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  1. #31
    Forza Auto Salon David Fermani's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Setec Astronomy

    If you knew anything about me personally, you would also know that I subscribe to the OP`s theory that a volume/production detailer is a required service, and that there is as much knowledge and skill required, in a different way, to be successful at that as there is to detail half-million dollar exotics.


    Bravo Setec! That`s probably one of the biggest misunderstandings on this forum. People here constantly assume, slander and talk down on people who own fixed location shops and believe that these people`s opinions/stance within the detailing community doesn`t mean much. I feel these people who constantly judge are probably the most 1 dimensional people to call themselves a business owner & probably don`t have a clue at what an entrepreneurial concept is. Personally, I hope they stay in their security blanketed comfort zone and waste away.....
    Metro Detroit`s leader in cleaning, preserving & perfecting fine automobiles!

  2. #32
    Just a regular guy Todd@RUPES's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by David Fermani
    From direct experience, Volume/wholesale detailing & Autopian style of detail are complete polar opposites. Personally, if you desire to make an unlimited amount of income, owning a successful volume operation is the only way!


    David since you have experience doing both and have (IMO) stepped up your game considerably in the last couple months, which style do you prefer? If you don`t mind me asking, how much money can a volume shop produce?

  3. #33
    Just a regular guy Todd@RUPES's Avatar
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    Also, while I focus on the high end detailing (not cars but services) I must commend the OP. His posts are very honest and well thought out and personally I would love to learn more about volume detailing for the share nature of knowledge.

  4. #34
    Forza Auto Salon David Fermani's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by TH0001
    David since you have experience doing both and have (IMO) stepped up your game considerably in the last couple months, which style do you prefer? If you don`t mind me asking, how much money can a volume shop produce?


    That`s a 2 sided question.

    I`m officially retired from "the business" and ONLY detail now for the pure love of the hobby. I only do work for a select group of people/situations and turn down work all the time.

    Honestly, I miss owning my shop and it`s probably one of the largest factors that gravitates me to this forum.

    My shop produced about a half million in revenue per year(for about 10 years). I only know of a few shops that do the same or more. Most are alot less.

    I find it almost impossible to generate that amount of revenue without doing volume work (dealerships). For someone to do this doing "high end" work, you`d have to have a large staff/large building and charge ALOT of money.
    Metro Detroit`s leader in cleaning, preserving & perfecting fine automobiles!

  5. #35

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    Quote Originally Posted by DutrowLLC
    About 99% of what I learned about detailing aside from trial-and-error, I learned from this forum. However, I`ve noticed that this forum is heavily weighted towards a boutique brand of detailing that in my experience:

    * Is much more difficult

    * Has lower profit margins

    * Is less scalable



    I am an entrepreneur by nature. I did not get into this business because I like to clean cars. I got into this business because I like to do something new every day while I pay other people to clean cars (not that I don`t like getting outside and cleaning cars every once in a while, just not every day)



    I`m writing this thread to see if there are any other people like me on here, and to see if a dialog can be opened up for us to share our experiences, hints, knowledge and know-how.



    A few examples of the kinds of things I do:

    * I avoid services that someone cannot learn how to do in a few days.

    * I NEVER tell customers I will remove scratches or do wet-sanding. I tell them very light scratches will probably be removed or be less visible. I do this because:

    a) It is difficult to communicate to a customer over the phone what kinds of scratches a detailer can and cannot remove and customers have a strong statistical likelihood of under representing the damage.

    b) Most calls I get are from people wanting their cars to look shiny and nice and to clean out the interior that has been trashed by their two year old. Customers who are looking for a detailer experienced with a rotary and wet sanding are, in my experience, a statistical minority.

    c) Proper scratch removal requires a high level of skill as well as assumption of risk. In my experience, it is much more profitable to operate to stick to jobs that are easier, less risky, less expensive for the customer, and more straight-forward.

