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VOL. 3, NO. 2 SPRING 2018

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CONTENTS Bud Abraham Retires. . . . . . . . . . . 4 The industry says “farewell” to an icon and pioneer

Hall of Stains. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 8 Onion Conundrum

Tricks of the Trade . . . . . . . . . . . . 9 Where did you get your business loan? What to build?

Porsche or Pinto. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 10 It’s all fun & games!

Nitty Gritty. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 13 Getting to Know Justin Labato the new IDA president

Innovations. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 16 Industry Dirt. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 18 IDA Column. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 20 Detailers Get a Well-Deserved Day of Recognition

Were You Seen at Mobile Tech Expo 2018? . . . . 22 Cover Story . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 28 Detailing Delearships

Detail Doctor . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 33 Pricing Problems & Predicaments

One More Thing . . . There is a stillness in the air. A shift in the mood and a different kind of quiet. As I read this morning about the closing of Toys ‘R’ Us, following the closings of Sears, Kmarts and Footlockers, I am also reminded of so many end-ofan-era happenings. No more shopping malls, no more house phones and person-to-person conversations. Not to mention the vanishing of old-fashioned paper calendars, pawn and chipboard board games and book stores containing actual books. The reason for these nostalgic sentiments is that I have also learned that Bud Abraham has decided to retire. Although it isn’t “shocking” news, it still makes me sad. A door is now closing that was once always open, welcoming and a gateway to good old-fashioned advice, enthusiasm and readiness. If you were to call his number, he would answer. He would set aside time to delve into your query. I have spent hours with him on the phone and he is even part of the reason I am editor of this publication. And, while some disagreed with his political views, or even his approaches, it is hard to deny the fact that he was and is an industry icon and institution. And, while his retirement was inevitable, I guess I just thought we had years and years to go. The good news is that he will still write for Auto Detailing News and his email is still the same. So, he isn’t out of our lives for

Letter from the Editor

good. Also, his business, DETAIL PLUS is in great hands, those of the admirable Keith Duplessie. But, yet, it still makes me sad that another chapter has come to an end. And, one more thing before I go… I had a great time at the 2018 Mobile Tech Expo. Publisher Jackson Vahaly and I met many new faces and we also got a bunch of great story ideas for upcoming issues. One of the greatest takeaways was the fact that people were overtly enthusiastic about the state of the industry. The pulse of the showroom floor as well as in the educational sessions was buoyant and serious at the same time. People seemed confident in how things were going back home, and newbies were bonding with veterans. It is a camaraderie that can only be described with one word: Remarkable. Now, it’s time for the 2018 Car Wash Show in Las Vegas! Who’s going? If you’ll be there, get in touch with Jackson and I by emailing me at debrag@autodetailingnews.com. Until Next Time,

Vol. 3, No. 2, Spring 2018 Publisher: Jackson Vahaly Editor: Debra Gorgos Design: Katy Barrett-Alley Auto Detailing News is published 4 times per year and is independently owned by Jackson Vahaly. Web address is www.autodetailingnews.com

All inquiries should be directed to: Auto Detailing News 110 Childs Ln. Franklin, TN 37067 jacksonv@autodetailingnews.com Copyright © 2018

THE 24/7


2 Dollar Enterprises/Auto Detailing News All Rights Reserved.



Bud Abraham Retires The industry says “farewell” to an icon and pioneer

To get the status of industry icon, there are a few prerequisites: Length of time spent in the industry. Influence and dedication to the industry. And, the amount of respect those in the industry have for said icon. Well, after almost 50 years in the detailing business, installing operations all over the world, writing hundreds and hundreds of articles, consultations and advising, the forming of the first ever detailing association, and countless industry awards, R.L. “Bud” Abraham has certainly earned the industry icon title. And, now that Bud has decided to retire, his contributions to the world of detailing are being lauded and the void left behind is formidable.

Close friend Gary Pendleton who has been involved in every aspect of the car washing and express detailing industries over the past 41 years, had this to share: “Bud Abraham is a true pioneer in the professional detailing industry. He has devoted his life to professionalism and legitimizing the art of detailing and he has influenced my life professionally and personally in many ways.” Bud has single-handedly done more for the detail industry than anyone before or since, Pendleton added. “I doubt that anyone will ever match his knowledge and commitment in the professional detailing industry. He told me and demonstrated to me how honesty and integrity go handin-hand in anything you do. I am proud to call Bud Abraham my friend he is and will always be an icon in the car washing and detailing industry.”



By Debra Gorgos




VOL. 3, NO. 2 • SPRING 2018

Bud’s contributions to the industry began back in 1969 when he worked for Hanna Car Wash Systems as an international Sales Manager. He left the company after 10 years and in 1981 he founded Detail Plus Car Appearance Systems, a world-leading supplier of detail equipment and accessories. Along with the help of his wife Sheryl, and daughters Marnie, Aimee, Georgie, and Jolie, Bud was able to make his mark all over the world, installing Detail Plus systems in six continents, 25 countries, and 30 states. During that time, he was a founding member of the International Detailing Association, and served as its first executive director, and he also wrote countless articles for various publications. “When I decided to go into detailing, I was looking for any kind of information I could get my hands on,” shared Greg

Swett, President of Classic Appreciation World Class Auto Detailing and former IDA president. “I remember going to the library and looking up articles. It was there that I found articles by Bud Abraham and his articles were a huge influence on me. I eventually got to meet him and I remember thinking, ‘This person seems to really understand what detailing is about and he really inspired me and motivated me and I am so grateful to him.” Upon deciding to retire, Bud stated that it was an easy, although bittersweet, decision. “When a person starts and owns a company as I did, you do not think about retiring unless you do not like what you do and can’t wait to get out of business,” said Abraham. “Needless to say, I fell in love with the detail continued ...

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Bud Retires continued ... industry and wanted to see it become a ‘legitimate auto service business’ as other auto services.” Shawn Rowan, Vice President of Sales for Ardex Labs Inc., had the following to say. “I have known Bud for over 27 years and I have relied on his knowledge many times. He is an inspiration to our whole industry and he always is promoting the professionalism and pride of being a detailer.” Bud said that when he turned 65 many of his friends and relatives were retiring and would ask him when it would be his turn. Bud would always reply, “Heck no I love what I am doing and on a mission that is not yet complete.” But in 2013 when he was 73 he was stricken with a near-fatal heart attack which got his attention. After a six-month recovery process he began working again, but his near-death experience left him reevaluating his life and he asked


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himself, “Should I go back to what I was doing before the heart attack?” As a Catholic-Christian Bud believed God allowed him to survive because he had something else for him to do. “And,” he said, “It was not doing what I had been doing for the past 40+ years. With that awareness I decided it was time to ‘hang it up.’”


Bud’s first step was to reduce the size of the operation by closing his warehouse and office facilities and operating on a smaller scale out of a home office and small warehouse space. He did this for over a year, but it became obvious this was not really being retired. “It was then that I decided to make an offer to Keith Duplessie (who had


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VOL. 3, NO. 2 • SPRING 2018

ANTHONY TORLISH Distinctive Detailing

worked for me for several years, but moved to Texas when his wife got a great job opportunity with Microsoft),” Bud said. “While his Army National Guard unit was deployed to Kuwait I emailed Keith a suggestion he purchase the company and operate it from his own near the Dallas-Fort Worth, Texas area. He accepted the offer and when he got


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back, we finalized the sale.” So, what has life been like for Bud since retiring? “Without a doubt my life has dramatically changed,” he said. “My days now are taken up a regular exercise regime which I was not doing before the heart attack. Now, I exercise from 1.5 to 2.0 hours per day in the gym at the club house in the community where we live.”

