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Teenager looking for guidance

Posted by Ben Hebert 
Teenager looking for guidance
February 27, 2006 11:00PM
<HTML>Hey my names ben and I'm still in high school looking to start my own businness. I figure that jobs at my age all pay the same and it's all boring work that drones on and on. This led me to the conclusion that I should start my own business incorporate friends and attempt to make money.

Now don't think that I'm trying to get into car detailing blindly, as of now it's in the developmental stages of an idea. But that's what it starts with right? An idea.

I plan on getting a job detailing cars at Carmax to help me gain much needed experience in the field. I couldn't start running the business until the summer anyways due to the complication involved with going to school everyday.

Please don't shut me down right away I'm a very intelligent person and completely open to constructive criticism. I've been searching many sites online and this one seems to be the most relevant, informative, and detailed. Plus by simply reading the forums I can tell that you guys know what you're talking about.

I want to run a service where we can go to the customers house and detail the car there a sort of no hassle deal. I'm aware that the job will be amateur as we cannot afford the proper equipment, but i'm looking to be as professional as possible.

There's many ideas right now and it will continue to develop more as time progresses. I'm just looking for feedback, advice, and guidance for that little push in the right direction. Thanks for reading and I look forward to the replies.

Re: Teenager looking for guidance
February 28, 2006 12:55AM
<HTML>I'd love to encourage you, and don't want to shut you down... but I may have to!

Without the correct (and costly) equipment, and the right training, then you wouldn't be a detailer, you will be a car washer.

...belive me, you don't want to be a car washer.

As seen by the general public, car washers are on a par with domestic cleaners. They expect to pay you minimum wage, or less. You can offer great service, but at the end of the day, you will be competing with other car washers on price.

Meanwhile, the detailers will be able to offer experience, a wide range of service, as well as offering good service and profesionalism.

They will also have insurance, which you will need!

20 years ago, you may have been able to do this... but now... I can only say, you must be nuts!

You shouldn't even think about going into this business for yourself without 3-5 years experience. And I'm not just talking about knowing how to detail a car, but also having the experience to deal with customers, deal with the problems (there are many), seeing how a detailing business runs.
Even then I would read every book you can find on business and marketing.
And even then, you would struggle to find the business to keep yourself going... trying to manage other people as well? forget it!

As it is you would need 48 hours in a day, and you are looking at 2-3 years before you got the thing running smoothly.

Do yourself a favour... get yourself a job, earn what the other kids earn, spend the money on girls (or boys), drinking and partying, and enjoy just being in highschool.
But if you really want to run a business while you are at school, I would be thinking about some kind of online venture. At least then you can let the website deal with the customers... so it won't wreak havoc with your schoolwork.

Sorry I can't be more supportive. But I really do thik this is a bad idea.</HTML>
Re: Teenager looking for guidance
February 28, 2006 01:36AM
<HTML>Ha that's alright I'm always open to people telling me I can't succede. It's not going to be a major business, I feel that you may have interpretted it in this manner.

That is not the case in this instance. I want to run a simple service where I can go to houses clean cars in the best professional manner possible and get paid cash on the spot.

I do not see how this is any different from walking your neighbors dog to reffing soccer.

Dealing with people has always been a specialty of mine and I am a future psychology major. Currently I am a manager in a restaurant and am constantly dealing with people as well as creating a schedule for employees. The only problem I can see with customer relations is that I would not have the expertise in the field.

Ha and I do enjoy being in high school I live it up every weekend, and most of the measly pay check that I recieve at 8.50 an hour goes towards alcohol and gasoline.

The suburban area in which I reside doesn't have a car washer nor auto detailers. My high school parking lot is filled with SUV's and Luxury Vehicles like BMW M3's and Mercedes Benz Coupes. You're considered downtrodden if you recieve a brand new Honda Civic for your sweet sixteen. Seeing as there is a need because everyone is busy I want to take advantage of the situation.

Thanks for the reply and I look forward to others.

