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Redefine the details

October 11, 2010
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When potential or returning customers enter an area of business, their mind automatically begins to stir with emotions and judgments.

A detail shop owner needs to be aware of this and cater to visitors' tastes and preferences.


When a customer enters a restaurant and orders a burger, he or she begins to think about and expect a certain taste based on how the burger looks.

Humans naturally judge things by what they see and hear. Owners, or those in charge of detail operations, need to look at how their customers are approached and how they perceive the business.

A customer entering a detail shop begins to formulate an opinion from the moment he or she first approaches the site.

Owners need to look closely at what their customers are viewing. Owners need to ask themselves if they've ever gone to the entrance of their shop and looked at the view.

It's not just the art of detailing that sells. Detailing ability is not mutually exclusive to success.

A successful detailing business incorporates so much more and is constantly evolving and changing to fit the needs and tastes of its customers.

Customers are not only aware of how their car looks, but also of how the shop they are entering looks. Project what you want customers to know about your detailing services onto the appearance of your shop.


Advertising is another avenue that represents your business's quality and service. Professional, well-written and attractive advertisements are one of the first selling points that entice visitors to a business.

Be sure to put as much time into advertising as possible.

If mobile, ask yourself what potential customers see while driving by? More often than not, mobile locations complain that they put out flyers and never hear from anyone.

Few people actually respond to flyers left on the hood of their cars. Customers have numerous choices today so it will take a more creative approach to make them choose your shop over another.

Detailers need to spend more time and put more effort into their advertising to entice the most desirable customers.

Professional image

Image and reputation go hand-in-hand. A detail shop owner needs to consider whether his shop or business presents a professional image.

There are several ways to incorporate a professional appearance. The use of a logo or the shop name can be included on:

  • Vinyl graphics;
  • Coveralls;
  • T-shirts or uniform shirts,
  • Hats; and
  • Other color-coordinated outfits containing your logo that will help the customer perceive professionalism and identify employees.

There are several areas beyond equipment where the detail shop should spend money to enhance the business.

An owner may have all the right equipment and manpower needed to be successful, but without the capabilities to promote the business and sell the image the shop won't prosper.

An owner must do everything in his or her power to assist the customer with their perception of the site.

Judging a book by its cover

As unfortunate as it is to admit, sometimes locations with poor customer service and untrained employees can still make money.

A perfect example would be a carwash that has poorly trained individuals who regularly wipe the wheels before wiping the hood and don't turn over the towel.

However, the building is gorgeous and the company has money to cover rewashes. The average customer sees the building and thinks quality— they perceive quality prior to experience.

The carwash does rewash some cars throughout the day, but due to community perception, they wash around 40-50 per hour. In this case image is making them money, not quality.

An example such as this is frustrating for many business owners. However, despite anger and resentment, this example provides a good lesson for any detailer or business owner.

Detail shop owners must take perception seriously and plan strategies for creating a perception that your shop is the best shop in town and the obvious choice.

Worth your time

Take some time and check out the competition. Good teachers visit other teachers' classrooms for ideas and innovative lessons.

Visit other detailers to see what makes them popular and what they're doing right. What are they doing that makes the public visit their detail shop?

After visiting other sites, make a list of the things that enticed and attracted you the most and then build off of them. Businesses routinely borrow and expand on ideas to increase their success.

The time you dedicate to image and perception is valuable to your business. It will help foster growth and improvement.

Robert Regan is the owner of Winner's Circle Detailing Products, a mobile detailing business in Santa Barbara, CA. Regan can be reached at