Church also plays a big part in his daily routine. “At noon I make every effort to attend daily Mass at a large shrine near my home. A few evenings a week I conduct study groups at a number of churches in the area. So, my time has been immediately consumed with other things that I believe God has directed me toward and am very happy.”

As for whether Bud has any regrets about retiring, he said the door is not entirely closed. He will still write his Detail Doctor column for Auto Detailing News and he is still on hand to answer any questions. “Sure, if I think about the company and the industry I might miss it, but when you make a decision to ‘move on’ you must make the break and truly move on. For example, for 25 years I coached boys and girls in elementary and middle school basketball and football. When my last daughter graduated from middle school I gave up coaching and now it is like I never did it. So, too, it will be with my involvement in the detail industry. Time moves on and we old timers are left behind and replaced by new and equally smart and creative people.” As for Duplessie, he says Bud’s legacy will be honored and his business will be in good hands. Detail Plus has relocated to Dallas, Texas, from its original Portland, Oregon home. But, the drive

and passion behind the business has stayed the same. “Naturally, I thought the industry will lose a great supporter and friend, and that I would too, but Bud has done a lot for the industry and he has earned the opportunity to step away on his terms. I think he is ready to get away from the grind and I hope we can carry forward his legacy,” Duplessie said. In term of filling the void left behind by Bud’s retirement, Duplessie said the void is not something anyone will be able to fill. “Not sure anyone can do that, but I will try to keep Detail Plus true to it’ equipment roots and move us forward as a company.” Duplessie also has this message for Bud: Thank you - you have done so much for the industry and me personally. I don’t think I can repay you for that, but know that I will always value our time together.



Stain horror stories

Onion Conundrum

Hall of Stains

Chances are, as a detailer you have probably seen horrible messes. Pigment, odors, or just plain grossness can turn stomachs and perhaps even make you wish you were doing something else for a living. This section is dedicated to those horror stories and will share the tales of the really bad spills and stains that took special treatments and extra man hours to eradicate.

The Survivor: Michael Antenucci of Success Auto Wash Detail in Ames, Iowa

The Victim: Acura MDX

The Gory Details: I received a phone call from a new client that was looking for a “detail.” I went through the process of trying to ask the right questions for bidding time and product costs. I was told it was an Acura MDX with “two rows of seats.” But, it was actually three rows of seats. Right now I am trying to build some strong client relationships with my new business, so, I bid the price low and even threw in a free wheel cleaning the customer inquired about. I was told by

the client an onion had fallen out of her groceries and rolled under the seat. She did not discover it until much later when it had started to rot. I always start my cleaning by checking my surroundings, putting on my gloves, setting up my lights and hooking the car up to a battery tender. The car was trashed, food from kids, even a weird clear substance in the back cup holder. Come to find out the substance was brake fluid.

The Exorcism: Started my cleaning with Meguiars APC 10.1 on basically everything— working

counter-clockwise starting on the driver seat. I made it around the car then vacuumed the car. After I had removed all the leftover onion parts I foamed the entire carpet with Chemical Guys CWS 103 Fabric Clean Carpet & Upholstery Shampoo & Odor Eliminator. I agitated the foam with a drill brush attachment. I followed over with my steam cleaner then blotted with a microfiber towel. I added about 2 caps full

of Optimum No Rinse to my steamer’s water. I then proceeded by foaming the carpet trouble spots with 10.1 APC and steam. Since I do not own an ozone generator I vacuumed off the onion zone again. I then treated with Meguiar’s G19702 Whole Car Air Refresher Odor Eliminator (Spiced Wood Scent), 2.5 oz. After this experience, I will be strictly enforcing my $70/hr organic substance removal fees.

Got a scary stain story to share? Send it to Editor Debra Gorgos at debrag@autodetailingnews.com!





VOL. 3, NO. 2 • SPRING 2018





Where did you get your business loan?

Presenting some of the best discussions from the Detailing and General Discussions sections of Auto Care Forum. To view more posts discussing some interesting and common problems as well as some of the best and brightest solutions,

TDLCONCEPTSLLC: Private lenders, but normally they would want the property as collateral and it would have to be worth way more than 1.5 as it sits for them to just have there money tied up like that. Wells Fargo is the last bank I would ever want to do business with. You will have a better chance with a small local bank but borrowing that kind of money would at least require 20-30% down or more. Good luck.

visit AutoCareForum.com

obtain a loan to acquire real estate and build a carwash facility is a function of the risks in the venture. Besides land development and investment ownership risks are business operating risks. For example, will the site generate sufficient gross sales? Some of this was discussed on another thread. Can adequate staff and management be provided to ensure an efficient and customer-centric operation? To paraphrase, 20 percent of success is equipment, 80 percent how you treat cus-

(Note: Some posts feature minor edits for readability.)


BUILD? FROM RTRICK87: I currently work as a

police officer and run a successful busy mobile detailing business on my days off. I’ve decided that while I love helping others, I’d rather not be forced on shifts where I didn’t get much sleep the night before and that I can make a better living off owning a mobile detailing, car wash and detailing center. I want to open a Hand washing car wash, which would have a conveyor belt ... Also on the property will be two LaserWash360 touchless wash bays and a 4 bay detailing garage for full details, paint correction and ceramic coating applications. Currently I am in talks with a property where I live that has a leasing opportunity in a shop-

ROBERT ROMAN: Equity required to

ping plaza with a grocery store, two large department stores, a hardware store, sports store, pet store, liquor store and in development for an additional 15 stores. I’ve talked with a developer who said by what the survey shows (10,000 cars of traffic a day through the area and a population of 35,000 in the immediate 5 miles) that it would easily be achievable to get 30,000 vehicles a year through a 2 bay touchless wash. My question is should I go with that and have the mobile detailing or should I opt for the more populated area where I can put the hand washing tunnel, touchless wash bays and detailing center. I want to help create jobs and not have machines do

tomers. This “personality” is the goodwill created. Without prior carwash ownership and management experience, how do you plan to mitigate risks? For example, you can hire an engineering firm to conduct EPA Phase I to ensure that any previous use of land has not resulted in toxic contamination. However, what are you going to do if the labor (20 to 30 hours per week) needed to maintain this site doesn’t show up, walks off, gets hurt or sick or worse. After all, this is a 24-hour a day, 7-days a week, rain or shine carwash. Considering the circumstances you described, I’m surprised the bank would be interested. They are but at 50 percent down. What this says is the loan officer believes the risks in this venture are considerably greater compared to what they are in a traditional or conventional project. 7a might be more attractive but expect big fees.

SOONERMAJIC: I got my 1st business loan from my local bank, for just $100k on a 3/1, 3 yrs ago. Now getting my 2nd loan from another local bank, for $500k & owner is financing the other 20%. It was all real easy. Not

all the work. The more populated area is situated within an intersection of 3 major state highways and within a population of 70,000 people in the immediate 6 mile radius from the area I am interested in. Go big or go home right?

ROBERT ROMAN: Start at the beginning.

Salary and successful PT cash business implies you have no more time in a week to accomplish more. Assume salary $60,000 and $40,000 gross net from detail or $100,000 EBT. Making a better living requires growth. Assume goal and objective EBT $200,000. This means the carwash you proposed must generate gross sales of at

sure why either. I have great credit & have a very high HS c o a ch ing income of $60k & 3 kids in college!