Re: Teenager looking for guidance
March 01, 2006 08:47AM
<HTML>In that case, call a spade a spade and run a car wash business.

Its very important to always try to under-promise and over-deliver. If you call yourself a detailer and then can't deliver on basic services expected of a detailer, you will have disapointed customers.</HTML>
Re: Teenager looking for guidance
March 01, 2006 03:55PM
<HTML>One word of caution.

Doing vehicles for a firm like Carmax will give you a lot of "bad" habits, incorrect methods, etc.

These type of operations are not quality minded, but "get it to shine, get it done quick, use lots of cover up products, etc.

Not a way to learn the correct methods of a quality professional.


Do it right or don't do it at all!
Re: Teenager looking for guidance
March 01, 2006 04:01PM

Your spirit, the entrepeneural spirit is what has made this country great. It is small business that drives this country's economy.

That is, there are some responsibilities that go with starting and operating a business in the USA and one of those key elements is LAWS. This is a country of laws to keep order.

Therefore when you consider starting a business you need to know what the laws are relating to that business. This you can obtain from your local city or county officials, wherever you would operate your business.

You know, things like an assumed business name or corporate registration; business license; what and how to do what waste water.

Then you need a business plan to tell you where you are going with this business and how you will get there.

Once the plan is done it should tell you what you will need as far as capital is concerned. You need MONEY. The business plan will tell you how much you need to startup; to operate until the business can sustain you and itself.

Go out an buy Michael Gerber's book "The E Myth - Revisited" it is probably the best book a person in your position can purchase. You will find it fastest and least expensive (new it is $7.50) at www.amazon.com. Used it will be less than the new price.

Then you can email me for any further help I might be able to give you. But you do need to read the E Myth.

Bud Abraham

Re: Teenager looking for guidance
March 01, 2006 11:59PM
<HTML>Ben, try this ! What part of the country do you live in?

One of the Pro's on here may give you an interview and hire you thus you would learn the right way, and not develope any bad habits along the way.</HTML>
Re: Teenager looking for guidance
March 02, 2006 12:47AM

Just re-read your post and noted something I missed the first time, and that was you say you can't afford the best equipment, but you want to be a "professional" as possible.

The is what we call an oxymoron. How can you claim to be a professional detailer and not have the equipment necessary to perform professional detailing?

What equipment are you going to be able to afford?

What you ought to consider doing is washing and waxing cars and vacuuming and cleaning windows.

You can do that with some chemicals, a wax pad; a carwash mit; 5 gallon bucket and a shop vacuum from Home Depot. Your investment might be $250.

Without a buffer and soil extractor it is not possible to be professional.

Bud Abraham</HTML>

Re: Teenager looking for guidance
March 02, 2006 02:18AM
<HTML>Well first of all I'd like to off my thanks and gratitude for taking the post and the inquirement seriously.

I'm located in Harford County, Maryland just 30 minutes outside of Baltimore. I just applied for a job detailing at Carmax in Whitemarsh because they do need help and my Uncle pushed through my application quickly. But if there was a more professional altenative I'd jump on that as quick as possible.

The financial situation is a bit up in the air right now currently I have about $600 saved towards the "business" and it's all cash that I've earned seperate from my savings account / college fund etc.

I'm picking up the E-Myth tonight and I'll try and read through that over the weekend. Probably come back here with any questions which may come up.

How much does a buffer / soil remover cost? I could probably afford a used piece of equipment because I plan on recieving a loan from my parents. I have five friends who are all signed up and them unlike myself have a base of knowledge around detailing.

Thanks for the help.

Re: Teenager looking for guidance
March 02, 2006 02:59PM

Ignore all the naysayers! If you're interested in getting a taste of carwashing and eventually detailing, go for it!

Washing a car isn't as easy as many may think, especially if you choose to provide exceptional service. But it is an easy entry business. And it's CASH!

