New Year’s Detailing Resolutions

New Year’s is a great time to initiate your resolutions and changes for the upcoming year.  Whether it is eating more healthy or exercising more, we have all made resolutions at one time or another in our lives.  Keeping up with the resolutions is another subject all together.  You can also choose the start of a new year, to stay committed to your car’s appearance.  Keeping your car looking it’s best, requires that you set a maintenance schedule, and stick to it.  Most importantly, is to frequently and properly wash your car on a regular basis; usually at least once a month.  This will remove the dirt and grime that eventually will bond to and damage your car’s paint.  A proper hand wash is best, and should include thorough cleaning of your car’s wheels.  If a hand wash is not practical, a commercial car wash is better than letting the dirt dwell on your car.  When you wash your car, use this time to vacuum the mats and carpets, and lightly clean all the interior hard surfaces.  A damp micro-fiber towel works well, just as long as the interior is not too dirty.  Your car should be polished and the paint sealed twice a year to keep it protected from the sun and road grime.  This process should be done once in the fall and again in the spring.  If you are not confident or skilled enough to do the polishing yourself, hire a qualified professional to do it for you.  If you are committed to keeping your car looking it’s best for years to come, these simple resolutions will surely help you accomplish that goal.

Limitations of Auto Detailing

Recently, we have worked on some cars that were older and a bit neglected.  Because of this fact, the results of the detail were not quite up to our usual standards.  I explained to the customer, up front, that I expected the results to be less than stellar.  Auto detailing is meant to maintain the like new appearance of a car, not completely restore it.  In some cases, our auto detailing process can restore  soiled or damaged surfaces, but it is a lot more time consuming and expensive.  Frequent detailing (twice a year) from the time a car is new, will keep it looking that way for many years.  Neglecting a car for even a year, can lead to damage that is not fixable or very expensive to fix.  During our auto detailing process, two important things are accomplished.  First, the surfaces are thoroughly cleaned.  Dirt and grime are usually acidic and will eventually damage the interior and exterior surfaces of your car.  Removing soil frequently is a very important part of keeping your car looking it’s best.  Second, most surfaces are protected after they are cleaned.  Painted surfaces are polished and sealed, and interior surfaces are protected with a UV and soil protectant.  Paint sealants and interior protectants keep dirt and UV rays from damaging these surfaces.  It is important to be proactive about your car’s appearance.  Sticking to a frequent car detailing regimen should be part of your car’s routine maintenance, just like an oil change.  Neglecting your car is likely to result in permanent damage that is not easily fixed.

5 Reasons to Detail Your Car

People choose to have their cars detailed for different reasons. Selling or trading in a car is a very common one. A person realizes that their car looks less than presentable, and hopes to improve it’s value with detailing. Another reason I frequently hear, is; “we are going on vacation, and the car needs to be detailed before we go”. Both of these examples, are wrong reasons to detail your car. In both of these situations, the car is probably at the point where the owner realizes the car needs some much needed cleaning and detailing. Auto detailing should be classified as routine maintenance for your vehicle, just like an oil change. Here are five great reasons to have your car detailed often.

1.) It will help to keep the re-sale value high. A car graded in excellent condition can sell for thousands of dollars more than the same car graded only “good”.
2.) Having your car detailed is convenient. A mobile detailing service will come to you home or office and save you time.
3.) The interior of your car will be a more healthy place to be. Dirt and dust will be removed and the hard surfaces will have less germs. It will also smell much better.
4.) The auto detailing process is eco-friendly. Environmentally conscious auto detailing companies use “rinse-less” wash products that use a fraction of the water used at a car wash. Micro-fiber towels need less chemicals and eliminate paper towels.
5.) Frequent detailing keeps your car looking great. Impress your boss and sales prospects with your immaculate car. A spotless car makes you feel great!

 

What Does Auto Detailing Cost?

The prices you can expect to pay for auto detailing services can vary widely.  You can purchase a service commonly called a “detail”, for less than $50 dollars at some commercial car washes.  This type of service is performed in large volumes and most likely, will not exceed your expectations.  Other sources of low priced auto detailing services include newly created businesses and auto dealerships.  You will also encounter auto detailing companies, who are charging a premium for their services.  When shopping for auto detailing services, it is important to examine the benefits of doing business with a particular company.  What is the level of training and expertise of their employees?  Are they licensed and insured?  Do they offer a mobile service to your home or office?  These types of questions will help you to determine which company is giving you the best value for your money.