WAXMAN: I got my first business loan

from a Fitchburg, MA based bank and the SBA, together. I owned the land outright and used that as my down payment. I still love the car wash and detail business. I have diversified into used car sales and apartments, thanks to good advice from Whale of a Wash and others. This is a tough business where you watch every penny and remain committed to customer satisfaction. That means continuous maintenance and improvements, reinvesting your money back into the business so that you remain current, profitable and highly functional. Where will your loan repayment be in 10-12 years when your automatic washes need a re-boot? What will that cost? Can you wash enough cars to make your payments or will you send $1.5MM to die? If I sold my place today, I’d buy more rental property. It’s not for everyone, but it’s easy compared to washing, detailing and selling cars.

least $1.0 million. Assets to support this have value of between $2.5 and $3.5 million. Ground lease would drop this to between $1.5 and $2.5 million. Unless there is a bank roll, this is usually out of reach for most mom and pop investors. Alternative would to be to grow detailing business. For example, a one person, full-time mobile detailing operation is capable of $100,000 annual gross sales. Get a hand-full of mobile detailers working for you and save money for carwash.





Porsche or Pinto?

___ 2018 Toyota Tundra ___ 2013 Lincoln MKS ___ 2018 Nissan Murano

It’s no secret that detailers know their cars. But, let’s put the skills to the test.

___ 2013 Ford Fusion

Can you tell the make, model and year of each vehicle posted below? Answers are on the bottom of the page. Good luck!

___ 2013 Kia Rio ___ 2018 Dodge Charger







c. 2013 Lincoln MKS d.2018 Dodge Charger

e. 2018 Nissan Murano f. 2018 Toyota Tundra




a. 2013 Ford Fusion b.2013 Kia Rio


VOL. 3, NO. 2 • SPRING 2018

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Nitty Gritty

Getting to Know...

Justin Labato

the new IDA president

If anyone out there is looking for a boost of encouragement, look no further as Justin Labato has a good story to share. Nowadays, Justin is a successful detailer, family man, and was just given the honorable title of International Detailing Association President. But, things weren’t always sunny in the Sunshine state. Justin saw his fair share of hardships. Heartbroken and down on his luck, Justin was looking for reclamation. And, then, one day, he was able to find his footing again, thanks to a detailer willing to take the time to teach Justin his tricks. Read on to find out how Justin became the success that he is today and what advice he has for others looking for inspiration. By Debra Gorgos debrag@autodetailingnews.com

What is your full name? Justin Labato

Where were you born? Fort Lauderdale, FL

Growing up, what did you want to be & why? I wanted to make my own money with no limitations, but had no idea what I wanted to do.

How did you get started in the detailing industry? I was laid off and unemployed for about a month and then the engine on my car blew up. So, not having much money, I bought a car off the side of the road that was in need of some TLC. I knew a guy who did his own detailing and he gave me some pointers on how to get the car looking good. So, at that point, I realized how much I really liked detailing

and put together a list of local detailers with reputations. The last guy on the list had the best reputation so I went to him last thinking he would not be interested (like the rest were not) to train or hire me. Little did I know it was the best decision I ever made as I bought his business 6 months later and never looked back.

What is the name and location of your detailing business? JL’s Showroom Detailing Inc. Located in

Melbourne, FL.

What is the hardest thing about owning a business? Consistency and getting the client to understand the value in the services offered!

Do you have any advice for people just getting started in the industry? Invest in your craft and education with training. Be a sponge in the industry. continued ...



Nitty Gritty

What motivates you to get up every day? Life in general, but overall my kids, my wife and the joy of living life the way I want to — without a boss.

What advice do you have for dealing with a difficult customer?

trade show and at that point I knew the Association was something I wanted to help represent.

How does it feel to be President and what are your goals?

If it’s not a good situation then be courteous and try to satisfy their issues without making the situation worse. If that doesn’t work shake hands and tell them to have a nice day as they are not a good fit for your business anyway!

Being President of the IDA is definitely an honor and I’m super proud to help lead the industry. My goals are to help get our industry recognized as a craft, create a higher perceived value of our services, and get more consumer awareness so that they know why they should choose an IDA detailer.

What is your favorite thing about being a detailer?

Is there anything about you that might surprise our readers?

The gratification from the reaction a client gives upon seeing their vehicle; and, of course, the networking within the industry which is full of great people.

I started detailing while i was unemployed, coming out of a bad divorce and my father passed away within that same year. So, for those who think they can’t be successful due to some kind of personal issue, you are wrong. It’s more a matter of how bad you want it or how you’re going to make it happen, no matter what the obstacle is in life. Trust me, if you want it bad enough you can make it happen, you just have to be ready to accept it. It takes time and success doesn’t happen overnight. Stay motivated, be realistic, be honest and you will be successful.

What is your least favorite thing? Negative mentality and hacks that don’t want to grow.

How did you get involved with the International Detailing Association? I was introduced to the IDA at my first





VOL. 3, NO. 2 • SPRING 2018

Polishing Systems Full Page with outlines V2.indd 1

11/28/2017 2:04:01 PM


WOLFSTEINS PRO-SERIES™ — Jeep Cleaner & Protectant kit


SOFTTOPP Jeep Cleaner & Protectant kit for vinyl and fabric from WOLFSTEINS PRO-SERIES™ is now available. The SOFTTOPP Cleaner removes dirt and grime and the protectant repels mud, water and UV rays. Contains no silicone and can also be used on vinyl interiors and accessories. This is the only cleaner and protectant system tested, approved and endorsed by HAARTZ, the original manufacturer of Jeep toppings since 1970. Also available is the SOFTTOPP Premium Jeep Top Brush.


Buff Brite — The Flamethrower Have you ever had a problem that caused you to think outside the box and as a result became an amazing invention? In 2014, Tom Smith was polishing a black 69 Camaro, when an overhead florescent light in his shop flickered out. Laziness overcame him and he didn’t grab a ladder and replace it. Instead, he tried to hold a cheap rechargeable work light while buffing the vehicle. That soon became impossible, so he grabbed man’s second best friend (duct tape) and attached the light to the head of the polisher. It looked ugly, but WOW did it solve the problem, Tom exclaimed. From there, the idea was born for the Buff Brite Flamethrower.   On its way to two Utility Patents, the Flamethrower sports a heavy duty 5052 aluminum frame that adds nearly no weight to the polisher. It uses a military grade dampening boot that cradles any light source of your choice. The best seller is the cool blue LED rechargeable light that easily lasts all day and makes scratches and imperfections show like no other. The arm can be mounted in several positions and nearly any combination you can dream up, even two lights at a time. Visit www.buffbrite.com for more information.





VOL. 3, NO. 2 • SPRING 2018

Griot’s Garage Rinseless Wash & Wax

Malco — Ceramic Coating System

Griot’s Garage Rinseless Wash & Wax can save up to 60 gallons of water per wash so it is ideal for apartment dwellers and regions where hose-andbucket washing is restricted. Featuring hydrophobic polymers and carnauba waxes, Rinseless Wash & Wax safely and effectively cleans the surface while also enhancing gloss and protection. Simply add 1 ounce to 2 1/2 gallons of water in the bucket, soak the Microfiber Wash Pad in the solution, and glide it across your paint. Then dry immediately using a PFM™ Terry Weave Towel. Rinseless Wash & Wax safely cleans all exterior surfaces, including paint, glass, wheels,

Malco Automotive introduces the Malco® EPIC™ Ceramic Coating System, a protection that is easy to apply and provides excellent results. When professionally installed, the EPIC Ceramic Coating System will bond with the vehicle’s clear coat to create a durable, hydrophobic surface. This coating will prevent dirt, water spots, and contaminants from adhering to paint, prolonging the life and ease of cleaning for any vehicle. This system comes as a starter kit with everything needed to properly coat a vehicle: • EPIC™ Ceramic Coating comes in a 30ml size, enough to protect 1-2

door jambs, glass, clear plastic, chrome, trim, rubber, and more. Griot’s Garage Rinseless Wash & Wax can also be diluted 15:1 in a spray bottle to serve as a killer spray-on wash, drying aid, clay lubricant, or pre-wash soak for bugs and heavy grime. Kit includes a 35 ounce bottle of Rinseless Wash & Wax, an Ultimate Wash Bucket w/ casters and lid, a Microfiber Wash Pad, an empty 35oz 15:1 dilution bottle with sprayer, and a pair of PFM™ Terry Weave Towels. Check out griotsgarage.com to find out more about this product and where to buy it, or call Griot’s Garage at (800) 345-5789.

