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Tutorials : From the tires on up !

Posted by Doug Delmont 
Tutorials : Water Spots
April 24, 2017 03:45AM
Some spotting is simply temporary and caused by failing to wipe the windows dry. Some damage is caused by acid rain etching the surface. Classic water spots are caused by minerals that are left behind as water drops dry .

I've used white vinegar, which is mildly acidic, to remove water spots . This method is often recommended but didn't work well for me .
Griotsgarage.com and zainostore.com have glass polishes [www.zainostore.com] that are claimed to remove water spots . I tested a similar product that was made by Rain-X but I only used it on glass shower doors . Results seemed good .
I've read that you can clay the windows to remove water spots but never tried it .
The old trick of using 0000 steel wool risks scratching , so use it AYOR .

Edited 2 time(s). Last edit at 10/22/2021 07:58PM by Doug Delmont.
Tutorials : Paint Inspection
April 24, 2017 04:11AM
If you shine a flashlight at the paint and see tiny scratches that appear to radiate out from the spot of light, those are random scratches called cobwebbing or micro-marring or micro-scratches .

If the paint has circular swirl patterns scratched into it , those are swirl marks or " holograms " .

To get an accurate view of the paint, first wash the car and remove as much wax as you can . Dawn dish liquid, Griot's Paint Prep, and dilute Simple Green will all remove wax . You can try rubbing alcohol too .
Run your fingers over the finish with a piece of cellophane or plastic wrap to improve sensitivity . If you feel bonded contaminants, the finish could benefit from claying .
If the paint is chalky or dull, try some compound or polish on a test spot to see what products are called for to restore the shine .
Portable halogen work lights and such can be a help in checking paint condition .

Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 04/29/2017 01:18AM by Doug Delmont.
Tutorials : Marketing Your Detailing Business
April 27, 2017 02:17AM
Thinking of going professional ?
Here are some marketing ideas various forum members contributed in the past :

* Doing six jobs for free to start the referral process.
* Sending press releases to local newspapers.
* Having your vehicles lettered and decorated professionally.
* Passing out business cards and asking for referrals from doormen, garages, parts shops, speed shops, employees of assisted living communities, car club officials, used car dealers, car salesmen etc.
* Advertising in car trader and truck trader type publications that you can detail a car for sale to make it sell faster and for more money, that the " buyer pays for the detail " if the car sells for hundreds more than it would without the detail.
* Hanging around car washes and asking customers about their cars' needs.
* Contracting with a car wash to do express detailing for them.
* Visiting real estate offices and leaving literature in all of the salesmens' mail trays ( You can ask to give a short talk at their next sales meeting on keeping their cars looking and smelling good for their clients. An agent's car is his office.
* Displaying a car with one-half detailed, at a car show ( Bud's idea ).
* Joining the local Chamber of Commerce, the PDTA etc.
You'll need a nice business card and a broshure ( one forum member used a software package called Print Shop to make his own broshures on his home computer ) in the same color scheme. Cabela's has a line of personalized work clothes, which you can find on the Web. Compile an email list of contacts and customers.
Bud has repeatedly cautioned against low pricing and emphasizing price. Push your quality, safety, convenience and the benefits the customer will get from a spiffy car.

Some areas have public access cable T.V. You can produce your own show free.

I'm told that MySpace is not just for kids. You can set up a MySpace page as a way to keep in touch with customers, etc. Some people have had success with a mature, professional approach.

A guy on the Detail City forum said he places ads on Craigslist. He also gives his customers vinyl decals to put on their cars' windows to advertise his web address.
Others said they do free details for charities, which leads to referrals.
Some of the participants warned that when you advertise, you must be prepared to handle all of the business the ads generate.

