2018: What's Happening
The Christmas break is the perfect time to reflect on the year just gone, take a note of the positive progress and then have a look at what can be made better. It's becoming a recurring theme with the business to use this time of year to plan and pave the way for the direction it is heading.
I hope everyone thoroughly enjoyed their Christmas break and has had a great start to the new year so far. Please take a read of this blog post, preferably sat down with a cup of tea, as there is lots to take in for what to expect as a returning, or even new, Detailed By Andrew customer.
Changes to availability schedule.
The first thing requiring some thought was the business' operating times and schedule. As one man in one van, trying to keep one or two random days off in the diary for downtime just doesn't happen easily, especially when the phone rings and somebody needs something doing ASAP! Part way through last year I implemented the Appointedd booking system to the website, which not only replaces the old pen and paper diary, but also allows customers to make a booking request straight into my diary from the bottom of the Services page and Facebook page. This is great because it takes some of the admin work away from me, and even sends customers a booking confirmation and 48 hour reminder. Don't let that worry you though; I can submit bookings myself too if you still prefer to call, message or email.
Downtime is important when running this kind of business. Being busy enough to work 7 days a week is great, but it does have its vices. Firstly is tiredness, as this being quite an active profession a little rest really does go a long way. Also, it's highly important that time is set aside to clean and strip the van down, re-organise it, service the tools to keep them running sweet, and take stock of consumables so orders can be placed and delivered. Being organised makes a huge impact on the quality of service provided.
For this year bookings will be carried out on a "4 days on, 1 day off" basis with one full weekend "off" per month too. What does this mean for customers? This actually means that more weekend dates will be available for bookings than last year, and still works out at providing service 6 days a week for the most part. All phone calls and emails will still be taken/returned as much as is feasibly possible 7 days a week.
The recommended service plan.
As a detailing business, aptly named Detailed By Andrew, detailing is my speciality. Please take a look at The Intended Car Care Regimen blog post and Services page for an explanation of how the service packages are intended to be used by customers and what the benefits are. This year a recommendation will be made on all visits as to which service you might want to consider next time round. A small leaflet will also be left with customers to outline all of the services on offer.
Service Cleans are a great way to keep your car clean and tidy throughout the year, but they are not to be depended on exclusively; even with the quality products used, there's only so far a wash and valet will take you and this is why detailing exists! Perhaps there is another way to put it in terms that some people may subscribe to; just like with skin care, sometimes we have to exfoliate, face mask and moisturise to look after yourselves - it's the same with your vehicle's appearance too! I am in business to make your car to look and feel like new all year round, and it is only with the full range of treatments and processes that this can be possible.
So now that the formal bit is out the way, we can now have a look at the fun stuff! In trying to offer a premier standard of service and keep up with competition, re-investment into new tools and equipment is an absolute necessity. Whilst some of the below have been on-board for a while now, this time of year is usually the best to make these purchases, as suppliers most often put on generous Christmas and January deals. As a small business, money has to be spent wisely! I guess you could call this 'the January transfer window'...
There were two things that were long overdue, the first being an electrical generator. On a previous service visit maybe a month or so back I was left totally caught out as the electrical socket provided by the customer just did not work. As this was on a private works car park, there was no alternative except to abandon and reschedule the job.
Now being able to provide my own power means that work can be carried out in more remote locations where electricity cannot be provided, or shall I say depended on. This 3.75kVA generator from SGS Engineering has ample power for many of the tools that I use on various tasks. For the foreseeable future, the additional cost of fuelling the generator will not be charged to the customer as extra; it will rather be provided as a free courtesy because it is purely there to ensure that the job gets done when electrical mains are not available. As standard, I still kindly ask for power to be provided by the customer where possible. Due to the added weight and space in the van, the generator will only be brought along on request in advance so please make this clear on any possible booking.
There is one drawback to be considered though, and that is the slightly elevated noise. Whilst 69 decibels (inb4 lewd jokes) is well within noise pollution limits we do not want to upset the neighborhood. I would say that the most realistic comparison in terms of noise is probably to that of a burble from the exhaust of a sporty car on idle. Customers should take this into consideration and make an appropriate arrangement as the last thing I want is to end up in some Jeremy Kyle-esque confrontation when I go to work! Jokes aside, please consider any neighbours in immediate proximity that may be unwell, short-fused or have young infants if you require the use of the generator.
