In an attempt to keep things simple and to maximize profits most detail shops operate under the package system. Customers choose their level of service from a set menu of bundles with a few a la carte items sprinkled in for good measure.

Car Pool Detail has six fully-equipped detail bays.

That is not the case at Car Pool Detail in Richmond, VA where managing partner Gina Budhai makes sure every customer is treated to a one-of-a-kind service tailored to the particular needs of their vehicle. There is no menu board at Car Pool with interior, exterior, or full-serve options, there is just Gina and her brother Garret inspecting each and every vehicle that comes on site ensuring that the customer gets exactly what they need — nothing more, nothing less.

“If you just want one seat cleaned we will clean just one seat,” Budhai says of her unique approach to detailing. “You might have scratched your door. You don’t need to have the whole car detailed to take care of one scratch. We don’t package anything. We do a very thorough evaluation of the car and find out what your needs are and discuss them with you. Based on the needs of the car we derive the service, it is not based on some template.”

While many detailers may disagree with the sales tactics of the former president of the National Association of Professional Detailing, it is hard to argue with the results. The Budhais and their staff of nine are busy from morning till night and are the go-to place in and around Richmond for particularly difficult and dirty detail jobs.

Cleaning every nook and cranny.Car Pool detailers are not afraid to go the extra mile.

The six-bay detail shop is affiliated with Car Pool Car Wash, but operates as a separate entity with its own business structure and services. Car Pool Car Wash is an eight-location exterior chain and when it decided to open a detail center it recruited the Budhais to come and run the operation. Armed with years of experience working in the family detail shop the siblings came to Richmond and instantly began making a name for themselves taking on any and all difficult jobs.

Gina is a fervent believer in the power of education and is constantly attending cleaning seminars and classes to keep her skills sharp and become exposed to new techniques. Her dedication to getting things clean in the most effective and scientific way possible was passed down to her by her father. The patriarch of the Budhai detailing family, also named Garret, started out in the business in 1980, owning and operating Car Cleaning and Restoration Specialists in Arlington, VA after a career in the textile manufacturing industry. His intimate knowledge of textiles gave him a unique advantage in the detail industry and made him an expert in interior restoration — a skill he passed on to his daughter and son.

The shop specializes in paint contaminant repair.
Late models and classics are treated
to the same exacting standards

Gina brought that knowledge with her when she signed on at Car Pool Detail and has positioned the detail center as a destination for vinyl and leather repair, odor and stain removal, and smoke and water damage restoration. Budhai’s staff will stop at nothing to restore a vehicle’s interior to its former glory, and are not interested in simply masking foul odors but rather are obsessed with removing them all together.

“We do whatever we have to do to get the car back to the way it was,” Budhai says. “If we need to pull the seats out, we pull the seats out. If the carpet needs to come out, it comes out. We are always trying to do the best job possible and don’t cut any corners.”

Budhai’s dedication to vehicle restoration doesn’t begin and end with the interior — she and her staff are equally obsessed with exterior detailing and offer a unique mix of services to meet the needs of each individual vehicle. The detail shop specializes in road paint removal, tree sap, headlight restoration, minor dent repair, paint touch up, and contamination removal.

In addition, Car Pool Detail is an industry leader in the treatment of artillery fungus damage. The paint contaminant lives in moist mulch beds and acts like light sensitive plants. The spores are attracted to light and light reflecting surfaces, such as white cars, and are shot from the mulch bed onto the car’s surface. The result is small dark spots on the car’s paint that resemble pencil points that attach themselves to the surface with super-glue like power.

“A lot of times artillery fungus is misdiagnosed as tree sap,” Budhai says. “But if you know what you are looking for it is easy to tell the difference. The fungus is a big problem up and down the East Coast and it effects not only automotive paint but is a major problem on the side of houses as well.”

Budhai gained her fungal removal expertise through a commitment to continual educational. Since her early days in the business decades ago she has been attending education training to position herself and her business as a detailing leader — long before detailer training seminars were commonplace. To round out her education, Budhai attended training sessions outside of the industry including workshops in the housing restoration sector to gain high-level knowledge of flood restoration.

“I went to lots of training,” Budhai says. “In the beginning the detail industry didn’t have any standards and certifications so I started to look at other industries for training. I took all of those classes and brought those standards into our industry. We always go out and try to find the best training and try to be the best at every service that we offer. That has been our endeavor.”

The shop utilizes the latest techniques including
steam cleaning

Budhai’s quest for training led her to become the first woman to take and pass the newly minted International Detailing Association’s skills validation test. While attending the Mobile Tech Expo in January she learned that the IDA would be conducting the first every skills testing on site and immediately signed up to be among the first to complete the examination.

“The goal of any organization is always to have some sort of credentials and to have some standards,” Budhai says. “The IDA was able to do that and of course I wanted to be involved. I took the exams because they fit right in line with all of the other educational courses that I am always taking.”

In addition to becoming one of the nation’s first IDA skills certified detailers, Budhai is also in the process of becoming a certified IDA trainer and will be passing along her distinctive detailing skills and approach to the next generation of automotive detailers.

Budhai has been training detailers her whole career and becoming a certified IDA trainer is the next logical step in her progression. Training is a daily event at Car Pool Detail, as the Budhais work side by side with their staff to ensure each and every job is completed to their exacting standards and to instill their distinctive skill set on their detailers. The commitment to employee education has paid off with a well-trained and loyal staff that is the envy of the local competition. Over half of Car Pool’s detailers have been with the company for nine years or more, a key factor in the operation’s prolonged success.

Budhai and her staff realize that each and every detail job is unique and work tirelessly to ensure that every customer leaves satisfied. Whether it is the removal of one small scratch or a full-blown restoration on a vehicle that has been neglected for years — customers get what they pay for, and only pay for what they need.