Bud Abraham :
* Direct Mailing to Your Customer List. If you have these kinds of customers on your mailing list then you should be mailing to them on a regular basis. At least every 3 months to remind them it's time for a wax or light carpet shampoo. Or, to let them know of any new services you offer like PDR; Paint Touchup or Carpet Recoloring or Dyeing.
* Strategic Alliances. You need to develop strategic alliances with other auto service businesses that can refer you business: body shops; luxury car repair shops; trim & restyle shops; automotive electronic shops, even the Service Managers of dealerships. They are always being asked about detail services and usually refuse the work, or if they know a detailer they refer business to them. It could be you.
* Direct Mail. This is the best way to target the customers you want. You can buy lists by neighborhood; profession; income; the car driven, etc. Personally, I like a personal and short letter, in a #10 envelope with a small menu card of what you do. The letter introduces you and your business and services and ends with a promise at quality service. Don't be discouraged if you don't get an immediate response, you are taking the first step, getting the target customer aware of your business. When they are ready you have a huge chance of getting business.
* Direct Sales. You need to spend a dedicated amount of time each week calling on businesses in your area. The owners of these businesses are the type of customers you want to attract along with their employees....
* The Calendar. Develop a calendar that lists what you will do at what time of the year. Make it detailed and include any special or services you want to promote (like Paint Touchup after the winter); the mailing dates, even include the material. Also, list the days that you will be making your direct sales calls.
* Customer Source Log. Key to effective marketing and advertising is to track the source of every customer that comes in, sold or not. In one column list the four marketing methods discussed, plus any other methods you are using, such as yellow pages. Make another column for the weeks of the month and still another titled "total". Also make a column titled "closing".
Keep these basic principles of marketing in mind:

1. That which is measured improves. Just the act of measuring an activity makes you pay attention to it. As you make your marketing plan for 2005, determine to measure everything
2. Talk to everyone possible about your business. You should print your business cards in large quantities and hand them out freely. To whom do you give a business card? Give it to sales clerks, customers, gas station attendants, business associates such as your insurance agent, and most importantly, to your customers. It is easier to get business from your existing clients than to find new ones. So many businesses spend a fortune searching for new customers while ignoring those that already know and trust them. Your marketing must include an organized plan to contact your previous customers.
3. Ask every customer for referrals. If you have provided your customer with a great cleaning experience they will normally be happy to provide you with referrals to their friends and family.
4. Market to the type of customer you would like to serve. Not identifying your target market is one of the most common and serious marketing mistakes a company can make. Determine what type of customer you are trying to attract and what marketing methods will reach them.
Visit the " UpFlip " channel on YouTube for mobile detailers giving the latest ideas .

Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 06/14/2022 11:06PM by Doug Delmont.
Tutorials : Safety and Health
April 27, 2017 02:46AM
Cars are often contaminated with biohazards . Carpets and floor mats as well as steering wheels , shifters and door handles can be loaded with bacteria . The bacteria grow especially well if people eat in the car because bacteria feed on food residues . You may wish to wear a protective mask while vacuuming . Gloves are always a good idea .
Another hazard detailers face is metal that is sharp or rusted . Look before you wipe .
You may someday run into a critter that has taken up residence in or under a vehicle . Always look under a seat before you reach under it . If you encounter a snake, get away and let proper authorities handle it . If there are mice, regard them as a serious biohazard because their droppings can spread Hantavirus .
If you find something that looks like an IED or explosive, don't touch it . Move everyone a good distance away and call the authorities .
You can't go wrong by wearing gloves and eye protection at all times . No chemical you use is going to be good for you and just because some lack dire warnings on their labels doesn't mean they are safe .

Proper attire not only looks professional but guards against injury . Avoid jewelry and metal clothing decorations that can get caught in machinery .

The Mobileworks forum ( www.mobileworks.com ) has a thread that deals with heat injury from detailing in the hot sun. Here are some of the suggestions the pros offered :
1) Gatorade or Powerade
2) Snacks, breaks in the shade
3) Use a canopy. You can mount castors on your canopy so it can be moved around the car as the sun moves
4) Stop working when the temperature is too high
5) Run the car's AC as you do the interior
6) A cooling neck wrap from REI
7) A wet microfiber towel on your neck

I'll add a few of my own suggestions :
8) Run cool water over your wrists to cool your whole body.
9) Rinse your face with cool water
10) Consider a Camelback or other hydration pack to wear as you work, so you can sip constantly.
11) Wear microfiber clothes that wick away moisture and breathe well.
12) Avoid sunburn too. Wear a boonie hat and long sleeves.

Use proper scaffolding to tackle large vehicles . Use sturdy ladders and only use them on flat surfaces . Wear sturdy, non-slip work boots instead of sneakers .

There are sturdy work platforms to stand on , made by ladder companies and sold by Lowes and other stores .

Keep water handy to flush eyes and skin in emergencies . Also, keep a book of MSDS ( material safety data sheets ) on any chemicals you use professionally .

