Auto Detailing Network
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Inside Detailing Network

Brian Angelucci's Detailing Column

The comments contained in this column are the opinions and views of Mr. Angelucci and do not necessarily reflect the views of Auto Detailing Network.

Comments or Questions regarding this column should be directed to Brian Angelucci.

Brian can be reached at Precision Auto and Marine's Website


Another Revenue Method for Your Detailing Business

It's been over a year since I last posted to my editorial page and for that I profusely apologize. Those who know me know I meant no foul. A lot has been going on in my personal and professional life, all for the positive. First and foremost (an most important of all) I am a new father to a baby girl, my little Italian princess, Sophia! She is the best birthday present from God. Yes, she was born on my birthday -- a special yet rare bond we will always have! I also passed my NJ State Insurance producer's exam for property & casualty insurance late last year (after my last post).

After many months of deep pondering, trying to noodle up business ideas to create for myself, now that I have a baby girl to provide for and mortgage-like amount of student loans (more about this later), I though up a brilliant way to add an additional revenue stream to my part time detailing business. You got it, insurance sales! Think about it, who knows your customer's car better than you (besides the mechanic -- and I bet he isn't offering insurance)? If the customer is satisfied with your services, you have a prime insurance prospect right there. Everyone with a car needs to have auto insurance. Everyone with a boat needs to have boat insurance.

Now I just touched on the idea of adding another revenue stream to your detailing business. There is a process in getting licensed, additional liability insurance to carry for yourself (E&O Insurance) and an agency you need to find to work with.

I slowly came back to detailing part time last year due to the fact that I miss the work and miss running a small business. I love cars and I love boats. I love insurance and dealing with clients in need. I love working with people's personal finances, especially when you do something to truly help them out. I always put the client's need first -- never did I look at a commission first. Most of all, I love working for myself.

A great many ideas are running through my mind to create a "best of both worlds" for Precision Auto & Marine. From high end auto detailing and yach management to marine insurance and a prelicensing prep driving school.

To get back to the insurance licensing, I may be a bit vague but you'll get the jist. You'll need to take a prelicensing course (either online or in person). I did Kaplan's prelicensing course for $179.00 for my property & casualty license. I took a month and a half to study (and I way over studied) then I took the state exam at proctored testing center, which I passed the first time in less than an hour. They give you three hours here in NJ. The test also costs $47 for each section -- two sections (property/state law & casualty/state law).

When you get licensed, you'll need to find an agency who will hire you as a broker (very easy to find). I joined my cousin's agency as a broker and we worked out a commission schedule. For example, I get approximately 40% of what the agency makes from the sale of the policy. So if the policy costs $2,500 and the agency gets paid $500, I will get 40% of that $500, which is $200. And that $200 is perpetual, year after year, until the client cancels the policy. With good customer service, the client will not cancel the policy for a cheaper one, especially if they are a steady detail client of yours. It may not seem like a lot of money but imagine if you wrote 100 policies a year -- year after year. And this is just an additional revenue source for your detailing business.

I welcome comments and questions regarding this idea.


You Can't Please Them All!

As business owners, we like to think of our workmanship as flawless, unmatched, and the best around town. We like to think ourselves as the master detailing technician. So may be true! But what happens when you get that one customer who is just impossible to please? What do you do then? How do you keep yourself from being discouraged or from even losing your cool? It's very hard but it happens to all of us. It doesn't matter who you are: a professional, a novice just starting out, or the detail god whom all look up to. It's going to happen. That one client will say unacceptable even after you put all your efforts into your artwork. It happened to me just this past summer.
Back in early August I was working on a 1987 28' Chris Craft boat that hasn't been detailed since 2002. The boat was severely oxidized to the point of declining the job and walking away. My first mistake was assuming he understood what detailing was. It's a word that gets thrown around so often that it can be confusing to the average consumer. Some think of detailing as a wash and a wax; and some interpret detailing as complete restoration -- such as this gentleman. On my website I have an explanation of what my detailing procedures are. I again assumed he read it thoroughly since he got my number off the Internet. I did a brief demonstration to show the customer what the hull of the boat will look like when done. The top half of the hull was colored and neglected pigmented gel coat doesn't hold up as well as the regular substrate (I'm still not sure why, different binders maybe). He wasn't too thrilled with the results but said "it's an old boat" and still expected pristine results. You know, the kind of customer that points out missed spots and asks "did you get this area yet?" After 3 days of hard labor on a 28' boat, I lost money, time, and patience. When I was about to leave he said he wanted the aluminum to shine like chrome and that he is paying good money for my services. Those pieces were so severely oxidized I told him to leave them since they have a dull sheen to them and if I did touch them they will ook horrible and mismatched. Well, he opted for a "polishing" and my judgement was right that the aluminum would shine up in some spots and remain dull on the others. It looked like complete hell. He wasn't happy with those results either. Let's just say I was so glad to get out of there and never look back. Luckily the check cashed.
So learn from my lesson fellow detailers:
1. Never assume customers know what detailing is on their own judgement. Explain to them what it is.
2. Don't let a customer talk you into doing something you aren't being paid for, like being nice and taking 3 hours to scrape off lettering. Being nice doesn't pay the bills.
3. Know when you're out of your league and know your limits.
4. The customer is paying you and they are paying for your judgement. They don't know better than you.
5. Know when to say no.
The main lesson here should be that you can please them all.
Happy Detailing!
Brian Angelucci
Precision Auto & Marine