    * I NEVER use a rotary. Rotaries require a high level of skill and are risky. It is hard to train someone new in a reasonable amount of time to use a rotary. (I use Dual-Action Polisherers)

    * I offer low-cost services in bulk. I use day-laborers for a lot of the wholesale stuff.

    a) Quick washes, spray-waxes, vaccuum, and Dashboard wipe-down for $30 (minimum of 10 cars)

    b) Auto dealerships

    c) vehicle fleets

    d) calcium/cement deposit removal for parking garages (2/3 posts I found on cement removal suggest using vinagar which doesn`t work very well, I use something that dissolves it on contact)

    e) The kicker for all this is I make a lot of money doing this stuff. Using advice and methods on here, I`d have to charge much more and make much less.

    * I have computer software that I wrote myself that handles my scheduling. It uploads a calendar online so that the detailers can view what they are scheduled for and download and print out job information and invoices for the customer. I`m currently having a better version of this software developed my someone else.

    * I use chemicles and products that work very well in my opinion, but seem to be vastly cheaper and easier to use than anything reccommended on here. (Seriously people, why would you want to work just to pay for your supplies and equipment?)



    Some of the products I use are:

    * Turtle Wax Ice Car Wash

    a) Eliminates water spots

    b) leaves paint glossy

    c) costs $6.99/ gal @ Costco

    d) I saw some clown on here offering some boutique car wash that looked like it did the same damn thing on this site for $30/gal.

    * Stoners Products! - I order the cleaners in 5 gallon drums, 55 gallons at a time for the 55 gallon drum price. Shipping is free East side of the Mississippi and usually comes the next day. This company is awesome, they actually develop and manufacture the products themselves. (Stoner is your factory direct source for professional detailing products and car wash chemicals & supplies.)

    -) Bead Max (straight polymer sealant, aerosol can)

    -) Spead Bead (polymer sealant w/ cleaners, aerosol can)

    -) Polish and Seal (One step)

    -) APC (heavy dillutions)

    -) Wheel Cleaner (heavy dillutions)

    -) Trim shine

    -) Tarminator

    -) Window cleaner

    * Microfibres from Costco

    * Odo-Ban from Sams Club

    * Detailing brushes from Wal-Mart ( sells brushes that work great for cup holders and another that is awesome for the crevice between the seats and center console)

    * Zaino - (A good value, in my opinion, for our higher end stuff)



    My Question:

    - I have a lot of questions, but the one I was looking for the answer too that got me side-tracked writing this post is:

    ---Where the heck do I get good polishing pads for cheap???---

    I feel like polishing pads are such a rip-off. They wear out too fast for my taste and cost too much to be just a stupid pad. Right now I use EDGE pads which I think are expensive, but they last longer. I used to use the ones with the velcro backing plates and the backing plates would get all full of gunk that I couldn`t wash off and quit sticking to the pads. I feel like pads should cost a lot less than they do.




    This website has some of the best detailer in the world, it also has a bunch of money motivated conveyor belt owners, which are not very good detailers, which side of the line do you stand.

  6. #36

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    I actually find this thread very interesting for a number of reasons. When I first bought my WRX in 2002 I got heavily into detailing through Autopia and doing everything the "perfect" way. One summer back from college I began working at a "detail shop" this was a fixed location with a very small 1 bay garage. Much of the work being done there wasn`t that great and it was work for the general public around here. Not many exotics but we did get our fair share of BMW`s, Mercedes, Porches and what not.



    After spending some time there I gave many suggestions to the owner from switching to a PC from a rotary because he was putting holograms in the car, to using stoners products for many things. The quality of work improved but it wasn`t autopian standards, yet when you need to move more cars to make money to live you can`t spend hours and hours detailing 1 car.



    6 Years later, I am working with the same person but we have moved into a large shop with a showroom, room for 6 cars inside the garage and a used car dealer license. With 3 of us working we pump out about 5 cars a day or so and we just moved into the new shop in December. I KNOW that many autopians probably would scoff at a large fixed location like this but just like the OP, the owner needs to make a living and this is how we do it. If we didn`t push the cars out as fast as possible then he would go broke.