Griot’s Garage Scent Restoring Leather Cleaner Griot’s Garage Scent Restoring Leather Cleaner cleans the surface and the smell of leather or vinyl seats, dashes, door panels, and more. Leather is one of the most odor absorbent materials in any vehicle as it tenaciously holds onto food smells, smoke, and other foul odors. Most leather cleaners only eliminate dirt and grime, but leave the odor behind. Griot’s Garage Scent Restoring Leather Cleaner’s pH balanced formula is effective at removing all types of stains and denim transfer, while working deep into the grain to eliminate unpleasant odors. Safe for both aniline and pigmented leather, Griot’s Garage Scent Restoring Leather Cleaner makes it easy to create a clean you can see with your eyes and your nose. Check out griotsgarage.com to find out more about this product and where to buy it, or call Griot’s Garage at (800) 345-5789.

Griot’s Garage Pump-Up Sprayer The Griot’s Garage Pump-Up Sprayer delivers continuous spraying of your favorite Griot’s Garage cleaners and degreasers. An adjustable spray nozzle puts you in total control of the flow from a fine mist to a steady stream. The Griot’s Garage Pump-Up Sprayer has an operating capacity of 60 ounces, a large 51mm opening for easy fill-ups, and a maximum pressure of 43 psi. This do-everything dispenser is ideal for cleaning engines, wheels, carpet, upholstery, convertible tops, leather, paint, chrome, glass, trim, wheel wells, and anywhere you use a spray-on product. Check out griotsgarage. com to find out more about this product and where to buy it, or call Griot’s Garage at (800) 345-5789.

vehicles. • EPIC™ Ceramic Prep Wash Concentrate is a phosphate-free formula designed to remove dirt, road film and other common automotive soils quickly, easily and thoroughly. • EPIC™ Ceramic Final Prep Wipe cleans and preps the surface to help ensure successful application of the long-lasting protective ceramic coating. • Accessories including an applicator, suede cloths and an ultra-soft edgeless microfiber towel.

CSI® Announces — New & Improved Lustra ProSheenTM The New and Improved ProSheen has been formulated for optimum gloss and cost effectiveness. Using unique surfactant-blend technology, this is a proprietary, solvent-based dressing that is great for hand application or on-line machines using pads or brushes. It’s non-staining and ultra-low sling formula leaves an excellent lasting shine. The water-resistant formula does not bleed or sweat off tires. Highlights include: Longer lasting shine, 50% reduction in sling, and improved uniform coverage and no beading (sweating). Customer trials show up to 20% reduction in usage per car.






The 2018 Car Wash Show™ APRIL 26-28, 2018

Las Vegas Convention Center www.carwash.org/thecarwashshow


MAY 15-17, 2018 Stuttgart, Germany www.uniti-expo.de/nc/en/ homepage.html

Northeast Regional Carwash Convention (NRCC) OCTOBER 1-3, 2018

Atlantic City Convention Center, Atlantic City, NJ https://www.nrccshow.com/

RUPES USA facility opens in Colorado Opened officially in January of 2018 the new RUPES USA facility boasts nearly 40,000 square feet that includes administrative and support offices, repair and manufacturing for the RUPES family of products as well as a state-of-the-art training facility known as The BigFoot Academy. RUPES USA centers its commercial philosophy on education under the mantra “Educate to Differentiate” and this new training facility allows them to further expand upon that mission. “We truly believe that education is the best sales tool.” says Dylan von Kleist, Marketing Manager for RUPES USA. “If we can show technicians and distributors of our product our solutions, teach them how to most




effectively use them, and even allow them the ability to see the way we build them the decision to use RUPES is an easy one.” Accompanying their new building RUPES USA has also launched a website dedicated just to the US/ North American market (www.rupesusa.com). Customers can view high resolution images, get full product specs, learn more about the various systems and even purchase repair parts or schedule a factory level repair. The website is now also supported by unique social media channels where the U.S. arm of the Italian based tool maker can communicate directly to their audience in the U.S. When asked about the use of the |

VOL. 3, NO. 2 • SPRING 2018

BigFoot Training Academy thus far, Global Director of Training Jason Rose was impressed. “The response has been incredible so far! In the first few months we’ve hosted 4 trainings ranging in size for over 50 students down to just a handful. Regardless of attendance our classroom and practical spaces scale to meet the need. I’m excited to get more people here to train with us!” Tours, trainings, and special events at the new facility, located just 30 minutes north of Denver, have begun and a full schedule of certification classes will be available soon. For more information visit www.rupesusa.com or email info@rupesusa.com.

2018 SEMA Show

OCTOBER 30-NOVEMBER 2, 2018 Las Vegas Convention Center https://www.semashow.com/

2018 Kleen-Rite Expo

NOVEMBER 14, 2018 Columbia, Pennsylvania kleen-ritecorp.com

2019 Mobile Tech Expo

JANUARY 10-12, 2019

Orange County Convention Center, Orlando, Florida https://mobiletechexpo.com/

Kleen-Rite Corp. hosts open house New ondemand app launches in Atlanta

Supplier of wholesale equipment to the car wash industry, Kleen-Rite Corp., welcomed the public to their Grand Prairie, Texas, distribution center on February 24, 2018. Founded in 1959 and now operating in three states, Kleen-Rite opened the Grand Prairie facility in 2012. This distribution center allows rapid and reliable shipments of supplies to businesses in the southwest and nationwide. More than 100 car wash owners attended the event which included tours, giveaways, and dinner from Riscky’s Barbeque. Kleen-Rite President Mike McKonly and Vice President Keith Lutz were on hand to have dinner with guests and attend the Southwest Car Wash Association Convention & Expo in nearby Arlington. Over $5,000 in door prizes were distributed thanks to generous sponsorships from leading car wash equipment

and supply manufacturers. Many manufacturer representatives also joined the open house group to meet car wash owners before the Expo. Industry professionals will have another chance to visit a Kleen-Rite facility and win more great prizes during the 2018 Kleen-Rite Expo, to be held November 14 in Columbia, PA. Kleen-Rite also hosted The 2017 Lancaster County Toys for Tots distribution initiative. Many dedicated community volunteers, veterans, and Kleen-Rite employees worked with the Marine Corps for five days in December to give away over 5,000 gifts. More than 3,500 families were in attendance, benefiting approximately 9,000 children. Each child received a book, stocking stuffer, plush animal toy, and three additional gifts. Families also received a puzzle and a board game.

