His article which was just recently featured in Auto Detailing News explains the different types of detail professionals that a customer might encounter to have their car professionally detailed.
What type of detailer do you as the customer want?
A Car Wash / Express Detailer?
The Car Wash / Express detailer is the segment that is given the hardest time, but the reality is it is where most of us got their start. The detailing industry’s low cost of entry creates a new flock of express detailers every year, so it is important to separate out the “bucket brigade” as they are sometimes called, from the professional detailers who just focus on the more economical end of the detailing world. There are a lot of vehicle owners that just could never wrap their head around spending thousands of dollars to clean their vehicle. The Express detailer lives in the $60-300 detail realm, and this is also where the vast majority of residential detailing customers exist. An experienced detailer can service between 3-10 of these customers a day depending on what service they are providing. Regular and maintenance customers also make up a large amount of the sales. Since these customers can also be serviced in a detailing shop or with a mobile unit, the ability to scale your business is completely based on your drive and ambition. The downside to this type of detailing is that is it is weather / season dependent, and it requires a constant flow of customers to make sense.
A High End / Boutique Detailer?
The High End market is where every detailer aspires to be when they start out in their detailing journey. This is the glamorous side of detailing that makes for great pictures and industry fame. The volume is low, but the average ticket price is high, sometimes very high. A single detail can run into well into the thousands and may take days to complete. There is also the added advantage of working on Ferraris, and not filthy minivans. It takes years of experience and education to even break into this category, and even more to establish the reputation for customers to trust you to spend that kind of money. High end detailing also requires very few or any additional detailers to function. The work can be done by you, or one or two other trusted employees. This keeps the profit of the business high without having to strive for huge revenue numbers. The downside is the length of time it takes to establish yourself at this level. There are far fewer of these clients to go around, so they can be harder to get even when you have been established for a while.
A Commercial Detailer?
Commercial detailers are those that focus on regular B2B work, or large corporate contracts to support their business. The number of businesses out there with a fleet of company vehicles is staggering. They exist everywhere and could have hundreds of vehicles that need to be cleaned on a regular basis. Companies with large fleets have a hard time persuading employees to clean or take care of a vehicle that is not theirs, and possibly shared with others. Large accounts like Amazon, or FedEx are constantly looking for detailers to do basic washes on the exterior of their delivery vehicles. Once you have gotten a contract, it is fairly easy to keep it as long as you are doing what is asked of you. Long term contracts and solid word of mouth advertising is all that is needed to generate work, so marketing and advertising budgets can be significantly lower than residential detailing. The downside to commercial detailing, is it often requires off hour working. Company vehicles are normally in use during regular business hours so cleaning them requires either long weekend or overnight hours.
A High-Volume Production Detailer?
Production detailers, those that work at dealerships or auctions, have always been considered the bottom of the detailing world. They get the reputation of not being good detailers or being hacks. The problem with this train of thought is that they are not offering the same service as a high-end detailer. They have an auction that can do 300+ cars a day. The service is more like an express than a detail, but the coordination, training, and teamwork that is required to produce that many auction quality vehicles every day, 6 days a week is quite an undertaking. Also, production detailers have steady work, year-round. Dealerships are constantly selling cars and need of someone to be there to clean them. The revenue that can be generated is also nothing to be ignored. A small dealership will generate $100k+ a year in revenue, and a high functioning dealership or auction can be upwards of 5 million. Since a lot of production detailers are embedded in the locations, there is very little overhead outside of supplies and labor. The downside to production world is that you get much less per vehicle and that you are a contractor for someone who probably does not think that highly of the detailing department. To make large amounts of money in production detailing, volume is the key.