Auto Detailing Network
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Inside Detailing Network

 

Kevin Farrell's Detailing Column

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

Comments or Questions regarding this column should be directed to Kevin Farrell.

Kevin can be reached at Kleen Car Auto Appearance's Website

Friday
Jan072011

Learn how the NB2300 non boiler commercial steam cleaner was developed

We have received many phone calls and emails wanting to know more about the NB2300 steamer, so we have posted an article on how the steamer was developed. We worked long and hard on this steamer in making sure it would be the best machine for many applications.

Adapting it for North American 120 volt electricity was a challenge. Making sure it had enough volume and wetness for car washing applications was a challenge. Getting the steam to be dry enough for interior applications was a challenge as well. It took months of discussions just to get a prototype built and more work after that. We wanted to make sure we had a unique but commercial grade steam cleaner that could tackle all of your steam cleaning needs. Below are the first few paragraphs of the article on the development of the NB2300 steamer. Click here to read the entire article

How the NB2300 non boiler commercial steam cleaner was developed

We are constantly looking at steamers and seeing what other companies are selling. We carefully look at and sometimes talk to the different manufacturers to see if the steamer will be a good choice for Auto detailing or other industries. In many cases, the steamers are fine for light duty applications as their prices usually suggest, but some fit the bill for car washing and detailing. However, performance comes with a price in a number of ways

Size of the steamer

Many high performance steam cleaners are big and bulky. They take up a lot of room and they are generally about 170 pounds or more. These are machines that need permanent placement either on a truck or in a shop location. Sure, they may be advertised as “mobile”, meaning they have wheels and can be rolled around, but try to get a steamer this large in or out of a van, or a pick up truck by yourself. Even with a partner these steamers are difficult to transport and move around from location to location

How the steamer is powered

The higher pressure and higher volume steamers are powered or heated via diesel, propane or LPG gas, or high voltage and high wattage electricity. Heating a steamer with propane or diesel is fine if you are working in an outside environment and you do not have the issue of venting the machine of the exhaust gas. Also these are the machines that are much bigger in size and weight and can be a problem for some users. So we did not want to get involved with steamers such as these

We needed to have a higher pressure, high heat, and high steam volume and wetness so it would be easier to wash a car. But we also needed it to be run on 120 volt electric. This was a huge challenge as we saw in developing the Vapor Chief 180 a couple of years ago. But the problem with 120 volt electric is wattage. In North America, we are limited in the amount of watts we can power any electrical machine with. This puts us at a disadvantage compared to other countries and their technology. In other countries where 240 volt electric is the norm, sending a huge amount of watts to power the machine and get it to heat fast, have high power and pressure and high volume is not a problem. In North America this is a huge problem. There has never been a truly powerful 120 volt car wash steam machine…..until now!

click here to read the rest of the article



Friday
Jan072011

Learn how the NB2300 non boiler commercial steam cleaner was developed

We have received many phone calls and emails wanting to know more about the NB2300 steamer, so we have posted an article on how the steamer was developed. We worked long and hard on this steamer in making sure it would be the best machine for many applications.

Adapting it for North American 120 volt electricity was a challenge. Making sure it had enough volume and wetness for car washing applications was a challenge. Getting the steam to be dry enough for interior applications was a challenge as well. It took months of discussions just to get a prototype built and more work after that. We wanted to make sure we had a unique but commercial grade steam cleaner that could tackle all of your steam cleaning needs. Below are the first few paragraphs of the article on the development of the NB2300 steamer. Click here to read the entire article

 

How the NB2300 non boiler commercial steam cleaner was developed

We are constantly looking at steamers and seeing what other companies are selling. We carefully look at and sometimes talk to the different manufacturers to see if the steamer will be a good choice for Auto detailing or other industries. In many cases, the steamers are fine for light duty applications as their prices usually suggest, but some fit the bill for car washing and detailing. However, performance comes with a price in a number of ways

Size of the steamer

Many high performance steam cleaners are big and bulky. They take up a lot of room and they are generally about 170 pounds or more. These are machines that need permanent placement either on a truck or in a shop location. Sure, they may be advertised as “mobile”, meaning they have wheels and can be rolled around, but try to get a steamer this large in or out of a van, or a pick up truck by yourself. Even with a partner these steamers are difficult to transport and move around from location to location

How the steamer is powered

The higher pressure and higher volume steamers are powered or heated via diesel, propane or LPG gas, or high voltage and high wattage electricity. Heating a steamer with propane or diesel is fine if you are working in an outside environment and you do not have the issue of venting the machine of the exhaust gas. Also these are the machines that are much bigger in size and weight and can be a problem for some users. So we did not want to get involved with steamers such as these

