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Editor’s Note: This article is included in the April 2008 issue of Professional Carwashing & Detailing®. If you would like to submit an article or topic idea for the Management Tip of the Week, please e-mail Editor Kate Carr.
If you’re a carwash or detail facility owner or manager your goals include quality workmanship and profits for the business. Quality workmanship is a combination of a dedicated staff, continuous training and great products to work with. If you feel these initiatives are in place, you are probably experiencing repeat business and a loyal customer base.
The challenge is how to increase profits in a competitive environment with rising costs. One way is to implement new services that can actually save your customers time and money.
Saving money is always a big hit with customers, but saving their valuable time is a close second. We all shuffle through the week with work schedules, kids’ practices, family outings, etc. We cherish the little free time we have. The real dilemma occurs when we have to be without the car for an extended period of time.
The new services that your wash can offer will satisfy both a time and money savings to your customers.
Paintless dent repair (PDR) is the process by which small dents are removed from an automobile without the need to apply paint. There are a variety of tools and equipment available to perform these repairs. The removal of small dents (quarter size) can typically be “massaged” out of a car panel in 15-30 minutes, even for apprentice technicians. A carwash customer will pay between $75 and $125 to have this bothersome dent removed from their car. The alternative would be to go to a body shop, give your car up for 3 to 7 days, resulting in a bill totaling $400-$500 for time, labor, materials, etc.
Detail centers and washes can offer the service either during a “walk around” or by handing a simple brochure to their customers awaiting entry into the tunnel. These easy marketing techniques have proved results as high as 50 percent sales penetration when offering the PDR service.
It is highly recommended that business owners select a loyal and responsible employee and have this person properly trained at a reputable facility that offers certification and hands on instruction prior to working on customer vehicles.
Not just anyone can do PDR work, and the training can take a while, so it is imperative that you make sure that this is something you want to offer at your business.
Paint touchup & micro repairs
On most cars older than one year, you are sure to find some chips, scratches, scuffs or scrapes. These “micro” repairs are easily performed using small amounts of paint (ounces) and small spray equipment. The key to these micro repairs is instead of painting an entire bumper you will concentrate your repair area right around the damage itself. Then the new paint/clearcoat is blended right into the existing paint on the car. There are unique products called “blenders” that allow this to happen. The final product has a beautiful shiny finish.
Carwash customers will pay $150-$250 for deep key scratches or scraped plastic bumpers. Simple stone chip “touch-ups” are priced from $50-$100 depending on the severity and amount of chips. Once again the alternatives are the traditional body repair methods tying the vehicle up for days and costs from $500-$750. Your detail customers can be promised same day service and some times can wait while you perform the repair. The average repair times are one to two hours.
As with PDR it is also recommended that the proper equipment package and training are investigated to make life simpler for yourself and your technicians.
These unique repair processes are being sought out by auto dealers in your market also. Used car managers like these repairs to be completed quicker and at an affordable price, as well. Most of the time the dealership’s body shop is focused on large collision jobs and would rather pass on the small micro repairs.
The micro-repair industry is being praised by insurance agencies as well. Their goal being to eliminate claims for their customers and saving money along the way. You may consider speaking with your agent if you decide to implement these high profit services.
Jason Zimostrad is vice president of international marketing for Paint Bull Automotive, Inc. located in Saginaw, MI. Jason can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org