17 May

Detailing, or valeting is a service that supplies a service to respond to the needs of its customers, but what are those needs and how best can they be met? 

One of the first questions I ask when I get an enquiry, is what does the customer want from the vehicle when it's completed? Is it a daily driver that needs to be made comfortable and clean again, or is it a vehicle that needs condition optimising but without over expenditure because it is going to be sold. High value vehicles owners are looking for the next level up in service, so they need catering to also. That's why we have multiple options.

I always look to find out how do they intend to maintain the condition in future. I've lost count of the number of customers who ask me that question, or who have said it's so clean now I daren't get in it again!. Understanding these fundamentals up front sets the direction for the work to be done.

If a customer has contacted me it's for a good reason, they'd like the work done, but in some cases need "persuading" that they do. I had a lovely lady call me once wanting work done, but her husband had been saying don't pay someone to do the work, he'd do it for free. She proceeded to ask me questions about how I'd deal with specific aspects of the work, and at the end said that no way her husband would go into anything like that much detail, and she didn't need his approval anyway, so I got the job. It has been my experience that if I explain the work being done, the time it takes, and the end results, generally the booking is made.

An obstacle to customer conversion can of course be the price. I've had people with clearly large amounts of money and multiple classic cars, who have refused to pay an amount that someone with a 20 year old daily driver paid without question. Others have called expecting the price for an interior valet and external paintwork job, which takes at least 6 hours, to be around €75!!! Generally I explain that a detail is NOT a quick wash and wax job, neither is it to be equated to the Eastern European €10 hand washes that are springing up on garage forecourts everywhere. The reason it's called detailing, is because the work goes into every part of the vehicle to try and and restore it to optimum condition. An interior valet usually takes around 3 hours, and a combined valet and exterior paintwork enhancement up to 10, depending on the size and condition of the vehicle. This is an important point to note, No two vehicles are the same, the fact they're being professionally worked on is because to do it is beyond the scope of the customer skills or their time availability.  

If a detailer isn't looking to provide you with the absolute best service they can, you're being short changed, and if the work is too cheap corners are being cut. It would be very easy to offer a service with less extensive work or time requirements, I wouldn't need the vast array of tools and materials I have, BUT, I wouldn't get any satisfaction from doing the work, the customer would just get an "average" job, and the intention that both parties walk away satisfied with a job well done would not have been met. It's very quick and easy to check if they're professional, have a website, and recommendations, so do your research before calling, and ideally find someone you know who has used the service and can confirm the value and results. I get a lot of work from word of mouth recommendations!

Finally, value is relative. If I told you that the cost of a full interior valet and machine polished exterior only costs the equivalent of €3.36 a week (medium sized car), or €0.48 per day, perhaps the cost of a cup of coffee and a croissant, don't you think that's worth the money?

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