Auto Detailing Takes Time

Now that spring is here and the the sun is shining, people want their cars to look great.  For us, this means there is a lot of work to be done.  Recently, I have had to tell customers that it may be a few weeks before I can get them on our schedule.  Our goal is superior customer service, so we do our best to accommodate our customer’s needs.  The fact is though, that proper detailing takes time.  Even with two trained people, even a basic detail can take 2 hours or more.  More extensive details can take up to 8 hours.  Our efficient process covers almost every area of your car, and can not be rushed.  Additionally, our mobile service requires that we travel to our customer’s location.  As most of you are aware, traveling in the DC area consumes a lot of time.  I am also dedicated to being involved in every detail job.  I feel that quality is too important to leave up to someone else.  During this busy time of the year, please understand that the process of auto detailing is time consuming, and that we always do our best to get your car looking the way it should as soon as possible.

Decoding the Auto Detailing Process

I recently gave a detailing workshop to some eager members of the BMW Car Club of the National Capital Area. The participants were all auto enthusiasts, who truly care about the appearance of their cars.  Most of them already had some knowledge about the process of detailing a car.  My goal was to clearly layout before them the process, the equipment, general products, and the supplies that go into achieving superior auto detailing results.  As I went through my presentation, I realized the participants were very interested in what I had to say.  Many stopped me on multiple occasions to ask detailed questions about the process and products.  I did not mind this at all, but rather encouraged it.  I wanted it to be very clear, that auto detailing is a process that needs to be methodical and complete.  I was a bit disappointed in the fact that the participants seemed overly concerned with the exact products I use.  I made it a point to mention that the process and equipment are more important than the products, and little difference exists between the top products on the market.  Either way, the workshop was a success if everyone took something valuable from it.  I feel that goal was accomplished.  In the future, if you ever have any questions about the process used to detail a car, please feel free to ask.

Routine Auto Detailing

When most people think of routine maintenance for their car, they think about oil changes, tire rotations, and brake jobs.  Auto detailing is usually not put into the category of routine maintenance.  In actuality, frequent auto detailing is a very important part of properly maintaining your car.  I have mentioned before, that neglecting your car’s appearance can quickly damage both interior and exterior surfaces.  Changing your car’s oil often will reduce wear on it’s engine, and detailing your car often will significantly reduce wear of it’s surfaces.  A frequently asked question is: “How often should my car be detailed?”  The answer depends on several factors.  How often and in what environment you drive your car, how many miles you drive it, and whether or not it is garaged.  If you drive your car daily and live in a region that gets winter weather, more frequent detailing would be required.  A general rule to follow is, you should have your car detailed twice a year; once in the spring and once in the fall.  This means a thorough interior cleaning and a wash, polish, and paint sealant of the exterior.  The interior cleaning removes dirt, sand, dust and other materials that can quickly damage interior components.  Exterior detailing removes dirt and road grime, while making sure the paint stays shiny and protected from UV rays.  If you follow this schedule, most likely your car will look great for years to come.  In between “details” your car should be washed and vacuumed as often as your schedule and wallet permit.  You can choose to do this yourself with the proper process and materials or find a qualified company to provide this type of service.  You may be thinking that detailing your car twice a year will be expensive.  Yes, it will cost you a few hundred dollars, however, the benefit of keeping the re-sale value high and the satisfaction of driving a great looking car is well worth it.  Next time you think about your car’s routine maintenance schedule, be sure to factor in frequent auto detailing as part of that schedule.  If not, you will quickly become the proud owner of a car that does not look the way it did when you bought it.

Customer Service For The New Year

I recently have had some not so good experiences with other companies.  In my opinion, I was a victim of sub-par customer service.  This is especially troubling to me because, after all, I run my own company.   Customer service is defined as; what ever the customer says it is.  This means that you, the customer, is the person who decides what good customer service is, and how it should be delivered.  It seems that good or great customer service is rare in this day and age.  Large companies that dominate many industries generally do a poor job with customer service.  Even small companies, which have an advantage because they are small, are guilty of providing lackluster customer service.  Excellent customer service adds value to a product or service.  It also makes you want to patronize a business again in the future, and tell others about the great service you received.  Things such as returning your phone call or email promptly, having a pleasant phone demeanor and accommodating attitude, convenient scheduling, and proper follow-up all contribute to a good customer service experience.  What are some things you would add to this list?  The truth is, there are many attributes to great customer service, and it is all determined by you.  As we move into a New Year, make sure you demand excellent customer service from the businesses you choose to give your hard earned money to.   If you receive customer service that does not exceed your expectations, bring it to the attention of the manager, or better yet, the owner.  If you are still not satisfied with the service you are receiving, take your business to another company that is willing to go above and beyond, to provide you with outstanding service.

