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Spring 2016

Getting to know industry superstar Mike Phillips See before and after photos of Presidential railcar

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Contents Letters to the Editor . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 3

Hi Debra,

Letter from the Editor . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 4

I received my copy of Auto Detailing News today, and thank you for sending it to me. It was a real surprise when I picked up the mail today at my P.O. Box and saw the copy.

The Nitty Gritty . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 6 Getting to know Mike Phillips Industry Dirt . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 9 Lights, Camera, Action . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 14 Behind the scenes of Competition Ready Business Snapshot . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 17 Bud Abraham honored for Lifetime Achievement . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 22 Elbow Grease . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 25 Presenting other ways to remove contaminants Detailing the Presidential Railcar . . . . . . . . 27

Letters to the Editor

Being in my third year of business, I have found every article interesting and helpful—from the article on Yelp, to “The Power of Steam”, to “The State of The Detailing Industry.”


Thanks again. I look forward to the next issue. The worst sta they’ve ever ins seen... Not your ma ma’s detail shop... What’s the deal with ste am? Tricks of the trade from the he IDA DA p pre eside den nt and More! e !!!

Rick Owner/Detailer, Onsite Auto Detailing, LLC

The Detail Doctor . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 31 What are the roadblocks to success? Hall of Stains . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 34 Cover Story: The Deal with Auto Dealerships . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 36

Editor’s note: Thank you, Rick! We work hard putting together this publication for people like you and it means so much that you appreciate our hard work. Congratulations on making it to year three and here’s to many, many, many, many, many more years in business.

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Vol. 1, No. 2

Spring 2016

Publisher: Jackson Vahaly Editor: Debra Gorgos Design: Bret D. Haines

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Auto Detailing News is published 4 times per year and is independently owned by Jackson Vahaly. Web address is All inquiries should be directed to:

Page 34

Auto Detailing News 110 Childs Ln. Franklin, TN 37067 Copyright © 2016 2 Dollar Enterprises/Auto Detailing News All Rights Reserved.

Vol. 1, No. 2 • Spring 2016


Auto Detailing News



Letter from the Editor

You see? People of all ages like Auto Detailing News, even those who cannot read. These are my kids, Nathan, 3, and Emma Rose, 11 months, enjoying the premiere issue.

One More Thing . . . Are all detailers optimists?


would like to think that optimists outweigh the number of pessimists in the world, but I just don’t know if that is a realistic perception— wait, is that pessimistic of me to say? One thing I have noticed in the world of detailing is that the main crux of your job is to make people feel better about mistakes they have made. Mistakes being a spill, an ignored mess, a stain that lingered a little too long, paint wear and tear, leaving a car out in a nasty hailstorm . . . etc. People bring in their autos and all of you make them feel better and work your magic. There is rarely, “bad news” and despondency. The most expensive garment I ever bought was for a tony gala held in Saratoga Springs. I felt like a bell at a ball, until, that is, I was assailed by a forkful of salad drenched in Italian dressing. I was so sad about the whole thing. I was never one to buy expensive



Auto Detailing News


clothes, but had treated myself knowing I would hold onto this garment forever. I felt like a fool and was sad and was pretty convinced that there was no way the stain was coming out. But, thanks to a twinge of optimism, I took the garment to a dry cleaner. The man, a sweet, older fellow, examined it closely, squinted through his glasses, lightly touched the stain, and looked up at me and said, “We will fix this, no problem at all.” He smiled and then I smiled. And like that, there was a shift in my day, and the ripple effect was everlasting. That same ripple effect is brought on by all of you detailers. You give people reassurance that their vehicles will be pretty again. You will work through the muck, use an arsenal of tools, and try like hell to get the job done. I don’t know how you do it, especially knowing some of the messes and wrecks you have to handle. I have seen it firsthand. You look over the Vol. 1, No. 2 • Spring 2016

job, you reassure the customer, and you do whatever it takes. And, I know it must be hard to always be positive and I am amazed at your tendencies to bring about hope. And, nowadays there seems to be so much bad news that I wonder and hope that people don’t forgo optimism in favor of negativity. I myself have lost my way here and there. A few years ago I was told I had to have surgery on an organ that was malfunctioning. My doctor told me he was pretty sure he would be able to fix it, but made a face that made me feel like he was “dialing it in.” “You’re pretty sure?!?!” I lamented. “I want to hear you WILL take care of this! Tell me you will do whatever it takes!” Frankly, my doctor, at least my local detailer seems to give a damn.

The plight of the industry newbie In other news, I had the great fortune of meeting a lot of you at the Mobile Tech Expo in Orlando, Florida, this past

January. Although I have been involved in the carwashing and detailing industry for a while, this was my first time representing a detailing-only entity, and you just never know how you will be received. Plus, Auto Detailing News was very new and some of you hadn’t yet received it. In some ways, I felt like the new kid in school. But, boy, my worries were squashed the minute I got to the show. Everyone, from the attendees, to the exhibitors were all welcoming and forthcoming. I have said it before and I will say it again, you are an impassioned group of people and I loved that you were willing to share your own stories with me. The show offered so much, in terms of networking and education. On my first day there, I attended educational sessions which dealt with hiring and training detailing employees, what to do about door dings, and what’s new with PDR technology. From the hosts to the questions asked by attendees, I was so impressed with the wherewithal

and fortitude of everyone there. The next day, I attended more sessions in the early morning (this time they were about how to double your per-vehicle revenue, and high-performance polishing) and then I headed to the showroom floor which hosted over 100 booths. I have never seen, or heard anything like it. From the on-purpose dent making to the Dent Olympics, it was an exciting show, to say the least. A lot of you were just starting out and some others had been in the industry a while and were looking to upgrade, but, no matter what your situation, I must say it was a pleasure meeting each and every one of you. I hope you all will hold onto my business card and contact me with your story ideas, letters to the editor, and photos of your accomplishments.

Also, I would like to personally thank the International Detailing Association for taking me under their wing.

And one more thing… I would also like to thank you everyone for enjoying our first issue of Auto Detailing News. The issue you are holding now is just as great, and with your continued feedback and participation, I see a great future ahead. Be sure to keeping sending me your Stain Horror stories, story ideas, letters to the editor, and photos by either emailing me at or by calling me at 518-598-2287. And, just one more thing before I go, we are now on Facebook, so please be sure to “Like” our page so that you can enjoy even more content from us,

as well as connect with others in the industry. To find our Facebook page, visit https://www.facebook. com/autodetailingnews. I am also on Twitter, so please follow me at debragorgosADN. And you can also find me on the Auto Care Forums under the name Debra Gorgos. And, as always, be sure to support our advertisers. Until next time,

Debra S. Gorgos

Join Today & Get Involved!

Education | Certification | Social Media Discussions | Awards Programs | Technical Expertise | Newsletters | And more!

Vol. 1, No. 2 • Spring 2016


Auto Detailing News



The Nitty Gritty

Getting to Know Author, Trainer and TV Star

Mike Phillips

By Debra Gorgos


ike Phillips is a busy man. He is so busy that at any given time, you could call his number and he might be getting ready to film an episode of his new TV show. Or, he might be in the middle of conducting a seminar at Detail Fest. Or, he might even be on his way to go to Norway to be a guest speaker at the very first European Detailing Seminar. I know this because all three scenarios happened to me. But, being busy seems to be okay with Mike because he has a passion for all of his endeavors, which include hosting a TV show, authoring books and articles, training detailers, and speaking at conventions. Mike is considered one of the detailing industry’s biggest celebrities. In fact, Chris Evans, who appeared on his show, Competition Ready, called him the “Michael Jordan of detailing.” Not a bad comparison and well warranted, especially when you consider Mike’s body of work, which, at press time, is continuing to grow. In a rare moment of free time, I got to interview Mike on everything from his current projects, to his biggest challenges, to how Competition Ready got



Auto Detailing News


started. Please enjoy his answers below, and I think you might be surprised to see what career he would have chosen if he were not a part of the detailing industry… Debra Gorgos: You’re a noted TV personality, author, trainer, and celebrity in the detailing industry—how many and what projects do you have going on right now?

