While there are many joys inherent to being a parent, often the condition of a vehicle’s back seat is not one of them. Tiny shoes and small cups of juice can create huge problems for the seats and carpets of the typical family vehicle. Melted crayons, playground dirt and bright-red drinks are all notorious for having left their mark on many SUVs, minivans and cars over the years.
Short of tarps or taxi services, parents are left wondering how to keep pesky stains from occurring in their vehicles again and again. Detailer and carwasher Bentley Brandon, owner of Luxury Wash in Smyrna, Ga., came up with an idea to teach children the basics of in-vehicle etiquette. Titled Children’s Beginners Car Education: Vol. 1 Vehicle Manners, the coloring and activity book includes a number of lessons for children that will help keep any interior clean.
The book was created with an eye toward distribution through carwashes and retail locations, and Brandon says the project has proved popular in both markets. Recently PC&D sent Brandon a few questions to learn more about the concepts discussed in the book. We covered the creation process as well as plans for future materials to teach customers and their families best practices for keeping a vehicle’s interior clean.
Phillip Lawless: Why did you decide to put this coloring and activity book together?
Bentley Brandon: Well I have been professionally hand washing and detailing vehicles for 16 years now, and I have seen all types of issues, problems and concerns. I have solved a lot of problems that customers have had, so what I wanted to do was create something that would be … informational but at the same time it would help customers in between washes. I thought about several helpful tips and different concepts. Believe me, the process was long because no customers are the same or have the same habits. But I wanted to deliver something that would change our industry and push it forward in a different direction. So being a father, it hit home first [that] most drivers are parents and have common issues of their children not having proper etiquette in the backseat. I loved the idea and felt this book could change a culture. Growing up there was no advice or car cleaning tips for me. So I am proud that I am the first to create something that not only will help parents but a generation of children.
PL: How did the book come together?
BB: Once I had the thought process behind the structure of the book, I wanted to have some characters resonate with the audience of readers. I chose myself "Bentley Brandon," my daughter "Little Miss Luxury" and our dog "Rockey." I had the mental picture of the book, so I structured the pages with the contents. I am no sketch artist, so I hired a company to do the drawings, but first I [had] a photo shoot of my daughter and our dog to get the actual page structure. As for the front cover, I had maybe five choices to choose from, and it was very hard, but I wanted to have one that could resonate with the reader. I went with our current front cover at the last minute. It took some time, maybe six months, and a huge investment on my part, but now we have a great finished product.
PL: Has it created new sales or new business opportunities for you?
BB: When the book came into form I had no idea how well it would perform. This book has blown me away as far as how well the public has received it. At first I received some resistance from business owners as well as major retailers, but we have been selling out on the shelf. I can't keep the book in stock currently, and right now we are in alignment to go into all major retail stores … Advance Auto Parts, Wal-Mart, O'Reilly Auto Parts, AutoZone [and many others]. But locally, we’re at gas stations, skating rinks, and even carwashes are ordering from us. Truly, opportunities are just overflowing with this book. We have a partnership with a nonprofit organization for fundraising as well. I mean truly this book has allowed me to reach further than my hands or my Luxury Wash team can.
PL: How has it helped parents keep their cars clean?
BB: I have heard nothing but positive feedback about how children’s habits have changed in the backseat as far as vehicle etiquette. Parents are calling this book a must. Kids are saying "Bentley Brandon said,” etc. I'm just grateful I could be of some service to each household that has purchased it and those that will. Like I said before, it's pretty cool hearing your name from children and parents saying “thank you for this book.” It changed my life in a lot of cases, and that in itself is a service more valuable to me.
PL: Do you have any other ideas for this type of material?
BB: As owner of Luxury Wash, it gives me great pleasure to form a product company called Bentley Car Care Tips that will go hand-in-hand with our service company. I have several volumes that will follow eventually, but my next product is titled Your Vehicle is an Extension of You. It is for adult readers helping them change their mindset toward their vehicles. I want to go on record and say I have a huge amount of great things to come. At the moment we are doing a workshop for children that I might start a regional tour with. You will definitely see and hear about Luxury Wash and Bentley Brandon a lot in the near future.
Brandon’s business, Luxury Wash, was profiled in the 2013 September issue of Professional Carwashing & Detailing.