A good way to find businesses that offer outstanding customer service is to ask friends and family for recommendations.  Usually, if someone recommends a company, it is because they have had a great customer service experience.  Chances are, you will also find their service outstanding.  You can also check online sites that contain customer reviews.  Google Places and Yelp are a couple sites where customers can post reviews of a business.  Positive reviews usually indicate that a company is committed to providing it’s customers with outstanding customer service.  Remember, customer service is not something that should be hard to find.  Businesses should be thankful that you are willing to pay them your money for a product or service.  In return, they should be willing to do what ever it takes, within reason, to meet and exceed your expectations.  If they are not, simply choose a company that will.

Auto Body Work

Hopefully, you will be lucky enough to never need body work done on your car.  The fact is that, most people will need to use the services of a body shop at some point in their lives.  Damaging your car is a difficult experience.  Choosing the right auto body shop to fix the damage, will make the experience less painful and result in a quality repair.  If your car gets damaged, first determine if it is something that can be fixed by an auto detailing professional.  Some scratches and small dents can be fixed without repairing and painting large sections of your car.  You want to avoid compromising the car’s factory paint job if at all possible.  If the damage to your car will require auto body work, choose the shop with care.  Ask friends and family for recommendations of shops that have exceeded their expectations.  If you are unable to find a shop through word-of-mouth channels, check online review sites such as Google Places.  Consistently good reviews usually indicate that a body shop does quality work.  Do not choose an auto body shop solely on your insurance company’s recommendation.  In Virginia, you have the right to go to which ever body shop you choose.  Once you have chosen a shop, make sure they have clearly indicated what they intend to do, to fix the damage to your car.  Your contact at the shop should be knowledgeable and clearly answer any questions you may have.  Make sure they provide a written estimate of the work to be performed.  Once your car is at a body shop for repair, they will work with you or your insurance company in the event more damage is discovered.  Once the body work on your car is concluded, be sure to thoroughly examine the work.  Look closely at how the body panels align with each other.  The spaces between them should be even and consistent with the other areas on your car.  Although the paint on repaired areas will never fully match the factory paint job’s color and texture, it should be reasonably close.  Be on the lookout for paint with an “orange peel” texture or dust nibs in the paint itself.  These types of issues should not be present and should be corrected by the shop.  The car should be delivered back to you clean and free of dust and paint over spray.  Make sure you are completely satisfied with the work before you make payment.  Remember, having auto body work done on your car should be a pleasant experience that results in a car that looks nearly identical to how it was before the damage occurred.  Please consult us if you ever have questions about auto body work or need a recommendation for a quality shop.

The Wash

Several choices are available when it comes to washing your car.  You can choose to wash it yourself, or you can pay someone else to do the dirty work for you.  When purchasing such services, choices range from a quick automatic car wash at the gas station, to a hand wash and detail by a mobile auto detail company.  The safest and most effective way to maintain the appearance of your car’s paint, continues to be a hand wash.  Hand washing allows the dirt on your cars paint to be gently removed using the correct amount of pressure.  Modern day microfiber wash mitts do an excellent job of clearing the dirt from your car’s paint and trapping the dirt within its tiny fibers.  Automatic car washes use either chemicals and pressure or a combination of chemicals, mechanical action, and pressure to clean your car.  At a chemical and pressure car wash (also called a touch-less wash), the concentration of the chemicals is high because no agitation is used.  High chemical dilutions strip the wax off your car and can leave soapy residue on your car’s paint.  The automatic car wash operations that do use agitation, can cause damage because you have brushes or cloths being moved mechanically, at high speed and pressures over your car’s paint.  The other benefit of hand washing, is that it conserves water and reduces run-off.  Rinse-less wash technology allows a car to be washed with only a few gallons of water.  The polymers in these products bond to the paint and dirt particles, creating a cushion so that dirt can be safely washed away.  Even the car washes that recycle a significant amount of their water are still using a lot more water per car, than a hand wash.  Of course, the safety and results of a hand car wash depend on the skill and training of a company’s  staff and the quality of the washing and drying supplies.  Next time your car needs to be washed, consider having it conveniently hand washed and detailed, or take some time to wash it yourself.  You will be pleased with the results.