We needed to have a higher pressure, high heat, and high steam volume and wetness so it would be easier to wash a car. But we also needed it to be run on 120 volt electric. This was a huge challenge as we saw in developing the Vapor Chief 180 a couple of years ago. But the problem with 120 volt electric is wattage. In North America, we are limited in the amount of watts we can power any electrical machine with. This puts us at a disadvantage compared to other countries and their technology. In other countries where 240 volt electric is the norm, sending a huge amount of watts to power the machine and get it to heat fast, have high power and pressure and high volume is not a problem. In North America this is a huge problem. There has never been a truly powerful 120 volt car wash steam machine…..until now!

read the rest of the article by clicking here



Thursday
Dec232010

Kleen Car announces a new Steamer only website

As you may know by now we have been the pioneer in steam cleaning for detailing for a number of years now. We have used steam in our shop for a long time and we have found out the best methods to clean with steam. Steam cleaning is becoming almost the norm for auto detailing now and for cleaning in other industries as well.

We have used some very poor steamer sans wasted tons of money in the past on steam machines that just did not hold up for car detailing use. That led us years ago to search for better steam cleaners to make our job easier, and in turn, your job easier. We have researched the technology behind steam and have spoken to countless steamer companies about their equipment and have learned so much over the years. We have learned not only the technology and how to produce steam, but we have learned how to build and repair these machines as well.

From our constant discussions about steam, we have also received many phone calls and emails from people who want to use steam to clean in other industries as well. Steam is being used in so many other areas such as restaurant cleaning, hotels, casinos, food packaging plants, bed bug killing and removal, hospitals, schools, and so much more. Anywhere there is a need to disinfect, clean the environmentally safe way, or just be more effective and faster, steam cleaning is the way to go

Because of that we would like to introduce our brand new website based on steam cleaning exclusively. It’s called “Steam Clean Solutions”. And the website simply is www.steamcleansolutions.com On this site we have great steam cleaning information, steamer facts, frequently asked questions regarding steam cleaning, our steam products, videos, and more. We invite you to take a look. Of course you can see our Vapor Chiefs and pressure steamers on the site with great You Tube version videos. They are all there and the site is all about STEAM!

Once you visit, you will find we have a new steamer that will literally blow you away! It’s a technology that has existed for years overseas but has never been devolved for American use. It’s called “Non Boiler Technology”. We won’t give away any more here. We do want you to take a look at the new site. We helped develop this steamer and adapt if for North American electricity which was a huge challenge. We wanted this machine to be able to wash a car and run on 120 volts (another huge challenge!). But we think we have created a monster! Well actually the steamer itself is pretty small and light, which we hope you, will like, but the performance is incredible. You can read more about the challenges we had by visiting Steam Clean Solutions

With our combined passion of auto detailing and cleaning with steam, we think we have brought in a new steamer and introduced a new technology that will make cleaning cars with steam more of a norm, than a rarity.

With the weather absolutely freezing now in most parts of the country, we hope you have found alternative ways of washing a car, especially if you are mobile. There is salt on many cars and leaves stuck to cars, and many customers have not cleaned their vehicles since the weather has turned. Imagine if you see these same cars in the spring after more bad weather? This is the time to start thinking about cleaning with steam. We know that Kleen Car and Steam Clean Solutions will be able to help. Take a look over the Holidays and feel free to call us at 888-302-6400 anytime

 

Sunday
Dec122010

What if.....There was a new steam technology??????

 Steamer

What if…..There was a steamer???????

 

  • That used a New “Boiler less” technology and was totally safe
  • That performed like Diesel or Propane and is ALWAYS continuous use
  • That had more pressure and heat than ANY other steamer out there
  • That had totally adjustable steam from “wet” to “dry”  for exterior and interior use
  • That is small in size and weighs only 50 pounds
  • That heats in 2-3 minutes and recovers in even less time
  • That runs on 120 volt electricity
  • That was a fraction of the price of the others

 Would you be interested?

Well, this steamer does exist and we have helped develop it. With our extensive knowledge of steam and the understanding of what detailers need and demand, we have made it happen. Never before has there been a machine like this, and we are the only ones who have it!

We have not released any pictures or videos of it just yet. But we will be happy to tell you about it if you call us NOW. We have a limited number of these very special machines coming in and you can be one of the first to have it. Call us at 888-302-6400 for more information and a special introductory price.

Wednesday
Sep012010

Vapor Chief Discount!

Kleen Car Vapor Chief Discount!