When you're starting out as a teen, it all depends on attitude and image. Being young may cause car owners to hold back simply because of your age and lack of experience... as well as the risk of your damaging their car. You need to overcome that by looking and acting more responsible and careful than others older than you with established businesses.

If your target is to do neighborhood cars where you and your family is known... or providing the service outside the neighborhood, say at a place of worship or other safe place, it might be easier for people to buy in and extend trust. I suppose you intend to simply furnish the labor to wash cars, and maybe the soap, bucket, hose, towels, etc. and use their water and driveway. So no driving is involved, simply having the cars positioned for your service.

Do a great job washing those cars and many people will ask if you'd like to wax them. When they do, take them up on it and expand your service to a wash & wax. Everything can be done by hand. The only special tool you'll need to start with is a vacuum; probably a lightweight shop vac for interior vacuuming.

Instead of addressing it as a detailing business, simply treat it like mowing lawns. You're supplying the labor and a bit of expertise gained by repeated washing experience.

When I was growing up (yes, they had cars then, too), you had two basic choices for starting a cash business: cutting lawns and washing cars in the milder months, and shoveling snow and supplying firewood in the winter. If you find that you like the carwashing business, and even the detailing business... you can surely grow into it gradually. Detailing provided good money while I was attending college. And it's ALL CASH!

You may find that you're better off on your own (self-employed) rather than joining CARMAX. Being your own boss has great benefits as long as you have the discipline and self-determination to be... and stay responsible.

Truth be told, most of the guys washing cars and detailing cars found their desire for this business as teenagers... or at least their will to work for themselves instead of leaving destiny in the hands of others. One thing for sure, working for others has definitely changed over the years... making most of us happy that we depend on ourselves to be the best and most responsible "boss" of our future. Being in business for yourself is a great way to go... but it's no easy task. However, the rewards are outstanding.

One final thing: If you ever do get serious about detailing and want to make it part of your personal revenue stream, take Ron's advice and seek out good training and education. And Eric had an excellent idea, too. Working for someone early on is a great way to get hands-on training and guidance without having to buy all the tools and equipment.

Hope my response addresses the spirit of your question. Enjoy your youth and use it to your advantage. It was a gutzy thing to do by coming on this website and asking for help... and be willing to endure whatever you encountered. Keep the healthy attitude... and continue to farm your opportunities!

Re: Teenager looking for guidance
March 02, 2006 04:40PM
<HTML>Ben you say that you have $600.00 towards starting your business.

1) read and understand the book.

2) get in touch with Ron Ketchum, and get into the next available school they offer. This is will be the best part of your business investment. I think for my part your $600.00 would be best spent Improving Your Intelligence,than on hardware,and chemicals. Believe me all of the venders will still be a chomping at the bit to get your first order for tools and chemicals when you receive your Diploma upon graduation.

Most of us who get into this business don't spend enough time investigating who has the best schooling available, and because as young individuals we washed cars, or working in a Body Shop, or "D" all the above. We feel that Joe Blow's Super System of half ass put together manuals and home made video's , are the best way to go, because its cheap, and real close to home.

Why not use the good advise from the Pro's on this web site before making any bad decisions.

There isn't anyone on this site, that wouldn't do something different, if we had it to do over again. Thus eleminating mistakes, that will cost you monies that you don't have.

I know its hard to think of traveling from Baltimore to Cinncinnati, Ohio to get some schooling, and improve your intelligence, enlieu of buying a buffer and some chemicals, and going to work.

The difference being you will know more of what you are trying to do, and how to run the business, what chemicals to use, and why. Enlieu of guessing and hoping the finish product will satisify the customer and you have created repeat business.

Man, what I'm leaving you with is, look long and hard, before you leap. Getting into any business is like getting a little bit "PREGINATE". You are young, so take the time. Being young you may think all of this advise is a bunch of "Sh!t", but trust me as time goes by, and your are honest person you'll look back, on all the good advise given... Hope this helps... Brandy !</HTML>
Re: Teenager looking for guidance
March 04, 2006 11:37AM
<HTML>but unlike being a little bit pregnant, with a business you are not going to be stuck with it for the next 18 years. The good thing is that at your age you have few responsibilities.
My first business failed, but it didn't matter because I had no wife, no kids, no house. I ceased trading rather than get into debt, so I just started over again.

