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Rockpick
Mar 17th, 2005, 07:02 PM
I'm sure most all of us meet with our client before we begin a detail but, I was curious to hear what you all are documenting.

For example, I always document door dings, mega-scratches, and other blemishes that are well out of my reach of fixing. Further, I like to go through the detail with the customer to establish what their expectations may be and if they're on task with what I know I can do with the finish... I'll discuss their finish and any areas that I feel may need special attention and thus, more time (and more money potentially).

With that in mind, what are you all documenting and what are you asking your customers before you begin a detail? Are you utilizing a checklist and, if so, can you post some of the high points of the check list? How are you utilizing this pre-check to maximize services sold to your client?

Thanks folks... I'm interested in hearing what you guys that do this on a daily basis are utilizing versus those of us who are weekend detailers with a much smaller client base.

RP :D

mirrorfinishman
Mar 18th, 2005, 04:42 AM
Actually, I have been in business since 1986 and I have never met with a customer before a detailing to document anything such as, door dings, mega-scratches, and other blemishes.

Further, I never go through the detail with the customer to establish what their expectations may be and if they're on task with what I know and what I can do with the finish.

As you can clearly see, I do not document anything and I do not ask my customers anything about their finish nor do I use a checklist to maximize services sold before I begin to detail their vehicle.

SpoiledMan
Mar 18th, 2005, 05:57 AM
Frank, wouldn't you want to know if maybe there was some recent touch up work before you put some wax on it?

Mike Phillips
Mar 18th, 2005, 06:11 AM
I always look for burn through on edges and point any place I find out to the owner. Most owners don't know their paint has been burned through on edges and high points till I locate it and point it out to them. Then I explain to them how it happened from the previous person who worked on their car. If I continue and accept the car to work on, I will tape these areas off with painters tape so there is no chance they become worse.

I also point out wax in the cracks. When I walk around the car I look for white residue in nooks, crannies, seems, next to trim etc. and point that out to the owner. Again, many times the owner doesn't realize how much residue is left behind either by their handy work or someone else's. I always point this out so that they know I know it was there before I worked on the car and then during the process of working on their car I do my best to remove any and all residue from those that have gone before me.

I look for thin paint in the easy to buff areas like the hood, deck lid, and tops of fenders. It's real easy for a detailer to spend too much time buffing these areas and if the car has been buffed multiple times in it's history, chances are good the paint is becoming very thin in these areas.

Those are three things I can think of off the top of my head.

SpoiledMan
Mar 18th, 2005, 06:15 AM
No contact with the customer showing them what is currently going on with their finish and what you can fix and not fix will have you reaching in your pocket in this litigious state.

mirrorfinishman
Mar 18th, 2005, 07:20 AM
One of the major reasons I do not use a customer pre-check list is because I am usually the only one who gets to polish and wax my customer's vehicles. I have a lot of repeat business and I usually detail the same vehicles over and over.

Even when one of my customers buys a new car, I usually get a call within the first few days to do a complete detailing. I have actually had customers call me as soon as they get home with their new car.

Personally, I do not like the image that goes along with presenting a customer with a pre-check list. I would rather communicate on more of a personal level, rather than using intimidating forms and checklists.

scrub
Mar 18th, 2005, 05:58 PM
Great topic. I had created a checklist a few months ago and just used yesterday for the first time. The clients seemed to like walking around thier vehicle with me inspecting. Of course I don't assign any sort of blame like "look at how dirty your carpet is, what did you do?" In my opinion, I think the checklist makes me a better detailer and business person. I talk to the client about how they feel about their car. It gave me a better blue print of what services they need or want. It can tell me wort of what hot buttons I need to push to close the deal at my price. It also gives me a chance to sell myself and other success stories of similar problems on other clients vehicles. I even show pics.

All in all the checklist is a useful tool. If your like me I tend to get tongue tied sometimes and the checklist keeps me on task. Plus the image it projects compared to other local shops is cool too. I can send you a copy of my list if you'd like.

SVT Lightning
Mar 18th, 2005, 07:16 PM
Originally posted by Mike Phillips
I also point out wax in the cracks. . [/B]

Not trying to hi-jack the thread but what techniques are best to remove this?

Rockpick
Mar 18th, 2005, 07:22 PM
I'd be very interested in that scrub! Thanks for the offer...

Thanks to everyone who has replied...

