Many auto detailers say that the car washes with their quicken version of the complete auto detail; the Express Detail; has cheapened the auto detailing profession and is ruining the artistic value of today’s professional auto detailing experts. I tend to differ completely from this line of reasoning. Having been on both sides of the Industry for some 27-years, I take a more observational and rational view. Let’s discuss business and free market philosophy for a moment.
Saying that fixed site car washes have destroyed the meaning of the word ‘detailing’ may be true to some extent. Yet one must ask, “Did McDonalds destroy the definition of “breakfast” when it introduced the ‘Egg McMuffin’ in Santa Barbara, CA?” Comparing ‘express detailing’ with a complete detailing service is merely another apples and oranges issue. We as professional detailers realize that there is no comparison. Why does this make so many of us angry? Do we see it is as all those years of perfection being thrown out the window? We shouldn’t; do not look at it that way. Look at it as an incredible opportunity. Channel the frustration and anger into energy and perseverance.
The fixed site car washes with their quick wax, ‘express detail’ have popularized the phrase ‘detailing’ to an entirely new group of consumers who normally might not be interested in your services prior to this introduction. It is up to us to expand upon this and take advantage of the fact that now the general workforce is buying detailing services. Sure it’s inferior, but a need, a want and desire to spend money for detailing has been formally introduced. This has opportunity written all over it as Bud Abraham said in a speech he delivered at the ICA (International Carwash Association) annual conference in Las Vegas.
Many feel that this new spin on the old terminology of detailing has adversely affected the professional detailers retail business. Fixed detailers must adapt to this market challenge or loose a large percentage of their retail detail volume and thus have their profitability affected. By differentiating their service and educating customers to the definition of a ‘Full Detail’ or ‘Complete Detailing Service’ the professional detailer is able to cater to the ideal retail customer in the middle to upper income classes. Generally members of this market segment understand the difference and are aware of the value of a real detail versus an express service. This high-end crowd can be as much as 15-35% of the professional detailers retail clientele. Let’s say that a Professional Detailer has 70% of its business in new and used Car Dealerships and other fleet customers who occasionally need detailing. Vehicles such as rent-a-cars, work vans, or sales cars for corporations and 30% in individual retail, the higher per car profit of all services offered. It is not good business sense for a Professional Detailer to simply ignore that much of their customer base, and therefore they must develop a strategy to help customers and clients understand the difference between the express service and full detail.
Some of the communication problems come into play when a customer is convinced that the $50.00-$60.00 (sometimes as low as $35.00) he or she paid for an express detail is the same service they will get when they pay a $100.00+ complete detailing service. Even when the higher price comes from a professional and reputable detailing establishment and not a 30 minute ‘express service’ from a car wash. Unfortunately unless otherwise educated, perception becomes reality. Think on this when looking for ways to set yourself apart from the competition.