Starting a business...

Discussion in 'That'll Buff Right Out' started by StuDLei, Dec 29, 2008.

  1. StuDLei

    StuDLei Death before Dishonor

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    Okay guys, espcially Scottwax and whomever else runs their own detailing business. I have some questions.

    First off, let me explain the situation a little bit. I've always been into detailing my own car and I've often thought about starting up my own business. Ideally the way I would have liked to do it was to start off part time and do it in my garage. Im not a homeowner, but that would be the way I would want to start, if I had a home/garage. Anyways... I have a really good friend, a fellow Marine that I've went on two deployments with who has his own business. He stopped by my work yesterday and presented me with an oppurtunity. He basically said he knows how much I hate my job(he used to work there) and said he has been wishing there was a way he could include me in his business somehow. (He is in business with a friend of his, who I also consider a friend myself.) He told me if I wanted to start something up I could use their workplace. They have a large, heated vehicle bay along with extra office space. Said they would charge me 20 bucks a car or 40 a day, whichever is less to use the space. So, basically I really trust both of these guys. Mark is a really close friend of mine whos offering me(without me even asking) a great oppurtunity.

    I told him I really appreciate it and I will definately start making some assesments and thinking things out. Im very detail oriented, and believe I have the work ethic to be successful.
    I've never used a rotary or PC. I planned on picking one up this spring and practing on my dads car before all of this. Mark told me I could practice on his car and the other two guys' cars that work there also if I wanted. They run a sign business and said they could make me up some nice business cards and help market.
    Now, Im not looking to quit my job and just dive into this. I am going to start slow. First thing I need to do is buy a PC/rotary(whats the diff?) and learn how to use that as Ive learned it is a much faster way to do things as opposed to doing things by hand, and also produce a better result. Any ideas on what I should pick up and what products I should start practicing with? I've used ONR and Ive clayed my car a few times and Ive waxed it with several different types of waxes. Im thinking I need to pick up a couple varying "degrees" of compunds and polishes and learn how to apply them with a PC. Well I know I need to do this..lol...what products should I start with? I plan on at first learning this trade until I feel confident enough to serve customers. Like I said, I may not have the skills yet, but I have a little bit of knowledge from reading on here and experimenting/experience with my own cars and I believe I have the work ethic, maturity, and outstanding friends to hopefully turn this into something I can do for a living EVENTUALLY. Any pointers to well, get me pointed in the right direction at this point would be awesome. Please feel free to give me any input whatsoever. Thanks.
     
  2. Scottwax

    Scottwax Making detailing great again! Moderator

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    Learn with a rotary. The PC is definitely easier to learn but if you start with the rotary you will be able to bring the paint to a higher level in less time. With finishing polishes like 3M Ultrafina and Meguiars #205 you shouldn't have any problems with holograms with some practice.

    Your best bet would be to register at http://autopia.org and read through the various professional detailing subforums, along with the machine polishing and product discussion forums. There is a ton of great information there.
     
  3. Dodge guy

    Dodge guy OT Supporter

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    good info, and sackriders
     
  4. MartyFukstein

    MartyFukstein OT Supporter

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    :dot: on autopia.org
    also read up and join mobileworks.com

    Get your interior cleaning skills up to pro levels too: dog hair, vomit, feces, red/orange food dye spills, teriyaka sauce, master use of air guns, tobacco odor removal, carpet spot dye, mold, mildew, etc. Great interior work gets great referrals.
     
  5. z284pwr

    z284pwr OT Supporter

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    It's pretty sad people actually need to master this skill, how the hell can anyone let their car get to this point? :uh: :ugh:

    The other stuff, I can definitely understand though and agree. I would say "most" people will recognize a good interior cleaning far before a good exterior shine. "Oh as long as it has wax and looks shiney it's fine" :wtc:
     
  6. MartyFukstein

    MartyFukstein OT Supporter

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    Usually, it's pet feces. Not too difficult, really:

    1. Remove large pieces.
    2. Brush remaining feces, then vacuum (you want to remove as much solid material as possible).
    3. Shampoo area.
    4. Spray enzyme cleaner (Nature's Miracle is fine) on area and let it dry naturally.