I, too, believe that the detailing experience should be very customer focused and, as a single man shop myself, the personality and communication that you share with your client are, in my opinion, not only important; they are absolutely positively critical.

As we all know, repeat business comes from word of mouth typically within this industry and, if I present myself as a bonehead with a money making agenda to them, I'm sure as heck going to shoot myself in the foot when it comes time for them to recommend me to a friend.

With that in mind, I'm not envisioning any type of checklist being an 'invasive' part of the detail but more of a step by step walk over to establish the vehicle's condition (again, not that they don't trust me or that I don't trust them but more of a precautionary thing). Further, I'm not trying to scam my way out of not taking care of a scratch or ding that I may have introduced to the vehicle when it was in my possession. With this type of check being performed, I see it as a cover your rear end on both ends of the working agreement. A signature by both parties on a piece of paper seals this agreement.

Again though, I'm not trying to present them to my lawyer when they're signing but more simply trying to tell them that I'm liable for what I do to the vehicle when it's in my possession but not liable because they're lower valance is laying on the ground on one corner taped up with duct tape from a previous semi-spare tire versus valance incident that happened two months earlier...

Here's where I'm going with this folks and my overall thoughts on this 'checklist' thing...My Philosophy on this...

1. Non invasive. I have no intentions on pointing out their deficiencies on the way they're maintaining their vehicle. Heck, dirty it up and come back more often is my stance.

2. Up selling. This is a technique used by every single retail market. Buy a value meal, up size it. Buy a two pack of applicators or a six pack for 50 cents more. Buy an exterior detail but get a full interior detail for X more... This is where I'm going with this. Further, let me reiterate, I'm not trying to shaft anyone.

3. Expectations. Someone might show up with a vehicle that is their baby and EXPECT that the key scratch be taken out of the paint on one side. When he/she gets it back and you tell them that you couldn't get it out (because it was down to primer), they get angry and potentially think that you're not worthy of your asking price because you didn't' meet their expectations. Repeat customers here might be slightly different but, it only takes one bad move one bad day to send a client arye. This covers both party's rear ends IMO... I'm no lawyer but, this is smart business IMO. Relationships are golden and I think people understand the ligitious society in which we live.

4. Happy Customers. When you explain to them what you're going to do to the vehicle (ie: remove all the swirls, get the wells in great shape, shine the tires, etc....) they expect it. When they take delivery and see that you did what you said you'd do, you meet the expectations and your word to the customer.

5. Repeat Work. They leave happy. They get comments from their neighbors on how awesome their vehicle looks after being neglected for months. They come back. The process repeats itself...


So, in summary, it's something that will cover your butt, cover their butt, ensure expectations, make your customer happy, and further, spawn new and/or repeat work.

I don't see a bad side to this scenario do you all?

RP :D

scrub
Mar 18th, 2005, 08:23 PM
I agree. Well put.

To me a price list is words on a page. What I found with my checklist is I identify problems and explain to the client what I can do to fix the problems. To me this adds value to my service. I like upfront pricing and very specific services spelled out.

The checklist also shows very specific attention to the client's vehicle. My service plans I've created are simply a guide. Some clients might not need all the services in a particular plan. I can then eliminate that unneeded service and cost, at a savings to my client. Image is everything. Each vehicle is different and rather than having 20 service plans (to cover any possible condition), I can tailor one of the three service plans that I offer depending on the needs of the client. My checklist shows the client I assess their vehicle and my service to give them the results they want but also a cost within reason. As opposed to sticking with one stead fast plan that might not service all the needs of this particular client. That's good for repeat business.

As for the checklist. I can email you a copy. Its not much I kind of borrowed the idea/concept from another place. I then made some minor changes to make it easier for me to use. If you make some changes let me know. I might incorporate your changes too.

Brents Classic Custom Detail
Apr 1st, 2008, 05:06 PM
I WOULD LIKE TO SEE ONE OF THOSE CHECKLIST. WE NORMALLY PRE PRICE AND SET UP AN APPOINTMENT HOWEVER THAT LOOK'S INTERESTING AND WE MIGHT USE THAT FOR OUR MORE "IN DEPTH" CUSTOMERS AND CLIENTS (IF YOU DON'T MIND)
:coolgleam

Sprzout
Apr 2nd, 2008, 06:14 PM
I'd be very interested in that scrub! Thanks for the offer...

Thanks to everyone who has replied...

