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  1. #61
    Just a regular guy Todd@RUPES's Avatar
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    Pretty cool thread.

  2. #62

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    I`m curious. What is your wash technique like Dutrow?

  3. #63

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    Long day for me, my 1 day off a week from detailing. Go PENS and tomorrow night I will post some responses. I won`t say that I love being on the side that I am, but I do know many little detail that autopians are just passing over from not having the experience of having to detail for a living.

  4. #64

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    I`ll be honest... I only skimmed the last few pages. I`ve been too busy working this weekend to fret over any posting on this forum (as most people should be!).



    I apologize, too, Setec, if I sounded a little annoyed, but I was. It just seems to me that any thread like this that gets posted in the Professional Detailers forum gets ridiculed by "your typical Autopian" that does not do this professionally.

    It`s comments like this:

    Quote Originally Posted by Setec Astronomy
    Most members here have a passion for detailing, be they enthusiasts, weekend warriors, or pros, more than they have a passion for business.
    ... that make me defensive, because IME, the Pros that post in the Pro forum have a wonderful passion for business that rivals their passion for detailing. That`s why they do it for a living.



    I like that this discussion hasn`t gotten out of hand, even with many given opportunities. Someone else had the right idea when they said... threads like this are good for every detailer because everyone has their own techniques and no one will know time-saving tricks better than someone that does wholesale or commercial detailing.



    This passion battle between Autopian perfection and entrepreneurial spirit is constantly a fight with me, but you do what you gotta do to eat and live. I wet sanded an entire car for the first time this week because I wanted to... I needed the therapeutic release after contracting for a dealership the last few months. And I did it for peanuts... I could have charged over $1000, but I didn`t.



    As for the `commercial detailers have their chemicals and processes that make clients happy so they aren`t on this forum`... False. Yes, I have the my chemical selection and process down. I have spend hours and hours pouring over spreadsheets, web pages, and accounting slips to find the best and most cost efficient products to use. There is a lot of research that goes into detailing when it`s your business and not a weekend job. But I am still on this forum... as are many other pros in my similar situation. We may not post often because we tend to sound like parrots, but we`re here. This is one of the best reference sources for "the next best thing" or new tricks or techniques. We also post here on the Professional forum about... yep, business.



    Bah, I`m not going to blab on anymore. People don`t want to hear it.



    Great thread so far and maybe I`ll contribute a little more when there isn`t so much to catch up on.
    - Todd Schmidt -

    Auto Reconditioning Specialist

    and Master of Shine



    TS Detailing

    Wisconsin`s Premier Mobile Detailing Specialist

  5. #65

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    Detailings for different people. Some people do it as a hobby on weekends and spare time. Others do it for a living. I think if I were to do it for a living, I would try to go the Mike Phillips route. I dont know all the details about Mike and the path he took, but Id say he has a pretty cool job.

  6. #66

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    Its really interesting to me how this thread has gone. I had someone ask me about some stuff over PM and I was about to answer them, when I realized I could just share the information here.



    There seems to be a blurry like between what a lot of people consider "good" detailing, concourse detailing, mini/quick detailing, etc. Also, what a lot of people consider to be super important on here, I haven`t found to translate into things that are important to the customer in the real world. So I`m going to go over some of the steps I do that I think are important, but less glamorous than paint correction.



    ===Retail Detailing===

    Contrary to the impression I may have given people in this thread. A big part of my business is higher end work. My company is considered one of the best in the DC area. I get virtually zero complaints from customers. I hate getting complaints, they make me feel like an *******. But of all the complaints I have received, not one has been about swirl marks.

    Important Components to Retail Detailing:

    INTERIOR!

    * Customers statistically care much more about the interior than the exterior. This means:

    - cup holders - I use a neat little crevice tool that I get from Wal-Mart to get out all the dirt quickly and efficiently from the cup holders

    - that hard to reach crevices between the center console and the front seats - I use another brush from Wal-Mart that is really long and reaches down into spaces that are hard to get to. Contrary to popular opinion, I do not think compressed air or tiny vacuum attachements are the most effective and efficient way to do this.

    - Vacuuming! - Brushes are the key to vacuuming, the actualy vacuum cleaner is used more to vacuum up the piles of dirst made by the brushes.

    - Streaky Windows!! - This is the #1 complaint I used to get from customers, windows are the main thing a driver focuses on when driving a car and the main thing that pisses them off if not done right because they paid $200+ dollars and are now dealing with sun glare. In fact even the cheapest service that involves windows should never leave them streaky. If you touch the windows, better make sure they`re perfect no matter what you are charging. For windows I use a microfibre and Stoner`s Invisib le glass, I buy it in 55 gallon quantities for a 40% savings off their 5 gallon prices. The catch is I get them to send me 11, 5 gallon containers.