Early last year saw a lot of re-investment into other areas of inventory, such as improving the van layout, replacement digital paint depth gauge, digital microscope and suchlike, that perhaps the basics got overlooked. I had been getting on with the little old Karcher K2 domestic pressure washer, and it wasn't until I taken my trip up north (as covered in the blog posts) that I realised what I was missing out on.
The Kranzle K7 is the benchmark piece of kit for any mobile Valeter/Detailer, and it was about time I made the upgrade. It's quite bizarre when I look back, that I had all of this polishing equipment, and yet only a pressure washer that was recommended for occasional home use. This upgrade now means that the pre-rinse, snow foam, and wash process is now even better - giving a more professional image no doubt
There are always new tools that I look to add to the ranks, and it could go on forever, but for now any further equipment purchases will have to be spread out over the somewhat near future. I don’t want to give the game away all at once, however, but it really does hinge on how busy things get and with what lines of work. Perhaps a gloss meter and a couple more polishing machines? Who knows.
In terms of products, I continually look for new things to try and over the last few months I have been really impressed with CarPro, to the point where most of their products now feature in the inventory. Future ceramic coating jobs will be with their products, including the new anti-static super hydrophobic “Gliss” top coat that can be layered over "CQuartz UK" ceramic coating.
As for waxes, Angelwax “Enigma” will be joining the premium upgrades available on the Detailing services. This is an Si02 (the quality grade that costs £1000 a litre in raw material form) blended wax to give extra depth of shine, protection and water behaviour. Considering that a 250ml pot has an RRP of £180, I really do believe that offering an application at just £20 extra is incredibly fair and good value to the customer. You can book for this upgrade on the Enhancement, Maintenance and Correction packages.
The range of Chemical Guys air freshener sprays carried on-board have also been expanded, giving customers that fun choice of scent to accompany a clean car. When you book for any service, just be sure to let me know which one you'd like so I can make sure to bring it along. A lot of consumables will also continue to be sourced from AutoGlym too, and I would like to congratulate my local franchise Branson Autotmotive on their successes and awards at the recent AutoGlym conference.
There is one last note on consumables to point out as well - and it is that microfibre towels and applicators are frequently purchased all year round, demoted down to wheel duty, then rag duty before the bin awaits. This is critical when considering who you choose to valet and detail your car, as poor quality towels are not good for the condition of paintwork and other sensitive surfaces. Towels and other commodities can often be overlooked but when valeting and detailing properly, only the best quality will do.
The first job of the year was on this Audi A1. This particular car received a CQuartz UK ceramic coating “By Andrew” back in November 2016, and due to the car being used to travel to and from the Welsh coast with long cleaning intervals it needed some of the available upgrade extras along with its Service Clean.
Tar removal, Iron fallout treatment and Hydro2 application featured on top of all the high value for money features found in the base Service Clean package.
The car had sadly picked up a couple of marks including a deeply gouged scratch in the wing mirror. Although correction work is not included as standard with the Service Clean, this was wet-sanded and polished out as safely as possible.
The next recommended service for this car? Another Service Clean in 6 weeks perhaps, and then a Maintenance Detail in 3 or 4 months to fully de-clutter and revitalise the old ceramic coating. It is much better, and cost effective, to maintain and repair coatings rather than strip them back and replace.
In previous years “like and share” competitions featured on the Detailed By Andrew business Facebook page. This is something that has since been discontinued as sadly it didn’t quite generate the marketing impact that was initially hoped for. However, something rather exciting is now in place for all customers that book going forward. "Shout About" is a free quarterly prize draw for customers to enter simply by doing the following:
If you would like to know the full details of this prize draw please feel free to get in touch, or just make sure that you keep an eye out for the leaflets left in your car, is all I can say.
A lot of assessment has been made on the business’ performance and I have looked to address certain areas and improve on what is already doing well. From now on the main thing is a positive outlook for the future. The important thing for me is that having read this blog, and perhaps knowing of Detailed By Andrew’s work first hand, my followers see the benefits of the tools, products, experience, hard work and value for money that goes into the valeting and detailing services carried out. Detailed By Andrew is all about providing a professional service, with a personal approach. Thank you for your custom and support in 2017, now let’s see what this year will bring.
Andrew Southall, just a guy obsessed with shining up cars.