Mike Phillips: Great question! I can’t share details about some projects due to confidentiality agreements with the companies involved as they have requested to keep their projects private until they are ready to go public. For these projects, and some of them are big, I have three in the works. Besides the confidential projects, I’m currently working on two new books with the goal of having them finished by the SEMA show in Las Vegas in November. Starting with my May 3-day Competition Ready Detailing Class, we’ll be offering IDA Skills Validation testing and certification on the Monday following my 3-day class. People can contact Andre here at Autogeek at 1-800-8693011 x244 to reserve a time slot Vol. 1, No. 2 • Spring 2016

for the Monday IDA SV testing and certifications. My May 3-day Competition Ready Detailing Class is sold out and the next 3-day CR detailing class in September 23, 24 and 25, with IDA SV certification testing on Monday, September 26. It is filling up, but there are spaces still available. I’m teaching a 3-day class in partnership with SONAX, FLEX North America and Dr. Color Chip right in the Pit Row Garages at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway in Indianapolis, Indiana, in April. As of this interview there are still open seats for this class and you can contact www.SonaxUSA. com for more information. I’ll be the special guest of Dodo Juice Wax Company at this year’s Waxstock Car Show in the U.K. I’m scheduled to teach a one-day class before the official Waxstock show starts which is on Saturday, July 24, as well as autographing copies of my four current detailing books in print. We’re currently filming a new series of how-to videos for our Autogeek Channel on Roku.

For those interested in boat detailing I teach one boat detailing class a year and it always sells out. We’ve already held the 2016 boat detailing class for this year so the next boat detailing class will be held in February of 2017, and the best way to get information about that is to sign up for the Autogeek. com or newsletter. DG: You have been detailing cars since the 1970s, what has evolved the most — in your opinion — in terms of detailing methods and technology?

MP: Great question and I’m glad you asked. To me the most important change in the car detailing industry has been in the area of abrasive technology. Abrasive technology, simply put, is what’s inside the bottle when it comes to compounds, polishes and cleaner/waxes. Back in the 1970s, 1980s and even the 1990s the abrasive technology was archaic at best and even the best detailers struggled consistently to turn out perfect paint finishes. Today, even a complete newbie to machine polishing or even hand polishing can create a show car finish with their eyes closed and one hand


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tied behind their back and it all has to do with the great strides made in the area of abrasive technology. Besides abrasive technology, there are now more tool options available than ever before with an emphasis on orbital polishers. Back in the old days the only tools easily available were the rotary buffer and the traditional orbital buffer. And, if you were real savvy you knew about the Cyclo polishers. Today, because of the Internet and innovations by tool manufactures like FLEX and RUPES, there are now a multitude of orbital polishers available with pads ranging all the way down to 1” in diameter for doing precision buffing. Pad improvements are another area I would list as making major improvements and innovations in the market. Back in the 1970s the only pads easily available were wool cutting pads and a few foam pad from Meguiar’s starting with the Wooless Wonder in 1965. I remember calling on body shops in the late 1980s and showing guys the Meguiar’s 8” and 6” foam buffing pads and in the three states I covered, Oregon, Washington, and Idaho, I would have to say, most of the guys I talked to had NEVER seen a foam pad. Nowadays, Autogeek carries hundreds of buffing pads available in all types of designs and made from all types of materials. Detailers can get the exact pad they need for the type of work they do. The improvements in these three categories, abrasive technology, tools, and pads, have been the most important areas of evolution and improvement and I use the word “important” because modern clearcoat paints are scratch-sensitive and with these improvements it’s now easier than ever for detailers to remove paint defects and create customer-pleasing results. The finish quality on a vehicle has been and still is the number one area of focus by the consumer market.



Auto Detailing News


Besides the above, one more area of improvement that’s near and dear to my heart is education. Back when I started detailing you were pretty much on your own. You either had to figure detailing out by yourself or find a mentor that could show you the ropes. With the introduction of the discussion forums on the Internet, Facebook and YouTube, quality information is readily available with a few clicks of a mouse. All that’s required is a person willing to learn via reading, watching and listening followed by going out to their garage and taking what they’ve learned and putting it into practice. Detailing schools should also get credit for increasing the knowledge level and professionalism of the detailing industry and this is something I’ve been a part of since teaching my first detailing class in 1987, that’s 29 years ago. I’m proud to say that here at Autogeek we offer what we consider the best and most comprehensive detailing classes in the industry and we offer these classes three times a year. DG: How did Competition Ready get started?

MP: Competition Ready started out as an idea from Bob McKee, the president, founder and CEO of Bob McKee has always been passionate about providing education to car enthusiasts about proper car care and knew TV would be the most powerful way to get quality information out to the masses. Through his connections with Velocity Channel and many of the successful TV personalities behind the popular car guy TV shows, his idea was fine-tuned by the talented management staff at bcii TV and Competition Ready is the result from Bob’s original idea and their creative genius. The first season has eight fun and educational episodes and starts airing on Velocity Channel on Friday, April 22 at 7:30 p.m. Eastern Time. Vol. 1, No. 2 • Spring 2016

DG: What is your biggest challenge as an industry icon?

MP: Staying caught up with all the new products being introduced to our market. New technology is being introduced at a rate of speed so fast that the ONLY way to keep up is to be connected online with a forum like That’s a fact. Even as the Answer Man on AGO I have to keep up with all the new technology being introduced by learning about it, (reading manufacturer’s information), and then going out into the garage and using it for real-world, hands-on experience. It’s challenging, but I love the challenge! DG: What is the biggest mistake you see detailers making?

MP: The biggest mistake I’ve always seen in the detailing industry is for young detailers entering the business to make the mistake of trying to do show car detailing when they should be doing production detailing. Show car detailing is perceived as the highest level of professional detailing and should be reserved in most cases for true show cars, high end cars, exotics, etc. Production detailing is typically doing the basics for the average daily driver which includes using a one-step cleaner/wax or AIO to the paint, not using a multiple step process normally reserved for show car detailing. The problem is that show car detailing requires more steps and thus takes more time and when young, or new detailers do show car detailing for people that own daily drivers, they won’t make any money. They may feel like a super star and post amazing before and after pictures of the Chrysler Town & Country van they just detailed, but they’re going starve to death if they’re spending the time required to do show car detailing to a vehicle that should be getting production detailing. There’s nothing wrong with production detailing when you do it right and

that’s something I teach in my 3-day Competition Ready detailing classes. DG: If someone came to you today and said they want to be a detailer, what advice would you give?

MP: I’d tell them to join the detailing discussion forum and start reading and start asking questions. Becoming a successful detailer starts with education. A person needs to educate themselves on what I call the three P’s: 1. Paint 2. Products 3. Procedures And a great forum is the best place to learn this type of information. Facebook is too fleeting, that is whatever is posted today is oblivious by tomorrow. On a helpful and friendly detailing discussion forum like AutogeekOnline. net the threads are indexed very well by Google and endure over time so they are easy to find and read. Because they are a living conversation you can learn a lot from a single topical thread. So that is what I would recommend to a person new to detailing. I’ve been answering questions for newbie detailers on discussion forums since 1994, so my experience has taught me that it is the most valuable resource someone new to detailing can use to educate themselves. After that, taking a pro-quality detailing class by me or any of the long-time respected names in this industry would be the next step for becoming a successful detailer. DG: If you were not involved in the detailing industry, what would you be doing?

MP: I would be a rock and roll star or country music singer.

Industry Dirt

Welcome to the industry


uto Pros, which offers full service detailing, muffler work and oil changes, opened for business in Elko, Nevada, according to the Elko Daily Free Press. Owner Humberto Chavez said in the story, “My dad bought me a detailing business when I was 13. I loved it as a kid but never thought I would do this as an adult.” Co-owner Ashley Chavez said they offer a special “Nook and Cranny” deal for $199 which takes between 6 to 8 hours. There is also a retail store where ever ything from car mats to bug guards to various automobile accessories are sold. “We are a mom and pop shop,” Humberto said in the story. “We want people to truly know they can count on us. We are looking for 100 percent satisfaction.”


Paradise Car Wash and Detail Center opened last December in

Woodbury, Minnesota, according to the Woodbury Bulletin. The business offers unlimited exterior washes, full-service unlimited packages, and a “back to new” package which includes a full-service wash, a high-speed buff, a complete interior cleaning, and fabric and vinyl/leather protectants. They also offer free popcorn and coffee to all customers. “We want to be efficient, but we want to do a quality job,” Manager Larry McTigue III, said in the story. “These guys take pride in what they do, and if anybody is unsatisfied, we will take care of it on the spot.” This is the eighth Paradise to open in the metro area.