Shhh! don’t tell anybody! Well…..who am I kidding? Tell everybody! Kleen Car would like to offer any reader of the Auto Detailing Network a special price on the Vapor Chief. For a limited time….and we mean it….we will offer a 10% discount to anybody that finds this ad on Auto detailing Network. You don’t have to have a coupon. You don’t need to attend our class (although we know you would get a lot from it). You don’t need to read one of our many articles or blogs out here. We won’t quiz you on detailing stuff. You don’t need to even know who we are. We wanted to just offer this special pricing to those of you who seek out other professional guidance and information on this great site.

You won’t find a mention of this special price ANYWHERE on our site. It will only appear here… on ADN….and for a limited time. So if you come across either this press release, or the ad on the right side of the page on ALL the ADN site pages….can we make this any easier for you??? We will give you this special discounted offer when you call us to place your order.

We already know, and hopefully you do as well, that the Vapor Chief is the BEST steamer out there. Use any of the links to link through to the full description and view the videos and you will see the best steam machine out there. And now we are offering visitors of ADN this special price. You may be a one time visitor or have been on this site a thousand times. It doesn’t matter. If you find this ad, we will give you the discount. Just call us NOW at 888-302-6400 and we will be happy to explain the great benefits of this steam machine and what it can do for your detailing business and take advantage of the special price.

To see the Vapor Chief page link here

CALL NOW 888-302-6400

Sunday
May232010

Can we actually "talk" about detailing?

Am I getting too old or am I too “old school?” It seems that the way most people communicate these days is in 140 or 160 character phrases, as in texting or “tweeting”. I just don’t get it. This to me ends up being a problem as the way many people want to communicate is behind the scenes with the security of a computer screen buffering them from the people they really need to be speaking with

I think in dealing with customers or people you are trying to “sell” your product to, there needs to be a certain level of education and real communication involved. But it seems there isn’t and things get lost in translation. Look at what’s going on in the forums right here. People talk via words in short bursts and there ends up being he feuds because things don’t get communicated correctly. I know this because people email me everyday looking for something and will only email me but don’t properly explain what they really want and don’t give me an opportunity to correctly explain things the way I would if I were having a conversation with them.

The other problem with electronic communication is that it lasts FOREVER! There’s no taking it back. Maybe you emailed, or texted, or tweeted an “ex” one night after “one too many” or were angry and shot off a post or email and wish you could take it back. But with this form of communication, it’s that much harder to clarify your original position.

Here’s what sparked me to write this. I was reading an article the other day that stated this. The Library of Congress will now be acquiring and digitally archiving, every single “tweet” that has been posted since Twitter began in 2006. Wow, think of all the idiotic stuff that’s out there that can’t be taken back, and now the Library of Congress has it FOREVER! Jobs have been lost and companies have not hired people because of stupid stuff on Twitter and Face Book and other social networks.

But now, this is how many people talk or choose to communicate. Let me tell you, if you own a business, you have to break this chain. I continually ask people that email me for information to call me so I can properly explain my product or equipment, or my detail class.

People also have more “balls”, so to speak, when communicating electronically. I can’t tell you how many people ask me for very unreasonable things via email. People want free trials of machines so they can see if they like it before buying it. People want free shipping to foreign countries. People want free detail training via email and ask questions that would take hours to explain if I were writing, but only a few minutes in a phone call. But this is the way it is today, and if you are a consumer, you want everything fast and instant. You need a price? Email somebody for one. At some point the consumer and business owner need to speak if the consumer is serious. I will email somebody a few times, but when it really comes down to selling a job, or products and equipment, I need to actually “talk” to that person. It helps me in the long run.

I would much rather speak to somebody because I know my chances of selling something or convincing them that I am the best at what I do will be better if they can hear me talk about it and give them all the information that I can. This helps my business even though it’s a struggle to get someone to actually talk to you. But if you are trying to convince a customer that you are the best detailer out there, and that your price is worth it, and that you will make the vehicle look so much better than your competition will, demands a verbal conversation. You can’t communicate like you are texting or “tweeting”. It makes you look lazy and gives the impression that you don’t care.

Now as you can see, I don’t have that problem. I don’t have a twitter account, and I hate texting. I write like I speak (in conversation form). And any of you who have ever spoken to me probably know I like to talk (I hope that’s not a bad thing!). But this has helped me immensely. It allows me to sell more expensive products that I know are the best and worth the money. Do you think I can do this if I only choose to “tweet” an answer or give just a few words about my stuff? The detail training manuals that I just wrote for BMW are a couple of hundred pages, and it was very difficult to do and time consuming, but it had to be done that way. There is no way I could have written manuals in “text” or “tweet” speak. It’s very similar if you are trying to sell a job to a potential customer. You have to make them understand the process and make sure they know that you are the right person for the job. This generally can’t be done only via email and certainly not over twitter or by texting. Believe it or not, most people appreciate this “real” type of communication.