I, too, believe that the detailing experience should be very customer focused and, as a single man shop myself, the personality and communication that you share with your client are, in my opinion, not only important; they are absolutely positively critical.

As we all know, repeat business comes from word of mouth typically within this industry and, if I present myself as a bonehead with a money making agenda to them, I'm sure as heck going to shoot myself in the foot when it comes time for them to recommend me to a friend.

With that in mind, I'm not envisioning any type of checklist being an 'invasive' part of the detail but more of a step by step walk over to establish the vehicle's condition (again, not that they don't trust me or that I don't trust them but more of a precautionary thing). Further, I'm not trying to scam my way out of not taking care of a scratch or ding that I may have introduced to the vehicle when it was in my possession. With this type of check being performed, I see it as a cover your rear end on both ends of the working agreement. A signature by both parties on a piece of paper seals this agreement.

Again though, I'm not trying to present them to my lawyer when they're signing but more simply trying to tell them that I'm liable for what I do to the vehicle when it's in my possession but not liable because they're lower valance is laying on the ground on one corner taped up with duct tape from a previous semi-spare tire versus valance incident that happened two months earlier...

Here's where I'm going with this folks and my overall thoughts on this 'checklist' thing...My Philosophy on this...

1. Non invasive. I have no intentions on pointing out their deficiencies on the way they're maintaining their vehicle. Heck, dirty it up and come back more often is my stance.

2. Up selling. This is a technique used by every single retail market. Buy a value meal, up size it. Buy a two pack of applicators or a six pack for 50 cents more. Buy an exterior detail but get a full interior detail for X more... This is where I'm going with this. Further, let me reiterate, I'm not trying to shaft anyone.

3. Expectations. Someone might show up with a vehicle that is their baby and EXPECT that the key scratch be taken out of the paint on one side. When he/she gets it back and you tell them that you couldn't get it out (because it was down to primer), they get angry and potentially think that you're not worthy of your asking price because you didn't' meet their expectations. Repeat customers here might be slightly different but, it only takes one bad move one bad day to send a client arye. This covers both party's rear ends IMO... I'm no lawyer but, this is smart business IMO. Relationships are golden and I think people understand the ligitious society in which we live.

4. Happy Customers. When you explain to them what you're going to do to the vehicle (ie: remove all the swirls, get the wells in great shape, shine the tires, etc....) they expect it. When they take delivery and see that you did what you said you'd do, you meet the expectations and your word to the customer.

5. Repeat Work. They leave happy. They get comments from their neighbors on how awesome their vehicle looks after being neglected for months. They come back. The process repeats itself...


So, in summary, it's something that will cover your butt, cover their butt, ensure expectations, make your customer happy, and further, spawn new and/or repeat work.

I don't see a bad side to this scenario do you all?

RP :D

I think a checklist for work is a good thing. It may not be a true checklist where you're going, "You have this, this, that, etc. wrong with the car" but rather things like, "Ok, I see that you've got some front bumper damage here where it looks like a curb got clipped; I just wanted to verify with you that it wasn't something I did."

You can also make sure that you're covering things like, "Oh, ok, you were rear-ended 2 weeks ago and you had it repainted, and you just got it out of the shop yesterday. Good to know; that paint needs to breathe/outgas, so I won't put any wax on that area at this time."

And as you mentioned, you can get an idea of what the customer's expecting. You can tell them that you're not going to be able to get out the key scratch that's all the way down to the primer, or you can surprise them and tell them, "Yes, I CAN get out the light swirls that are there on the paint!"

You also get a chance to assess the car, and get a ballpark of how long it's going to take you, if you're going to have to clay the car and polish 2-3 times to get out some swirls/etching before applying wax, etc. If I were a customer, I'd want to know if the car was going to be unusable for 8 hours, so that I could make alternate plans for transportation if needed.

Nick O
Apr 3rd, 2008, 07:07 PM
hey scrub, is there any chance that you could send me that checklist?




[Please use PM's; Thanks]

wiseguys
Apr 9th, 2008, 06:24 PM
I wouldn't mind seeing it as well!

I think it's important to make sure you meet and exceed your customers expectations. I know I personally have high expectations and will flat out tell any place that does other kinds of work for me that I'm particular to details and quality so they can decide if they are capable or not. You'd be surprised how many people think detailers get out key marks that are down to the metal! "can this be buffed out?" lol.