Detailer opens new detailing shop, supply store and U-Haul dealership Detailer and paint correction specialist, Lawrence Evans (CD, SV), of St. Augustine, Florida, opened ProShine Detailing Services, a retail detailing products store, and U-Haul dealership, on March 19. Evans, a Florida native had already built a successful mobile

detailing business in the St. Augustine and Ponte Vedra areas. Evans has received training and certification from Detailing Success in Big Bear, California, and the International Detailing Association.

reDUNNit is a new on-demand car reconditioning request mobile app that launched in Atlanta in February. Founder and CEO Steve Sartain stated in a press release, “As a longtime auto reconditioning technician myself, I knew it was time to shift the industry. We built reDUNNit to make car repairs easier and fairer for car owners, while giving techs new opportunities to earn more money and grow their business.” Services offered through the app include paintless dent and scratch repair, windshield repair and replacement, bumper



repair, window tinting, interior deodorization, and alloy wheel repair. reDUNNit is free to use for both car owners and technicians. Upon logging in, users can search for technicians in their area, check their availability, upload images of the damage, and chat with the technician to reserve a time and place. All payments are handled securely in the app. Because the app is consumer-facing, technicians are easily able to book their own business without the overhead of a dealership, and are expected to earn 15-30% more per service.

Sonny’s The CarWash Factory announces partnership, new business solution Sonny’s Enterprises, LLC, of Tamarac, Florida, has acquired Mr. Foamer, a premier supplier of car wash foaming applicators, marketing, and signage. Sonny’s has also launched OneWash™, the industry’s first and only complete suite of car wash business solutions designed to simplify the daily operations and management of any sized car wash business enterprise. “Partnering with Jim at Mr. Foamer is the final piece needed for us to deliver the industry’s first and only complete car wash suite, OneWash. Combining not only Car Wash Services of the Southeast, Diamond Shine and now Mr. Foamer, but

incorporating Jim, Scott and Zeev onto the Sonny’s team has elevated Sonny’s to an entirely new level in car washing. There’s never been a more exciting time than now in our industry,” said Paul Fazio, CEO of Sonny’s Enterprises, LLC. Mr. Foamer will continue to be led by the same management team with no change in day-to-day operations for the thousands of clients it serves. Last Fall, Sonny’s also acquired Diamond Shine. “Our vision is to deliver a complete bundle of products and services that enable our clients to excel at what they do,” said Fazio.



Detailers Get a Well-Deserved Day of Recognition First Annual Love Your Detailer Day shines a light on the detailing profession and industry By Erin Reyes IDA Communications Specialist

The Inter national Detailing Association (IDA) may have just celebrated its first annual Love Your Detailer Day this year on February 15, but the special day has been a long time coming. In fact, its history dates back to 1988, when the event’s pioneer, IDA Membership Committee Chair Joseph DiFiore, CD-SV, became a professional

detailer and decided that he wanted to inspire others to do the same. Fast forward thirty years and countless volunteer hours with the IDA, and Joe’s vision has finally come to fruition with the association’s inaugural event. “We wanted a fun day to call our own,” DiFiore explained. “A day to bring the IDA members together to work toward the same cause, i.e. teaching the public that auto detailing is a legitimate industry and a professional trade.” The IDA Membership Committee

created Love Your Detailer Day as a way to show pride and appreciation for a thriving industry and a growing professional association. By sharing member accomplishments with the world via social media, the Internet, and through word-of-mouth, the hope was to raise awareness of the organization itself and the detailing industry as a whole. The effort aligned seamlessly with the mission of 2018 IDA President, Justin Labato, CD-SV, RT, who has made it one of his primary goals to bring professional

detailing to the attention of a wider audience and raise awareness for the standards, expertise, and professionalism of IDA members and certified detailers. “We are in a [prime position] to help legitimize our profession,” Labato has stated, “and to eliminate the uphill battle of consumers not recognizing the value in our services.” With a share of the estimated $11 billion car care industry (in the US alone), the growth of auto detailing stateside and abroad within the last five years is undeniable, making it a perfect time to bring these efforts into the spotlight. The proximity to Valentine’s Day is no accident either. With everyone in a “more loving mood,” the committee

IDA Names the Year’s

Best in Detailing

The IDA Awards program was developed to recognize individuals and companies that have made significant contributions to the detailing profession and live up to the ideals indicated in the IDA Code of Ethics. Congratulations to all the well-deserving winners, and thank you to everyone who participated in this year’s awards program! For more information about the awards categories, eligibility, and past winners, please visit www.the-ida.com/ida-awards.

IDA LEADERSHIP AWARD MICHAEL DICKSON, CD-SV, RT Owner, Professional Detailing Products | Canton, Ohio Mike Dickson has served the auto detailing industry since 1980 as a regional supplier, working to improve detailing at the local level. He has been involved in detailing education, working with his local college to develop detailing curriculum as part of its automotive technology program. Mike has served on the IDA Board of Directors, most recently as the 2017 President and was previously Vice President of Suppliers. He has been an outstanding leader and supporter of the association. Mike’s company, PDP, built the first IDA Certified Training Center and continues to provide education through this center.










Attention to Details | Big Bear Lake, CA Renny Doyle has long stood for the improvement of the professional detailing industry. He is recognized as the Official Detailer of Air Force One but his contribution to the industry goes far beyond detailing. He has recently changed his direction to 100% help the IDA and other entities in our industry be successful. He is a walking motivator who networks with everyone in the detailing industry.

TLC Auto Detail | Dulles, VA TLC Auto Detail is a world class detailing facility in the Washington, DC area. What really stands out about TLC is their innovation with the technology they have employed in their facility. Their clean room is unlike any other of its kind, and it is what others copy to use for paint corrections, paint coatings, and paint protection film installations. That’s the kind of out of the box thinking that has advanced the industry the last five years and has made it possible for detailers to finally make real profits from detailing.

OnSite Details | Beaufort, SC Within the last year, OnSite Details has taken great strides to advance their knowledge and standing within the detailing community. Greg has attended in person and online training to become certified by DetailKing as well as IDA. He has become fully licensed in all the towns in which he and his employees work, securing proper business insurance, and continuously improving detailing skills and training. Additionally, Greg has become a certified FeynLab ceramic coating installer. Due to OnSite Details’ standing within the community, Greg hosts/sponsors several different fundraisers, car meets, school functions, and community festivals.


VOL. 3, NO. 2 • SPRING 2018

figured that detailers would be more willing to participate in a light-hearted, but ultimately important, event. For the introductory event, members were encouraged to participate simply by posting their detailing accomplishments to social media. Members flooded feeds with photos of their member certificates, decals, and brand-new IDA identification badges, while certified detailers proudly posted photos of their certifications, patches, and awards. The IDA created a special logo for the day (inset), which was shared across social media channels like Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. The goal was to start a conversation between detailing professionals and consumers about the value of their highly-skilled services. Detailers were also asked to share stories of how they got into the industry, why they decided to get involved with the IDA, and explain why detailing is their

passion. They were further encouraged to spend the day showing the real value of using an IDA member or certified detailer – one who seeks higher standards and adheres to a code of ethics. Love Your Detailer Day was the perfect opportunity to recognize the dedicated professionals who have made a deliberate choice to take their career to a new level by joining the association and by becoming certified. They also spend time maintaining and expanding their knowledge and professionalism through continuing education, networking, and continually working to improve the association (as volunteers!) and the industry for the benefit of consumers. Professional development sets IDA members and certified detailers apart from the average detailer. Of course, Love Your Detailer Day was not only meant to help spread awareness of the organization or even the industry, but especially awareness of the members themselves, who are running their own (oftentimes small)

IDA Immediate Past President, Mike Dickson, CD-SV, RT, shared a photo of the multiple IDA awards and certificates granted to him and his employees. (Photo Credit: Mike Dickson)

businesses. According to DiFiore, Love Your Detailer Day is about creating “awareness for new members and added value for current members,” who are able to identify themselves as part of a legitimate, thriving industry. Members like DiFiore have long been

posting their accomplishments to social media in an attempt to spread positive awareness of the association and the industry. It was through successful posts like this that Joe got the idea to propose creating an entire day devoted to detailers. continued ...



