Success in the detailing trade requires equal parts talent, hard work, and entrepreneurial spirit. It also calls for a specialized set of skills. Skills that are not easy to acquire.
Kyle Clark working on a P-51 Mustang at the Museum of Flight
Old-school detailers acquired these skills over years of solitary trial and error. However, there is an easier and more efficient way to gain the skills necessary to stand out in a crowd — collaboration.
Modern-day detailers realize the power of their peers, and are willing to share their knowledge with fellow professionals. They know that the more expertise and advice they are willing to dole out, the more they will receive in return, elevating their detail prowess while simultanoulsy giving back to the industry.
For example, organizations like Renny Doyle’s Detail Mafia provide the perfect mix of educational and networking opportunities that elevate their members’ skill sets while simultaneously increasing their profile in the industry. Within these organizations unique bonds and friendships can form among colleagues that go beyond membership in a trade organization. The friendships and mentoring relationships can become true difference makers in the lives and careers of those willing to embrace the full power of the organization. These groups-within-the-group allow for further development and exploration of the members’ skills as well as business aptitude.
Bob Wiener putting on a demonstration from the trade show floor.
Bob Wiener, Doug Parfitt, and Kyle Clark where all successful and skilled detailers in their own right before joining the Detail Mafia, but thanks to the personal and professional connections they have made through the group have taken their careers to the next level.
Wiener owns and operates Finer Details in Long Branch, NJ. He is a retired police captain, who left the force last fall and threw himself into his surging detail business. Nearly a decade ago, with retirement from the police force on the horizon, Wiener began to contemplate the next stage of his professional life. As a born leader he knew he wanted to work for himself, but he was unsure of what kind of business to open.
“My wife’s family had been in the car wash industry since the ‘60s,” he says. “At the time they had six car washes and about a half a dozen people a day would call asking for detailing services. My wife recommended I look into detailing. I had never really thought about it. I was into cars and always tried to maintain them as best I could. But I had limited knowledge of professional detailing.”
As a high-ranking member of the local police force, Wiener had plenty of contacts in and around town. He was confident he could drum up business, but he needed top-notch detailing skills to ensure his clients would utilize his services on an ongoing basis. He needed professional detailing training.
“I wanted to train with the best,” he says. “I came across Renny’s website and it intriguing me since he was doing one-on-one training. I went out to train with him and started my business in 2011 and have continued to grow ever since.”
When he founded Finer Details his calendar quickly filled up and his mobile detailing business was booked two months in advance, prompting him to bring on some part-time help and begin training and mentoring fellow detailers. Since his retirement from the police department, Wiener has thrown himself into his detailing business, opening up a fixed location and employing four detailing technicians to whom he willingly passes on his detailing knowledge.
The 2019 Air Force One Detailing Team.
Just like Wiener, Doug Parfitt was a late bloomer to the detailing business. Prior to joining the industry about nine years ago, he spent 25 years in hospitality management. He managed large teams in his previous career, routinely having more than 25 direct reports, and decided his second career would be all about him.
“I tell everybody, it’s me, my van, and no one else,” he says. “I managed teams for years and now I am just kind of over it. I enjoy working by myself. I took a passion and a hobby and decided to turn it into a business.”
His Eye For Detail mobile business is based out of Pittsburg and focuses on basic-line detail. He provides quality work at a fair price to an eager client base. But that is not to say that over his nine-year professional detailing career he hasn’t acquired some differentiating skills like paint correction and next-gen coatings. Skills he is willing and able to pass on to the next wave of detailers he encounters and mentors at the Detailing Mafia.
Bob Wiener’s attention to detail helps set him apart from the average operator.
“It’s the responsibility of being a person that’s been around,” he says. “You need to pass on what you’ve learned to new members coming into the group.”
The connections among the group are various and strong. Just like Wiener, Kyle Clark of Xtreme Detailing in Fontana, CA has a solid connection to law enforcement. His father was a police officer, and his contacts were among Clark’s first clients.
“I’ve been detailing most of my life,” Clark says. “I started when I was about 13 years old. My mom would take me over to the police department during the summer and I would go get the keys from different people and she’d drive their car back to our house. I would detail it and then we would bring it back and I would get paid.”
Now a few decades removed from his grassroots detailing beginnings, the mobile detailer is in-demand in Southern California for his willingness to take on any job no matter how big, including monstrous RVs.
“I take on those larger projects,” he says. “I fell into that niche and there is plenty of demand. My van is big and it has everything I could ever need. I need gallons of products because I never know what I’m going to run into.”
Kyle Clark is not afraid to take on the big projects.
Being prepared and qualified for whatever is thrown your way is key to a prolonged and successful detailing career, but it requires a toolbox of skills that can only be gained through prolonged trial and error, or the mentorship of seasoned pros.
Wiener, Clark, and Parfitt have each devoted large portions of their free time to training both their own employees and members of the Detailing Mafia to ensure that those new to the industry have access to the critical skills they need to thrive. And each of the three master detailers have advice for newcomers and those looking to up their detailing game.
• “Most detailers have had some type of formal training,” Parfitt says. ”Most of that training has been in detailing skills or management. But there is a big difference between leadership and management. The industry needs leaders.”
• “Education is the foundation for your entire business,” Wiener says. “Not only education in the physical aspects of detailing. But you need to educate yourself with how to talk to customers. How to treat both customers and your employees. There are so many different aspects of this business that you need to continually train throughout the year and throughout your career.”
Kyle Clark working on a truck at the 2019 Gordon McCall Motor Works Revival, the kick-off event for Monterey Car Week.
Doug Parfitt believes the best way to acquire and pass on knowledge is to work hand-in-hand with fellow detailers.
• “Youtube will only get you so far,” says Clark. “A lot of people rely on free information sharing. But there is a lot of bad information out there. Get trained properly and remember to always keep learning and be humble. This business evolves quickly. There’s always new technology and techniques coming out and you have to stay current.”