    - Carpets, NEVER promise a customer you can get a stain out, unless you plan on dying their carpet as a last resort. (I don`t dye carpets) I use stoners APC and stoners carpet cleaner by default and a nifty little product called FOLEX to get some spots out that don`t respond to the other cleaners. Also a solvent like stoners Xenit or stoners tarminator is good for oil based dirt and Xenit can sometimes get gum out!. I use a lot of tarminator and order it by the 55 gallon quantity as well. Folex is hard to get. The company is a pain in the *** to order directly from, so I just buy it straight from Home Depot. I always get things shipped to me when I can because a lot of overhead is involves in driving to the store to get supplies, but some things you gotta do it for. A cool trick I do with the carpets is to put alternating lines in them by puching the shampooer back and forth in alternate directions on the last pass. I got this trick from people who mow lawns. People love those lines. Also, don`t be afraid to use too much soap. Carpet soap leaves a clean smell in the car. And don`t worry if it suds a little, the suds will be gone in 15 minutes. I had one guy suggest an anti-sudsing agent, I laughed at him (I was polite about it). I use a Bissel Little Green for carpets. I like them because they are small and go into small places. They will not do as good a job as some of these big machines, but they get the job done and they are very easy to work with. I order them mainly from Amazon.com, get the heated ones. They last about 4-6 months and then I have to replace them.

    Other Notes:

    - Alchohol removes pen marks

    - Tarminator and alchohol remove rubber smudges and oil based dirt and grime

    - Be careful with basic (opposite of acidic) APC on the interior, it can destroy some leathers and other materials.

    - Never spray liquid directly on dashboard components, 1% of the time you will damage electrical components



    EXTERIOR

    This is where the debate seems to lie. I wouldn`t be surprised if some of the quick guys knew more about interiors than the concourse guys did because concourse vehicles are less likely to be trashed by toddlers.

    - Wash - Two bucket method, using Turtle Wax Ice Car Wash. Guys, I know turtle wax is supposed to suck, but this stuff is AWESOME. I mean, they`re a big company with R&D, looks like they`ve adapted and come out with something really good. This stuff prevents water spots, is lubricated, and leaves the car looking like you waxed it after you just dried it. I seriously doubt any expensive car wash is better. Though I`d be willing to give Zaino a try because you can call them and talk to Sal personally.

    - Remove bugs and tar! This is one of the most important exterior steps. You tink customers are looking for swirl marks? No, they`re looking for bugs and tar that you didn`t tremove in the wash process. I use stoners Tarminator for this. Leave it there for a bit, but not long enough to dry, when it dries, its less effective.

    - Clay - I`ve read a lot about how hard claying is. This seems to be a really easy step to me. I have Zaino clay in stock, it seems to be the best value, it was like $17 for two bars. I use car wash solution to lubricate it. I think those clay lubricants are a hack and probably dangerous because you won`t be using as much lubricant as if you had a huge bucket full of sudsy car wash soap. Claying should take not more than 15 minutes unless the vehicle has overspray, then we`re talking about a whole nother ball game.

    - Plastic and Tire Shine - This is KEY. If tires and plastic look wet and deep then the whole car "pops". I use Stoner`s Trim Shine, I purchase by the 55 gallon quantity. I do not dilute it. Spray it on, do not wipe it. It will look mily white at first, but that will settle after 15 minutes or so. If you spray on tires and plastic before you polish, then the polishing step will help remove all of the greasy product that got on the paint. Trim Shine is a silicone dressing, it will last about two weeks in normal conditions and repel even some rain. Customers have complimented me on its durability several times.

    - Polish - This is a great step and pays massive dividends to the overall look of the paint, especially older paint and oxidized paint. I don`t like wearing down a customers paint by compounding. It sounds risky to me and its not great for the paint in the long run. So I use stuff that is a little abrasive, but mostly fillers. If customers ask me about this on the phone, I TELL THEM. I say "In my opinion, its better to use fillers, it looks just as good and its better for your paint in the long run" I haven`t lost one customer off of that argument. In my opinion, compounds are for smudges from other paint. Like of the vehicle rubs up against a painted rail or another vehicle and paint is rubbed off onto theirs. Customers are tickled pink when we remove this type of damage and its pretty easy with a Porter Cable. By the way, I use a porter cable with Edge pads. The Edge pads are more expensive but seem to be cheaper in the long run because they last longer. I`m still looking for a more inexpensive alternative by the way. We do not use rotary`s at all. In fact this is a major selling point for my services. Customers always ask me "What do you use on the paint because one time I had some guy screw up my paint" I say "That person was probably using something called a rotary which can damage paint in unskilled hands, we use something called a Dual-Action Polisher which vibrates more than spins and is impossible to damage the paint with" People love that ****.