Were You Seen at Mobile Tech Expo 2018?

Photos Courtesy of Prentice St. Clair





VOL. 3, NO. 2 • SPRING 2018

an ideal form of marketing for the event and the IDA in general, since it is easy for others to share videos directly from the IDA platforms to their own pages and to their friends and the general public. Podcasts are also an increasingly preferred media for the IDA, with their easily shareable and accessible format. Autogeek – a longtime member and sponsor of the IDA – raffled off a branded hat, autographed by IDA Vice President of Suppliers, Mike Phillips, CD-SV, RT. Meanwhile, IDA Supplier Member Ardex Labs is looking to build off the success of events like Love Your Detailer Day and Mobile Tech Expo, and has recently launched a 100-member challenge. According to Shawn Rowan, Ardex Vice President of Sales and Global Marketing, employees will compete in teams to see who can drive the most new members to the IDA by the end of the year. Not only will efforts like this grow the IDA’s membership, but

Detailers Day of Recognition continued... “When I posted my IDA membership and certification on Facebook, I noticed how it turned on a new light for many of my clients who visited my shop,” DiFiore said. “It definitely piqued customer interest.” DiFiore encourages fellow members and the 650+ actively certified detailers to take a few moments each month to talk about their involvement with the IDA or the industry at large. With members now in 50+ countries (spanning six continents) – imagine the possible reach! Some members took this advice to heart, and went above and beyond to promote Love Your Detailer Day in creative ways. The initial campaign sparked the creation of several promotional videos and an interest in continuing the use of videos for social media marketing purposes. Members recognize video as


Joe DiFiore image: IDA Membership Committee Chair, Joseph DiFiore, CD-SV (center), proudly displays his custom Love Your Detailer Day apparel while manning the IDA booth with fellow members at Mobile Tech Expo in January. (Photo Credit: Joseph DiFiore)

it will also continue the mission of Love Your Detailer Day to spread awareness of the detailing industry on a large scale, as Ardex has high contact with car dealership programs, an ideal target of the organization.

The impact of the day was felt in many ways by the association, not the least of which was the membership boom experienced in the week leading up to and the week following the event. Over the two-week period surrounding continued ...

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Detailers Day of Recognition continued... Love Your Detailer Day, the IDA welcomed 50 new members (which is about the average for new joins in an entire month). Efforts like this will put the IDA well on its way to reaching the goal of 2000 members in 2018. Beyond welcoming new members and certified detailers, the positive effects of Love Your Detailer Day have been long lasting. “Leading up to and following the event, IDA members have come forward to help support projects in play for the various IDA committees,” DiFiore stated. “This is the first step of bringing the members together.” Members are beginning to recognize that it will require an organization-wide – indeed, industry-wide – effort to bring change, and they are ready to lead the association into its next chapter. For example, Ian Rammelkamp of

Autofiber joined the IDA on Love Your Detailer Day and immediately offered to host an educational webinar for the association as part of its monthly webinar series. DiFiore emphasizes the importance of member involvement in efforts like this. “As the IDA grows, it is crucial for us to continuously cultivate member volunteers and general membership participation as it is the lifeblood that moves organizations forward.” While Love Your Detailer Day 2018 was considered a successful start, the Membership Committee has big plans for next February 15th and beyond. In conjunction with the IDA Marketing & Communications Committee, “MemComm” is working on new ways to promote the IDA and increase consumer awareness, including developing and offering a marketing toolkit for members so they are fully equipped to spread the message about their profession, the industry, and the association. In addition, the committees will be working together

to increase the overall marketing and publicity efforts leading up to the big day. In the meantime, detailers can continue spreading awareness throughout the year. Members can start by hosting a Meet and Greet at their shop or facility, to reach out to those in their local community. These events can be held with the intention of reaching out to non-IDA member detailers in the area, or with the purpose of attracting potential customers and educating them on the importance of professional detailing. Guidelines for hosting these events can be found on the IDA website. Despite all the hype around Love Your Detailer Day, though, detailing awareness should not be limited to just one day of the year. “We encourage members to post their membership and certification accomplishments throughout the year,” DiFiore said, “as this continues to build consumer awareness well beyond February 15th, and continuously reestablishes ourselves as

professional industry leaders.” While the expectations for the first Love Your Detailer Day were simple, they speak to the overall aims of the Membership Committee and the IDA as a whole, who want to “see members become more active with their membership and get involved.” Said DiFiore: “Moving forward, we hope to encourage members to participate in promoting the IDA and their affiliation with the IDA. The members have to believe in the IDA, and eventually the public will come to believe in it too.” Save the Date for our 2nd Annual Love Your Detailer Day: Friday, February 15, 2019. If you would like to take part in the festivities, join the IDA by visiting our website at www.the-ida.com/join-us.

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Serum Summit Gtechniq North America, a detail product company that specializes in ceramic coatings, and led by CEO Andrew Werkheiser who took the reigns in November of 2016, brought the industry together in a way that’s never been done before. Titled the “Serum Summit”, Gtechniq took over a private motorsports country club (Atlanta Motorsports Park) in Georgia for 3 days in February to educate, train, inform and network with attendees from all over the world. As a way to gather some of the most recognizable and powerful brands in the industry, Gtechniq invited vendors who would have the opportunity to take the stage and present to over 100 passionate guests. Several auto detail product companies such as Rupes, Lake Country, Innovative Tool and Scan grip utilized the opportunity to educate and share about their latest products. Distribution veteran, Brian Crosby was on hand with his company, Detail Link to speak and offer fantastic deals to attendees. New-to-the-scene companies were also on hand to introduce themselves. continued ...



STEK Automotive Paint Protection Film, Alchemy Nano Windshield Protection, and Medco Tools spoke to attendees who were eager to learn about cutting edge technology that could help make their detailing business better. One of the most anticipated presentations came from Gtechniq’s Eric Joseph and GREX tools. A partnership announcement was made to share information on Gtechniq’s plans for incorporating GREX airbrush systems into their ceramic coating application process. The reaction and enthusiasm from the audience assured that the partnership will create waves in the industry. Several speakers who motivated attendees with inspirational personal and business stories were also on hand. The dynamic team of Fl Coatings shared how they came to become business partners and the how-to’s of selling ceramic coating jobs to the automotive dealership industry. A well known powerhouse from the West Coast, Jeremy Stevens of Shine Supply captivated an audience with his story and no-nonsense approach to his business. Alongside the seminar-style speaking engagements, continued ...


