Professional Carwashing & Detailing

Where to find customers who pay top detailing rates

October 22, 2012

These events attract “car crazy” folks in your area year-round:

  • Car shows. Your local newspaper will announce carshows. They run radio advertising. Auto parts stores announce car shows with flyers.
  • Car clubs. Most have monthly meetings in public places like coffee shops. Google “[your city] car club.” You’ll find Ford clubs, Mustang clubs, Vette clubs, Porsche clubs, Audi clubs and Italian clubs.
  • Race events. Check the website of your local race track. I prefer what’s called “track days” where owners of street-legal sports cars (sometimes the cars they drive every day), rent the race track for the day. Think: Corvette, GT-R, BMW M3/M5, Mustang, Quattro Club, and Porsche 996/997.

Of these, I’ve found parking lot “meet ups” to be the best for acquiring new customers. Owners are accessible, relaxed and importantly … secretly want to have the cleanest swirl-free car in the parking lot.

Find their detailing “sore spots” and offer yourself as a solution.

First, don’t be that guy: The one scrambling around handing out business cards to half the people there! Those cards will go straight to the garbage. Don’t even wear a company t-shirt: It says, “I want to sell you something.”  Big turnoff.

Just be social, be friendly … be a car guy.

  • Break the ice: Talk about his car, not your detailing service. Point out things that are different and unique about his car. Ask about who built it, painted it, etc.
  • Prove you’re a car guy too. You probably got into detailing because of your love for cars. Share your passion, your knowledge of the specifics of the cars at the event. Prove to that you’re one of them, and you might become the one they trust with their car.
  • Listen for these hints he needs your help. You’ll find many owners take pride in their own detailing. You won’t convert them into a customer, so don’t make a fool of yourself trying to. But if you talk to enough, you’ll hear a few cries for help: “I just don’t have the time to detail my cars” or “I can’t get that shine I see on the show winning cars.” These are your best prospects!
  • Offer advice: Be generous. You’ll spot dull rubber, water spots, dry vinyl, fading leather and more. Offer solutions to these “problem areas.” But be conversational about. Don’t sound like a “know it all.”
  • Asking for the sale: Be specific. Here’s the most common “pitch” I hear at car events: “If you ever want your car detailed, here’s my card.” That never works! Instead, point out something specific on their car – a greasy engine, heavy brake dust build up, oxidized or swirled paint – and offer yourself as the specific solution.
  • Talk product … talk brands. Car guys put a lot of trust in brands. Emphasize the brands of polish and wax that you use. Names like “3M, Menzerna, P21S, Swisswax, Zymol,” etc. People associate brands with quality, and you, as a stranger, want to be associated with quality.

Selling is brutal, but a little goes a long way. 

When my detailing business was young, I absolutely hated selling. But I was persistent enough to get just enough car crazy strangers to trust me with their cars. And just enough of them loved me enough to tell five more car crazy friends about me. And just enough of them loved me enough to tell 10 car crazies, and eventually reputation spread on the Internet, which made the whole project a full-time enterprise.