    Just like the OP, we buy our products in bulk, we have 55 gal drums of all of the major stoners products and we buy bulk cheap microfiber towels. Yet the cars we do still turn out pretty great. If John Doe comes in with his 2002 BMW 5 series that he takes his kids to sports all times of the year and has built up a ton of grime and gunk on the inside, and taken his car to car washes at least once a week, he is not looking for Autopian perfection. We can take that BMW and make the interior look brand new, we will work on the exterior but why spend hours and hours on paint correction when John Doe doesn`t care?



    Yes we also detail high end cars if they are brought to us, we have a Ferrari Marinello we clean every few weeks and we spend about the same time on just touching that car up that we do on a full detail on a trashed car.



    As for the quick wash and vac`s, we don`t do those. We really do want the customer to be impressed with their car and while I have washed and vacuumed some cars and they have looked 100% better at that point, we really try to please the customers. Just like the OP, if we aren`t pleasing the customers and giving them what they feel is the best value then we are not satisfied.



    So while we might not take as much time on the little things that some Autopians would, we strive to please the customer and to increase our profits and reduce costs. We buy in bulk in some places but we also have some high quality equipment. I doubt you will find many if any autopians with the hot water extractor we use.



    I have seen both sides of the coin. I personally have had a hand in changing the shop I work from where it was before to putting out higher quality details. I can assure you that on the interior the work we do is top notch. On the exterior it just depends on how bad the paint is.



    On another note, to the OP, we too have trouble with pads wearing out too fast. We used Meg`s pads and they really suck and its annoying how fast they wear out. Also since you are really pushing speed and quality, we have found that by attaching a scrub brush to an additional PC that we have we can scrub floormats and interiors extremely fast and better than any hand motion can.



    We don`t do many volume dealers unless we are running slow days. We deal with a number of dealerships and because we have a used car dealer license we have plates we will take to the dealer and pick up cars. Usually we get around $110-$125 per car from a dealer whereas the regular prices are higher. We can`t really compete in the car wash market, we are on an extremely busy road that has a chain car wash on it that takes those customers, not that we want them really anyhow, although many cars we detail have the chains coupons in it.

  7. #37

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    Quote Originally Posted by MakitaNinja
    This website has some of the best detailer in the world, it also has a bunch of money motivated conveyor belt owners, which are not very good detailers, which side of the line do you stand.


    Since when did there have to be a line? You do realize this thread is in the "Professional Detailers" forum. If you look around many of the threads are about businesses. While MOST of the people who detail professionally seem to have a full time job, there are those who detail as a career. I hate to break the news to you but for any professional there has to be some motivation of money, otherwise we would all do it for free!

  8. #38

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    I`m truly glad (and more than a little surprised) that this thread hasn`t, uhm... degenerated to the point of getting locked.



    It *has* occurred to me that the reason this type of detailing might be under-represented here could be that it`s simply *not* the kind of detailing that forum members are interested in. This community is based on a commonality of interest and I had wondered if it would stretch this far. Seems like maybe it can and IMO that`s good.



    Repeating myself...it doesn`t have to be an either/or type of thing. The jobs I do on service loaners and rentals sure aren`t the same as the jobs I do on my good vehicles, but that doesn`t mean they`re *bad* jobs. And somebody doing the best they can with the resources they have (e.g., time) doesn`t mean they`re doing bad work either. Heh heh, in my area a pro who only did Autopian-level details would get about three jobs a year.



    2k2blackWRX- I enjoyed reading how you`ve ratcheted things up at your shop :xyxthumbs That`s the sort of thing I think is happening at the detail shops in my area.



    Just out of curiosity, which extractor *do* you use? (I have a Century.) I usually find that the commerical equipment folks like you have is money well-spent and though not a pro, I sure enjoy using pro-level equipment as it often just works better.



    DutrowLLC- Long-lived pads: The orange polishing pads that Griot`s Garage sells (different from the usual orange light-cutting pads) wear like iron. They`re fairly gentle despite being quite firm and oughta be OK for moderate correction and one-step jobs. Problem is that Griot`s has such high prices that these are probably not feasible for a commercial situation. Still...if you could find them cheaply they`d be great for what you`re doing.



