Auto Laundry News - March 2013

Magic — Put a Little Into Your Detail Marketing

By Sharie Sipowicz

When Danny Detailer started his detail business he expected to succeed quickly. He had ambition, some savings to cover start-up costs, great detail expertise, specialized equipment, and the best chemicals. He had studied the most popular marketing ideas and was convinced that a profitable future was within reach.

Less than three months later, Danny found himself ready to give up. His capital was gone, spent mostly on advertising that didn’t bring in enough customers. It was only his belief in his detail services and the favorable feedback from customers he had that convinced him he was doing the right thing and not to give up.

His situation forced him to put away the marketing books and find a more practical approach. He decided to concentrate his efforts in his local area, and approach potential customers directly. It was time consuming, but inexpensive. It worked for Danny because he had plenty of time and very little money.

Five years after the rough start Danny has a prosperous business, several employees, hardly ever details himself, and even takes a vacation now and then.


What Danny discovered were some simple marketing approaches:

1. Importance
First, understand and accept the importance of marketing. No matter how good your detail service, it will never sell itself. You must make a commitment to spend at least as much time marketing your detail services as you do on detailing cars.

2. Set Achievable Goals
Too many detailers think their marketing efforts are going to provide huge profits in a short time. Don’t get caught in the trap of unrealistic expectations, or you’ll soon be discouraged, and your attitude will invariably cause your detail business to suffer. So set a reasonable income goal for the first six months, and then lower that by 25 percent. Then you’ll be able to focus on what you’ve achieved rather than where you’ve failed.

3. Identify Your Prospects
Create a prospect list. Identify which types of customers would be most likely to need your detail service. Concentrate on figuring out how to reach these customers and what to say to them. “Right market, right message.” You can buy a prospect list, but it is better to compile your own list using the phone book, newspaper, town business licenses, and other easily accessible sources. You’ll be surprised that there are many potential clients in your own market area. Within a few months you will find you will gain business.

4. Spend Time, not Money
Marketing can be expensive. Television and newspaper ads, billboards, and direct mail campaigns are costly and may not reach your target market. You can spend a great deal of money on high-powered marketing approaches, but, if you use hand-addressed envelopes and follow-up visits, you will probably get a better response.

5. Build a Referral Network
Everyone knows that existing customers are the best source of referrals. However, that is not much help for your detail business if you are new or don’t have many customers. Seek referrals from friends, relatives, and even strangers. Local business groups and civic organizations, such as the Chamber of Commerce can
be an excellent source of referrals. Joining such groups will enhance the creditability of your detail business and you will be exposed to people who are eager to talk business. I cannot emphasize enough the importance of joining these groups and attending the meetings. You will meet many business people, who after learning what you do will be interested for themselves, their company, or be happy to provide referrals.

6. Know Your Selling Points
Before contacting prospective customers, be aware of what your detail services offer to customers. Not all customers have the same needs for detail services. “Know thy customer.” Don’t push protection of investment if the client’s needs are to protect leisure time. Be quick on your feet, ready to shift your direction immediately to emphasize how you can meet a customer’s primary need. Don’t let clients lose sight of your ability to meet that need by allowing your strong points to get lost in a smorgasbord approach. You can’t be all things to all people.

7. Keep Meticulous Records
Keeping track of why you succeed and why you fail is important. Knowing why clients purchase your detail service helps. Yet it is more important to identify the reasons why they do not buy from you. Ask them to explain why they do not buy. It could be that you did not satisfy their need or you did not properly focus on the benefits of your service. Constantly review this information to refine your approach and develop a stronger presentation.

8. Be Willing to up the Ante
Offer hesitant clients added value to “spice up” your offer. Often, a money-back guarantee works wonders. We recommend our customers use it. It shows confidence in your detail service, which always creates a favorable impression. Furthermore, once the person experiences the benefit of your detail service, they will find it inconvenient not to use it all the time.

9. Be Patient at Every Step
Don’t believe that 200 letters or calls are enough. It may take five times that many before you’re able to develop a really effective approach. Try to make sales every day. The best way to learn is on the go because, while planning and research are important, they are also the most common excuses for not getting out and selling.

Sharie Sipowicz is aftermarket sales manager with Detail Plus Car Appearance Systems Inc. She has been involved in the detail industry for over 20 years, both as a vendor of products and equipment and as a hands-on operator in a retail detail environment. You can contact Sharie at

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