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the facility offered opportunity for more detailers to become accredited. Gtechniq held two Accreditation Training Programs prior to the Summit; their largest training to date. Following the Summit, attendees were invited to a closing celebration at Kaya Winery where over four thousand dollars was raised for a local automotive non-profit helping children learn the benefits of vehicle dynamics and defensive driving techniques. Amazing prizes such as iPads, drones, Apple watches, Kaya wine and a master detail kit valued at over four thousand dollars consisting of products from all the vendors were also given away.






s r e l i a et


to the

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VOL. 3, NO. 2 • SPRING 2018

s r e il a t e d d e e n s ip How dealersh s le ic h e v ir e h t ll e s o t By Debra Gorgos debrag@autodetailingnews.com Superheroes are ones who are called when no one else has the tools, knowledge, or ability to take on a certain problem. They offer invaluable services and can save the day, thanks to fixing a tricky situation, or making lives better. Detailers are people who are called because they have the tools, knowledge and ability to take on certain auto problems that not only increase a vehicle’s value (which benefits the sellers, buyers, dealership owners), but they also come in and save the day, when time is ticking and inventory needs to move. It is a great dynamic as there will always be cars, there will always be used cars, and unless each one sits in a bubble, there will always be dings, stains, odors, hail, scratches, smudge, etc. Therefore, for years and years, dealerships have had detailers on staff to help them shine up vehicles and make them pleasing to a customer’s senses. Sometimes, a detail job requires more expertise, and sometimes, dealerships have no detailers on staff at all. This is where you come in. Whether they know of you or do not, they are certainly in need of your skills. And, if you’re looking for extra income or clientele, it might be time to approach the dealership and pitch them your prowess. Everyone from recent International Detailing Association President Michael Dickson, to Board of Directors member Keith Duplessie to industry icon Bud Abraham, have been saying it for years: Dealership detailing is where it’s at. “There is so much potential for detailers to make money, if they look at doing work with a dealership,” said Rowan. “If they don’t call you, then you really have to approach pre-owned vehicle retail centers, such as Carmax or some of continued ...



the other large superstores, as well as independent dealerships and smaller pre-owned retail centers.” Next, said Rowan, they have approach the person called the: Pre-owned vehicle manager. They can explain their added value to these centers. Also, collision centers is another place to look, Rowan added. But, there are ways to market such services, approach the dealerships and let them know about your invaluable skills, which brings us to……



Greg Swett, President of Classic Appreciation World Class Auto Detailing and former president of the International Detailing Association works for about seven dealerships in his area of Rochester, Michigan. He “got in” with the dealerships with good old-fashioned hustle. “I periodically visit the body shop managers and service managers in the area to briefly let them know we are a good resource for removing scratches or overspray or odor issues people have with their cars. Many times, in December, I will visit dealerships, auto service centers and collision facilities dressed as Santa and pass out candy canes or even brownies. I also drop off a few of our custom coffee mugs (with our logo, phone and website printed on them) filled with candy canes and of course business cards….” Swett noted that while this has worked, you should not expect instant success. “Don’t plan on people calling immediately, but when their need arises, and they are aware of the services you can perform, then the phone will ring.” “Building awareness of your ability to remedy specific vehicle appearance needs is the key here, keep your name and what you can do for them in front of each department head, not just the pre-owned vehicle sales department.” The detail work he is asked to do varies, Swett said. “It’s funny, different dealerships use us for different services. One




BMW dealership sends us about a car a week to ‘ozone’ the interior… usually after someone smokes in their loaner car. A Ford dealer calls on us to remove or “minimize” small scratches or paint defects in their new car deliveries. A large Chrysler Jeep dealer sends us vehicles that have been stolen and recovered so we can clean and detail the “violated” interiors. Overspray or contaminate removal is also a reason dealers send vehicles to us.” Swett said is great to be able to solve problems for a dealer trying to get a new car delivered or improve a car they may have repaired in the body shop, then they know what you can do and often refer customers directly to us for paint correction, odor elimination and general detailing. “The pre-owned vehicle sales department at most dealerships can also be a steady stream of vehicles that need detailing services.” Make sure to charge properly for your each of your expert services, you are solving a problem for them and they will be happy to pay you fairly for consistent work. Mobile Detailer Marc Fuentes of Marc’s Mobile Detailing in West Virginia started washing cars right out of high school in 1982 for his father who was a Chrysler Dealer at the time. Fuentes washed the lot and worked in new car prep for a few years while going to college. “I eventually moved into sales but never liked it and went back into detailing until the dealership closed in 2004. I found myself unemployed so I started a mobile detailing business, but never had consistent business. I decided the way to get more business was to start a mobile washing business, concentrating on dealer lots.” Back then, Fuentes approached the dealers and offered around $10 per car, but was turned down. “Most dealers wanted to pay $3 a car, but I decided that $5 would be the lowest price I could accept. Once I dropped the price to $5 the dealers seem to be happy with the price and now I have over 300 cars I hand wash and dry on a regular basis.” Fuentes added that what is nice is that continued ...


VOL. 3, NO. 2 • SPRING 2018

GOING BEYOND THE DEALERSHIPS You can also consider the following areas of business which could greatly benefit from your detailing services: • • • • •



EXTRA CHARGES The following are services that will take extra time and also cost the dealership extra money. Be sure to charge accordingly: • • • • • • • • •



USED CAR LOTS! According to Rowan, the days of calling them used car dealerships are gone. Instead, he said they are called: “PRE-OWNED VEHICLE RETAIL CENTERS.”

dealer cars always need to be washed so the work never stops. “Of course washing dealer lots pays less than high-end detail jobs, but the overhead is much lower and the job is recession proof. Dealers always need cars washed no matter what happens with the economy. There is no finish line in the washing business, so I just keep calm and wash on.” As for Andrew Williams of San Diego Auto Shine of California, he works for two dealerships, one of which found him through a business referral group, and the other found him from word of mouth. The dealership approached him when it came to a car in need of a rescue. “We were approached because they could not finish down a jet black Mini.” Said Williams, “and we blew them away with our work and they just kept using us.” As for the services they provide, Williams said it could be just about anything. “We do it all. Lease returns, trade ins, new car prep, vehicle coatings,” although

with one of their dealerships, they just do just coatings and more difficult jobs. Williams advices that having a good and respected relationship with the dealership is key. “We have pretty high standards and good relationships with the dealerships. We get them out in a day, sometimes two. For some crazy reason if it is more than that, they are fine with it since we do great work and we all sometimes are just too busy.” James Karren, owner of The Art of the Detail along with his wife Kyra in Maui, Hawaii, details for dealerships thanks to a special skill. “I had actually bought a truck and as I was talking with the sales rep we got into what we do and how we got there. I told him about the shops I worked at and that we were getting into ceramic coatings, to which he became more interested. I ended doing a ceramic coat on his vehicle. His supervisor liked it so much he asked if it would be ok to call me for special

jobs. He said they have a detail crew but they cannot perform super high quality work. From there on they called me when they needed a big job done.” Karren said they are also asked to do overspray removal, paint correction, waterspot removal. “The kind of jobs that are above just an average detail.”

KNOW YOUR WORTH The work a detailer does on a car, and the results increase the value of each vehicle so much, that it is important to know your worth. If a car is selling for thousands and thousands of dollars, you have to realize that your role in that sale is priceless. Years ago, people worked on dealership lots as car cleaners. There was no real title, or admiration. But today, detailers are held in a whole new light. Rowan said he still gets upset that de-

tailers are not valued enough as a whole. “The value a detailer can add to a car needs to be recognized and respected,” he said. “Detailers are not just washing cars, they are increasing their value and the work they do needs to be compensated.” One way to do that is offer up different packages and respectable price points. For instance, if there are new cars that need a showroom ready shine, then have a category A price point. If a car is a trade-in, and needs an interior detail, buffing, that is category B. If a wet sanding and extensive interior are needed, that is category C, and so on. There are additional services that should not be lumped into a category and outlined upon inspection as they will take more time, more tools, and more expertise (see sidebar).

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VOL. 3, NO. 2 • SPRING 2018

DETAIL DOCTOR Pricing Problems & Predicaments Bud Abraham is Founder and President Emeritus of DETAIL PLUS Car Appearance Systems, with more than 40 years of experience in the car care industry as a manufacturer, operator, distributor and consultant. He writes articles and gives seminars on the subject of auto detailing throughout the automotive industry. He can be reached at buda@detailplus.com.

By Bud Abraham buda@detailplus.com

One of the more debated subjects among auto detail business owners is how much to charge for their services and whether to post prices or estimate prices only. Please keep in mind the opinions expressed here, are mine, but gained as the operator of two high-profile detail centers for several years, and a person who set up hundreds of detail businesses all over the world. In the USA or Thimphu, Bhutan, the principles of pricing are the same and the principles of operating a successful detail business are the same and “Price is Never an Obstacle Unless YOU Make it One.”