If I were you, I would look on this as a dry run, because you are probably best trying to start a business when you are a little bit older and out of school so that you can give it your full attention... but any money you spend now is a life-long investment... you get that for keeps and no-one can take it from you no matter how badly things may go wrong.

Si agree, spend your money on training, not equpment...</HTML>
Re: Teenager looking for guidance
March 04, 2006 09:05PM
<HTML>I forgot to mention that my wife has just started working for us - so we ordered some books but while waiting we gave her a book to read. It's called The 'E' Myth revisited. You may have heard of it!

Today I got two new books from Amazon, 'Web copy that sells' and 'Copywriting in a week'. So I brought them home for the wife, and I also brought home a tape called 'Give em the pickle'. I'm not sure about the turtles, but it is fantastic. You really shouldn't try o start this business without getting this tape/video/DVD.</HTML>
Re: Teenager looking for guidance
March 04, 2006 09:13PM
<HTML>"Give the the Pickle" was written by Bob Farrell, founder of Farrell's Ice Cream Palours" in the last 60's in Portland, Oregon.

They were the best place you could go for any type of ice cream treat you wanted, as well as lunch.

He sold out to a large company and they went to hell.

He then opened another group of resturants in the Portland area, Stanfords, Newport Bay and recently a high-end fish resturant.

The philosophy is the same in all of his resturants. It is really a pleasure to frequent them.

In fact, last night my spouse and I had dinner at Newport Bay, and we did get the pickle.

Bud Abraham

Re: Teenager looking for guidance
March 06, 2006 08:01AM
<HTML>Pretty much the way I got started, just at 17/18 years old. I'm sure it's the same way the majority of detailers got started. Only time and training will get you to where you may someday want to be.

Ben, you say you live in Baltimore? Ever consider washing and waxing boats? Some environmental rules to follow and adhere to but for me, it has given me more butter for my bread than cars. Sorry about my lingo, it's a Jersey thing.

Listen to Steve -- enjoy and take advantage of your teenage years. If you want to make a lot of money, put your youth and energy into a more productive, hustle mode.

Don't waste your money on alcohol.</HTML>

Take care,

Precision Auto & Marine

Learn to detail boats! Visit www.detailtheboat.com
Re: Teenager looking for guidance
March 06, 2006 10:25PM
<HTML>I have my service plan pretty much worked out in my head and I've written it down in this notebook that I keep but it's too much for this site.

What I could use help with is the best type of soap / wax / special type of hose / shop vac / anything else which may be needed for a car wash / wax service.

I've been reading reviews on many different sites but I feel they are all biased towards the product and am looking for a professional opinion.

I want to thank you all for the words of wisdom, it's really helped me push through this idea. I've cleared the idea with the parents and signed up my helpers. Main trouble now is the name which I'm stuck on... I don't want anything general and bland, but it needs to have that strike of professionalism in it.

Quite a problem I'd say what's a business without a name?

Re: Teenager looking for guidance
March 07, 2006 02:53AM
<HTML>Hello everyone, I am new to the forum. Hey Ben I think it is great that you have the entrepreneur spirit, just remeber it is no easy task, I started my mobile detailing business right out of high school and 3 yrs later I am still doing it. There is alot of money to be made if your learn what you need to, to do the job right. Don't take negative criticism the wrong way because everyone was telling me at your age that I didn't know what it took and that you have to know about all the insurances and everything that goes with a business. You ever notice those people giving the advice are 40 yrs old and still live with momma, don't forget the mcdonalds job(no offense everyone) Just remeber to learn it and do it right and only listen to the people that have succeded, because they are the ones that have failed and learned by there mistakes.</HTML>

