Being in the service industry, it is my job to provide honest, straightforward answers to the consumer when it comes to the services I offer. However, most questions posed are quite open ended without the customer even realizing it. By altering the language of the question(s) asked, I believe the consumer will be able to acquire better information more efficiently that in turn will help them make the best decision when spending their hard earned money for a detail.

Chat with customer#1- How much to detail my (insert make/ model)?

Excellent question! Let’s put the detailing aspect aside for a moment. What if you were calling to order a pizza? Would the pizza parlor be able to give you an accurate price based on the question of… ‘How much does a large pizza cost?.’ No. They would not. (At least not without making some assumptions and we all know what that leads to.)

For thought experiment’s sake, what if the person on the other end of the line gave a price of $4.99? Less than five dollars is a good price for a large pizza to feed the family with, right? After you pick it up and get home, you open the box and realize there are no toppings other than cheese. You and the kids wanted more than that!

It works the same way in the automotive detailing marketplace. You contact 10 different businesses and receive 10 different answers because each shop constructs their details differently. By tweaking your price inquiry for services with a bit more information, I bet those 10 different price points that are wide ranging narrow considerably.

Example-
How much is it to detail the exterior of my black, 2010, Chevrolet Tahoe with 100,000 miles that I use as a daily driver and has not been detailed in 3 years? I bought it used 3 months ago and the paint is really scratched up which concerns me.

The above is something akin to the telling the pizza parlor that you want extra cheese, pepperoni, and olives on a large, thin crust pizza. The price will be higher than $4.99 with the extra ingredients but you are going to leave with the pie you wanted.

To illustrate the point, maybe you receive a $100 quote to detail your Tahoe. You take the SUV in and when you come back to drive it home you are flabbergasted by the fact neither the carpets were shampooed or the swirl marks removed from the paint! How can this be? You asked the owner how much it would cost to detail your Tahoe via email and he gave you a price to which you both agreed!

And that’s where making pizzas and performing details manage to be similar. Your satisfaction, to a degree, can depend on articulating what you want rather than someone assuming it. Granted, knowing what you want from a detail is more challenging than requesting certain toppings on your pie.

Keep in mind a “detail” is a very subjective term and means different things to different businesses as well as the consumer. If you don’t have a clear idea of what you want or need, adding more information into your initial question will help the business owner steer you in the right direction, service wise.

As always, try to educate yourself online and contact multiple auto detailers to find out more about what they offer. The worst possible position to be in as a consumer is knowing little to nothing about the service you are purchasing. Otherwise, you are likely to leave with the proverbial cheese pizza and are subject to the ethical mercy of the detailer you chose to do business with.

#2- Can this be buffed out? / Can you remove this stain?

Amazingly enough, stains are actually more difficult to remedy than paint defects. With swirls and scratches, it is a matter of ensuring the defects have not extended into the base coat or primer. If they are contained in the clear coat, machine polishing or wet sanding (or both) is the remedy for them. If they extend deeper into the paint system, a re-spray of the area or panel is required to properly repair.

If the scratch doesn’t catch your fingernail then the probability of removing it is good. Very crude but it does give you an idea.

Stains, on the other hand, require many chemicals and tools to address. Even with the proper knowledge and equipment, the age of the stain and previous failed attempts at removing it can make it all but impossible to remove at a later point in time.

Stains range from tannin to protein, organic to inorganic, oil based stains, pet stains, and the list goes on. Combine the many different stain types with various fabrics inside current vehicles and you can understand just how interior stains can be more problematic than exterior scratches.

The advice I would give anyone who is concerned about fabric or carpet staining is to have it addressed immediately. The longer the stain is present (think days/ weeks) the harder the stain is to remove. Dampen a white terry cloth towel and cover the area to prevent it from fully drying until the issue can be resolved.

#3- I need X, Y, Z done…

Talking to CustomerYes, it is a statement and not a question but I follow certain requests with one and that is- Why?

I have quite a few clients with black interiors. Black interiors are like white paint jobs, they are very forgiving when it comes to heavy use. More times than not, I actually down-sell customers on interior packages when the subject vehicle is equipped with black carpet.

The customer may state they need their carpets shampooed/ extracted but when asked for their reasoning, the majority of answers indicate that a method of dry cleaning would serve them equally well.

And ultimately, it is statements such as these that I really enjoy because it allows the customer and I to blend our ideas and go forward with the best processes to achieve their goals.

When making your needs known, include supporting evidence of them.

Example-
I need the interior of the Tahoe detailed and the carpets shampooed because my husband spilled some coffee in the front passenger area about a month ago which has since created a weird smell. The Tahoe is equipped with light gray carpeting and we do travel a bit with our pets.

This example makes perfectly clear the vehicle needs an interior detail with deep cleaning of the carpets and pet hair removal.

I don’t know if you found my most common questions received as a professional detailer interesting but hopefully I provided some insight into how you can save time in the decision making process by simply adding more specifics about your scenario. I think it will save some back-and-forth, the pricing will more precise, and you should leave with what you want!

Let us know if we can help you out with your automotive appearance needs.  Contact us today!