    -For my cheaper stuff, I use a one-step polish and seal by Stoners and I`m done. For my expensive one, I then apply 3 coats of Zaino Z-2 Pro. People love Zaino, its a great product, has streed cred, and you know what? its relatively inexpensive because 8 ounces will do like a bazillion cars. For inbetween stuff or when something extra is needed, but not quite Zaino or if Zaino isn`t a good option. I use stoners Bead Max. This is a polymer sealant that you can just rub in and walk away and its designed to last 6 months. Its a really awesome product.



    Notes:

    - Avoid touching the engine. If something happens to the vehicle the next day, you will be blamed for it. People rarely look at the engine while driving.



    ====DEALERSHIP DETAIL=====

    - This is the $85 detail, and in the DC Metro where things are expensive, thats saying something. The Dealership detail should take 2 hours on average, this is because the dealer should be giving you most, if not all of their cars, that way you are just sprucing up some of their already clean cars and not taking very long. Sometimes you will spend 3-6 hours on cars that are trashed though.

    INTERIOR

    - Again, this is key to the dealership detail. Customers always pick at the inside especially: Under the seats, between center console and front seats, cup holders, streaky windows. The dealership detail includes a carpet shampoo with lines left in the carpet from moving the shampooer in alternate directions on the last pass.

    EXTERIOR

    - This is where you take the short cuts. You are doing used vehciles, they need to shine, thats it. Wash the vehciles using two bucket method, do it quickly. Dry it quickly. Remove most of the tar and bugs on the vehicle by pre-spraying the affected areas with tramionator, but don`t kill yourself scrubbing, a few specs of tar and bugs left on is ok. Again, spray a silicone based dressing on the tires and plastic, this is key, it makes the car "pop" increasing the look of the vehcile and its sale value. Use the porter cable to remove any scuff marks from paint that is rubbed on - this is key, pretty easy, and holds a lot of value for the dealer. Then do a spray wax. I think my detailer prefers a Wax-As-You dry foruula by Eagle 1, but he doesn`t do it as he dries, he applies it as a separate step. I prefer stoners Spead Bead, this has cleaners in it. It will last a month or two, long enough for the dealer to flip the car. Either way, it should be a rub-on and walk away formula, none of this wax-haze-buff business.



    I get a lot of compliments on my dealership detail. The guys at the dealership said they`d never had anyone else make the cars look the way we did. Thats probably because they did not use the spray-waxes that we do. The poeple who the sales manager tried before us, charged half as much as I did per car, but used a much harder to use paste wax and didn`t buff it all off leaving hazing on the cars the next day in the sun and white marks all over the rubber trim. They did worse work and it probably took them more time. When I first started there, I had my guys polishing the cars using Polish and Seal by stoners. But with that product, its hard to see and if you don`t get it all off, if hazes white the next day. I got complaints on that, so I switched to a much easier to use spray sealant (Spead Bead) they were happier and I was happier cause it was easier and cost less in terms of man hours.



    Always invoice at the end of the day or at least each week. Get the invoice signed if possible, it can be hard to get money out of dealers.



    ===THE $30 SERVICE===

    Personally, I love this service. I think it holds so much value for someone because you pay $30 and your car is transformed. With the $30 service you do everything that is easy and has a big impact and nothing that requires you to be anal or takes any significant amount of time. A key element of this is to be upfront about what the service entails "A QUICK vacuum of the floor boards" "A QUICK wipe down of the dash" "A QUCIK wash and SPRAY wax"

    Steps:

    - Quickly Brush and Vacuum out floor boards. If seats have a lot of major dirt on them, go over those two real quck with the vacuum to get the major stuff up.

    - Wipe down dash, steering wheel, and clean cup holders (not perfect if they are trashed)

    - Wash using two bucket method, pre-spray bottom areas with Tarminator - do NOT sweat scrubbing the tar and bugs. If it comes off first pass with a little pressure, good, if not, forget it. The two bucket method should always be used and care should always be taken to make sure microfibres are relatively clean, because no matter how inexpensive the service is, you don`t want to damage anyone`s paint.