I like to actually “talk”. Maybe you can tell by the way I write but it helps me in the long run to get my points across and make sure people understand what I mean and what I am talking about. You don’t short cut your jobs when you know it has to be done right. Why shortcut the communication by only speaking in 140 or 160 characters, or only via email, or forum posts? Technology is a great thing and we are all better off with everything, but in the long run, if you can’t actually communicate with somebody there will be problems. Pick up the phone sometimes and invite your potential customers to do the same.

Monday
Feb082010

What is a detailing "planner", "coach", "advisor" and "consultant"?

I have recently heard many people use the term “consultant” recently in regards to detailing and assisting people with their business. Many people do need the help and having a mentor of sorts can be a huge help in getting started, or even in determining if detailing is the business for you. Some of these people I know, and respect their skill and knowledge. Some people I cant say that I know them and therefore, I can’t comment on what they can or cannot offer.

I also hear the term “franchise” being used frequently now in terms of getting a detail business started or starting an “eco friendly” car wash business. Again, some people I have spoken to seem to have a good model and it very well may work as a franchise. Some people I think are grasping at straws just throwing the term “detailing franchise” out there as a quick way to get someone else’s money and offer a plan that may or may not work. Setting up franchises is very hard work. There are many legal things to consider and it’s not easy to set one up. The plan must be solid and easily be able to be replicated over and over to be successful. Just because your business is successful, does not mean it can be “franchised”. Also, just because you may know a thing or 2 about detailing, does not mean you are a “consultant”. I hope any new people investigating the business understand these important facts.

Now before you yell and scream at me after reading these next paragraphs, and say “who the hell do you think you are”, hear me out. Sure it bugs me sometimes to see people who have far less experience, knowledge and qualifications as I do, call themselves a “detail trainer” or “detail consultant”. I have as big of an ego as anybody. It’s the same when I read how people “test” different products. We (David and I) put in hundreds of hours of testing, talking and tweaking every single sample that I receive.  And considering so many different variables in testing stuff, that it blows my mind the time and effort involved and how scientific we get in our testing. Sure, I read how some guys test something and offer a report on it, and it may help many people in an evaluation, but its still on a different level……Well, that still makes me sound like an asshole doesn’t it? Wait, let me read that section again…….Ok, I am an asshole. An egotistical asshole at that! Now that we have gotten that out of the way, and we all agree that I am a jerk, but a knowledgeable jerk, lets move on. It’s the same with being a detailing “consultant” or a “planner” or “advisor”. Even if you are doing it for free, or very little money, it can affect someone’s life, so please take it seriously or don’t get involved. And of course DO IT RIGHT!

There are various levels of help and assistance that a detailer, a prospective detailer, a novice, an enthusiast, or whatever level you are on, can obtain out here on the internet. I have written technical articles for over 12 years in different magazines. I have spoken at industry events and done training sessions at these events. I post articles on this site, my own and other sites where people ask if they can use my stuff. Now I have this blog where I still hope the information is helpful. Generally I enjoy helping people if I can. And I know many others out there in the forums offer their assistance at no charge for people who request the help. Of course I also have a DVD and I offer training classes that people do have to pay for. This is where the line breaks. People that are very serious about opening a detailing business and will actually pay for assistance to get it off to the right start, and want or need to find a qualified individual to help them. The old saying is “you get what you pay for”. Its true and sometimes people in any industry go through many “pretenders” that charge them for a service that is marginal at best. I have paid for poor service and advice in many areas where I originally thought the person or company I was dealing with was extremely qualified. Its not that their service was horrible, but I didn’t get as much as I wanted or needed.

This is my point. Anybody can call themselves a “consultant” or “detail trainer” or “counselor” or “mentor” or “advisor” in any profession, not just detailing...….you get my point. And some people may have actually done it once or twice or a few times, either for free or have gotten paid. My hats off to you if you have even helped one person get going. But please be careful about charging people lots of money for sub par services. Make sure they are trained correctly, have good equipment and products, but not more than what they may need. Don’t give then fluff just to make some money. In a poor economy, there seems to be many shady and unscrupulous people that emerge sometimes to take advantage of people……..Now again, I am not targeting anyone specifically, but make sure what you provide will really help people. Even if you do it for free, get it right. Don’t steer somebody in the wrong direction. This is their life and if they ask you for help and you are willing to provide it, then do it right.

Now I may have come off like an asshole here, but so be it. It’s my blog and hopefully good reading. So now as I step off my soap box, I do want to remind everyone that if you do need training or consulting, or planning or whatever, please check me out. I am about to offer a new plan and services for people who may need assistance but cant come to a training class and may need more one on one assistance. I hope people that know me, know of me, and have hopefully heard that I do good work will see that what I offer is worth it. So here is my shameless lead into my new service. Yes, I can offer people detailing planning, coaching, advisement, consulting or whatever the term we want to use. I think I can do it as well or better than anyone else….There’s my ego poking through again….but if I didn’t have an ego, I probably wouldn’t be any good would I?? So check out my new service on my site if you need that kind of help.

