When it comes to running a successful detailing business, Buster and Wanda LaFauvre, owners of B&W Mobile Auto Detailing Inc. located in Kissimmee, Florida, believe having ample training, providing high-quality services and joining industry-related organizations are crucial.
In this special Q&A, Buster shares insight into how he and his wife drive their business down the road of success by paying attention to the details.
Professional Carwashing & Detailing: Can you offer a brief history of your detailing business and why you decided to start this venture?
Buster LaFauvre: I was in pest control for 25 years and lost my job. I wanted to find a new career but didn’t know what. Now, for why I chose detailing is this: [My wife and I] are classic car owners (1970 Mercury Cougar and 1971 Monte Carlo) and were at a car show one day and helping a friend clean her car. Another friend came by and said, “Every time I see the two of you, you’re always cleaning cars.” He then said that we should be getting paid. I stood up and said, “You know, you’re right.” So, we decided this is what we wanted to do, but we wanted to do it the right way. I went to professional training (offered by Detail King) in 2003, and B&W Mobile Auto Detailing Inc. was started. The business was picking up, and we could not find anyone that would detail the way we wanted them to, so in 2007 Wanda retired from the Osceola County School System; and it is just the two of us (no employees). We have good days and more good days working together, because we both have a passion for detailing and take training classes together.
PC&D: What sets you apart from other detailing businesses?
BL: We have the professional training, professional trailer and equipment, and we use professional products. We are also members of the International Detailing Association (IDA), which we feel is important for all detailers to be members of.
Additionally, we continue our detailing education by attending Mobile Tech Expo in January, and in March we attend Detail Fest & Car Show at Auto Geek to keep up on new products, equipment and more training. We detail cars, trucks, motorcycles, boats and airplanes.
As soon as we can, we plan to take more training. When I tell people that we have taken professional training they ask, “There are training schools to learn how to wash a car?” No, but there is training to learn how to detail, and yes detailing is a professional business. To learn to detail the correct way, a person needs professional training; and well yes, detailing is a professional business. We do not go to Home Depot [or any other hardware/improvement store] and buy a shop vac, some [additional] products and say we’re professional detailers.
PC&D: What types of services do you offer your customers? Do you offer any extras, add-ons, loyalty programs, specials and so on?
BL: Our services are full interior, exterior detailing and express detailing. Extras offered include headlight restoration, engine, fabric protectant, odor elimination (ozone) swirl removal, paint sealant and minor scratch removal.
If we do two vehicles at the same location, then we offer 15 percent off the second one. We also offer senior and military [discounts of] 10 percent off full details. When we get two referrals from the same person for full details, we will give him/her half off or a free detail on the next service.
Another thing we like to do is to take pictures of the vehicles, download them on the computer and use www.sendoutcards.com/116177 and create thank you cards using the vehicles; then these go in the mail. Furthermore, at trade shows I have Buster Bucks for $10 off a full detail that I give away.
PC&D: You have won various awards since starting your business in 2003, such as the Home Based Business of the Year from the Kissimmee Chamber of Commerce, in your opinion, what makes your business so successful and recognizable?
BL: I feel our success has a lot to do with being members of the Kissimmee and St. Cloud chambers of commerce. We are also licensed, certified and insured, and that we are recognized as a professional business and not just a carwash (which we don’t go out to do). We define ourselves as auto reconditioners, who ‘restore vehicles to their timeless look with particular attention to detail.’
We also have a friend who owns a business that works with us with marketing, networking and public relations. And, I am also a member of a local rotary club. Additionally, we volunteer for a nonprofit organization called Clarita’s House Outreach Ministry Inc. where we help feed homeless children and families and give them clothes and toys.
PC&D: What do you feel are your business’ biggest goals and accomplishments?
BL: We feel our accomplishments are that we provide professional services, volunteer in our community and local church, as well as the fact that we are still detailing for almost 13 years.
PC&D: In your opinion, what is in store for the future of the detailing industry? (Any new services, technology, growth/loss, etc.)
BL: Some of our major accounts are the city of Kissimmee (fire and police), Toho Water Authority and Bright House Networks. What’s in store for the future? Only God knows that; but for us, we have some goals we want to reach.
In Florida, we have lovebugs in May and September, and these bugs can destroy a paint job. I would like to come up with a product that would be applied just like wax and would wipe off with a sponge and water to keep the bugs from sticking to the paint surface and bumper. We would also like to partner with a detailing company to offer training services or to manage a detail shop.