A mobile steam cleaning business, U Need A Cleaner, opened in Hutchinson, Kansas, this past winter, The Hutchinson News reported. Owner and operator Deanna Ney, who recently operated the business out of Great Bend, Kansas, works

on everything from auto interiors, to boats and RVs, to homes and businesses. Ney, who says she uses a Daimer 5900i professional steam cleaner, will match any competitor and a customer just has to present an ad, or invoice on a company letterhead, to show her a competitor’s price.


Xtreme Auto Detail, which opened about six months ago in Dickinson, North Dakota, has seen its customer base triple and owner Nevada Crimmins said he thinks he will get see even more customers during the spring and summer months. M a n a g e r P a u l R ic h t e r t o ld KXNews that he works on one to two vehicles per day. “This is where we’re at. This is where we want to be right now and we just want to be as good as we can [be],” Richter said in the story. Richter added that while he is the only employee detailing the cars right now, that may change in the future.

Vol. 1, No. 2 • Spring 2016


Auto Detailing News



Industry Dirt 2016 Events Calendar

Giving Back The International Carwash Association’s 2016 Car Wash Show™ May 9-11 The Music City Center, Nashville, Tennessee The International Carwash Association also announced that the 2017 Car Wash Show™ will take place April 4-6, 2017, in Las Vegas

The NACE | CARS Expo & Conference August 9-13 The Anaheim Convention Center, Anaheim, California

The Northeast Regional Carwash Convention (NRCC) September 19-21 Atlantic City Convention Center, Atlantic City, New Jersey. Host Hotel is the Borgata Hotel Casino & Spa

2016 SEMA Show November 1-4 Las Vegas Convention Center, Las Vegas, Nevada And for those who like to plan well ahead, dates have been announced for the next four shows as well, although the locations of the shows have not been released: • 2017 SEMA Show: October 31–November 3 • 2018 SEMA Show: October 30–November 2 • 2019 SEMA Show: November 5–8 • 2020 SEMA Show: November 3 – 6



Auto Detailing News


Vol. 1, No. 2 • Spring 2016

Chase Detailing of Norman, Oklahoma, donated 100 percent of its proceeds for the month of February to the Citizens Caring for Children organization, News9 reported. Owner Nicholas Chase, a former elementary school teacher, said he always had a soft spot for underprivileged kids. “Experiencing things first hand, working out in Spencer with these kids you see every day that they’re coming to school hungry walking to school without coats on. …I looked at my budget and I was like ‘oh, OK, I have my expenses covered for February, now is my chance to give back,’” he said in the story. Citizens Caring for Children gives everything from clothing to personal hygiene products to children in foster care.


Have any of you detailers worked on a car in which a woman gave birth? If so, you’re not alone as Radley’s Auto Detailing of Batavia, New York, detailed a family’s car for free after the mother gave birth in the car while on the way to the hospital, The Daily News reported. Leah and Jason Walsh went into labor during the early morning of February 5. En route to the hospital, which was a half hour away from their home, Leah felt the urge to “push”. “I was still trying like hell to get to the hospital,” Jason said in the story. Jason was able to pull over and dial 9-1-1. “When Jason pulled over, [the baby] was coming out, and by the time he got around she was almost completely out. I remember her head coming out, thinking oh my God, and one last push,” Leah said in the story. Addison Walsh was soon born inside the couple’s Subaru. The couple is very appreciative of the detailing donated by Radley’s Auto Detailing and said the car now holds an extra-special place in their hearts.


Industry Dirt

In the news



Auto Detailing News


Apparently one woman in Perth, Australia, couldn’t bother with a professional detailing and decided to take matters into her own hands, reported. A video taken by Sam Bajram, which was posted to his

Facebook page, shows a woman scrubbing the interior of her car with a foaming brush while at a self-serve car wash. She then hoses it down and soaks the interior with water. Bajram posted the video to his Facebook page and it soon got over 2 million views and has been

shared over 19,500 times since it was posted in February. “Someone said, ‘maybe she had killed someone and [wanted] to wipe away the evidence,’” Bajram said to WAtoday. “I’ve been contacted by car detailers saying, ‘So that’s the way you do it?’”

History BUFF According to, the 1924 Oakland 6-54A Four-Passenger Coupe was the first car to use DuPont’s Duco Satin Finish paint. At first, only the color Oakland Blue, was offered. The vehicle, known as, True Blue Oakland Six, was named for Oakland County, Michigan. Another interesting fact was that the vehicle featured an automatic spark advance and eliminated the manual spark advance controls. This made room for the throttle, choke, headlight switch/dimmer, horn, and ignition switch to be placed on the hub of the car’s walnut-rimmed steering wheel. ANDREW SCHULTZ

College sophomore Isaiah Barhoum is double majoring in accounting and informatics at the University of Washington, and is also the owner of Bigs Mobile Detailing, according to The Herald. Barhoum, 20, started the business while a senior in high school where he was also linebacker for the football team and captain for two seasons. He also donated over 100 hours of community service during his high school tenure. “I learned how to detail cars by working for a local car detailing shop. After football ended, I had a lot more time on my hands, so I decided to save my money and invest in some detailing supplies,” Barhoum said in the story. He said he use his customers’ recommendations and Facebook to advertise his business. B a rh o u m , w h o h a s o n e employee, offers services ranging from $60 for sedans and $85 for SUVs.


 Do you know of a new detailing business that has opened recently? Do you have news to share or an upcoming event? Send all information and press releases to Debra Gorgos at debrag@ and we will list the news here in the Summer 2016 issue.

Vol. 1, No. 2 • Spring 2016

Everything for the Car Care Industry! We carry a full line of Pro Detailing products

Order on-line at

(800) 443-0676

Call or email for a complete catalog Distributor of car wash parts, supplies and equipment for over 45 years. 6800 Foxridge Drive, Mission, KS 66202 • Phone: (800) 443-0676 • Fax: (913) 789-9393

Lights, camera, action!

Adrienne Janic, Chris Evans, and Mike Phillips.

Behind the scenes of Competition Ready


etailers will be shining bright on TV thanks to the show, Competition Ready, which debuted on the Velocity channel in April. From the producers of Car Crazy Central, Overhaulin’, and the Extreme series, Competition Ready stars Autogeek’s Mike Phillips (see story page 6) and Adrienne (AJ) Janic, the star of Overhaulin’. The show follows Phillips and Janic as they tour the country looking for unique and prestigious cars which will be featured at car shows throughout the world. Auto Detailing News was given a first-hand account of what takes



Auto Detailing News

place behind the scenes of the show, thanks to Chris Evans, a Chicago-based mobile and certified detailer who will appear on the May 27 episode.


I was online cruising my usual car sites and saw the Competition Ready post on the Autogeek forum and I sent Mike Phillips an email. He replied back and said he’d be happy to have a detailer with my passion on the team. I then waited on the call sheet from the producers and showed up on the date and time they told me. It was a dream come true for |

Vol. 1, No. 2 • Spring 2016

me to work with Mike Phillips. To me Mike is one of the greats in this business, so being from Chicago, I looked at him as a “Michael Jordan of detailing”. So it was like Jordan calling and asking you to shoot a few hoops; how can you say no to that? We filmed at the “Donald E. Stephens Convention Center” in Rosemont, Illinois, just outside Chicago. We didn’t even know that it was the World of Wheels headquarters until we got there. I think we all were focused on blocking out our schedules to make sure we could be there to do the show.

Behind the scenes was interesting. There was a lot of talking to fellow detailers, talking shop, and looking at the other cars that were being set up while we were waiting on orders from the director or producer.. I don’t know how many times we had to stop and re-start because onlookers would walk by and just stop like a deer in the headlights. We worked on a 1940 Ford with a plate that read ‘Da Forty’. The guys were all great, respectful, skilled, and everyone had a good sense of humor. Once we started working we found our groove and forgot

about the camera . . . well, until we would hear the word “CUT!!!” Mike made sure to spend time with all of us before, during and after the car work was done. He took every photo asked of him and answered every question. He is truly the right man for this show. The best part was being able to network with the guys and snap a few pictures . . . okay, more like selfies I think we all gained as much knowledge from each other as we did from Mike and Bob McKee. We shared our detailing stories about how we got into the industry, tips and tricks we use and so on. The guys really showed a lot of respect and interest in the International Detailing Association. At no point was there any ‘this is better than that’ type of non-sense. It was all about the industry. We

talked about some of the new technologies, techniques and products; and how do we educate the public on the difference between a professional detailing and what they “think” is a detail. How do we charge according to the work being performed, how do we give the customers what they are asking for when they don’t speak our language, and what is the further of detailing? These are the discussions that help move the industry forward: Passion, respect and knowledge. I gained so much from everyone in the short amount of time we had with each other. And I know that we will gain so much more as we continue to communicate with each other. This show shines a great light on the industry. There are so many people in the industry we

experience as one of many available for them in the industry, whether it is applying to be on the show, or just watching it. And, I am sure there are plenty more to come.

can all learn from and on so many different levels. I gained at least two years of knowledge in just a few short hours while filming the show. Truly priceless. Detailers should look at this Vol. 1, No. 2 • Spring 2016


Auto Detailing News



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A non-acidic brake dust and wire wheel cleaner that combines safety and performance. It is formulated with solvents and wetting agents to break the bond that holds brake dust and other oily dirt to wheels. This product may be used manually or through an on-line wheel applicator.

step spray polish & clay lubricant. Contains no toxic chemicals and is safe for use on all automotive finishes. Great for final touchups on glass, chrome, fiberglass, interior and exterior plastic.