Oops, is this a blatant advertisement??? Can I do this Dan? Well, again, it’s my blog and it looks like I just did it. I sure like having a blog on Auto detailing Network….Oops another blatant advertisement. Thanks for reading and please visit us at www.kleencarauto.com

Saturday
Jan232010

How many hats do we all wear?

OK, my website is now secure. I hope you will all buy tons of stuff. We just had a great detail training class in our new building where all the guys did a great job, so I have some time to write. Business is hard sometimes. When times are good and you are making a lot of money it’s easy to get complacent. You get a little soft and let things slide. When times are hard and business is down, you have to try really hard not to get down yourself and think about when you “had a job” and worked for somebody. When I was working in car dealers when I was really young, I just showed up, put in my 8 hours, did my job (and only mine, most of the time), then I went home and I didn’t think about the job until the next day. When you have a business, you are really always thinking about it. And when business sucks, it’s that much harder. And maybe, in a very dark moment, (hey, we all have those, don’t judge me!), I will admit sometimes I wish I “just had a job”, but in reality I really would have it no other way. I love having my own business!

You see, I have learned so much about so much other stuff over the years. I’ve learned more about computers and websites and optimization than I ever wanted to know. But now I think I am really good at it and I can help others with websites and such. I’ve learned how to write! Literally. I never had to write much in another jobs I had, and I hated writing papers in school. Now I do it for fun and I’m pretty good at it. I’ve been writing articles for magazines for 12 years and I remember the first one I ever wrote took me about a week and needed so much correction; it took me another week to revise it. I still really can’t tell you what a conjunctive phrase is, or identify prepositions, and I have trouble seeing the difference between verbs and adverbs, but I think I use them all pretty well in my writing! That really makes me laugh. But don’t tell Stefan, the editor of The Auto Laundry News, or he may never let me write another article. Anyway, I never thought I would be doing this.

I also never thought I learn how to do a corporate presentation. But I had to for BMW of North America when I first pitched my detail training program to them many years ago. You do things sometimes because you have to. I never thought that I would understand web terms like “keywords” and “meta tags” but I have to now so I can “optimize” my website (another word I never knew or understood). I’ve learned cool computer programs like QuickBooks, Word, Power point, Excel and Photoshop. I also can do video editing. And I learned how to use You Tube! Now I tell prospective customers to look at some equipment videos on my website so they can actually see how the machines work. Technology is so cool. But if you don’t learn some of it, you will either be left behind…or pay through the nose for somebody to do stuff for you.

I also learned how to deal with Commercial real estate and what’s involved in renting and leasing. I’ve been taught how to do plumbing and run water lines as the previous shops had none or I needed them somewhere else. I have always done electrical work but now I know commercial code on how to do this. You learn EPA and OSHA stuff. You learn who is bullshitting you very fast when you own a business as well. We all learn so many things in so many different areas that we never thought we would have to know. But I am so glad I have learned all this.

So these are some of the many hats we wear as business owners. We may be better at some than others, but at some point you have to wear one of many different ones. And when you consider how many hours you really put into a business, other than actually working on cars, you may wish you still “just had a job”. I was on the phone for about 6 hours total trying to get my website fixed and not only didn’t I make money being on the phone, I know I lost money because of the state of my site. But oh well, its all part of doing business. And 2009 was a tough year I am sure for all of us. But it’s over and we hope things are turning for the better. We can only try that much harder and be constantly on top of things. The more you can do yourself; the better off you will ultimately be in the long run. Some of the things I mentioned above have saved me a lot of money and have given me much more control of my business. That’s worth a ton to me.

My little “episode” with my website has just clued me in that I really need to be on top of everything and aware of things I need to keep doing. When business was good, little things didn’t matter so much. I got a little lazy and slacked off a little. Now I have detailed notes on what to do next year with this SSL thing and when to renew it. I am trying to take that approach to 2010 and beyond and hopefully we all will. I know just trying harder may not make us all more money, but the flip side is that if you slack off or quit trying, where will you end up?

To visit our detailing website servicing Alpine NJ and surrounding areas, please visit www.njautodetail.com or our training, products and equipment site at www.kleencarauto.com

Friday
Jan222010

What a nightmare.....but nothing to do about detailing cars!

I have a problem. Big deal you may say, we all have problems. But I will try to explain and then tie it in to being in business, staying on top of everything (because if you don’t, who will) and making sure your business runs as smooth as possible.