    - Spray Tires and Trim with stoners Trim Shine.

    - Spray Wax using stoners Spead Bead



    When I did this, I got day laborers to do this on the first day in an average of 1 hour and 15 minutes. At $12 per hour, you do the math. I think with practice, I could get them down to 45 minutes each. I have a lead detailer who can pound stuff like this out in 30 minutes each, he`s amazing. I pay him well.

  7. #67

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    Quote Originally Posted by Scottwax
    I have a company that does that as well but for simple one steps, I charge double what you do and all the employees tip me an average of $10. I can do 4 of them in 5 hours by myself. That works out to about $50 an hour for some pretty easy jobs.



    The market you are aiming for is different than what most of us are looking to conquer. I`ve cut back on my weekly wash customers because I can make significantly more doing details. I won`t give them up completely because that is guaranteed money each week but I`ve been able to find more than enough customers who want high end details to fill out the rest of the week.



    There will always be a place for both kinds of detailers. However, a lot of businesses that cater to your market do pretty lousy work (not saying you personally do) that hurts all of us, including companies like yours.


    Yeah, the $30 might be a little exaggeration. I charged that much because the order came in for 70 vehicles at a time.



    I agree about the lousy work. Thats part of my reason for starting this thread. I think what happens is that one person does these quick services and does them well. Other people try to do it, but can`t figure it out, so they assume that the other person is just doing bad work, or they don`t care, but they know that they have to finish in X amount of time or they don`t make money. So they cut corners and do things that aren`t good for the car. A true quick service takes a lot of finesse, you have to do all the right things well, none of the things you don`t need to do, all the while making sure you are being careful with the vehicle and optimizing your time. Then when you throw other employees into the mix, you got an operation that take quite a bit of skill to manage.



    I recognize your name and picture. I`ve read a lot of your posts and learned a lot from you. Thanks.

  8. #68

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    Quote Originally Posted by backwoods_lex
    I`m curious. What is your wash technique like Dutrow?


    Two Bucket Method using Turtle Wax Ice Car Wash. Pre-Soak with Tarminator and Stoner`s APC. I`ve found that the two bucket method is almost always faster than a hose or pressure washer unless we`re talkin wheels.

  9. #69

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    Dutrow, I have to say that the more you type, the more I respect your business model (although it`s not for me). It is clear that you understand how to run your business, and have actually ran all the figures, to figure out exactly what you need to do to be profitable.



    For me, detailing isn`t my only source of income, so I can hold out for the higher end jobs, and spend a good bit of time on them - and pass on the cars I don`t feel like messing with. Plus, I LOVE CARS, so I don`t mind spending the time to get things as perfect as I can.



    Oh, and I do agree that the majority of people that aren`t "car guys" do care more about how their interiors look, than exteriors. There are a few people that drive pigs that I will do from time to time (even though I`d rather not, and would pass on the cars if they didn`t belong to people that I care about), and the first thing they always notice is how clean the interiors are. It isn`t until I show them before and after shots of swirl removal that they are even aware that has been done...they just see shiny. I once heard a car salesman tell a customer, "Don`t worry about what color the exterior is, you spend the majority of your time looking at the interior."
    Ridding the world of swirls, one car at a time!

  10. #70

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    Quote Originally Posted by todd@bsaw
    I apologize, too, Setec, if I sounded a little annoyed, but I was. It just seems to me that any thread like this that gets posted in the Professional Detailers forum gets ridiculed by "your typical Autopian" that does not do this professionally.


    Well, unfortunately for me, I have some experience with entrepreneurial ventures, browse Autopia by hitting the "new posts" link, which shows me posts in all the forums, and I don`t really pay much attention to which forum the threads are in.



    I certainly didn`t intend to ridicule the OP, I was only responding with my opinion regarding his posit, and am now gratified that he has gotten the discussion he was hoping for. I`ll make a conscious effort to refrain from posting in the pro forum.

  11. #71
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    This thread gets better and better, one thing I love is that even if there are some disagreements as to what detailing is, should be or what the attitude of the detailer is - we all understand and get along. It sounds so simple to the average customer - I`m going to get my car "cleaned" - little do they know what processes and thought goes into our job, and more importantly - how it is changing with the introductions of new products/techniques. Personally I want each car I do to give the customer the visual orgasm they`re looking for, but, I don`t want to overdo ares that take me more time and aren`t as appreciated. BTW - Thanks goes out to David Fermeni for the carpet/interior cleaning tips!!

