These 3 things are KILLING your mobile detailing business!

It's true, the statistics are depressing to read. 96% of all new businesses FAIL within the first 2 years. From personal experience that number can be even higher when it comes to mobile detailing or valeting businesses. 

So as someone reading this and asking yourself the question, WHY would I bother to leave my regular job for only a 4% chance of survival, let alone success?? 

The answer to that really is brutally simple, most fail because they cannot effectively run the business. And by that I mean they are focusing on being a valeter or a detailer more than they are being a savvy businessperson. In reality you don't need to be an expert at either to succeed. 

We are going to take a look at the 3 observed traits that I have witnessed over the years selling products to detailers and HOW TO AVOID THEM.

1. Professional Respect

This may sound simple, but think about it for a second. So often new detailers will skip the basic things such as uniform. Now I don't mean some expensive embroidered custom masterpiece but just something that looks clean and presentable like you are there to carry out a service. The first time you meet a new customer is your ONLY CHANCE to make the correct first impression! Imagine turning up to a lovely home in a well of area dressed in an old tracksuit with last nights takeaway remains down 1 leg. If you were the customer would you want to hand your keys over to that person? This may seem elementary but this can be a deciding factor for repeat business and even future recommendations so pay attention to your appearance! 

It may also go without saying but a huge part of the initial impression is time keeping. Show up 10 mins late to your customers appointment and you are seriously reducing your chances of being rebooked! The chances are your customer does not have the time to clean the vehicle themselves and in some cases operates around a busy schedule. They will remember you for being reliable but NEVER FORGET if you are unreliable. 

For many mobile guys this is a continual and repetitive issue that prevents their business from growing. getting clients is the hardest part so hanging on to them should be given top priority! After all, having to keep chasing new business is also taking you away from working and its just a downward spiral if you cannot turn things around. 

Our advice: 

get yourself some basic workwear that matches your brand colours or, if you don't have a logo or branding sorted out go for something that ties in with the cleaning brand you are using. For example some who use Infinity Wax will go for a dark grey soft shell jacket and black work trousers. Its simple and will usually set you back less than £50. That small but essential investment can make such a big difference to how customers perceive you and your business. 

Time keeping luckily is free, but you can help to help yourself in the most basic form by using your phones calendar, or even better by using a service such as appointed or similar. This will radically streamline your work flow and is super simple to set up, we will go into this in another article with further detail. 

2. Visuals

Now this step is probably so essential that I would recommend actually watching a couple of youtube videos on the subject, but learn how to take photos of cars! 

Customers buy into the visuals! It's the age old saying, don't judge a book by its cover. But people are judging and will continue to do so. When you post photos of your daily work it is an advert for your business, so as such it should look clean and professional. 

Dont post 30 photos of the car in varying states of dirty or clean, only a very engaged customer or someone looking for something specific will bother to look through them. In reality you have 1 PHOTO AND 3 SECONDS to grab that next customers attention! The beauty of this is you dont have to contain a lot of detail in this "hero" image. Just a clean and effective photo that makes the customer think WOW I wish my car looked that good, who is this guy?!  

Here is a good example of the correct type of hero image:

This photo is from Grant Detailing on Instagram if you want to check his work out. Now what can we see from this image? He has used a portrait focal effect to partially blur the background and keep the key points in focus. You can see wheels, tyres, callipers, door checks, seats, paintwork all from the 1 hero image. It creates an inviting photograph that makes you want to see more and as a potential customer you can already see the quality and detail of the work here. 

Another key aspect of your online visual quality is the products you are using. If it's a mixture of car plan stuff from Halfords scattered around the back of a van in boxes how does that look? Products are always a very subjective topic but using quality products that have a good reputation and are safe pays dividends in the long run! Also factor in these are typically concentrated and you end up paying much less overall than the budget chemical options out there. 

A good example of this would be spotless glass cleaner, glass is an element of wasted time for many detailers who are struggling with the weak products. 2 sprays of spotless and you know the job is going to be done! 