Sometimes it’s easy when you have a website to just forget about it. It’s always there. I have worked pretty hard to get stuff on there and set up a store and such. And when it’s working, it’s a wonderful thing. People can view what you offer all over the world and at any time of the day. How cool is that? However….when there is a problem, it can be a nightmare. Welcome to mine

When you have a store set up, you need what’s called an SSL certificate. An SSL certificate is digitally "signed" by a certificate authority that web browsers (Internet Explorer, Firefox) already trust. This allows the web browser to verify the identity of a secure site before sending private personal information, such as bank account or credit card numbers. I used to just have my web person do all this crap for me and never worry about it. But then when it expires, you need to get a new one and install it so people can safely purchase items. This seems easy but to anyone but a computer geek, it’s not so easy. That’s why I used to just have my web person do all this, but I like to have more control over things and also save some money by doing it myself. I did this last year myself and it went fine. But you can’t have an online store without one these days. You see, when an SSL certificate runs out, a visitor going to check out on somebody’s store will get an alarming error message that says….hey don’t buy here, this site is unsecured. So a customer gets out as quickly as possible. Well, I don’t want that to happen to me, so I remind myself to renew it around January 1st. It happens that it runs out on the 10th.

However, we have been moving and fixing up a new shop. We were doing all kinds of stuff to get ready for a January detail training class so I wasn’t concentrating on much else the last few weeks except getting this shop ready. When I finally remembered I needed to do this it was the day before the SSL was to expire. Great, I am just in time. I like to make a call and make sure I know exactly how to do this before I go exploring into my web hosting administrative program. I call the web hosting company and I tell them I need a new SSL (they never reminded me). I asked them how to go about getting a new one installed and asked them to walk me through the process. I wanted to do this myself because again, I like to control my own stuff and actually learn more cool computer stuff. The web host company says do this, then this, then this, paste the code (I actually do know what that means) and it’s done! Great, I am thinking. I did it with one day to spare. But it couldn’t have been that easy, could it? It wasn’t of course. Something happened where I never got emailed the very important code. They said I would receive the code in 24 hours. I never got it. Luckily I didn’t forget. I called back. I got put on hold forever then I had to explain everything. They say its installed and working fine. I asked “Are you sure?” I was supposed to paste a code in, after I received an email containing the code, and I never got it. They said it was OK. It wasn’t. I tried to buy something off my site and I got this gigantic red error message saying my store is unsecured. Holy shit! What’s going on? Nobody can buy anything. The old SSL had now run out and the new one wasn’t up there. But the key thing here is that I (and nobody else) had to stay on top of this. I tried to see what a customer would see and I didn’t like what I saw. But the web hosting company never actually checked. I guess they were too damm busy or they just don’t give a shit, or they think like computer geeks and not smart business people. That’s the problem also. So I inform them it’s not installed. So another day had gone by and I was making another long and exhausting call to tell them they were wrong.

They give me a ticket number (kind of like a repair order) of the whole issue so I can call back and reference if needed, but they said they would look into it and get back to me. This started Monday, the 11th. By Wednesday (after not hearing from them of course) I call back. I tell the entire story to somebody else who puts me on hold to read the ticket. I am on hold and on the phone for another hour. They tell me that there was a “free” SSL installed but it had a different domain address (that’s why it’s free) than what a visitor gets taken to in my store. Luckily I understand “domain” names, and URL and such. This “free” SSL would mean a visitor checking out of my store would manually have to type in the URL or domain into the address bar to get to that secure part of my site!!!! I am so appalled that these idiots would actually think that a customer would ever do this, or know how to do this. So I calmly (well…. not really) explain that this is not what I want and that 99.999999999 % of everybody on the planet would never do what he explained to me. So I told him that I needed an SSL so your average customer can just buy a fucking product without being a computer geek! The way I figured out I still had a problem was by seeing all the error messages when I try to buy something. My question to these technical geniuses was, why can't you “pretend” to be a customer and see what I am seeing and every visitor to my site would see. Its not rocket science to check it out, right? Was I asking too much?