Re: Teenager looking for guidance
March 08, 2006 01:17PM

A suggestion about the name. I think using your own name is a great way to start because it focuses on YOU... and creates an easy-to-remember identity. "Ben's Detailing" works for me. It begs the questions:

1. Who's Ben?
2. What does he do?

You can promote it with flyers you can develop and print from your computer, and even gives you the ability to insert a photo of "Ben", along with a story of who you are, why you've go into business, and how you're offsetting the image of being so young by providing a platform to describe your meticulous attention to detail and strong desire to please your customers. The age "thing" can be positioned to work in your favor because people like to give a kid with a healthy attitude the benefit of the doubt... and help him get started. From there, it's all up to YOU!

Start small and pay attention to your work...and more importantly, your customers. It's easy to remember the name "Ben", and if you do things with a passion for excellence, your name will be easy to pass around. Word-of-mouth advertising costs nothing... yet is priceless!

Re: Teenager looking for guidance
March 08, 2006 01:54PM
<HTML>What's in a name anyways??? What I mean is, is it better to go for a single, easy name like "Ben's Detailing" or does it pay to use a more suggestive name like "Showroom Specialties Auto Detailing"? I guess using a name in the title is more personable, or would people have more trust in a descriptive name instead? I've been trying to come up with a name for my business, and I go back and forth between it being a simple easy name, initials or a descriptive name. Any thoughts???</HTML>
Re: Teenager looking for guidance
March 08, 2006 10:32PM
<HTML>Steve thanks for the encouragement and pointing me in the right direction. You gave me reasons then explained them tenfold and I think that's awesome. I think I will use the name Ben's Detailing and you pretty much explained why.

Right now I'm looking for advice towards which kind of soap and wax to purchase as well as approximate prices to charge. What would be fair and what would be unfair? I'm going to push for a high cost due to the fact that in my suburban area people have got enough money to go around.

It's a little rougher for myself as I have to pay my own cell phone bill, insurance, gas and so fourth but I'm not complaining.

Name is great thanks a lot if you guys would like to get back to me on what products you recommend I'd much appreciate it. I'm going to start laying out a website and stuff within the next few days. All along those lines of being professional.

Re: Teenager looking for guidance
March 16, 2006 05:49AM
Re: Teenager looking for guidance
March 16, 2006 07:32AM

Do you plan to operate your detailing business legitimately by having a business license, insurance and containing your waste water?

Please advise.

Bud Abraham

Re: Teenager looking for guidance
March 16, 2006 11:40AM
<HTML>That is truly under debate right now as I am currently reading the E-Myth Revisited. It is a higly informative book and I'd like to thank you for the recommendation. However I doubt that I will be working on a level where insurance is required, but I understand not to overlook it.

I'm really working towards developing my business plan but I need to find which products to purchase in order to create prices etc. Thanks

Re: Teenager looking for guidance
March 16, 2006 12:56PM
<HTML>quote"I doubt that I will be working on a level where insurance is required, but I understand not to overlook it. "
Ben,what do you do when someone trips on one of your cords and hurts themselves in a freak acccident.At one place i do i have literally hundreds of people comimg by me but i have 4 pylons around my work area.to warn them.Not having proper insurance is the biggest mistake you could make ,its ok if your doing the guy next door or a freind who won,t sue you ,but most coperate companies ,auto shops etc want to see insurance first...,</HTML>
March 16, 2006 03:23PM
<HTML>INSURANCE - and what about the car you damage when you are working on it?

I know, you will be careful.

But that is why they call it "insurance" no one intends to have an accident.

Why is it that "newbees" in the detail business feel it is OK to abrogate all the basic principles necessary for business?

Is this good for an industry trying to develop and improve it's reputation.

Bud Abraham</HTML>

March 16, 2006 08:28PM
<HTML>I'm sorry if I have offended you or the detailing business to any extent, my intentions were not there by any means. I'm simply searching for answers to questions which a young entrepreneur may have and seeking them from professionals such as yourselves. Thank you for the input as it will be taken under much consideration and I will research insurances.