MICROFIBER TOWELS Super Soft and Absorbent!

Microfiber Cleaning Cloths are super soft and lint-free, so they are safe on all surfaces. The unique design of microfiber lifts and traps dirt and dust like a magnet — no chemicals needed. Machine washable for long life. Navy Blue

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VSKMF1616G 16” X 16”

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Spray & Wipe Gloss Enhancer

Removes dust, light dirt and fingerprints, enhances shine. Great for chrome and glass. Excellent clay bar lubricant. Pink liquid, cherry fragrance.

1 Gallon: KS1094 $9.81 6 Quarts: KS6094 $19.65

32 oz - 12 Per Case: JSD0872012 $31.22





5 Gallon: PA5435 $43.67



Easy to use and perfect for polishing without fear of damaging paint. Power Supply: 115 V, 60 Hz, 220 Watts Motor: alternating current, semienclosed 24-bar commutator Speed: 3000 orbits/minute Output: 1/3 H.P. (.25 Kw) Weight: 6.5 lb. (2.9 kg)



Business Snapshot

1. Business Name: Superio r Shine 2. Location: Arcadia, Califo rnia

3. Your Name: Jose “Joe” Fernandez 4. What kind of a busin ess is Superior Shine and what services does it offer?

We describe ourselves as a premiu m mobile detailing service. We off er more than good detailing. We are great service pro viders. This means we always show up on time, we are clean and uniformed, we conduct our business with emphasis on educat ing the customer on vehicle care. We perform our wor k on-site quickly and efficiently. We pride ourselves on leaving the area we worked in clea ner than when we found it.

Vol. 1, No. 2 • Spring 2016


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“We work on lots of cars that are worth 1/2 a million dollars or more and $600K to 4 million is routine for us.”



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Vol. 1, No. 2 • Spring 2016

5. Is there a lot of competition in the area? If yes, what does Superior Shine do to stand out apart from the competition?

environment light hearted and fun.

There isn’t much competition for the type of detailing we do. For the few competitors that are out there, we separate ourselves from others by consistently delivering exceptional results. Because of this, we keep customers for very long times. Most of my customers have been with me for 12 years or more.

I started part time in 1990. I went full time 12. What plans are in store for on May 1, 1992. Superior Shine? We plan on opening a shop in 2016. In 9. What are your hours? addition to the services we already offer My hours vary. Usually we are on-site some- we will be conducting auto detailing training time between 6 a.m. and 8 a.m. and finish courses as well. up seven to nine hours later. We try not to work weekends preferring to spend them 13. What is the best advice you have for other detailers in with family.

6. How many people work for Superior Shine?

I have two full-time guys working for me. I call on a small network of local detailers when I am presented with a large job. I’ve rallied as many as 18 detailers to complete some large projects we have had.

8. When did you open Superior Shine?

a year? on word-of-mouth primarily. We also have a nice Facebook, Instagram and YouTube I have no ideaz! I do not keep track of this presence that helps us get new customers. as most of my customers use us routinely all year long. 15. W h a t is t h e mo st o f t e n requested service at Superior Shine?

Paint correction and maintenance services. The vehicles we work on are valued at $600,000 or more (we work on lots of cars that are worth 1/2 a million dollars or more and $600K to 4 million is routine for us). Our customers are addicted to the Superior Shine we put on and then maintain on their cars.

terms of what not to do when detailing a car?

10. Does your business have a motto or slogan?

Don’t screw it up!! LOL!! Learn your craft, We enjoy using different mottos that are practice it diligently. Build your confidence funny and memorable. The one we are using and charge accordingly. Too many detailers now is, “Where you’re going is not nearly under value their services and do not charge as important as how good you look getting enough. Detailers need to get proficient and price their services appropriately. When there! Shine your car today!” 7. H o w d o y o u k e e p y o u r that happens they will be happier and do employees motivated? 11. What ways do you advertise a better job. I select people that have a passion for cars, your business? aircraft and great service. I keep our work I do not do traditional advertising. We rely 14. How many cars do you service

16. How did detailing Air Force One come about?

I love detailing, I love history and I love being an American. What better way to mesh the three than to detail historically significant items. Most museums that contain vehicles and aircraft either do not have the funding, man power or the knowledge to maintain

The Highest Gloss No Swirl Marks The Deepest Shine Less chemicals Fewer Pads – Fewer Steps – Less Time

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769 Merus Ct.

Fenton, MO 63026


Vol. 1, No. 2 • Spring 2016


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“There are currently four retired VC-137 aircraft that were formally used as ‘Air Force One. I have detailed two: SAM 970 in Seattle, Washington, and SAM 971 in Tucson, Arizona.”

some of the items in their exhibits. What I do is offer our services and expertise to do just that. I approach the museum and explain what we can do and why they need the service. I rely on sponsorship from companies in the auto detailing industry like AutoGeek, Meguiar’s and Rupes, and also from customers of Superior Shine like AceClearwater so our services can be provided for very little or at no cost to the museum.

has transformed how the modern detailer performs paint correction. 18. You’ve been recognized as a man who likes to give back to the community. What charities are you involved with?

already detailed Ronald Reagan’s to transport the president of the U.S. presidential limousine and will be doing before air travel became commonplace. Marine One and Richard Nixon’s 17. What is your favorite detailing limousine soon as well.

There are currently four retired VC-137 aircraft that were formally used as “Air Force One.” I have detailed two: SAM 970 in Seattle, Washington, and SAM 971 in Tucson, Arizona. We are scheduled to detail a third retired Air Force One, SAM 27000, at the Ronald Reagan Library located in Simi Valley, California, in early 2016. We’ve



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I am heavily involved with World Vision and I am a very active member in my church’s ministries which include a military ministry that supports our troops overseas with items, a food ministry which feeds local families, and a children’s ministry that collects toys for Christmas and clothing and school supplies the rest of the year.

Also for 2016, the Superior Shine Foundation will be created. Its purpose is to Hands down . . . the Rupes Bigfoot 21 In February 2016 we detailed the Ferdinand fund preservation detailing to non-profits, Magellan, Presidential Rail Car, U.S. dual action polisher. With that tool I can train people to be auto detailers that have Number 1 (see story on page 27). It is an get aggressive paint correcting ability as completed substance abuse programs and/or armor-plated Pullman railcar that was used well as a fine polishing. The Bigfoot 21 have come from homelessness. tool and why?


Vol. 1, No. 2 • Spring 2016

The IDA is the best resource for detail certification and education! Certification Programs: • Certified Detailer • Skills Validated • Recognized Trainer Education: • Webinars • Podcasts • CD-in-a-Day/SV events • Member Forums • The Detail Dialogue

Join the IDA:

651.925.5526 |


My choice is to represent a company that is dedicated to the art of professional detailing. The Double Black Collection represents the products I helped develope to train and educate detailer’s worldwide.

Detailer of Air Force One

Double Black is now available through our distribution network or online.


RENNY DOYLE COLLECTION Vol. 1, No. 2 • Spring 2016





Auto Detailing News




“It was never enough to just get the sale, he had make sure you could be successful”

Teacher, mentor, coach and friend: IDA presents

Bud Abraham

with Lifetime Achievement Award

At the 2016 Mobile Tech Expo, held at the Caribe Royale in Orlando, Florida, this past January, Bud Abraham, founder of DETAIL PLUS Car Appearance Systems, a founding member of the International Detailing Association (IDA), and a contributor to Auto Detailing News, was presenting with the IDA’s Lifetime Achievement Award. The award was presented by IDA Board Member Keith Duplessie. The following is a transcript of speech given by Duplessie.