So this guy (another technical support guy) says I need to purchase an SSL so a customer can buy something “easily”. No shit Sherlock. I am WILLING to pay for it. Just tell me how I can fucking do it. He tells me this and that, and by now I am an expert at navigating the administrative part of the web hosting site. I buzz through it and BUY the new SSL as I thought I had originally done. Again he says I will get an email with the code that needs to be copied and pasted in the box before it’s installed. OK no problem. But now it’s Friday evening the 15th. I have just taught a class for the last 2 days and I am tired and this is the last thing I wanted to do, but you do it because you have to. So I get the email with the code. I go back into admin (I know exactly where I need to go now because I have dome it like 5 times) and I paste the code in exactly how they told me to and I click “next step” to finish the process and end the nightmare. Oh, but not so fast. A big red error message comes up that states the code is not for that domain name. What??? You are kidding me right?? But I can’t proceed so it’s on the phone again. It’s now Saturday the 16th at 6PM. Like I need this shit. I go through another explanation to another technical guy who puts me on hold and I end up on the phone for another hour. They again say THEY will take care of it and install it themselves without anymore issues. I am hopeful (what else can I be?) but not really confident. I don’t ask for a phone call back (I know I won’t get one) but I wait for an email saying it’s fixed. I do get that email early morning on the 17th. Great it’s fixed! But the first thing I do is go to my site, pretend to be a customer and try to buy something and go to checkout. It’s still fucked up! This time I get an error message that states that the SSL was posted for another websites’ address. What??? These guys installed it, not me. How did they fuck it up again?? Now I am really pissed off. It’s Sunday and the only saving grace is that they are open 24/7. I guess they have to be if they fuck up this many times! I have a couple of different domain names that point to my site (now I sound like a compute geek) but that means that my site looks the same with 3 different names that can be typed in. So I am assuming that they posted the SSL to the wrong domain. That’s my hope anyway.

So another call, another long time on hold, another explanation telling them what happened and how unhappy I am. Luckily I had enough self control not to curse them all out. There is still yet another technical, computer geek problem. I won’t go on to explain that. But I finally got some kind of manager person to help me but it took 4 more days to get it fixed correctly. I was on the phone every single day with these guys for a week and a half trying to get to the bottom of it all. Who knows how many people tried to buy something and backed out when they saw a big red unsecured error message? I know I would have. They didn’t quite seem to understand that so much….or care so much. I learned a bunch of new computer stuff from this mishap as well as a much more important lesson. You really need to stay on top of things yourself. If you get lazy and assume somebody else is taking care of it….you could get screwed.

Why did I share this story? I debated about telling you readers that for a week and a half my store was unsecured. That’s not something people want to hear and I didn’t want to advertise it. It’s not good for business. However, it will bring me to my next article about how many other jobs you do (and hats you wear) as a business owner. You always need to stay on top of things. Always! You can’t assume people know what they are doing until they prove it to you and you can trust them. You need to learn different things and be aware of so many other issues that are involved in owning a business. Yes, we got into detailing cars and hopefully you love doing that. But if you think that all you will ever do is detail cars if you own the business, you better read this again! There are so many things that you need to be aware of….other than detailing cars. You can save so much money, learn so many new things, develop new skills and broaden everything in your life by getting involved in other operations of your business. Sometimes you don’t have a choice. I will talk about that in the next blog. I hope you had a few laughs. It wasn’t really that funny to me but maybe it made a good story. Thanks for reading

To visit our detailing website servicing Alpine NJ and surrounding areas, please visit www.njautodetail.com or our training, products and equipment site at www.kleencarauto.com

Sunday
Dec062009

Should you ever “FIRE” a detail customer?

It sounds preposterous, ludicrous, nonsensical, and absurd to ever “fire” a customer. In this economy? In these turbulent times? But, am I really crazy? Hear me out and read on.  Yes, sometimes the best thing to do is weed out customers who are draining on your profits, morale and time. I have been doing this for years. When I first started detailing I wanted every car and every customer. I was afraid to let a job go for all the obvious reasons.

I am sure many of you have customers who are draining. They may always want discounts. They may be very picky about everything but are unwilling to pay a premium price for high expectations. They may want such things as a loaner car while theirs is being worked on. They may want odd time appointments and request or demand that the car be done at an exact time. They may be unrealistic on how the vehicle should turn out even “after” you point out things that cannot be corrected. They also may want the challenging and more involved operations such as wet sanding, headlight restoration and paint touch ups for instance, included with the regular price. I could go on and on but I am sure we all have these customers. The difference sometimes is that the demanding customers may be problematic sometimes, but some are more than willing to pay the premium price for their expectations. Those are the ones I keep but kind of cringe when they call. The ones who seem like they are never pleased or perceive that they are not getting value for your work…..yes, should be fired!

Cutting ties

Those that expect the most and want to pay the least should be considered a bad investment and may have to be let go. By doing this, it may very well free you up to pursue new customers and pamper some of the better ones. These new ones can be “trained” by you to be a great detail customer. You see, all of us have problems with cancellations, expectations, and pricing. We all have made some of these mistakes at some point. We all have booked a job at too low of a price just to get it. We all have given some customers much more than the job deserved, and we all have put up with un-needed cancellations based on weather or a sudden change in the customers’ schedule. How many times has a customer cancelled an appointment because it “may” rain that day or the next day?

