Ask Shane Constable how he got started in the detail industry, and his answer is simple. “I kept getting fired,” he explained in a conversation with Professional Carwashing & Detailing.
As a teenager working in his dad’s custodial/janitorial business, Constable learned about proper cleaning methods and attention to detail, although the entrepreneurial spirit was always inside him. By the time he was 26, he had turned his knowledge and enthusiasm for automobiles into a career at a detail shop, but was fired for his repeated tardiness.
Today, Constable sets the hours. Mint Condition Auto Detailing opens at 10 a.m.
Getting started, going automated
Constable opened Mint Condition in 1999 with the hope of dominating the local market. “I thought I would do it through professionalism and being the ‘best,’” Constable stated. “I took many leadership seminars, and I read many books on leadership because I wanted to build a company built on professional detailers.”
In the beginning, it was all about spray bottles, trigger sprayers, shop vacs, brushes, Q-tips®, aerosol cans, and “a whole lot of uncontrolled chaos,” as Constable put it, but over the years he has transformed his business into a 3,600-sq.-ft. building with over $100,000 in equipment, and a very organized system.
“We never pay someone to fill a spray bottle, run over a spray bottle, replace a trigger sprayer, or get carpal tunnel using a trigger sprayer,” Constable said, explaining how his system avoids unnecessary time and cost waste. “We never have to empty a carpet extractor or fill an extractor, we clean our vacuums once a year, we fill products once a month, we don’t buy buffing pads on a weekly basis, we don’t hang floor mats on the wall to pressure wash them.”
According to Constable, his staff can complete 14 cars with only three people in eight hours, and they do it with time to spare. “Just recently we did seven complete details in two and a half hours with only three people,” he boasted.
To cut down on labor expenses and employee “time suck,” Constable employs a system of automated technologies. For instance, his staff takes advantage of a floor mat washer ($9,000) and an automatic wheel detailing system ($12,000) for faster services that have a level of quality control he can’t guarantee with human laborers.
Mint Condition also uses a modified automatic carwash, automated polisher, and carpet extractor.
Building on success
“Our growth has been asset based [and] system based,” Constable explained. “If you pay a guy $10/hr, and you have to match FICA (Federal Insurance Contributions Act), SS (Social Security), and WC (worker’s compensation) insurance, and it takes him four hours to detail one car, there is no profit to be made,” Constable stated. “The only answer is to either raise your prices really high, or develop an equipment-based system that eliminates labor costs and speeds up through-put.”
As Constable expounded, “We have worked on our business; not in our business.”
In his 11th year, Constable has adopted a business model and a business mentality, as opposed to a detailer mentality. He, along with his wife, supervises nearly every detail, and the couple also guarantees same-day services. He hopes to revolutionize the detail industry with his technology and process-based system.
“We have a simple menu with four simple choices,” Constable said. The packages run from $39 to $150. “Our main thing is ‘while you wait’ service,” he continued. “We blow people’s minds when I tell them they can wait for a complete $150 detail.”
But, as Constable said, it’s not really about the price point for Mint Condition. “Our product is our system, our assets, our real estate — not just a service,” he stated. “What makes us different is that we’re not trying to make money, but rather create wealth.”
Into the future
Although Constable acknowledged that it takes all types of customers (from the $500 ‘buy here, pay here’ to the $100,000 Mercedes), he is still searching for his “real” customer.
“Our real customer is the dealership that has five detailers yet still sends 60 cars/month to Mint Condition,” Constable explained. “That is our future customer; we will sell our system to dealerships throughout the world [so] they can process 20 full details per day with only three detailers.”
“Our goal is to make dealers not need outside detail shops like Mint Conditon,” he added. “Our goal for the future is to share this system with the world. It’s just better, and it’s just unfair not to get it out there.”