Over the past few decades detailing has evolved into an industry all its own and Jim Goguen has been there every step of the way. Over the past 30 years Goguen has progressed from a car audio installer who did detailing on the side to a two-timeDetailer of the Year award winner.
Goguen entered the small business world in the mid-’80s working out of a gas station performing audio installations and dabbling in detailing. Over the years he would wear many hats and increase his service offerings, all along watching his detail business and the industry as a whole blossom. In the early ‘90s he moved Jim’s Auto Installations and Detail Center to its current location in Ipswich, MA and has enjoyed both business success and industry acclaim as a modern auto detailer that is doing things the right way.
“There has probably been more changes in the past five years in the industry then in the 30 before it,” Goguen says. “We didn’t have the Internet, or forums, or Facebook. We were just trying to figure things out for ourselves back then. Now there is a ton of information available to guys coming up that makes learning about new techniques and chemicals much easier.”
Up until the past few years Goguen had to acquire his detailing knowledge the old fashioned way, but he is more than happy to share what he has learned with fellow detailers around the country. He is on the online forums, social media, a member of various trade organizations, and has embraced the open exchange of ideas the modern digital age allows.
For his efforts Goguen is recognized as an industry leader andhas taken home the coveted Detailer of the Year award from Mobile Tech Expo the past two years. The award is voted on by detailers from around the country and Goguen’s ability to be namedtwo years in a row is a testament to his professionalism and industry standing.
“It was actually my peers inthe industry that voted me the Detailer of the Year,” he says. “That is quite an honor for me. It is not something that is customer-based or regional. My peers felt that I deserved the award which was a huge surprise both years. More so this year because I was under the assumption that you couldn’t win it twice. I was totally shocked to win it again.”
Goguen is no stranger to beingrecognized for his detailing prowess, having been chosen as part of the detailing crew that works on Air Force One three times. The project which is run by Renny Doyle from DetailSuccess calls together the top detailers from around the country to work on the aircraft at the Seattle Museum of Flight. The plane is the first jet-powered Air Force One which was in service during the Eisenhower administration. Goguen worked on the aluminum and paint exterior of the aircraft in 2007, 2008, and 2011.
Goguen was honored all three times he was chosen to participate in theproject and was excited to be able to work on a piece of American history. “As you get established in life sometimes it is not so much about making money as it is about working on cool stuff and working on a team” he says. “When you are working on projects like this you have to be extremely careful because it is irreplaceable.”
The last time Goguen worked on Air Force One the team also restored the exterior of a WWII era B-29 bomber. The aircraft, nicknamedthe Superfortress was designed for long bombing runs in the Pacific theater, and is one of the few remaining examples that still flies.
Goguen has made a career working on cool and interesting projects. In addition to providing full-service detailing his shop offers a host of automotive restyling services. The shop offers window tinting; audio installations; graphics; remote car starters; window tinting; and a slew of truck customization like running boards, lift kits, tool boxes, etc. Margins are tight in the detail trade and Goguen is able to supplement his income and keep busy during the harsh New England winter by offering the auxiliary services — making a little markup on the products he sells is an added bonus.
Goguen has a loyal following among auto customizers, working on the same vehicles numerous times as owners get inspired to add more accessories to their vehicles. One customer in particular completely reinvented his Ford pickup truck with a new interior, lift kit, and a full body wrap, among other enhancements. The truck is a work of art and won the coveted Outstanding Truck award at the World of Wheels in 2010.
With a background in car electronics Goguen has been able to grow his accessories business, while staying focused on his bread andbutter: detailing. The multiple business segments he operates feed each other nicely. Having access to late model cars in the detail shop has helped fuel his other offerings, as owners of newer vehicles are the most likely to upgrade their vehicles.
Jim’s Auto has an aggressive marketing campaign that focused on his current customer base. Over 75 percent of the shop’s marketing efforts are focused on existing customers. Goguen employs both old-school and new-school techniques to keep his customers coming back. He will pick up the phone and give a customer a call if they haven’t been in for some work in a while just to check in and remind them that he is there whenever they need him. He also relies heavily on social media and his monthly eNewsletter to stay top-of-mind with customers.
Along with the new-age, high-tech marketing efforts, Jim’s has adopted a significantly simpler approach to customer retention as well: the windshield sticker. The shop places a small sticker in the inside of customers’ windshields similar to those employed in oil change shops letting people know when they are due for their next lube job. Jim’s stickers perform a similar function, keeping the business in the minds of the customer and reminding the driver when he is scheduled to come back for the next detail.
Jim Goguen is a prime example of the modern detailer, having cut his teeth in the rough and tumble days beforethe information revolution, yet fully-embracing modern technology in his shop and marketing efforts. He has been repeatedly recognized by his peers for his stellar commitment to the trade and continues to wow customers with an increasingly diversified portfolio of detailing and auxiliary services.