit of time with them. What you discuss is not even that important. The truth is, if they care the least bit for you, if your more than just a number to them…they will give you their time. We spend time with our friends because we care for them and like them. It is the same with a business/customer relationship.
In my case, I encourage every new client to make the time for a free consultation. This does two things. It gives me time to find out what’s important to my client and enables me to custom fit services to them. Everyone is different and are looking to get what they want. It also gives my client the ability to get a complete understanding of my company/me and what we do that is so special. Everyone benefits.
When my services are completed I spend time with every client showing them how to properly care for their car, boat or plane. I do not set a time limit on how long I spend with my client. You’ve just spent your hard earned money having it cared for. I encourage everyone to take the time to learn more about proper car care. Knowledge is power and in this case, knowledge is $$$ too. Have a question and you’re hurting for an answer? Call me. I always have time for my clients.
My personal goal is to completely satisfy my clients, educate them and by extension, have a new client for life. If you take advantage of these tips, you can find a detailer who feels the same way I do. You will spend less in the long run, have a better looking and smelling car that is more valuable.
If you have any questions, feel free to reach out to Detailed Designs Auto Spa
By Jean-Claude Corcoran