I have talked and consulted with many detail business owners over the years about posted prices vs. estimate pricing and I respect everyone’s right to have an opinion. However, I do not agree with most who believe they must post prices. Why? Let me give you a simple, and to the point example that I experienced a few years back. One of my detail centers was across from a very large and busy full service automatic car wash that would wash 500-800 cars on Saturdays. Cars would line up and you could see drivers looking over at our detail building. We had excellent signage across the entire front of the building (70’) indicating our

name: DETAIL PLUS Car Appearance Center and on each side a listing of some of the more common services offered. When the customers placed their order at the car wash, some would walk over to our detail center. What I noticed was the following: • Some would look in the window at the price menu board and then walk away… • Some would come into the customer service area and read the price menu board and then walk away (even when I said, “Can I help you?”)… • Some would ask for a price menu (which we had at that time with posted prices) and then walk out… This went on a great deal and caused me to think: “Why is this happening, I do not even get a chance to talk to the customers?

They just look at the service board or take a menu with prices and then walk away?” I mentioned this to a good friend of mine who is a marketing and sales consultant and his first words were: “You are allowing the sales window to close before it is even opened.” Do you see what he was saying? By posting prices, the customer was making a decision about whether he wanted to do business with you, based solely on posted prices. My friend then said: “Bud, who is the expert in the field of detailing? You, or the customer?” Obviously, I am the expert.  My friend continued: “Bud, when you go to the doctor or dentist do you tell them what to do? Of course not. You give them a symptom and let them diagnose the problem and tell you what continued ...

Editor’s Note: While we here at Auto Detailing News admire and appreciate Bud Abraham, please note that his opinions expressed in his Detail Doctor columns do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Auto Detailing News. If you have a strong opinion about Bud’s article, feel free to write a Letter to the Editor and send it to Debra Gorgos at debrag@autodetailingnews.com. VOL. 3, NO. 2 • SPRING 2018 | AUTO DETAILING NEWS |


you need done and why. Do you go to the mechanic and tell them what to do? No, you tell them what you think is wrong and they diagnose the problem and tell you what the vehicle needs and why.” Well, being a reasonably smart guy, after my discussion with my friend I immediately removed the service menu board from the wall and threw out all our menus with prices. I then reprinted a two-sided menu with five different detail packages on one side and an “à la carte” detail services with prices (engine clean; carpet shampoo; mat shampoo; hand carwash) on the other along with any extra services we provided (windshield chip repair, headlight restoration, paint chip touchup, carpet dyeing, etc.) Some were listed prices and some by estimate. Now, every customer had to ask me, “how much”? If available, I would immediately talk to them. If I was on the phone or with a customer I would tell them I would be right with them. Then I would ask: “How can I help you?” The reply would be either: “How much for a detail?” or “how much to wax my car?” or “how much for a carpet shampoo?” etc. My first reply was: “Is the vehicle here so that I can look at it?” In almost all cases it was and I asked if we could take a look.



Next I would ask the following pertinent questions: 1. Has the vehicle ever been detailed? 2. When was the last time? 3. Do you park the vehicle indoors during the day or is it exposed to the elements? 4. Do you garage it at night or park it outside? You see these questions create a situation in the customer’s mind that, “Gosh, I guess I have not been taking good care of my vehicle.” Next, you address the customer’s needs. If they ask: “How much to wax my car?” (Which most often means, fix the paint, take out the scratches and make it shine.)  Then you affirm the need for paint correction by pointing out dulling,




scratches, swirls, etc. Now comes the key part of the diagnosis of the vehicle: You ask to open the vehicle door and ask if they want the inside detailed as well. If it is dirty, they will say one of the following: 1. Yes 2. Yes, how much? 3. How much? 4. No If they answer with 1, 2 or 3, then ask: “May I also open your hood and trunk?” If they give you their permission, and both are dirty, you can then nicely affirm the need for a cleaning, etc. Finally, you close the sale with the following: Mr. Smith, after carefully evaluating your vehicle’s cosmetic needs I would recommend our complete detail package which includes (and you read off every service you are going to do) and finally you give them the price. So, you see that price has NEVER been a factor in the presentation it was all about NEED. If they say NO to your question about the interior, then back off and tell them what you are going to do to the exterior paint and why, what the result will be and then give the price. I could go on and on, but I think you can clearly see that posting prices closes the sales window for before it opens. You are in absolute control of when you give the customer the price, and that is after you have expertly pointed out the needs of the vehicle and why and finally what it will cost.



To stay in business, you must sell your detail services for what they are worth. But to do this you must know what they are worth. In order to determine this you need to know your operational costs and to do this properly you must talk with a good accountant. You might say, “I can’t afford a CPA,” but I say, “You cannot afford not to hire one.” You can reduce the costs for the CPA if you do some homework beforehand by getting your costs together for 2017, |

VOL. 3, NO. 2 • SPRING 2018

NEED VS. BUDGET In the Winter 2018 issue of Auto Detailing News, I addressed the need for service as well as a customer’s detailing budget. Remember, not every customer who objects to price has the same reason. Some may have a legitimate budget problem and simply do not have the money. Or they may be from a business or agency with a set vehicle maintenance budget. If this is the case, you can offer more services for the same money, or better yet, offer a less expensive option while making it seem you are not lessening the value. For example, offer an exterior/interior detail and include the engine clean or a fabric protectant at the same price.

including: • Fixed Costs (rent, insurance, depreciation, etc. If you are the owner/manager and do not detail then your salary) • Variable Costs (labor, chemicals, supplies, advertising, and utilities) • Profit (if a business does not make a profit, then the owner does not have a business they have job. It is reasonable to make from 10% to 20% pre-tax profit on the gross sales) NOTE: You should also include in your costs the following benefits you would get working for a company, therefore, your business should pay you the same benefits: • Health Insurance monthly premium • Sick Leave (at least 40 hours/year) • Vacation (at least 1 week/year) • Retirement (certain percentage of your salary into a retirement fund) Many of you may argue that you do not need to put these above items into your cost of doing business, but if you worked for someone else, you would get these, so your business should pay you these same benefits. Once you have all your costs of operation for the year then sit down with a CPA to determine an objective hourly service rate. Then you have in black and white what you need to breakeven and/or to breakeven and make X percentage profit.  Next, determine “what the market will bear.” You can look at the cost of like automotive services. For example, labor alone for a tune-up can run from

$80-$100 per hour, depending on the shop. A lube, oil change, and filter will cost nearly $40-$50 for 15 minutes of work. A full-service car wash nearly $20 for a ten to 15-minute service. Once you have arrived at an hourly shop rate for your operational costs and what the market will bear, then it is simply a matter of estimating a job based on the hours to do the job multiplied by your hourly rate. And, now you can operate from a position of strength in pricing rather than weakness.



A professional detail operation in a good location or with a well-equipped trailer or van, with good equipment and trained employees, can have as much invested as an auto repair shop. Why then can’t you charge accordingly? You can! If a price objection does arise, it can be overcome by using techniques that minimize price and maximize benefits, thus creating value. If the customer does not want value and only price, let them go to the price shop, and bid them “good riddance. Bud Abraham is Founder and President Emeritus of DETAIL PLUS Car Appearance Systems, with more than 40 years of experience in the car care industry as a manufacturer, operator, distributor and consultant.  He writes articles and gives seminars on the subject of auto detailing throughout the automotive industry. He can be reached at buda@detailplus.com.




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