    Likewise, if your shop used Cyclo brand polishers, I find that their "standard" green foam pads last quite a long time too. They do loose a little bit of their original cut, but then they stay OK for ages. We used each set for a long, long time back when I had the dealership.



    Oh, and I *will* :nono you a little for saying that "..some clown on here.." was selling a shampoo you think might be comparable to what you use. Besides that you haven`t used it and thus don`t really know about it, I`d suggest you ixnay on the name-calling as he`s just trying to make a living too If you wanna call somebody a clown you can pick on me for posting on the Professional forum as much as I do

  9. #39

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    Quote Originally Posted by Accumulator
    I`m truly glad (and more than a little surprised) that this thread hasn`t, uhm... degenerated to the point of getting locked.



    It *has* occurred to me that the reason this type of detailing might be under-represented here could be that it`s simply *not* the kind of detailing that forum members are interested in. This community is based on a commonality of interest and I had wondered if it would stretch this far. Seems like maybe it can and IMO that`s good.



    Repeating myself...it doesn`t have to be an either/or type of thing. The jobs I do on service loaners and rentals sure aren`t the same as the jobs I do on my good vehicles, but that doesn`t mean they`re *bad* jobs. And somebody doing the best they can with the resources they have (e.g., time) doesn`t mean they`re doing bad work either. Heh heh, in my area a pro who only did Autopian-level details would get about three jobs a year.



    2k2blackWRX- I enjoyed reading how you`ve ratcheted things up at your shop :xyxthumbs That`s the sort of thing I think is happening at the detail shops in my area.



    Just out of curiosity, which extractor *do* you use? (I have a Century.) I usually find that the commerical equipment folks like you have is money well-spent and though not a pro, I sure enjoy using pro-level equipment as it often just works better.



    DutrowLLC- Long-lived pads: The orange polishing pads that Griot`s Garage sells (different from the usual orange light-cutting pads) wear like iron. They`re fairly gentle despite being quite firm and oughta be OK for moderate correction and one-step jobs. Problem is that Griot`s has such high prices that these are probably not feasible for a commercial situation. Still...if you could find them cheaply they`d be great for what you`re doing.



    Likewise, if your shop used Cyclo brand polishers, I find that their "standard" green foam pads last quite a long time too. They do loose a little bit of their original cut, but then they stay OK for ages. We used each set for a long, long time back when I had the dealership.



    Oh, and I *will* :nono you a little for saying that "..some clown on here.." was selling a shampoo you think might be comparable to what you use. Besides that you haven`t used it and thus don`t really know about it, I`d suggest you ixnay on the name-calling as he`s just trying to make a living too If you wanna call somebody a clown you can pick on me for posting on the Professional forum as much as I do




    I posted in another thread but we use:







    Thermax DV12

    The Therminator DV12 is Thermax’s newest industrial steam cleaner, which aggressively removes dirt, grime, odors and other embedded pollutants with unmatched efficiency.



    * Powerful dual two-stage vacuum motors (165†water lift) for faster cleaning, increased recovery speed and quicker drying time.

    * Built-in 1800-watt solution pre-heating system for quick, uniform temperature control (up to 175Â).

    * 11-Gallon hygienic stainless steel solution tank.

    * 12-Gallon large capacity recovery tank with automatic overflow protection shut-off and waste gate empty system.

    * Single 25` power cord for one circuit operation.

    * High-impact, chemical resistant housing with conditional lifetime warranty - virtually indestructible.

    * 100 psi high-efficiency demand solution pump (65-psi pump option available for auto detailing).

    * Engineered for mobility and stability, tip resistant operation.

    * Built-in dolly handle for greater control and maneuverability.

    * Large 8†rear wheels make it easy to go up and down stairs.

    * Marine sealed switches.




    The water is so hot that some of the metal parts on the hoses will burn you and we have to cover them up. The tanks are large enough to do a full day of detailing on one fill, although I have been known to use 3/4 of a tank on a bad minivan.



    Our old one would leave cars damp for hours if not days. This one sucks so well that seats are dry within 30 minutes of cleaning them.