In reply to pro mobile I do not plan on targeting auto businesses or anything corporate at all. I wish to target the "wine and cheese" crowd of the area which I live by offering a no hassle service where we travel to their cars.</HTML>
Up Front... and Honest
March 16, 2006 10:59PM

If you don't mind answering, either here on the "phorum" or via a direct email response, how old are you? In reality, how much of a teenager are you? Are you still in high school?

My reason for asking is simple. A lot of discussion triggered by your questions seems to be focused on stuff that may not even be relevant.

If you are still in high school... or just out, I compliment you on your tenacity... and find your attitude quite refreshing.

Re: Up Front... and Honest
March 16, 2006 11:34PM

Thanks for taking the time to introduce yourself and let us know in the very first line of your original post that you are still in high school looking to start your own business. As a young entrepreneur, you are very smart to seek out answers to your questions from professionals in the industry. Please be assured that you have done nothing to offend anyone. Your questions are welcome.

About targeting the 'wine and cheese' crowd. That is a very smart approach. Always dig where there is the most gold. In your case, go out there and give those people the type of service that they just cannot get from anyone else. Keep it simple and always deliver a top notch quality job.

Remember, it is all about growing a business. No one starts out with all of the tools. Take time to understand the difference between taking calculated risks and taking random chances. Stay focused on your goals and plan on gathering as much information as possible.</HTML>

Re: Up Front... and Honest
March 16, 2006 11:49PM
<HTML>In reply to your post Steve yes I am 17 and still in high school currently finishing out my junior year. Yet although I have this way with words and vocabulary. I'm a typical kid.

With very different and how would you say "untypical" ideas and goals. I plan on starting another business venture one day (the idea cannot be disclosed) getting rich buying a yacht and sailing around the world. But don't we all have dreams and ideas like that?

I think most kids waste their time I'm trying to make the most of mine while I still have the youth. If my first venture is to fail why not it be during high school when I can bounce right back? Then again my first 50 might fail because it took Edison how many times to build the lightbulb?

Moral of the post is, "I'm dedicated towards this and have pretty much wrote an entire business plan up which I will post on here as soon as I transfer it from my notebook to computer. The negative and positive criticisms both help very much as it enables me to further learn more so I don't go into this blind. My parents are supportive but I've let them know that this is my project and I'm doing it on my own."

What I really need now though is information on products to purchase because I cannot factor prices / breaking even / payment / anything financial until I understand how much I am going to be spending.

I am aware that I will need a shop-vac, soap, wax, towels, hose, interior scent, and possible leather treatment. I would really appreciate details on which products are the best I don't care about price I really want to stand out and look good.

To be the best you've got to offer the best and that's what I plan on doing. Business plan may be up as short as later tonight it depends how much I feel like typing. Thanks

Re: Up Front... and Honest
March 17, 2006 12:01AM

There is no offense intended in my comments other than to make you realize that if you want to start a business, you must or should, do so with regard to the laws and principles of good business.

Like others, I commend your tenacity to start your own business and your desire to be an entrepeneur, but I do not encourage you to do this without giving you some suggestion doing it in accordance to the laws of the land and following good business principles.

Far too many in this industry feel that because they cannot afford a business licence; cannot afford insurance; cannot afford a proper water discharge system; cannot afford to pay Workers Compensation Insurance if they have employees; or pay employment taxes, IT IS OK.

My advise to you is that IT IS NOT OK. And, I would not encourage you to be in the business of detailing cars if you plan to short cut the laws.

If you are going to sell detailing services to the public you are a business and as a business you are obligated to do these things.

Anyone who would encourage you to start your business either out of your garage or trunk of your car not doing these things is giving you bad advise.

Certainly, you can do it, but it is not proper, and to all those who encourage BEN to start his business in violation of the laws and to ignore good business principles are hurting him and the detail industry.

Just my opinion.

Bud Abraham,</HTML>

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