Be cautious about using flammable and combustible products such as lighter fluid, kerosene , mineral spirits, WD-40, solvent-based dressings, turpentine and so forth . Never use gasoline to clean anything .

Carry a fire extinguisher in your mobile unit and keep one at your house or shop too .

Get a first aid kit and maybe a CPR mask .

If you remove an air bag or an air bag-equipped seat, follow the proper safety procedure . Usually, that means disconnecting the car battery for 10 minutes to allow the air bag to lose electrical power .

When replacing or cleaning a car battery, take off all metal jewelry first . If you work on the car battery, disconnect the ground cable . To remove a battery, disconnect the hot cable next and then the hold-down bolts . To avoid back strain, use a good battery lifting tool like the ones from Snap-on Tools . Wear eye protection and keep an emergency water supply on hand . Do not smoke or light anything over a battery . You can wash the battery with baking soda or specialized battery cleaning products .

Edited 5 time(s). Last edit at 11/08/2022 06:06AM by Doug Delmont.
Tutorials : Tools Of The Trade
April 29, 2017 06:11PM
Here is a list of tools that may be useful for pros and amateurs alike :
1) Long-handled Boar's hair truck brush .
2) Long-handled mop .
3) Mitt
4) Wheel brush
5) Wheel well / fender brush
6) Tire Brush
7) Bug Getter and 3M Dobie
8) Scotchbrite delicate scrubbers ( pink )
9) Paint brushes, soft detailing brushes, toothbrushes
10) plastic putty knife and plastic razor blades .
11 ) Razor Blade scraper for stickers on glass .
12) Swiss Army Knife by Victorinox
13) Wax applicator pads
14) towels
15) Spray bottles
16) Sponges for dressings
17) Leaf Blower for drying car .
18) Long RV bug scrubber / squeegee tool .
19) Grout brush
20) Brass brush for battery terminals
21) Soft cosmetics brush for dashboards
22) Carpet brushes
23) Leather seam brush
24) Pet hair brush
25) Lint Roller
26) Window cleaning tool from Invisible Glass or Windex
27) Sanding block
28) 0000 Steel wool
29) Cheap sponge mops
30) Polishing bonnets and pads
31 ) Soft brush for tire dressing
32 ) ladders
33) Scaffold for RVs
34) Buffers
35) Extractor
36) Steam cleaner
37) Metal platforms that fold to use when working on high vehicles ( If you use two, you don't need to move them when you move to the other side of the vehicle ).
38) A makeshift block to keep cords or hoses from catching on tires as you pull them around the car .
39) Wheel woolie or homemade tool to reach wheel barrels .

Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 11/08/2022 06:14AM by Doug Delmont.
Tutorials : Quality Control Inspection
September 09, 2018 01:08AM
Quality Control Inspection :

The last task in a detailing job is a final check to see that everything was done and that it was done correctly . Make a checklist to mark off as you do the inspection . Have a kit handy for touching up missed areas .
First, Check the interior from various angles and do anything minor that still needs doing : Adjust the seats so they are even . Aim the dash vents straight . Brush the floor mats in one direction to lift the pile . Aim the rearview mirror . Set the radio to " Off " . Leave the customer's belongings in a clear plastic bag in the interior or trunk .
Second : Check inside the trunk to make sure the spare tire was reinstalled ( if applicable ) .
Third : Check the Engine compartment ( if applicable ) . Look at it from 4 different directions .
Last : Look down the sides and top of the vehicle for un-buffed wax etc. Give the car a final wipe with a towel if you want .
Re: Tutorials : Ceramics
June 03, 2021 02:36AM
I haven't tried the expensive ceramic coatings and have no intention of doing so . Some of them cannot be removed without a sander ! Modern paints normally hold up well enough so it is hard to justify the expense and labor required to coat a car .

" Ceramic waxes " are another matter entirely . I see no reason to believe that the latest " breakthrough " ceramic spray-on wax will live up to its claims . I've been burned by enough miracle products to ignore this latest hype . Remember " nano ", " resin " , " poly " , " silicone ", " Teflon " , " synthetic " , " lifetime " " Dimethylpolysiloxane, Bees wax , Brazilian Carnauba, White Carnauba , " Pure Carnauba " , " Once-A -Year " and other hype words ?
I am sticking with Zaino's polymer sealants ( www.zainostore.com )

Sorry to see no one is posting here anymore ...????????????????????????????????????????????????????????/

Edited 2 time(s). Last edit at 10/12/2022 06:39PM by Doug Delmont.
Re: Tutorials : Going Pro
October 22, 2021 08:13PM
Questions to ask yourself before going pro :
1) Will I go mobile, fixed location or both ?