  10. #40

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    2k2blackWRX- Thanks for the info. That single-plug design must be handy, I have to give some thought to which outlets are on which circuits or I overload things with my Century.



    And yeah, fittings hot enough to burn ya = nice hot water all right! The first time I got careless, well, it was a bit of a surprise



    Being able to get things dry in a hurry is the sort of thing that high-volume shops can teach the rest of us :xyxthumbs



    Quick isn`t always a bad thing...I cobbled together a DIY nozzle for my extractor to speed things up even more as the factory nozzles left things a little too damp for me when the vehicle had to go right back into service. Time will tell if the nozzle`s small opening is making my extractor`s motors work too hard, I`m keeping my fingers crossed.

  11. #41

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    Accumulator - So, I didn`t expect this thread to stir up so much emotion, otherwise I wouldn`t have made the "clown" comment. And you`re right, I haven`t used the $30 car wash, and I`m not going to. But my guess is that you`d be hard pressed to find something better than the Turtle Wax Ice Car Wash that I get for $6.99/gal at Costco. And it does get me a little emotional when people try to sell me things for a price multiples higher than I could get it elsewhere, these are the kinds of people who kill entrepreneurs. I should also note that the Turtle Wax Ice Car Wash is hard to find at that price. Over the winter, Costco stopped selling it, and the next closest I could find was $7.99 for 1/2 gallon purchased by case from a distributor.



    MakitaNinja - You asked me which line do I stand on? Well, let me make one thing clear first. Ego and Insecurity are death to an entrepreneur. These things allow a man to be manipulated and/or swayed from what is his primary purpose: to grow his business and turn a greater and greater profit. That being said. Its not a black and white issue, most things are not black and white issues. A good analogy is that I try to be the Chipotle of the detailing industry. Did you know that Steve Ells, the founder of Chipotle is a 5 star chef? His dream was to start a 5 star restaurant and be the lead chef/owner and pioneer his own menu. But he realized that 5 star restaurants are risky and the demand for them is low, so he started Chipotle as a "cash cow" to finance his 5 star restaurant. I don`t know if you`ve ever eaten at Chipotle, but the food is a good value. The ingredients are all fresh and healthy. The food is tasty, comes fast, but also pretty cheap. He applied his 5 star knowledge of foods to create his fast-food concept. He`s now one of the richest people in the country. He doesn`t have his 5 star restaurant though because his goals have changed. Instead of creating a 5 star restaurant that only a few priviledged could enjoy, he created a healthy, tasty fast-food option that in my opinion is superior to almost all other fast food.



    I look at a lot of the hard core detailers on here as 5 Star Chefs of detailing. What I try to do is adapt that information and knowledge to create services for customers that provide good quality for an affordable price. I call this concept "value"



    mcc - Yeah, I feel your pain. I`m always freaking out that one of my avenues of income will dry up and screw me. I have this concept that I call "liquidity" in my head. It means decreasing the number of variables that can change that will have a direct impact on your business. When I got my first car dealership account, I almost immediately started thinking about getting more. The money was good, but what if the dealer decided to go with someone else? How would I sustain my income and keep my promise of employment to my employee? What if the employee I had serving the dealer flaked? How would I keep my promise to the dealer? If I was doing 5-10 dealerships, not only would I be rolling in dough, but my stress level would be lower too because I would not be sweating any one individual client. If they switched providers or didn`t want to agree to my terms, then sianara! If one guy flaked, I could just move one of my many other guys to that account and then start some of my other detailers training a few more guys and then cherry pick the best one. The idea of getting business in only one way or from only one client freaks me out.