Auto Detailing News


Vol. 1, No. 2 • Spring 2016


hank you for inviting me to present the Lifetime Achievement Award at this year’s membership meeting. The Lifetime Achievement Award of the IDA is not presented on an annual basis. Rather, it is presented when a worthy candidate is brought before the Board of Directors for consideration, and after a review of the individual’s accomplishments and contributions to our industry and the Association, is deemed worthy of the award. The Board must vote to approve presentation of this award, and it holds all candidates to the highest standard when considering any individual. This year’s awardee, only our second recipient, is as worthy a candidate as we may ever see. His accomplishments are too numerous to mention, and have had an immeasurable effect upon our industry. You could say without exaggeration, that he is the reason we are here this evening. He is an icon in our industry, having achieved that rarest form of recognition — he is simply known by one name. Much the same way as sports icons like Jordan or Tiger need only the one name to evoke who they are and what they have accomplished, so too has our recipient this evening. His given name is Robert Louis Abraham, but we simply know him as BUD. Bud is Detail Plus, and he is, in almost every corner of the globe, synonymous with detailing. While he has been a fixture in the Car Wash and Detail business for more than 45 years, Bud didn’t start out to be a detailer. He actually started out with aspirations of being a lawyer. And, as anyone who has ever had an exchange of ideas with him knows, he loves a good debate. I have no doubt he would have been an excellent attorney, but fortunately for us, I think God had other plans for him, and he decided after that first year, that the law wasn’t for

him, and chose another path. Just out of college, he began teaching. This allowed him time to also pursue another of his lifetime loves, coaching. He coached youth sports, football and basketball. And while teaching and coaching would be only a shortlived vocation for him, they would become lifetime avocation. Over the years he has held hundreds of seminars and produced videos on detailing, business management, and sales. He has written manuals on detailing and shop operations — the number of articles he has written number in the thousands. Ever the educator, he has incorporated training and education into every system he has ever sold, because he has believed it is not enough to have the right tools, you have to have the knowledge and skills to go with it. As many in this room can attest, he has always been there to coach, teach, and mentor anyone in the business — he is always willing to take a call from a detailer. It is a testament to his impact on the lives of those who he has coached that 50 years later his players still call him coach. Needless to say, he leaves an impression. In 1969, Bud went to work for Hanna Car Wash Systems as an international Sales Manager. It was during this time that he began to develop his many contacts around the world and broadened his view to a global approach. One that has served him well over the years. More on that in a bit. Bud once told me that after about a decade at Hanna, he was driving home one day when a voice told him “You should quit”. Now, being a man of faith, I firmly believe Bud didn’t think for a minute he was hearing things. I think he believed that God was telling him there was something else he should be doing. So after some consideration and prayer, and to our good fortune, Bud listened and left Hanna in 1980. It was at this time Bud started his

own import/export business with no intention of being in the wash or detail business. Again, a greater power was at work and in 1981, he was introduced to the concept of the Detail Plus equipment and system. At this time he began to manufacture the equipment that would become his hallmark and also opened and operated three detail shops. Many people don’t know he was an operator too. He was, and was very successful, but after well over a decade of operation, Bud decided to focus on Detail Plus as we know it today, and sold the shops. Ever the innovator, Bud has always pushed for adoption of new products and inventions. From chemical delivery systems to advocating for air tools and Vol. 1, No. 2 • Spring 2016

adding extra services, he was always looking for ways to help detailers be more successful.

A lifetime of service Bud has long felt that it is not enough to just be in business — you must participate in your industry. To that end, he has always been a part of associations in our industry. He was part of the PDA (Professional Detailers Association) serving on its Board, has been part of the ICA and WCA (International and Western Car Wash Associations), and of course the IDA. Bud served on the Board of Directors of the PDA, ICA, and WCA. I would venture to say that he may be the only detailer ever to serve on the Board of the ICA. At a time when no one wanted to |

Auto Detailing News



hear about detailing, Bud was our voice. He advocated for us and for what we could become. And he is, without question, the founder of the IDA. It was Bud in 2007-08 who began putting together the group of businesses that would later contribute to and be part of starting the IDA. In 2008, here in Orlando, at a Denny’s of all places, he brought these folks together as only Bud could, to plant the seed that would become what we are today. As I said, we literally would not be here this evening if were not for him. He helped make all this possible. Though I am not sure even he dreamed we could be as successful as we are. He served as our first Executive Director and, once he had us on our feet, helped us find Sheryle and her team and stepped aside to let us grow. Bud made Detail Plus a family affair. His wife of 48 years, Sheryl, daughters Marnie, Aimee, Georgie, and Jolie, have been along for his journey and, at one time or another, have worked at Detail Plus. Often, Sheryl would accompany Bud on his many trips around the world. And he has had a truly global impact on detailing, selling, and installing detail systems around the world — 2 5 countries and 6 continents in all — a s well as 30 states. If it were possible to put one in Antarctica, I think he would have, though I doubt Sheryl would have gone along on that trip. All along the way his family has been there to support him and his passion for this industry and we thank them for letting us take him away from them so often. As I said before, with every system there was training and education, mentoring, and support. It was never enough to just get the sale, he had make sure you could be successful, and I think this is why he has



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had the impact he has. He built a relationship with his customers and took a real interest in their success. In return, that has become his success. At the turn of the 20th century, there was a saying that the sun never sets on

the British Empire. Today it is safe to say that Bud’s global impact has been so extensive that the sun never goes down on a Detail Plus system. Somewhere in the world there is a business owner using one right now, and will be

each hour of the day, in whatever time zone you may find yourself. As I said, it’s tough to measure or even comprehend his effect on our industry. There is, however, no doubt that it is a Lifetime of Achievement.

International Detailing Association honors detailers at the MTE The IDA held a business meeting, awards ceremony, and reception during the second day of the 2016 Mobile Tech Expo, which was held last January in Orlando. The following is a list of the award recipients as well as a list of IDA’s Founders Club members.

AWARD RECIPIENTS RL “Bud” Abraham of DETAIL PLUS Car Appearance Systems, Inc.: Lifetime Achievement Award Robert “Bob” Phillips, CD-SV, RT of P & S Sales: Leadership Award Keith Duplessie of Big Man Washes, Inc.: Outstanding Service Award Jeff Emerald of Auto Image: Detail Shop of the Year Jim Thomas of Onsite Shine: Mobile Detailer of the Year Lawrence “Larry” Kosilla of AMMO NYC: Detailer of the Year Kevin Davis of Detailer’s Helper: Detail Supplier of the Year

IDA FOUNDERS CLUB MEMBERS Renny and Diane Doyle . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .Attention to Details, Ltd. Mike Phillips, CD-SV . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Greg Swett, CD-SV . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .Classic Appreciation World Class Auto Detailing Prentice St. Clair, CD-SV, RT . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .Detail in Progress, Inc. Bud Abraham . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .DETAIL PLUS Car Appearance Systems, Inc. Jim Lafeber, CD . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .Dr. Beasley’s, Inc. Chris Metcalf. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .FLEX North America, Inc. David Patterson . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .Lake Country Mfg. David Ghodoussi . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .Optimum Polymer Technologies, Inc. Bob Phillips, CD-SV, RT . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .P & S Sales Michael Dickson, CD-SV, RT. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .Professional Detailing Products Rick Goldstein . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .RAGGTOPP Francesco Ginocchio. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .RUPES SpA Thomas Palancia, CD-SV . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .Simoniz USA Inc. Daniel Baker, CD . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .Ziebart Corporation Also of note: Rick Goldstein of RaggTopp Products was given Mobile Tech Expo’s Lifetime Achievement Award and Prentice St. Clair of Detail in Progress, Inc. was awarded Mobile Tech Expo’s Detailing Person of the Year.


Vol. 1, No. 2 • Spring 2016

Elbow Grease

Other ways to remove contaminants By Clint Hintz


o n t r a r y t o po pu l ar belief, there are most likely contaminants (such as overspray, dirt, industrial fallout, railhead dust, acid rain deposits, as well as sap, tar and bug remains, etc.) that remain in an auto’s painted surface, even after a washing process has been completed. Contaminants can grip and even penetrate the clear coat. So, now the question is: Why buff through the dirt to get to the

paint? Or, why apply wax on top of contaminants? Especially when today there are various options available to safely remove contaminants from the paint without polishing and without removing any of the auto’s paint. Those options include: • Clay bars • Clay towels • Discs which are used with RO polishers • Claying mitts

• Claying sponges • Surface preparation chemicals (fallout remover, iron deposit remover)

use on the vehicle. And, a more aggressive option may leave you in a situation where it will be necessary to follow up with some type of machine polish. However, in most cases, a minimally aggressive option could be followed with a simple hand wax application.

