Lights, Camera, Detail

By Timothy Denman

03/01/17

Most detailers toil in obscurity. They report to the shop, turn in a full day’s work, and head home with little recognition or accolade. That is the life of veteran detailer Paul Viens, that is of course when he is not doubling as a television star.

The Power of Excellence’s van acts as a moving billboard.

Viens has appeared twice on Velocity TV’s hit show Competition Ready, working alongside the best the detailing industry has to offer. On the reality TV program a team of top detailers from around the country work together to get a vehicle ready for an auto show appearance.

Last season Viens appeared on the final episode of the year working with a team of six expert detailers as they competed against five other teams in a detailing competition. Each team worked on a vehicle and was judged on the improvement they were able to produce with their detailing prowess.

“There is a team leader and the goal is to make the car look as perfect as possible,” Viens says of his experience on the show. “We observed what the issues were with each car and we all took jobs and got to work. The goal is to produce the most dramatic transformation possible. The team uses their skills to make it happen.” 

 

Paul Viens working on a $30,000 paint job.

Viens was invited back for another tour of duty on Competition Ready this season where the assignment was not to compete against other professional detailers, but rather to work together in one large group to get a high-end Newmar RV ready for a big RV show. Not only was the project big, but the stakes were big as well. Viens was tasked with working on the finish of the massive motor home that just got a new paint job with a $30,000 price tag.

“They filmed us going through all of the steps,” Viens says. “Washing, prepping, picking out the products, applying the sealant, treating the chrome, tires, aluminum rims, and more. This project didn’t need a whole lot of paint correction but it definitely needed some TLC. Every project they do on the show they want to make sure is done right.

“A big part of being on a TV show is waiting. You wait, then you work, then you stop again. It is certainly not a regular workday but it sure was a lot of fun.”

Paul Viens posing with the host of Competition
Ready Mike Phillips.

When Viens is not having fun with his fellow TV stars he can be found at his Ft. Myers, FL-based Power of Excellence Auto Detailing shop, helping maintain and protect his customers’ cars.

Viens started off in the business in the mid-90s when he moved to Florida and started working part time for a local mobile detailer by the name of Simon Pentith. Pentith had developed a self-contained mobile detailing system that had a water tank, generator, and pressure cleaner. After working for Pentith for a short time Viens got the itch to strike out on his own and Pentith offered to sell him one of his detailing systems and was even willing to offer his former employee a line of credit on the equipment and supplies.

“He fronted me his credit with his supplier and I made payments to him,” Viens says. “He had designed this great system that fit right into a van. It made it so you were able to go around and be self-contained. Back then there really wasn’t much mobile detailing going on in the Ft. Myers area. I started out small walking door to door with flyers. From no clientele I was able to build up a good-sized customer base.”

While his customers love the convenience of Viens’ mobile enterprise, the oppressive Florida summers and labor challenges of mobile detailing drew him to open a fixed location after two decades detailing out of a van. While Power of Excellence still has a mobile unit and does its fair share of service on the road, Viens’ main focus since opening his shop a little over a year ago has been on building his high-end clientele.

The crew of three detailers is always working
to improve their skills.

Mobile detailers are often under time restraints and are unable to perform the large-scale paint correction and protection projects that produce the best results and profit margin. 

“Our minimum service for mobile is $150,” Viens says. “We used to do $50 maintenance washes. Not to toot our own horn, but we did such a good job that our clients didn’t have much need for detailing. Our entry-level service features a wash, quick clay, a spray sealant, vacuuming, spot interior cleaning, and a quick treatment on the dashboard.”

While Viens and his crew of two other detailers can pump out four to five full-service details a day, Power of Excellence’s focus of late has been on its long-lasting protective coating business. The coatings business ebbs and flows depending on time of year and other market conditions but the high-end nature of the service is worth the unpredictability of demand.

“It has never been steady,” Viens says of his coating business. “It is not like normal detailing it is only for the customer that wants to really protect their vehicle for whatever reason. We get people with everyday drivers that do them. And we also get people with really nice expensive cars that do them.

The owner of Power of Excellence still likes
to get his hands dirty.
Power of Excellence’s detailing tent features
plenty of LED lighting.

To help take his coatings and paint protection film business to the next level Viens built a large 18’x 20’ tent inside of his shop that acts as a clean room. The tent is filled with LED lights on the ceiling and sides providing plenty of light to perform high-end protection services and paint correction. In addition, the air-conditioned tent keeps Viens and his employees cool during the severe Florida summer.

Although the crew at Power of Excellence has the equipment, facility, and skills to produce high-end results the business faces the same challenges as others in this industry: educating its customer base on its offerings.

“There are still a lot of people out there that don’t appreciate the difference between a two-hour detail and a six-hour detail,” Viens says. “The challenge is educating people on the levels of detailing that are available.” To spread the word on its services and educate the motoring public on the benefits of high-end detailing Power of Excellence relies on the organic SEO of its website, its wrapped van that acts as a moving billboard, an A-rating on Angie’s List, and of course word of mouth.

Viens built his detailing business from the ground up with determination and superior service. The thriving business took a major step over the past year with the establishment of its first fixed location and continues to see steady growth as it focuses its efforts on growing its high-end clientele.

 

 



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