    This is true of all organic spills (feces, dairy, food, beverage).
     
  7. Scottwax

    Scottwax Making detailing great again! Moderator

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    Whenever someone used to ask on Autopia about being a pro detailer, I'd post pictures of nasty interiors I have done and ask them if they are really up to it. Detailing for friends and family who don't trash their cars is a lot different than doing it professionally.
     
  8. Dodge guy

    Dodge guy OT Supporter

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    amen to that
     
  9. StuDLei

    StuDLei Death before Dishonor

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    How did you guys go about starting?? What Im asking is did you consider yourself a "professional" before you opened up for business? I can handle vomit and feces and all that, but is actually possible to get these types of things out and make carpet/leather look like new? I think Im going to have trouble knowing when Im ready to "open." Or knowing what is considered a professional job well done sort of speak.
    Any particular rotarys you guys would reccomend? I suppose I could definatley find this in the stickys. What do you guys charge per vehicle or per hour/labor? Are there any other suggestions you have besides reading these forums and practice? Maybe a good book/video/youtube vids(seen some of scottwaxs) or even taking some classes at a local community college? Do you all basically teach yourselves or what? One more question. How far do you go when cleaning interiors? For example do you turn every interior you work on into brand new condition? Do you get many complaints and what do they usually consist of? Thats all I can think of right now!!:rofl: thanks
     
  10. justin30513

    justin30513 New Member

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    I simply just started out by cleaning cars. No fancy buffing or waxing. Just cleaning them. You will find this is the most important thing to about 80% of the customers out there. Areas like door jambs and gas cap locations are little places over looked. As for the buffing, go to a junk yard and get some used panels. Practice on them first.

    Just remember the quote.......
    "Nothing happens until someone SELLS something."
    No matter how good of a detailer you are, you still have to have the inflow of customers. To me, marketing your business is just important as having the detailing training. You can contact me and I can go over some strategies that are working for me now.
     
  11. Dodge guy

    Dodge guy OT Supporter

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    Almost anything can be cleaned, you just need the right set of tools and know how.
     
  12. StuDLei

    StuDLei Death before Dishonor

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    Im not all that concerned about the marketing part at this point because for one thing, Im going to start slow...as slow as is needed. I am lucky enough to have the vehicle bay to use whenever I want... if I get good enough at it, if I like doing it, and if I get enough customers to keep me fed then I will quit my current job..there is no rush at this point. And also the office/bay I will be at is owned/operated by my two buddies would probably be able to bring me plenty of bussines. My friend Gene is a great salesman and him and Mark may be able to tye it in to their side of the business or just plain market the detailing business for me.
     
  13. Morgan06

    Morgan06 New Member

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    It seems like there's alot of "if it doesn't work" or "if I can" or "if ...". When I was starting my first business I read many articles that described what Shineshop mentioned- entrepreneurs failing within the first 6-12 months. Next to well laid plans, the ones that succeeded most often were the ones that absolutely needed to- not an "if I end up liking this as an occupation" startup. I won't consider myself successful until Dec 09, regardless of my net profit as that will be near the two year mark.

    You've got to decide if this is going to remain a hobby, just for spending money or your main source of income- that's only going to come with repetition and quantity so get more cars under your belt. When this thread first started I had a long reply typed out and decided against submitting it, that post basically suggested getting a part time job at a volume detail shop or dealership- even if they teach you the wrong way to do things. After all, knowing what not to do is equally important to knowing what to do and it will provide you enough 8 hour days to make an informed decision.

    As far as when to consider yourself a pro or ready to detail for cash, that will come with time. Just don't make false claims, promise results you've never produced, or attempt a repair you don't feel comfortable with and you'll be able to sell with 100% confidence.
     
  14. Scottwax

    Scottwax Making detailing great again! Moderator

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    The two main things you need are:

    1. A genuine enjoyment of detailing. This is truly a business that you have like doing to have any real chance of succeeding.

    2. Have the knowledge it takes to run a business. I was a restaurant manager for many years before I got into detailing so I was well aware of how to make money for other people. I just had to apply what I knew to make money for me.
     