 Our advice: 

Get yourself familiar with using your phones camera to full effect, whether thats watching a few videos online or looking at other peoples examples. Dont be scared to use a filter! Now this is a grey area but for your hero image pretty much anything goes as this is simply to draw in your potential new client. Make sure any other detailed photos accurately show the results you have achieved where appropriate as customers will quickly catch on to a whole load of filtered photos and disregard you. 

Showing some of the products or results used can go along way also, especially when its not an off the Halfords shelf type product that anyone with zero experience can buy. Now i'm not saying they are all bad, but if you think about it from your customers perspective so a second, they can go and buy the same products and they know how much they cost. That is not a good look for any professional outfit as you always want to elevate yourself away from the "run off the mill". 

3. The Hype Zone vs The Money Zone

Now this is fundamental, it separates the detailers who are working hard and not moving forward vs the guys who seem to grow and grow with endless success! 

So what do I mean by the hype zone? 

This is a very common problem for many businesses in that they have a good amount of likes on the socials, several years maybe of business and are doing many of the basics well.

Picture this scenario: you notice a trend in your business that rebookings are slow, you cant simply rely on them, so what do you do? You go out there and you market your detailing business locally. You post an offer, or some sort of incentive to book your service then BOOM you have bookings that see you through the next 2 weeks and everything is golden! Right? 

What happens when the bookings go from 30 in 1 day and you then see a sharp decline, maybe 1 or 2 a day? This is called LIVING IN THE HYPE ZONE!

This is one of the worst problems you can have, because you constantly need to flog your marketing to get that cash boost your business needs, you are creating a hype to get work, and hype quickly dies down! 

This is such a dangerous cycle to be in because it is a painfully slow death and 9 times out of 10 the business is doing good work so it's an ever harder pill to swallow if you go down and not understanding the reason behind it. 

In many cases failure doesn't come quick and you find yourself in a position where you are just working and working for nothing other than a wage, no improvement in lifestyle and no growth in your business. Thats when the dreams you had of having a few vans on the road and creating a small empire start to dye and often with it comes the confidence and self esteem of the person behind the business. 

Our advice: 

The first stage here is to recognise that you are in a hype cycle. Knowing that you are in this position isn't always that obvious so look out for the key trends: 

  1. Customers only engage when you post something AMAZING or an offer. 
  2. if you take a week off and let someone else run things the bookings and overall engagement drop significantly. 
  3. You do not know where your next client is coming from

Solving the issue takes work but the key issue is often with your booking and after service system. Customers often have "shiny object syndrome" so respond well to an offer or something new and thats whats keeping you afloat. 

having a system or work flow in place that tracks and helps manage customers will retain and create repeat work like clockwork!

Here is an example of a hype zone business customer journey: 

  • Customer books and is given a time slot
  • Detailer turns up to do the job on time
  • Job is completed, customer is happy and you leave 

Here is an example of a money zone customer journey: 

  • Customer books and is given a time slot, online 10% deposit is also taken
  • Text message to confirm booking is automatically sent
  • Text message is automatically sent 1 hour before job to remind customer
  • Detailer turns up to do the job on time
  • Job is completed, customer is happy and you leave
  • That evening a text message is automatically sent with a thank you message and a link to leave a review 
  • 2 weeks later a courtesy push message is sent offering them space in your busy calendar 

Which business do you think is going to get consistent repeat business? 

Living in the money zone allows you to accurately work out based on repeat business how much you are making, you can plan better and grow/ scale in a strategic and planned way. Living in the hype zone you don't know how much you will make one month to the next! 

Remember, customers will forget you if you don't follow up with them!

Now as always these are some of our experiences form dealing with thousands of customers and each and every business is unique, however I hope this serves as a guide or even a little point in the right direction for some.  If you would like to sign up for a FREE TRADE ACCOUNT then please click the text below. Please note you must be an active business to qualify. 




Thank you again for your time and good luck in 2022!



1 comment

Tom Wilkins

Tom Wilkins

Brilliant write up. It’s disappointing to see so many of us fail out there. It’s a hard graft but doing the actual valeting is only 60% of the job, when you’re a business owner you’re at work 24/7.

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