How much aggression? Keep in mind that there are typically different grades of aggressiveness that can be used depending on how much contamination is on the paint as well as what your process you decide to Vol. 1, No. 2 • Spring 2016

The benefits There are significant benefits to performing the aforementioned |

Auto Detailing News



types of processes, such as: • Your favorite waxes, sealants and coatings will always adhere better to clean paint, and will give a better shine, better color depth and durability. • This process will save time from your polishing step, as it allows an easier rotation from your polisher due to less contaminants gripping during rotation.

• T h e l e s s c o n t a m i n a n t s remaining on the painted surface equates to less dirt/ contaminants that get trapped in buffing pads and then moved and distributed throughout the remainder of the vehicle.

Proof with a plastic bag Need proof? After you wash and dry a vehicle, simply place a plastic

baggie or piece of cellophane under your fingers tips and rub it over the painted surface. This will intensify your sense of touch and you will be able to recognize right away whether any contaminants remain on the painted surface. Keep in mind, removing exterior contaminants with any of the options listed above will not recondition paint, remove oxidation, swirls or scratches. It simply removes contaminants from any hard surface of a vehicle, such as the paint, glass, chrome, metals and fiberglass. Do not forget about removing contaminants from new cars as well. Cars are transported via trucks, railcars and ships, where they can take on numerous contaminants along the way prior to arriving at the dealership. New cars typically do not come with any type of paint protection from the factory and may sit around for months prior to being sold. Also, hard water

from sprinklers, the weather, sun and dirt to name a few culprits, can begin to contaminate a vehicle’s unprotected painted surface, even just from sitting on a dealership lot for a few months. Detailing is a skilled-labor and an art. Never be close-minded to learning about products, processes, applications and tricksof-the-trade to make your job easier and your customers and managers even more satisfied with your work. Good luck and happy detailing! Clint Hintz is General Manager at Professional Detailing Products (PDP) with 20+ years of National Level experience in territory management, sales and training. He is a proud member and past Board Member of the International Detailing Association — CD, SV, RT — Certified Trainer. To contact Clint, email him at

Professional Grade Detailing Products

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Auto Detailing News


Vol. 1, No. 2 • Spring 2016

11/20/15 10:55 AM

Detailers unite to work on presidential railcar

P Photography by Jean Claude Corcoran

rofessional detailers from across the United States as well as one from Canada, joined forces on February 1, 2016, at the Gold Coast Railroad Museum in Miami, Florida, to detail The Ferdinand Magellan Presidential Railcar, U.S. No.1. Used primarily by President Franklin Delano Roosevelt and President Harry S. Truman, the railcar was in need of a good cleaning, polishing, and waxing. The team, led by Joe Fernandez of Superior Shine (for more on Fernandez, see story page 14), spent two days working on the railcar. The professional detailers volunteered their time and efforts and Autogeek Car Wax Superstore of Stuart, Florida, donated their complete line of Pinnacle Care car products, and also picked up the bill for lodging and meals. Rupes USA, paid for our scaffolding, generators and power cords.

Vol. 1, No. 2 • Spring 2016


Auto Detailing News





Auto Detailing News


Vol. 1, No. 2 • Spring 2016

Brass (after)

Brass (before)

Brass (before)

Vol. 1, No. 2 • Spring 2016


Auto Detailing News



The Ferdinand (after) Facts about the Ferdinand • Built by the Pullman Company in 1929. • Refurbished in 1942 by the request of President Franklin Delano Roosevelt. • Used primarily by President Franklin Delano Roosevelt and President Harry S. Truman. • Named for Portuguese explorer Ferdinand Magellan who is known for being the first person to circumnavigate the Earth. • Railcar is 84-feet long x 15-feet high x 10-feet wide and includes a presidential suite (consisting of a bedroom for the president, first lady and a connecting bathroom), two guest rooms, a dining room and conference room, and an observation lounge.



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The Ferdinand (before) • Was used in Truman’s famous “Whistle Stop” campaign in 1948. • Only passenger railcar named as a National Historic Landmark by the United States Department of the Interior.

Vol. 1, No. 2 • Spring 2016

• The railcar was put mostly into retirement after the skyways via Air Force One became the preferred way to travel. • It is now on display at the Gold Coast Railroad Museum in Miami, Florida.

The Detail Doctor

Roadblocks to success Business success is not based on just one thing, but on a series of interrelated factors.


n the many articles that have been written about the auto detailing business the indisputable fact is that auto detailing presents a great potential. However, many in the business are finding failure before they start. For successful auto detailers, the reasons are obvious and simple. But it is also evident that we have not done a good job of communicating these reasons to the newcomers in the business and even many old timers.

Reasons for Lack of Success To m a k e i t s i m p l e , t h e following is a checklist of all the possible reasons operators are experiencing problems rather than successes: ✓ No market information about the auto detail business. ✓ There is no understanding of the difference between wholesale auto detailing and retail auto detailing. ✓ Auto detailing is perceived as something anyone can do. ✓ “Typical” detailers were hired as employees. ✓ T h e u s e o f y e s t e r d a y ’s technology.

t he c u st o me r ✓ I n c o r r e c t want it?” In merchanfact, how can dising. you explain the of ✓ L a c k wide variations point-of-purin how operachase sales tors across the materials. country are of ✓ L a c k offering the properly services? trained sales On the personnel. customer side, There are what is he asking other reasons for? Detailing? By RL “Bud” Abraham that could be c i t e d , b u t i n W a x i n g ? Shampooing? general if an operator can understand these Most often the operator doesn’t points and make the necessary know what the customer wants adjustments, it is possible to enjoy because the customer himself the phenomenal profits the busi- does not know. How so? ness offers. Industry statistics indicate that Lack of Information more than 80% of the motoring Many operators do not take public does not know what auto the time to obtain the neces- detailing is. And that more than sary market information before 90% have never purchased this making a decision to enter the service. So how can they really auto detail business. Often their articulate what it is they want? But even though the customer decision is based simply on the has never purchased the service, fact that “everyone seems to be doing it” or “the motorists want it, and isn’t able to verbalize what it is, they still are desirous of so I’ll do it”. Have you ever asked, “why is cosmetic car care services beyond everyone doing it?” Or, “why does what they receive at a car wash. Vol. 1, No. 2 • Spring 2016

While this subject could be further expanded upon, it should suffice for purposes of this article to indicate that many operators have made a decision to enter the detail business without sufficient knowledge about the market.

Wholesale vs. Retail Detailing Too many operators have entered the auto detail business without awareness that there is a difference between wholesale and retail auto detailing and exactly what the difference is. Or, if the difference is really important. Yes, there is a difference. A night and day difference between these forms of detailing. Wholesale detailing as it has been for several years is that form of detailing done by a private contractor for an auto dealer. In general, all the detailer must do is pick up the cars, detail them, and return them in good order for an agreed upon set price, somewhere between $45 and $75 for a passenger car. The dealer, in most cases, does not care where the work is done, who the employees are or what they look like. As a result, |

Auto Detailing News




detailing of this type is done most of the time in garages, warehouses, lean-tos, or any other low rent place that would facilitate two or three cars. As a result, facilities are poor to begin with, not maintained, and employee background, appearance, and work habits are not a concern. In general this is a very unhealthy atmosphere to operate a professional business from. On the other hand, retail auto detailing, like any other successful retail business, dictates that there be a professional looking facility that is maintained and operated with clean cut, well trained employees. Consideration must be given to appearance, signing, merchandising, service, pricing and good salesmanship. In summary, the wholesale business while requiring a clean car, does not emphasize the “sizzle” that goes along with the clean car, that is, the look of professionalism, competence, and capability. The retail business does!

“A professional detail center is operated on the principal of, ‘a place for everything and everything in its place.’ The typical shop operates more on the principle of, ‘it’s wherever you can find it.’ ”

A Detailer as a Manager With all due respect to the skill and talents of a detailer, experience has shown that very few, if any, have the necessary skills to be the manager of a professional retail business. Note: I did not say “detail” business, but “retail” business! This emphasizes the point: You must hire a “business manager,” not a detailer, to run the business. If any one reason has caused more operators to experience less than satisfactory results in the auto detail business, it is hiring the wrong manager. And, in this case, it has been a “detailer.” Not only do most detailers not have the necessary management skills, but coming from an unstructured wholesale detail environment they find it hard to



Auto Detailing News


Vol. 1, No. 2 • Spring 2016

comfortably fit into the discipline of a retail operation. This is not to say that you couldn’t hire an experienced detailer as a line person or shop supervisor, but means he probably does not possess the skills required for management.

