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Where to find the top-paying customers you've been looking for.

Posted by GTR 
Where to find the top-paying customers you've been looking for.
October 11, 2012 12:07AM
*Where you'll meet the guys who pay well for great detailing: car shows, car clubs, and the race track.*

There's car events year-round (many more in the summer) all around you full of deep pocket guys who need clean shiny cars:

-Car shows. Your local newspaper will announce carshows. They run radio advertising. Auto parts stores announce car shows with flyers.

-Car clubs. Most have monthly meetings in public places like coffee shops. Google "[your city] car club." You'll find Ford clubs, Mustang clubs, Vette clubs, Porsche clubs, Audi clubs, and Italian clubs.

-Race events. Check the website of your local race track. I prefer what's called "track days" where owners of street-legal sports cars (sometimes the cars they drive every day), rent the race track for the day. Think: Corvette, GT-R, BMW M3/M5, Mustang, Quattro Club, and Porsche 996/997.

Of these, I've found parking lot "meet ups" to be the best for acquiring new customers. Owners are accessible, relaxed, and importantly...secretly want to have the cleanest, swirl-free car in the parking lot.

*Find their detailing "sore spots" and offer yourself as a solution to their problems.*

First, don't be that guy: the one scrambling around handing out business cards to half the people there! Those cards will go straight to the garbage. Don't even wear a company t-shirt: it says "I want to sell you something." Big turnoff.

Just be social, be friendly...be a car guy:

-Break the ice: talk about his car, not your detailing service. Point out things that are different and unique about his car. Ask about who built it, painted it, etc.

-Prove you're a car guy too. You probably got into detailing because of your love for cars. Share your passion, your knowledge of the specifics of the cars at the event. Prove to that you're one of them, and you might become the one they trust with their car.

-Listen for these hints he needs your help. You'll find many owners take pride in their own detailing. You won't convert them into a customer, so don't make a fool of yourself trying to. But if you talk to enough, you'll hear a few cries for help: "I just don't have the time to detail my cars" or "I can't get that shine I see on the show winning cars" These are your best prospects!

-Offer advice: be generous. You'll spot dull rubber, water spots, dry vinyl, fading leather and more. Offer solutions to these "problem areas." But be conversational about. Don't sound like a "know it all."

-Asking for the sale: be specific. Here's the most common "pitch" I hear at car events: "If you ever want your car detailed, here's my card." That never works! Instead, point out something specific on their car--a greasy engine, heavy brake dust build up, oxidized or swirled paint--and offer yourself as the specific solution.

-Talk product....talk brands. Car guys put a lot of trust in brands. Emphasize the brands of polish and wax that you use. Names like "3M, Menzerna, P21S, Swisswax, Zymol" etc. People associate brands with quality, and you, as a stranger, want to be associated with quality.

*Selling is brutal, but a little goes a long way.

When my detailing business was young I absolutely hated selling. But I was persistent enough to get a just enough car crazy strangers to trust me with their car. And just enough of them loved me enough to tell their 5 more car crazy friends about me. And just enough of them loved me enough to tell 10 car crazies, and eventually reputation spread on the Internet, which made the whole project a full time enterprise!

Original article:
Re: Where to find the top-paying customers you've been looking for.
October 11, 2012 02:03PM
My experience with car show owner is that they are "do it yourselfers" and want to do the work themselves, they do not trust their "rides" to anyone.

The best customers are people with money and no time. Doctors, lawyers, dentists, business owners, stockbrokers, commercial realtors.

However, your advise about being a consultive salesperson is more effective than trying to just sell a service.

Bud Abraham
Re: Where to find the top-paying customers you've been looking for.
October 13, 2012 04:30AM
I have to agree with Bud.
I will add this one, very important part.
Forget what you may wish or invision as "the detailing business", and obtain and "understand" the demographic's of your market area!
Automotive detailing is a part of the "service industry" of the total vehicle car business, which is dominated by accepted, due to advertising, etc such as brakes, mufflers, oil changes, etc.
How do you become part of this "chain" of successful automotive "service oriented" business?
Take time to think about and consider some simple facts, such as are you persuing a "passion for excellence of vehicle's finishes, etc"(IE, I can make it shine or such, and that is why you want me to do your vehicles) or are you going for a profitable business that is above and behind that which others in your market place are obtaining?
Spend as much time as you do in talking to other detailers and what products, etc, which is mainly a "marketing" based by the manufactuers of such products, and instead, focus on "what your demographic study has shown that will produce a profitable business".
Big difference, if one really wishes to "build a business" that will support you and your family, etc.
Have the financial resources to purchase equipment that reduces labor costs in order to provide a superior end product than others in your market place.
Find the demographic target that are able to and wish such a superior end product.
"Don't go roll about with the pig's, unless you wish to be a pig".
Be secure and knowledable about what you do, what you can do, and do not "EVER" be afraid to turn down a job that you know is not one that you does not make you money, or meet what you know is the right way.
Re: Where to find the top-paying customers you've been looking for.
October 13, 2012 04:02PM
I'm on the same page here, although we are an Boat & RV shop. All the Boat & RV shows we have participated in, we've never gained a new customer. Needless to say we've not done one or attended one in 8-9 years.

To add to what Ron said is this quote.

"If you don't do it excellently, don't do it at all. Because if it's not excellent, it won't be profitable or fun, and if you're not in business for fun or profit, what the hell are you doing there?"

Robert Townsend
Re: Where to find the top-paying customers you've been looking for.
October 13, 2012 04:51PM

Your post echoes what Michael Gerber says in his famous book, "The E Myth," which is: "the fatal mistake a small business owner makes is that they believe if you know the technical work of a business, you can operate a business that does technical work."

The reason, he says, it is fatal is because: "it is not true."

When a technician operating a business that does technical work is confronted with financial, administrative, managerial problems they try to solve them with technical solutions because they do not have any of these other skills which are needed.

If he does not learn those skills or hire someone who does, he goes out of business, simple as that.

The detail business, I would estimate is filled with 90% technicians and maybe 10% business people. Or, people with the necessary skills to operate a business.

Few, if any, detailers have a business plan and even fewer have any concept of marketing. If one did some simple marketing homework they would know where their best customers are. Quite simple.

An easy lesson I teach people we consult with is to answer this question:

"Who is your very best customer, give me his/her name?"

When they answer that question the next question is:

"Tell me about them? What do they do for a living? Where do they live? What kind of cars do they own? What are their hobbies? Why do they come to you for detailing?

When they answer that question next is:

"Wouldn't you like to have all your customers be like this customer?"


"Of course."

There is the answer for any detailer looking for more and better business, profile your best customer (s) and then try to get more of those using advertising, etc.

As you say Ketch, far too few detailers even take the time to do this and that is why they struggle.

Just some well intentioned thoughts.

Bud Abraham
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