That was one of my pet peeves. I have a shop where work is done indoors, so obviously the weather won’t affect the work being done. Rain will NOT make the car look like it was NOT detailed if it happens to rain the next day. But customers want to enjoy the detail job for many days and not have it rain on the car so they become weather forecasters and cancel appointments based on the potential for some rain. Well, if a customer does this to me once….I book the next appointment about 3 weeks later no matter what. If they do it twice…..they are fired! That pissed me off more than anything. If you cancel a doctor’s appointment within 24 hours, many will still charge you. That prevents cancellations. But, back to training the NEW customers.

Once you have had experience with problem customers you can turn new ones into trained puppies! I tell them you may need the car the entire day. I tell them up front I don’t appreciate cancellations based on weather. I carefully explain how well the car will look no matter what and a little rain will just wash off the dust and the car will look great after the rain stops. There is no need to cancel because it may rain the next day. I inform a customer that YES; there is sales tax on a detail job. I make sure they know what will be taken care of and what cant be taken care of, as well as, what may be optional for an extra charge so we are both on the same page. I always “read” the customer on what they expect and how anal they are. If they are very particular and very anal, that’s fine. But then they will pay for that. Some customers already know how they are. The ones that don’t and still want a deal are the ones you should not take on in the first place. But this is a tough thing to learn

My buddy “Joe”

I talked about my buddy “Joe the detailer” in a previous blog. “Joe” is mobile and likes to get every job he can. The problem with being mobile is that he never gets a chance to see a car before booking an appointment. A customer called him last week and wanted to set something up. The customer seemed a bit anal over the phone as he was asking what processes “Joe” uses and that he needed the car to be “wheeled”. When he asked “Joe” what kind of products he used, “Joe” replied that he uses only the best. I use Optimum. I always appreciate that when “Joe” talks about the Optimum products. So the customer says that his “old” detailer was the best and that he used Optimum and helped develop some of the products. So “Joe” says to this customer, you must be talking about Kevin from Kleen Car. The customer says yes, Kevin used to do my cars for years but now he is too busy training guys and working for BMW of North America so he cant do my car anymore…..You see, this is partly true. I use that line when I need to “fire” a customer or I just don’t want to work on their cars anymore. This guy was a very nice guy and I actually like him. We always chat a bunch when I picked up his car and when I dropped it off. Sometimes too much chatting but that’s my fault as much as anything. In any event this guy is picky but I knew it from the beginning. He would sometimes question things that I had told him would not come out such as deep scratches or chips, etc. before I started the job. I would carefully explain all this and he sometimes would still want to know why they didn’t come out better when the job was done. This is always a pain in dealing with a customer but it has to be re-enforced to them or they will drive you crazy. Eventually the guy purchased a new car and I had told him how to take care of it and he didn’t call me for a while. I did get busier training and such, so I really didn’t have too much time to dedicate to him as he needed pick up at his job which was a bit far for me and all the chatting, and I never really charged him that much so it made sense for me not to do his cars anymore. No hard feelings that he called “Joe”

“Joe” tried to go over the car with him before the detail and he told him what would come out and what would not come out well. From what he told me he charged him a fair price for the car but the slight “issues” that were discussed “before” the job came up again “after” the job. I knew exactly what he meant. Again, we have all come across customers like this. It’s not so bad to have a picky customer. Sometimes that makes us work that much harder and keeps us on our toes. But when the expectations go beyond time involved and price, it’s not fair. These will be the customers that will make you cringe and wish you never had them in the first place. So “Joe” called me after the job to let me know what I already knew about this customer. In the end he was happy but it seemed a little stressful. These situations have to make you think about either raising his price to make sure you can thoroughly take care of all the little issues, or sometimes you should just let them go.

Rule of thumb to let them go

If a customer is late paying that’s a big problem. We all want to be paid for any job and to float money is just bad business most of the time. If a customer is constantly canceling and making you reschedule him, or other people to fit him in, that’s a big problem. If a customer wants to pay the least but expects the most, that a big problem. If a customer is very high maintenance, pushes boundaries and takes up your personal time with unreasonable requests, that’s a big problem. And if you cringe when that customer calls and possibly causes you to lose sleep the night before the job, that’s also a big problem. What can be done about all these problems? Fire the customer!!

It sounds so bad and looks bad to read on this screen, but sometimes this is actually a smart business decision when you think about it. But a smart thing to do is screen new customers better and train them to be good customers. It’s not so hard. You may not get everyone but you should know your target market and concentrate on those people. I know that each one of you while reading this has thought of a few customers that you would like to fire! Even if you don’t fire them, try to “train” them to be better customers.

To visit our detailing website servicing Alpine NJ and surrounding areas, please visit www.njautodetail.com or our training, products and equipment site at www.kleencarauto.com