Typical Detailers as Employees As an operator of professional detail centers for several years, I can say from experience that the “typical detailer” usually will not fit into a professional operation. Like the manager, they come from an unstructured wholesale shop environment where no one has demanded clean-cut appearance, personal discipline, structured work procedures, and so on. They come with bad habits and, worst of all, their own conceptions of how detailing should be done. Generally, they resist any attempt at changing. Have you ever wondered why some restaurants, supermarkets, fast food franchises, etc., do not hire anyone with prior experience? It’s because they find it easiest to train an unexperienced person than untrain an experienced one.

Yesterday’s Technology What is yesterday’s technology and why is it bad? The typical detail technology used by most shops, wholesale and retail alike, is simple: Squeeze and spray bottles; sponges; a portable shop vacuum; brushes; towels or rags; buckets; a couple of electric buffers; a hose; and maybe a pressure washer. If an effort is made to organize this into any system, it is futile at best since there is not enough equipment to create a truly organized shop. A professional detail center

on the other hand is operated on the principal of, “a place for everything and everything in its place.” The typical shop operates more on the principle of, “it’s wherever you can find it.” If you plan to make money in the detail business you must be organized for volume and the maximization of labor. With the technology described above, it is very difficult to do. Not impossible, but difficult. For example, at a recent regional meeting I spoke with an operator who had just completed his first month in the retail detail business. Gross sales $15,000. His labor was over 60%. Why? Yesterday’s technology and poor management systems. In addition to the inefficiency of yesterday’s technology it also does nothing to convey a feeling of confidence and respect in the eyes of the customer. Remember, the bucket and squeeze bottle technology is for the auto dealer who pays $50 or $60 per car. Not for the retail customer who pays $150-$200 per car.

Incorrect Merchandising Whether you operate with modern technology or yesterday’s technology, if the merchandising is not correct there will be no financial success. Of course, choosing the correct merchandising plan relates back to having proper marketing information. Without the information, how can you decide what to sell and at what price? Many operators simply do what the other guy does. Why? Who says he is correct? Maybe he is priced too high. Or too low. Maybe price has nothing to do with it. Possibly the customer doesn’t understand the services. To determine the proper merchandising approach for a given area requires a look at the

demographics of the area, evaluation of what other successful shops are doing, and interviews with friends, customers, etc. To develop a service and price menu without this information will lead to failure.

retraining employees, was able to generate over $12,000 in sales, a 50% increase with no advertising and no promotion, only good on site salesmanship.

Summary As you read through the explanation of these various reasons, I hope you’ve been able to see that each is interrelated to the other. And that success in the detail business is not one thing or another but a series of factors that all combine to make a business successful. If you can honestly evaluate your existing detail business against these reasons and make any adjustment, you’ll find the revenues we speak of a reality. If you are planning to enter the business, do so using these reasons as a backdrop to set it up. And if you need professional help don’t be afraid to get it. The small cost will be well worth the investment!

Lack of Point Of Purchase Materials E v e n wi t h a p r o f e ssio na l f a c i l i t y, g o o d m a na g e m e n t , good employees, and proper merchandising you can still fail if you don’t have attractive pointof-purchase materials to inform and educate the customer about what detail services are and why they are needed periodically. These point-of-purchase materials are painted signs, backlit signs, displays, brochures and flyers. All these point-of-purchase materials must be unified, coordinated with a master theme, and, of course, developed only after obtaining marketing information about your potential customers.

Bud Abraham, founder of DETAIL PLUS Car Appearance Systems, is a noted speaker and writer in the detail industry. Was a founding member of the INTERNATIONAL DETAILING ASSOCIATION and its first executive director. He writes and consults on auto detailing all over the world. He can be reached at buda@detailplus. com.

Lack of a ProperlyTrained Salesperson Sales, that is what it’s all about. Remember, nearly 90% of your customers have never purchased detail services and have no or only a vague idea of what they are. Furthermore they really don’t know what their vehicle needs. Even with everything else in place, if you don’t have a person on site in charge of sales who can knowledgeably explain to the customer what he should purchase, you could be losing well over 50% of your potential revenues. Case in point. I took over the operation of a store whose sales had dropped from $15,000 per month to under $6,000 per month. While spending three weeks getting the equipment operable again, cleaning up, and Vol. 1, No. 2 • Spring 2016

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


Auto Detailing News



HALL OF STAINS Stain horror stories


hances are, as a detailer you have probably seen pretty 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 showcase the tales of the really bad spills and stains that took special treatments and extra man hours to eradicate.

The Prey: ToFarGone (username on The Culprit: Five gallons of clam soup. The Horror Story: No lid was on the soup and the van was going 65 mph on the highway. Another car starts to pull out in front of them and they mash the brakes. All 5 gallons were evenly distributed from the back to the front of the van. I would imagine we stood there looking [at the mess] mystified, as though we were watching a wreck happen in slow motion. This was something you would hear about in a story that someone was joking about looooong after the fact. Not funny at the time. The Removal Process: It wasn’t so much the stain as it was the smell. The weather was turning warm quick and we were under the gun. We are in Iowa so 90 degree heat with 85% humidity is more the norm. Luckily it was confined mostly to the cargo area. On any plastic, vinyl, or leather we used the appropriate CarBrite products through a Tornador



Auto Detailing News


Vol. 1, No. 2 • Spring 2016

with a microfiber wipe down. The carpet: As soon as we could closed our mouths after the initial shock, we brought it right in and hit it with carpet cleaning solution and extracted as though our lives depended on it. I didn’t want to extract alone (with no spray) because I didn’t want ANY of it to dry even a little— milk and seafood had me scared. After getting the bulk of it mopped up we went back with more cleaning solution and a brush on my porter cable DA buffer. Extract, re-wet, brush...half a dozen times. Then we pulled the carpet and cleaned the metal on the floor pan just in case. The Outcome: Turned out great but the temperature went up two days later and the smell was back. We had done most everything we could do so we turned to a home remedy. We covered the cargo area carpet with baking soda and wet it until it was almost a paste. There was enough moisture that it couldn’t blow away, and we kept it that way for a few hours. Have you survived a tale of horror? If so, please send your story to Debra Gorgos at

The deal with auto dealers By Debra Gorgos


fter many years of hard work, dedication, and steadfast and perfected skill sets, the momentum of the detailing industry is being felt and the reputation and description of a detailer is now part of the everyday vernacular. This is no accident. It took decades to get it this far, and as the industry continues its upward climb, many detailers are faced with more opportunities. Today, a detailer is more highly regarded and appreciated and their work is admired. Therefore, now might be a good time to capitalize on this currently respected reputation and consider forming a deal with an auto dealership. This is a dynamic we cannot ignore, stresses Keith Duplessie, a territory sales manager for Big Man Washes of Dallas, Texas, where he specializes in detail programs and training. He is currently a member of the International Detailing



Auto Detailing News

Association (IDA) board of directors and served as president in 2011 and 2012. “We have accomplished much in educating the consumer and improving the reputation of our industry, but soon dealers will place increased emphasis on what they will find to be a profit center— car washing and detailing.” But, before we go any further, we need to define what kind of consociation we are talking about here. This kind of relationship would be one in which detailers detail used cars for sale, either at a dealership which sells new cars and also |

Vol. 1, No. 2 • Spring 2016

has used cars, or one which only sells used cars. And there is one more scenario in which a detailer sets up shop on the auto dealer’s property. But, this dynamic is a little more difficult, as it involves a lot more provisions, according to Bud Abraham, founder of DETAIL PLUS Car Appearance Systems, the first executive director of the International Detailing Association (IDA), and

Auto Detailing News’s Detail Doctor. “But, no matter what the situation, there is a lot of potential here, you just have to extend a deal t o t h e d e a l e r. “The key is to tell a dealer you will have the car back on the lot quickly. That is what they want to hear because a used car loses its value every day it is up for sale. So they want to hear it will be detailed and on the lot as quickly as possible.” A disadvantage is that they might try to nickel and dime you, “but don’t fall for that, they need to know how valuable your services are and if they do, they will pay your price.”

