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Get ready for the winter season

December 16, 2008
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Editor's Note: This week's Management Tip was taken from a post on Professional Carwashing & Detailing's Detail Bulletin Board. If you would like to submit an article or topic idea for the Management Tip, please e-mail Editor Kate Carr.
Many detail business owners, especially the new ones, are scared of the winter season. Some mobile operators even migrate into warmer climates until spring arrives.
Every month of the colder season dictates a different challenge. With every challenge there is an opportunity waiting to be acted upon.
Promote early

The auto detailing entrepreneur should start planting the seed in mid-September or early October to promote autumn and winter protection and maintenance packages and services. This starts with educating the customer why he or she should consider keeping their vehicle cosmetically maintained during the winter months. Promoting exterior services that will protect and enhance the surfaces against natures elements during the winter months is essential.

Today's clear coats are better than ever, but they still need to be protected against the havoc that Mother Nature will inflict. I would offer a six-month protection paint sealant/carwash package especially in the fall. The sealant will protect and enhance the painted surface the duration of the fall and winter months. I would include a good monthly hand wash with that package.
Encourage the customer to pay for the complete package up-front and receive a significant discount. Now they are committed to visiting your shop every month over the next six months. This gives the shop owner a chance to keep their customer's vehicle cosmetically maintained and offer other services during that period.
Other offerings may include:
  • Under carriage power washing;
  • Carpet and mat soil extraction;
  • Plastic carpet protectors installed;
  • Glass anti fog treatment;
  • Ozone treatment;
  • Headlight restoration; and
  • Convertible top protection.
This will be a great opportunity for reoccurring revenue to occur on a monthly basis for your business.

Take on Christmas
Once December is here you have a new challenge now competing with Saint Nicholas. If you properly promoted your Winter Protection Package I spoke about earlier to all your customers in late summer/early fall you will start seeing their faces for their monthly washes.
Besides offering the extra services their vehicle may need you should aggressively promote Gift Certificates and even a "Gift Basket of Car Detail Products" they can purchase and give as presents to family and friends. Auto detailing gift certificates make great gifts -- plus you just added a new customer to your data base!
Your Gift Basket or "Gift Bucket" may include
  • A 5 gallon bucket,
  • A quart of carwash soap,
  • Tire dressing,
  • Microfiber drying towel,
  • Carwash mitt, and
  • A quart of express wax.
Be sure you include directions, your company collateral and a coupon towards a discount or free service for a future car detail.

New promotions and services for New Year's Day
Once January is here introducing new promotions and services is critical. We all set new goals for the new year; eating better, getting back in shape, etc. The true auto detailing entrepreneur should also think about promoting services that will "Get Your Car Back In Shape" for the new year.
Some services that are not too costly for the consumer but are profitable may include:
  • Express services like express waxing;
  • Interior spruce ups;
  • Carpet soil extraction with fabric protection; and
  • Interior ozone freshen up treatment.
These are all good money makers that will make your customers happy with the value and the service you provided.

February is know as the slowest consumer spending month of the year. People are looking for excellent values in February. They want their dollar to be stretched and go a long way. So you will want to consider promoting some free services when purchasing a profitable detail service or package.
These services and packages may consist of a free hand wash for every complete interior service sold, or possibly a free undercarriage power washing with every polishing service sold, maybe even a complimentary engine shampooing with every complete detail booked. These are just some ideas to create a better value and a good reason to shop with you the month of February.

If you’re like me you are eagerly waiting for March to arrive. Winter is still here but the weather is starting to see some improvement and car owners will start to think about getting their cars cleaned up from the havoc that old man winter put on them.
You should begin promoting winter clean up services and packages. These services may be custom hand washes, buff and wax services, rock paint chip repair, interior soil extraction and carpet dying, under carriage power washing, wheel detailing, etc. Keep promoting winter clean up services from March through May.

Our sales of auto detailing supplies are up! People must keep their cars longer. Cosmetic maintenance is getting to be just as important as mechanical maintenance. You must promote that the car care services that you are providing will help keep your customers cars cleaner and protected longer and increase resale and trade-in value. If you do this you should prosper and make it through even the toughest months during the slowest economic times. Cut costs, but don't cut corners!
Keep promoting and advertising your business. Don't burry your head in the sand and wait for the phone to ring. Get out there and make something happen! Have a great winter season!
Nick Vacco is president of Detail King, a supplier of equipment, training and related products to the detail industry. He can be reached at support@detailking.com.

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