High-Volume Services — Express Detailing and Car Washing
With the growing popularity and success of express detailing at car wash operations across the United States and Canada, it is surprising that so many operators miss its most obvious aspect: it is a high-volume service.
Car wash operators, more than any other business people, know what it takes to deliver a high-volume service in a short period of time:
- Enough space to accommodate the volume
- Equipment that can get the work done quickly and efficiently
- Enough well-trained personnel
The comments by a panelist at a seminar on express detailing at an ICA Show a few years ago caused me to give the issue more consideration. As I recall, the statement was: “Your ability to sell express services will exceed your ability to deliver them.”
That was an interesting thing for a car wash operator to say, since car washers should know how to handle high volume: simply upgrade your car wash equipment, add personnel, and improve operational procedures. These same principles apply to express detailing services.
MOST CAN’T DELIVER
Unfortunately, the majority of car wash operators I have spoken with are facing the same problem. They want to offer express detailing services but, in my opinion, they have not fully considered what they are selling and what it takes to deliver the service successfully.
What I mean is that express detailing at the car wash involves a number of consumer benefits that you have to consider before offering the services. Car wash operators should realize this, but they have not. As a result, many are struggling with the express detailing service.
These benefits are:
- One-stop convenience for custom-ers because they are already at the car wash and do not have the time to come back for an appointment
- No appointment is necessary
- The service is fast and can be done in 15 to 30 minutes
- Express services are offered at a low price because the car wash covers overhead and burden.
Of the above-mentioned benefits, the most important one to the customer is time. Express means fast. And if you are going to offer an express detail service and advertise that it can be done in 15 to 30 minutes, you have to deliver.
Unfortunately, many operators do not realize what it takes to deliver the service in that time frame, nor do they know how to deliver 10 to 20 express services on a busy Saturday.
To deliver acceptable express services is going to take more space than one or two bays or a canopy at the end of the tunnel, more equipment than a 15-lb. electric orbital waxer and portable soil extractor, and more personnel than a couple of car wash employees.
WHAT YOU NEED
You must have adequate space. If you are washing 7,000 cars a month, the number of express details you could generate dictates that you have the ability to work on a minimum of two to three cars at a time to make it possible to deliver the service in 15 to 30 minutes.
And, you need to have more than a couple of car wash employees. Most operators who achieve success with express detailing advise that it is important to have employees dedicated solely to express detailing services.
That leaves equipment and chemicals. To keep it simple, here is a list of express detailing equipment and chemicals:
- A central vacuum system with hose drops to each bay — these can be adapted to include a central soil extractor also — or sufficient portable vacuums.
- Portable extractors for each bay (if a central one is not used).
- Pneumatic (air) mini orbital waxer or dual-action waxer — weighs 2.5 lbs. and allows the attendant to wax a car in five minutes or two attendants in less than two minutes.
- Pneumatic rotary shampooer — weighs about 2 to 3 lbs. and allows the attendant to shampoo carpets in less than 10 minutes.
- Central distribution of chemicals — this eliminates squeeze and spray bottles, disorganization, distractions, and wasted time.
Just a word here so you will understand that chemicals do make a difference in the delivery of express services: Give care and thought to what you want to achieve and then choose chemicals that will give you those results. With that said, the following is a list of chemicals that will allow you to deliver the best service as fast as possible.
- Tar and grease remover — you must remove tar from rocker panels before waxing. It has to be part of the service.
- Carpet and upholstery shampoo — this is needed for any friction shampooing that is required for dirty carpets or mats.
- Non-foaming extractor shampoo — only a non-foaming shampoo should be used in an extractor.
- Dressing — for tires, dash, etc.
- Glass cleaner.
- High-quality one-step cleaner/sealant — certain vehicles will require some light surface cleaning along with protection, which is best provided by a sealant rather, than a wax.
- Paint sealant — this is a must instead of a wax because waxes are harder to apply and harder to remove. With time being an issue, you need a product that goes on and comes off easily. Besides, a sealant will last up to six months in some areas of the country, whereas a wax will last no more than 30 days anywhere in the country.
There you have it, a formula for the delivery of high-volume express detail services. Assuming that you have enough space and personnel and you follow the remainder of these recommendations, you are guaranteed that you will be able to deliver as many express services as you can sell.
Sharie Sipowicz is aftermarket sales manager with Detail Plus Car Appearance Systems Inc. She has been involved in the detail industry for over 20 years, both as a vendor of products and equipment and
as a hands-on operator in a retail detail environment. You can contact Sharie at firstname.lastname@example.org.