A call to action Detailers weren’t as respected as they are now, according to Abraham. “In fact, there was a time when a detailer wasn’t treated ver y well at all by auto dealers.” Today, though, according to Abraham, things are so much better and, “if you’re looking for more work, especially during the slower times, an auto dealer might be a good fit.” At this year’s Mobile Tech Expo, Duplessie was asked to give the annual State of the Industry address for the IDA. As in past years he addressed a little history of the industry, talked about trends and looked to the future. But, this year he addressed one primary topic with much assurance: Detailing in the Auto Dealer segment. “My question then and now, is simple,” says Duplessie, “How do we engage the largest segment of our industry (professionally, anyway) in actively participating in our efforts to continue to grow and improve our standards as an industry? In my mind, it is vitally important to see these dealers participate in our efforts to improve our image, educate our consumers and have what we do, become recognized as the legitimate profession that we all know it is. On that evening, there was only one detailing dealership technician present among the more than 200 guests,

from an auto dealership. “ Duplessie, who stresses that the industry is strong and getting stronger every day, admits that even without the dealer interaction, the industry will continue to ascend. “I don’t see this trend going anywhere but up. In the last 15 years we have seen tremendous growth in our industry. There are more professionally run retail and wholesale stand-alone detail shops than ever before. There is more industry interaction, education and training available and consumer awareness is higher than it has ever been. There is no one person group or company responsible for this, it has been an industry effort, and I see nothing but more of the same in our future.” Still, warns Duplessie, it cannot be ignored that all of this has been accomplished with very little involvement on the part of auto manufacturers and dealerships. “If we were to take into account the number of car dealerships that currently detail cars for resale and new car delivery it still makes up the largest preponderance of the auto detailing industry, both in number of staff and volume of vehicles.” “More than ever, the car dealer is becoming the resource for the consumer when it comes to all things maintenance and appearance on their cars,” says Duplessie. “ Wa r r a n t i e s a r e better now than ever before, and dealerships have embraced both mechanical and body repair as being their major source of revenue. While selling a car is still profitable, the service after the sale is far more so. They have embraced being a

vehicle appearance services that could be registered as part of a Carfax report. Nothing like this exists, but if it did, just imagine the impact. The IDA is looking in to this, and if you want to help us, let me know. 3. Manufacturer outreach is also a must. Currently, there are no independent standards adopted by manufactures outlining proper methods and standards for detailing. This is a huge undertaking, but one that could be well worth the effort if it is taken up. One way to start this may be to work backwards, going from the dealers up to the manufactures themselves. One of the simplest ways to start is to do the simplest of things— Invite the dealerships, one at a time, to join us. This is not a recruiting pitch for the IDA, but this membership could be a good way to start. So, if you do wholesale work for a dealer, invite them to be a part of your association. It could pay benefits for both of you. 4. Finally, I would be remiss if I did not address the feeling that it’s OK if we have no dealer involvement. We are doing fine without it, and if we raise their level, it might take business from the rest of us as individuals. I think that is not true, just the opposite. It will help us legitimize our industry even further and push standards higher. The best will raise their game as they always do, and educated consumers will seek them out. We have adopted the saying that “A rising tide lifts all boats.” Now is the time for us to help that tide rise.

destination for the consumer to care for their vehicle.”

How to engage the dealer So, how do we get them on board? Here are the four strategic moves, according to Duplessie: 1. First, we keep doing what we have been doing. Continue to improve and refine programs l i k e t h e I DA’s C e r t i f i e d Detailer and Skills Validated testing. Keep the education going—events like Mobile Tech Expo, Detail Fest that offer education need to keep up the good work. Along with regional car wash shows, and SEMA, we have readymade platforms to continue to educate. Continued adoption of Certification programs from community colleges is also key. If we can educate the future workforce, they will be more capable, and better results can follow. Consumer education is another key. We need to keep showing the public what right looks like and what it takes to make that happen both in skill and expense. Shows like Competition Ready can be a great vehicle for this. But, it just can’t be the manufactures doing it. Individual operators need to reach out to car clubs and shows and demo, and educate their consumers too. Many do, so keep it up! 2. N e x t , w e n e e d t o h a v e concerted efforts to continue to incorporate knowledge and skills based qualifications for all professionals in our industry. Aligning with independent vehicle inspection and reporting agencies is one way to validate these programs. For example, if detailing from qualified and certified detailers was the only accepted form of Vol. 1, No. 2 • Spring 2016

A game changer Car loans and leasing can now extend up to 84 months, and cars cost more now than ever |

Auto Detailing News



before, and the consumer wants to maintain the maximum value in that investment, so caring for their car is important to them, says Duplessie. And, there is a new development. “It is possible to finance into the cost of the vehicle future car wash and detailing services. This is the game changer, and could possibly change the face of industry in ways we cannot predict.” Up to now, many viewed this as a necessary expense. It was only to get used cars ready for resale (auction or lot retail), says Duplessie. “Now, the emphasis will change. Many wash cars now as a perk to customers for having service work done. Soon the ability to profit from presold services will drive them to emphasize detailing. This should be a plus, in that they will invest in improving their shops, staff skill levels, and so on. But if it doesn’t, imagine the irreparable damage it could do to consumer expectations, if poor quality work performed by poorly trained and managed staff from the dealership became the image of what



Auto Detailing News

detailing is. This is not to say that all auto dealers do poor work. Far from it. Many have very good professional detail shops, but the law of averages being what it is, just as many do produce poor work. And, dealerships far outnumber retail detail shops.”

services such as undercoating, tint removal, painting trim/moldings/roof racks/grills need to be billed as a separate service.” Todd Tobacco, of Q Tipp Treatment, has had a passion for detailing since he was a kid and has been detailing professionally, along with his brother, in Brewster, Two detailers share NY, since graduating from college. their strategies “We got started with our first Ford Darrell Hanchett of Hillsboro, account shortly after opening. We O r e g o n , D M H A u t o m o t i v e were located close to them and Enterprises, has been detailing they needed help and we needed cars since 1985. He started to increase our volume. They saw working with auto dealers because we were growing and gave us a shot. it carries the We continue b u s i n e s s “The auto dealers always to have a relafinancially need their cars detailed tionship with throughout Ford today, even in the rainy snowy the winter and in the months.” months. “The last 20 years auto dealers always need their cars we have added five more dealerdetailed even in the rainy snowy ship accounts to our business. months in the Northwest,” says An advantage of working with Hanchett. an auto dealer, according to He got through to the dealers Tobacco, is the volume. “They by simply cold calling them and give you work all year round. You stay busy even on rainy or snowy pitching his services. Hanchett warns that a disad- days. You also get to grow with vantage to working with dealers is the dealer. If the customers are that they can be stingy. “They are happy with your service they then extremely cheap,” he says. “They become your customers [after the want everything done along with sale].” pick-ups and deliveries for a very As for the disadvantages, minimal price. They base their Tobacco says it is that a volume thinking on volume that they of work equals a volume send and I set a minimum of 10 discount. “The business will cars per week in order to meet the always make more money with wholesale price standard. They retail work, but retail work is do not always meet that standard. not guaranteed when the weather They are out to make as big of a does not cooperate.” Also, you profit as possible cutting into the have to keep up with the demand vendor profits and in this case the of the dealers. “There are times when they are slow, but when detailers pocket.” Also be sure to be careful and their business picks up you have have an agreement in writing and to be able to integrate their new have the principal owner sign and used cars into your schedule,” it, says Hanchett. “Be sure that he says. whatever it is you agree upon is in the agreement. The auto dealer always wants to add more itemized Time to shine The business has changed services to the basic detail. Only agree to the basic detail. All other in the last 20 years because


Vol. 1, No. 2 • Spring 2016

of the Internet, says Tobacco. “Dealerships want the cars cleaned and all pictures taken immediately so they can post them on their website. More and more customers will first visit a dealer’s website to see what kind of inventory they have before they take a ride to look in person. They used to just walk the lot.” And, as Abraham mentioned, all of this means that there has to be faster turn-around for the detail department. The pros greatly out way the cons, says Tobacco. “Dealers have been the backbone of our business and my advice would be to show them what you can do. Learn to manage the prep departments so that the service department can focus on the bigger jobs.” And, Tobacco’s biggest piece of advice is to build a trustworthy relationship. Dealers need to know you’re reliable because they need to money, too, and the reason Q Tipp is successful, Tobacco says, is because of the relationships he has built, which mirrors the one-on-one relationships he has built with his customers as well.

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