    As for hiring employees, this is HARD. Probably the hardest thing I`ve had to figure out how to do. The best things I can tell you is that: 1) Its a numbers game. You have to interview and work with a whole bunch of people, like 20, to get just one good person. But one good person is a cash cow. 2) You have to interview people out on the job and turn a profit or at least break even doing it. I interview people at the job site, I have them do work the first day, and I pay them. In the likely event that I won`t hire them, I want to still make sure I didn`t lose money off them and hopefully made a little. 3) If you`re out at your sites doing your $30 services now and you get overwhelmed, I suggest using day laborers. They work hard under supervision and do what you say. Plus, they always show up for work because even if the same ones from yesterday aren`t at the 7-11, there will be new ones. Pretty soon you will have a pool of candidates to choose from and enough poeple you have previously worked with will be there. Thats when the money really starts to get good, because if you turned a profit off them the first day, imagine how much money you`ll make when they get the hang of it and start working faster and more efficiently? 4) I pay people above industry standard. I HATE dealing with problems weather they be customer complaints or anything else. I tell my people "I like my serenity" I don`t want any problems, they get paid well because they should be smart enough and hard working enough to do a good job every time and deal with any X factors that pop up along the way. They do this because the money is good and they like me and appreciate me because I pay them well and always have their back. 5) Pay using commission when possible. I give my detailers a minimum hourly wage just in case a job takes much longer than expected, but for the most part, detailers get paid a set amount per job. This motivates them to work more efficiently. They don`t dottle along draining away my money on a per hour wage. And they earn me more money because they learn how to do more work in less time meaning their output is higher. 6) Do NOT tolerate any excuses for lateness, or inferior work. My detailers are paid to arrive on time, do a good job and make the customer happy EVERY time. If that doesn`t happen in its entirety, I DON`T CARE why. People are wizards at making up good excuses.

  12. #42
    JAFO Junebug's Avatar
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    I detail on the side and for family and friends, co-workers, etc. I have learned a lot about products and techniques here. For all that, I`m very thankful to Autopia and to all the members that I`ve bugged for advice! Reading this thread got me to thinking, really deep thoughts about how I do details and what my "customers" actually want. Basically, they want a clean, shiny car. The extreme I take things to since I first started has reached it`s peak. I no longer try to make every detail into a show car or even take it to "my" way above the norm standard. I`ve learned that it`s better to polish less, fill more and to try to get my customers to agree to a 4-6 week quick wask/wax. I supposed this had to happen sooner or later, but the final straw was spending a hour and a half on a set of dirty rims that the customer just glanced at and said "nice " ( I scrubed the inside part back to silver).



    The other part to this is price of products. I`ve started using rebadged CG chemicals and Megs detailers line instead of the higher priced boutique stuff. I love Menzerna but I found I can get things done with IP and FFII and my 106 is sitting unused. My wife and I have fairly new cars and they in excellant shape so all we may do is experiment with some wax, with Souveran being the limit. So I gues in some folks eyes I`m not a real autopian (whatever that means) or I`ve turned into a hack - whatever! If the customer is happy, and I`m not killing myself for 10 bucks an hour then everything else has the weight of a fart in a tornado.

  13. #43

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    DutrowLLC- Perhaps I was sensitive about the shampoo vendor because I find it necessary to use an expensive shampoo, which wouldn`t be cost-effective for a Pro. Different horses for different courses and all that.



    Quote Originally Posted by JuneBug
    .. I no longer try to make every detail into a show car or even take it to "my" way above the norm standard. I`ve learned that it`s better to polish less, fill more ..


    Heh heh, I commend you for daring to post that here at Autopia At least your customers might still have original paint if they keep their cars for decades.



    Welcome to the "Autopian Heretics Club" :wavey

  14. #44

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    Quote Originally Posted by Accumulator
    DutrowLLC- Perhaps I was sensitive about the shampoo vendor because I find it necessary to use an expensive shampoo, which wouldn`t be cost-effective for a Pro. Different horses for different courses and all that.







    Heh heh, I commend you for daring to post that here at Autopia At least your customers might still have original paint if they keep their cars for decades.



    Welcome to the "Autopian Heretics Club" :wavey


    I feel ya.



    Out of curiosity, what does this shampoo do?

  15. #45
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    Quote Originally Posted by DutrowLLC
    I feel ya.



    Out of curiosity, what does this shampoo do?


    Generally, higher quality shampoo has higher lubricity thereby reducing the possibility of swirls appearing during the wash step. Also, higher lubricity will make removing dirt easier reducing the possibility of introducing swirls at that step as well.

 

 
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