  15. StuDLei

    StuDLei Death before Dishonor

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    Why did you decide against not submitting it just out of curiousity?

    I dont feel like I need to decide right now if this is going to remain a hobby or not. Why do you say that? I have the perfect oppurtunity/setup right now. I have the space to practice and once I decide I'm good enough to work for customers I can.... if I so choose.
    I know that you guys are succesful and you know what it takes to do that and you also know that most guys out there are fucking clueless when it comes to starting up a business. And I agree with that. But at the same time I dont think there is anything wrong with me having a lot of "ifs." - I dont feel like that makes me a failure right off the bat and maybe I'm wrong but that's the vibe I got from your post. Right now Im basically just in an information gathering mode. I have nothing to lose except 20 dollars a car once I start. That, plus equipment, chemicals will be the only overhead I have.

    As for business skills I have been in retail my whole life. Right now I am an assistant manager for a carwash/gas station but have the skills/know how to be a manager. While this certainly doesn't qualify me as an entrepreneur in and of itself, it does help. At the same time the two friends I have will help me out along the way. Gene, one friend, is a salesman at heart and definately has the skills to sell, market and deal with business procedures..so basically I will have him there to hold my hand along the way, be my training wheels or whatever, until Im ready to take them off.

    I dont mean for this post to try to imply that I think youre just an asshole or something like that, so please don't take it that why. I appreciate your post.

    Thanks for the help..everyone.
     
  16. StuDLei

    StuDLei Death before Dishonor

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    I agree, and thank you.
     
  17. KMAzz

    KMAzz OT Supporter

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    Do things right the first time so you do not have to learn the hard way. Make sure you have all the proper insurance. Also check on your local laws to see if you need to recycle water, catch wash water, etc. Also keep your day job. Until you build a solid client base the way our economy is going things are very slow. Once you build the business then you will have clients dropping $2,000 monthly on details for their cars,trucks,boats, etc without thinking twice...but you have to build your name first and that takes time.
     
  18. StuDLei

    StuDLei Death before Dishonor

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    Well regarding catching water I plan on washing a vehicle at a local car wash if its absolutely filthy. If not, I plan on using ONR which I have used already and therefore familiar with ith.
     
  19. Morgan06

    Morgan06 New Member

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    I understand. What I was trying to get across the screen was not to invest heavily in product/equipment, plan on making this your full time career, or consider yourself a pro until you have consistently worked a full day cleaning cars. Besides the results displayed on a vehicle, it's not glamorous work. My point primarily was that you won't know if this is really something you will enjoy until you have more experience.

    As far as start up capital, if you don't have anything I'd consider the bare minimum to be $500. That should be enough to get an interior/exterior detail done; including products, rotary or orbital, vacuum, towels, bottles, brushes, etc. That doesn't even take into account licensing, advertising, printed products or consider zoning regulations, phone usage, insurance, etc.

    That $500 should also be your maximum for equipment. Being new you won't know what works for you personally, my preferences and desired results are different- same as every other detailer. As an example, we've got guys here that clean carpets using Zep, BioKleen, Meguiars and 303. It's easy to buy multiple options and new products for trials when you've got the capital, but not when your trying to start a business and develop enough interest just to recoup that cost.
     
  20. StuDLei

    StuDLei Death before Dishonor

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    Thanks, this post was especially helpful. This is in fact what I plan on doing... buying a rotary and practicing, purchasing a few different products to try and get familiar with them, get to know what I like and don't like. And decide if this is something I will like DOING..ie my career. I enjoy detailing my own cars and while it is different, I think I will like doing it for customers...once I get my confidence up. I like to please people and give them what they want.. and I will be able to control this. It will be entirely up to me.

    Anyways, I'll let you guys know how I am doing once I get a rotary and Iv'e done a few cars/ tried some products out and Im possibly ready to work on a clients vehicle.
     
  21. Jackhole

    Jackhole New Member

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    Mind posting some here? I've only done work for friends and family, but I'm thinking about doing a little advertising at work and seeing if I can do a few cars a month once I buy my house and have a garage to use.
     
    Last edited: May 22, 2009

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