Welcome to my world of boat detailing! My Intro...

Today is my birthday. I just turned 32, which is "child" compared to many of the faces and names we see on these forums. To be held at such a high stature within the detailing industry and looked upon as a boat detailing expert/professional amongst my colleagues is very appreciated and warming to me. I'm honored Dan would invite me to be the boat detailing columnist for Mobileworks. Thank you Dan. And thank you to the many detailers out there who came to me for help and advice when in need of my expertise. I'd like to use this first entry as an introduction, where you can learn who I am, where I'm from, and where I've been.

Those who know me know I am the owner of Precision Auto & Marine, a very small yet very popular detailing service, focusing primarily on boats and higher-end cars.My detail business is kind of unconventional and would make some of the veterans ask questions about it legitimacy and dedication to the detailing industry. Joking, to give Bud Abraham(a man who I highly admire and respect) a friendly nudge, I am a glorified "shoe shine boy." All joking aside, my detail business is 100% legitimate and very successful. Precision Auto & Marine is a part time operation. Actually half my time is dedicate to running Precision. The remainder of the time I am an insurance broker, which i'll get to in a few. (I'm also an MBA student and will be finally graduated in May 2010) My business is operated out of my trailer, where I go to a great many yacht clubs, marinas, boat yards, and exotic car brokerages. I carry liability insurance, I pay my taxes, I follow the rules/laws, and I have a professional image. I do not advertise (except for a website and sponsorship of a little league baseball team.) I do not have a full service shop. I do not have hours of operation. I do, however, have a list of customers as long as the eye can see.I have awaiting list of customers too! How can that be if I don't advertise, have bargain prices, or chase customers? Besides working with integrity and knowing my craft, I offer a service that hardly anyone around here offers. I detail boats!

Like most detailers, I started out in this business from a hobby -- my passion of cars and making them look pretty. August 1995 is when I began my career as a business onwer. Actually, I was more of a naive 18 year old who loved cars and knew nothing about business except working hard to earn it. Back then I would detail a car $35.00(I know, I was young and dumb!) Fourteen years later, I won't touch a car for less than $200 or a boat for less than $14 per foot, and the business still rolls in! Thanks to online forums, the Internet, many detailing articles, books, and business courses, I now know what it takes to run a business successfully. Hopefully, I can guide those in need and help them avoid the mistakes I made when I first began this business. Now, I'm proud to say I have a successful boat detailing operation which is sought out from boat owners throughout the state of New Jersey. On the auto side, I am the "recommended detailer" for Ray Catena Motors. That is a funny story in itself how I received that honor. A long story short, I detailed many Mercedes from Ray Catena (cars bought from them, not detailed for them) and noticed they were all swirled up, and horribly detailed. This really irked me so I wrote them a letter saying in a nutshell, "your detail department desperately needs help" and that I was willing to come in and train them.

I'm in the process of getting licensed to sell property & casualty insurance. What that means is I will soon be offering my customers auto & boat insurance. I'm glad I was thinking ahead when I named my business because I knew I didn't want to do just detailing. I wanted to offer more service. Hence Precision Auto & Marine, and not Precision Auto & Marine Detailing! I also do training and consulting. Back in 2004 I wrote a manual of boat detailing for detailers and boat owners. This manual teaches one to detail a boat and how to get started in boat detailing. I'm proud to say this manual is being used in over 10 countries -- as far as our friends down under in Australia!

Well, I will end my rant with a "thank you" and a "look forward to helping!"

Happy Detailing,

Brian Angelucci, Precision Auto & Marine