- Buyer's Guide
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Many detailers ponder whether they should add other cosmetic car care services to their business. The lure of additional revenues is very attractive, but care must be taken when evaluating which ones to offer.
One thing to keep in mind is that not all extra services are the same. Some are easy to perform and some more complicated. Some systems are inexpensive to purchase and some are very expensive.After covering easy and affordable services in January, this story lists services that may call for extensive training and may be higher priced menu additions. Even so, these services can end up generating exceptional profits for forward-thinking owners.
Choices vary in terms of what is offered with the system and the extent of repairs that can be done. The less expensive systems might offer a selection of pre-mixed paints, an airbrush and a few other supplies. The more expensive systems come in their own portable cabinet with a small air compressor and a complete paint system. These systems are a mini-sized version of a complete body shop paint system.
The best system for a detailer to purchase is the complete cabinet system with everything. It can be moved around the shop, provides organization, and best of all, security. The cabinet can be locked up to avoid loss of airbrushes, etc.
With such a complete system, you can mix over 50,000 different paint colors including U.S., Asian and European manufacturers.
A complete system will provide the ability to spray chips and scratches, to do perfect repairs by filling the chip or scratch, do bumper scuff repair and even small panels and doors. Without the ability to do all these repairs, you are really shorting your investment in the system.
System prices range from approximately $2,000 to over $10,000. Before purchasing, compare systems item by item to see what you are getting in each. Unlike windshield repair systems, you will find that some of the lower priced systems do not offer the same features as the more expensive systems.
As far as training is concerned, it must be done hands-on, best is at your site, because more than one person can be trained for the same money. You will need people who read well, are not afraid of books and know basic math. Having an aptitude for detail and being a perfectionist is necessary. And, the employees should be doing paint repair almost every day to justify the investment in the system and to improve their skills.
I am aware of several instances where a detailer went for training that could not read well and was not able to understand paint codes, read the formulas, etc. Others just were not able to understand the simple math involved in calculating the mixing formula.
Paintless dent repair (PDR) can go hand in hand with paint touchup because many dings and dents that can be repaired by PDR can have chipped and cracked paint.
However, PDR is a skill that must be learned and then perfected. This means no less than 14 days of hands-on training and then intensive daily practice. I compare PDR with learning to play the piano. Depending on your aptitude and willingness to work, you might be able to learn the basics of piano in 14 days, but you are far from being able to play in a band or even at the local bar. It takes practice, practice, practice.
If you plan to add PDR to your in-house services, you must be able to give the proposed technician the time to perfect the skill before setting him loose on vehicles. And, PDR requires a definite aptitude. The person must have good eyesight, have patience, be a perfectionist and take pride in his or her work.
They must also be someone you can count on being with the company for several years. Because, if they leave you, you are out of the PDR business.
If you are considering PDR, I suggest you either do it yourself or place an advertisement in the paper looking for paintless dent repair technicians. You can offer good pay and bonuses. Many people out there have been trained in PDR that may not be working at it any longer or are working for a PDR company that is not paying them well and would welcome an opportunity with your company.
With such a person in hand, you can save yourself a lot of money in training costs. Moreover, you have the security of knowing that there are people in the market you can hire should this person resign or be terminated.
Pricing for PDR tool systems without training can range from a few hundred dollars to about $3,000. Pricing is based on the number of tools you purchase and the accessories included with the tool kit. Training for two weeks can cost up to $10,000.
This service can be compared to paint touchup in terms of learning and aptitude. And, like paint touchup, repairs can range from very simple repair in vinyl, leather and velour to a more complex repair in a severely cracked dashboard. You can also do complete leather or vinyl re-dyes or dyes.
The systems vary from very simple to a complete professional system for all leathers, vinyls, dashboards and velour upholstery and range in price from a few hundred dollars to $3,000. Like paint touchup systems, a great deal of specialized training is necessary.
One of the newest and very profitable extra services a detailer can offer both retail and dealer customers is invisible film protection. This service involves cutting and applying a thin clear vinyl film on those surfaces of the vehicle that would be exposed to rock chipping. This includes painted front bumpers, the front of hoods, side mirrors, etc. You can also use the invisible film as door edge guard. All that is required are rolls of the film and the knowledge of how to cut it and apply. There are even companies that offer pre-cut kits for specific automobiles, however it is more profitable to purchase rolls of film and cut them yourself. The leading supplier of the clear film has a nationwide distribution network that allows you to not only have a local source of the film, but they will also provide you training on the proper method of cutting and application. From what I have seen, the application is very exacting to prevent bubbling under the film, but once mastered, it is easy to perform.
The profits are huge. You can charge up to $1,000 for some applications. A BMW dealer I am familiar with charges $1,100 for invisible film protection on 300 and 500 Series Models and more on the 700 Series.
Another service that has been around for more than 30 years can make a detailer some good money, if they are good at it. There are far too many “fly-by-night” window tint operations, and far too many motorists have been burned by these back alley operators, so they are very weary.
All you need for tinting is an inventory of film, which you can get from a multitude of companies in the field. You can purchase it in rolls and pre-cut kits. Like invisible film protection, tinting is an exacting service that requires care in application to prevent bubbling and peeling after application.
The service has a greater potential, obviously, in the Sunbelt areas like Southern California, Arizona, Texas and Florida, but there are opportunities in all states.