2) How will the weather in my area affect my business ?

3) Do people in my area have a desire for a detailer or do dealers in my area represent most of the market ?

4) How much will it cost to get started and where can I borrow money if I need it ?

5) What will my monthly expenses ( the " nut " ) total ?

6) What will I need to gross per hour to turn a profit ?

7) Can I do better by buying one or two existing detail businesses , thereby acquiring equipment for very little money and starting off with an existing customer base ?

8) Is detailing where my money will be made or will PDR, Touch-up, PPF, tint or accessory sales be my profit center ?

Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 10/12/2022 06:45PM by Doug Delmont.
Re: Tutorials : Adages
October 29, 2021 09:07PM
Some " Rules of Thumb " and clever sayings :
1) You always over-estimate profits and underestimate expenses .

2) Everything you do to a car adds to the overall effect you are going for .

3) Experience will teach you to start off with a product strong enough to do the job .

4) " Dealers do not want to pay you very little . They want to pay nothing ! "

5) " It takes almost as long to clean a clean car as it does to clean a dirty car " .

6) Never agree to a job without seeing the car .

7) Sooner or later, you will damage a car you are detailing , maybe by opening the door and hitting your cart .

8) There's always some other guy doing it for less until he realizes he is operating at a loss . Dealers always find one of these guys to do their jobs .

9) The only reason a dealer would pay you to detail is if it is cheaper than paying his own employees .

10) Some of the people you see employed in detailing look like they could use a little " detailing " themselves .

Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 10/12/2022 06:46PM by Doug Delmont.
Re: Tutorials : New Resources
January 01, 2022 05:53AM
New Resources :

Unlike in the past, there are now some dynamite YouTube channels devoted to detailing . Unfortunately, YouTube is now junked up with advertising and you must buy premium service to make YouTube enjoyable and ad-free . ( The site has defenses against ad-blockers you download off the Web ) .

Channels worth exploring include -

Apex Detail ,[www.youtube.com] whose Web Site is : [apexsurfaceprotection.store]

Ammo NYC : [www.youtube.com] Web Site : [ammonyc.com]

Chicago Auto Pros : [www.youtube.com] ...... Web Site : [www.carsupplieswarehouse.com]

ChrisFix: [www.youtube.com]

Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 01/01/2022 09:45AM by Doug Delmont.
Tutorials : Odor Removal
June 14, 2022 11:20PM
There are foggers and ozone machines for removing smells from cars and there are countless sprays and liquids for sale that are designed to kill odor-causing bacteria, neutralize pet urine or simply hide odors .

One principle applies here : "As a rule of thumb, the only way to get rid of an odor permanently is to remove the source of the odor " .

In some cases, you may need to remove carpets, upholstery and more . Be careful with promises because smells often return . Example : It isn't easy to remove cigarette smoke residue that has built up behind panels, in the headliner and under the carpets .
Tutorials : How Many Hours ?
October 13, 2022 05:37AM
Chicago Auto Pros on YouTube stunned me recently by estimating a standard inside and out detail to take 6 to 8 hours . Many people have bragged to me that they could detail a car in 3.5 hours or some other fast time . I've talked to pros who did wholesale dealer work and it took 6 hours including engine cleaning .
I think Chicago auto pros has about nailed it . If you want to do a good job, it has to take time . Here are some time estimates for doing a top-notch job step by step :
1) De-trash and vacuum , removing stickers and putting customer belongings in a clear bag in the trunk : 45 Min.
2) Wash exterior, remove bugs and tar , clay and dry : 45 Min.
3) Pre-spot carpets and upholstery , brush and extract : 45 Min.
4) Treat interior and exterior vinyl and rubber incl. heel wells : 60 Min.
5) Clean leather . Treat leather : 30 Min.
6) Cleaning of interior surfaces, headliner , windows 120 Min.
7) Compound, polish , wax 45 Min.
8) Final inspection and adjustments 15 Min.
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