  12. #72

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    Dutrow, I just have a difference in opinion on this comment:

    Notes:

    - Avoid touching the engine. If something happens to the vehicle the next day, you will be blamed for it. People rarely look at the engine while driving.


    I just have to ask, why?



    I have done countless engine details at a price between $25 and $50 for maybe 10 minutes of work. I have never once had an issue or complaint. One of my dealership accounts went from an "$85 detail" to a $125 detail just because I did the engine. The sales manager loved that I did the engine and I had many of the techs and sales guys come in just for me to detail their engines.



    Sure, people rarely look at the engine while driving. They rarely look at the wheels while driving as well... same for the trunk. Not everyone is going to care if their engine gets detailed, but if they ask about it they will pay extra for it. I just think this is an add-on service that you are neglecting because of irrational fears.
    - Todd Schmidt -

    Auto Reconditioning Specialist

    and Master of Shine



    TS Detailing

    Wisconsin`s Premier Mobile Detailing Specialist

  13. #73

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    Quote Originally Posted by todd@bsaw
    Dutrow, I just have a difference in opinion on this comment:





    I just have to ask, why?



    I have done countless engine details at a price between $25 and $50 for maybe 10 minutes of work. I have never once had an issue or complaint. One of my dealership accounts went from an "$85 detail" to a $125 detail just because I did the engine. The sales manager loved that I did the engine and I had many of the techs and sales guys come in just for me to detail their engines.



    Sure, people rarely look at the engine while driving. They rarely look at the wheels while driving as well... same for the trunk. Not everyone is going to care if their engine gets detailed, but if they ask about it they will pay extra for it. I just think this is an add-on service that you are neglecting because of irrational fears.


    What do you do for an engine detail that only takes 10 min?

  14. #74

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    Quote Originally Posted by gators241987
    What do you do for an engine detail that only takes 10 min?


    I will answer for him,



    before washing the car spray the engine bay (we use a pressure washer) and the under side of the hood. Spray our APC all over the bay and scrub the dirty areas and let sit while you spray the wheels and mats down. Spray off the engine.



    At the end of the detail we dress the engine and that is it. 99% of the engines come out GREAT with just a tiny bit of work. Hundreds and hundreds of cars and we have had only 1 single problem.

  15. #75

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    Quote Originally Posted by todd@bsaw
    Dutrow, I just have a difference in opinion on this comment:





    I just have to ask, why?



    I have done countless engine details at a price between $25 and $50 for maybe 10 minutes of work. I have never once had an issue or complaint. One of my dealership accounts went from an "$85 detail" to a $125 detail just because I did the engine. The sales manager loved that I did the engine and I had many of the techs and sales guys come in just for me to detail their engines.



    Sure, people rarely look at the engine while driving. They rarely look at the wheels while driving as well... same for the trunk. Not everyone is going to care if their engine gets detailed, but if they ask about it they will pay extra for it. I just think this is an add-on service that you are neglecting because of irrational fears.


    This is definitely a debatable issue. And I think that if you can get $40 more on dealership work for an engine detail, then you should do that, thats a really sweet deal.



    Currently, I don`t have an engine waiver, if I did I might feel differently. But here is my reasoning:



    My company has done thousands of cars. Lets say the average car has engine trouble every 4 years. Thats every 1460 days. So that means every 1460 jobs that do, someones car isn`t going to work afterwards and its going to have nothing to do with me, but I`m still going to get blamed for it. But if I was never in the engine bay, then its going to be hard to blame me for it.



    I`ve done a fair share of engine detailing, and it is easy and makes the engine look nice, spray some degreaser on there, let it sit, rinse if off, wipe down a few areas, silicone dressing, and BAM, you got a nice and shiny engine. But lets face it, you are spraying water in a direction on the engine that its not made for. Best practices dictate to cover the electrical components... what if you make a mistake? What if the vehicle has components that you don`t know exist? What if water gets on them anyway? What if you are not 100% familiar with the mechanics of that specific vehicle and you screw something up? What if the vehicle has components that are just about to break and your presence there agitates them and breaks them? <---(This is probably the most likely event)



    Like I said, 99% of the time, you`ll be ok, especially with brand new vehicles, but its still risky. And I don`t think it holds a lot of value for the customer unless they are trying to sell the vehicle. My policy is that I do engines by request, but I always try to sell customers away from it over the phone, 85% of the time, I can do it. The other 15% want it done anyway. And when I do do engines, I don`t spray them directly with water, we wipe them down and then spray dressing on the Black plastic and rubber hoses. Haven`t got a complaint yet.

 

 
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