The Competition – Know Who They Are!
They say you should keep your friends close and your enemies closer, and nowhere is this more important than in the auto detailing business. Before you set up shop, you should know with whom you’re competing and then develop a plan for edging them out of the picture. That means offering your customers the very best value possible.
I have been in the auto detailing industry for more than a quarter of a century and I’ve seen many competitors come and go. Some said they were going to put me out of business, while others tried to “low ball” their prices, ultimately going out of business. But by knowing your competition’s strengths and weaknesses, you can step up to the plate and go up against them when the occasion arises.
First off, you need to determine who your competitors are. This is an easy task. Just look for the auto detailers in your area on the Internet or Yellow Pages. Develop a spreadsheet and list each competitor. Then rate each of them based on the following traits: Did you speak with a human being when you called them? If not how long did it take someone to return your call? Did they answer the phone professionally? Did they answer all your questions in a knowledgeable fashion? Did they ask for your name in the beginning of the call? Did they just give you a price or did they question you about your vehicle?
Do they offer a mobile service or pick-up and delivery? Do they accept major credit cards? Do they have liability insurance? Did they ask you for your phone number? Do they have a professional web site?
If your competitors are mobile operators, calling them will be the only way you can determine what kind of operation they run, unless you get your car detailed by the competitor you consider to be your biggest competitor. That’s actually a good idea if you can spare the money! You’ll get front-row seats to see how they perform, and they don’t have to know that you’re starting up an auto detailing business. Think of yourself as a “mystery shopper.” If your biggest competitor has a physical location, go ahead and visit it. Check out the equipment. Do they have a hot water extractor? How about a high-speed buffer? How clean and orderly are their detailing bays and their waiting area? Was the staff courteous and have a professional appearance? If you’re impressed, that means you’ll just have to step up your own efforts to be the best detailer in your community!
Your best guarantee of success in a competitive market place is to strive to be the very best. Offer your customers the best value, give them more than they actually bargained for, and go above and beyond the call of duty! Do exceptional work at a fair price and you won’t have to worry about your competitors. Heck, you might even end up becoming friends with some of your competitors. Nothing wrong with that. Having a good, healthy business relationship with your competition is a positive thing.
Nick Vacco, Founder
Detail King LP and DetailKing.com