[Please use PM's; Thanks]

Michael Stoops
Apr 9th, 2008, 07:59 PM
I've always done the walk around in a very casual way, often with the customer leading it - "can you fix this, is this a real problem, some idiot bumped into me and..." - that sort of thing. We end up discussing what can and can't be corrected in the scope of a detailing session and many times the customer has been surprised when I tell them that a particular defect really doesn't seem all that bad to me.

The Ferrari I did a few weeks ago was a different case though - I had to point out all the swirls in the paint a week after it had been "professionally detailed" and then just parked in a garage. The customer really didn't know and as far as I'm concerned was just blatantly ripped off by whomever "detailed" his car a week earlier. I showed him another Ferrari parked next to him that had maybe just a 1/4 the amount of swirls his car had. He said "yeah, that looks a lot better than my car; can you make my car look that good?" I told him even that wasn't acceptable to me, not even close. That sealed it. Done deal.


mirrorfinishman, your situation of having so many repeat customers after so many years in business is a great position to be in, but far different from a lot of guys just getting started or with limited repeat business. Your customers already know what to expect from a detailing, but not everyone does. Obviously my Ferrari client mentioned above sure didn't. Others unaccustomed to auto detailing might be upset to learn that they're dents are still there, only now those dents are shiny. Should they have been expecting the dents to be removed by a detailer? I think getting a feel for their expectations is helpful, if only so you can under promise an over deliver.

scrub
May 11th, 2008, 02:14 PM
hey scrub, is there any chance that you could send me that checklist?




[Please use PM's; Thanks]

Sorry for the delayed reply... I haven't been on the forum in a while.

Have to ask what's the "[Please use PM's; Thanks]".

Anyway Let me dig up the info and PM it to you or even an email. This will probably get edited.

buckshot333
May 11th, 2008, 07:30 PM
I'd like to see the checklist as well scrub, if you could possibly PM it to me. Or maybe it would be easier to just post it on this thread seeing as multiple people are asking for it! Just a thought. :)

Tim Lingor
May 11th, 2008, 08:19 PM
Sorry for the delayed reply... I haven't been on the forum in a while.

Have to ask what's the "[Please use PM's; Thanks]".

Anyway Let me dig up the info and PM it to you or even an email. This will probably get edited.

They were edited as the emails that were given were also for their business which is not allowed on MOL. We do not edit posts unless it goes against the Forum Rules.

If people wish to communicate between themselves, please use the PM's unless it is pertinent to everyone.

Thanks
Tim

Derrick
May 11th, 2008, 10:14 PM
I to use a checklist and a walk around with each client. Well i don't really have a checklist but i do have a purchase order receipt that i do use for both listing all work the vehicle will be receiving and for what price. Then on the lower right hand of the receipt i draw a vehicle ( nothing fancy just a little outline with labels for the front, right, rear ect..) Then i do a walk around with the customer and mark down any damages that will not be getting fixed or that cant be fixed by me ( like deep scratches, damaged rims, torn leather on the interior ect..) and then make sure the client sees them. If it is something large like a cracked bumper then i do take pics. At the end i have the customer sign the receipt stating they are dropping it off with the date and time and i also have them initial over the damage assessment and then we annotate the vehicle mileage then we both get a copy. Other than that i also like to explain my services with each client if they wish and if they have swirls or other paint defects i like to inform them on how those types of thing occur that way they can try to avoid them in the future because you can only compound a car so many times and some people will just get there car looking nice then take it right back to a quick wash and be back a few months later needing the swirls removed again. It also works out both ways because it informs them and also they see just how much work it takes to really do a good job without installing swirl marks. Most of my customers seem amazed at how easily swirl marks can be applied and all the work and precautions us detailers do to avoid swirls such as specific wash mits, two bucket method, grit guard, drying method and so they just make sure to keep coming back to me. Of course for my recurring customers there is not need for alot of that and the process is alot faster because i don't explain things multiple times but i do the checklist thing every time just because most of my work is big jobs and i have the car in my possession for days and want to cover myself as well as making sure my customers feel safe as well.

Nappers
May 11th, 2008, 11:17 PM
I would think a quick walk around with the customer to show possible defects that can't be fixed. I.E. deep key scratch, clear coat failure etc.

Aaron

scrub
May 12th, 2008, 01:49 PM
Here's a basic copy. I liked this one the best. I never got around to purchasing a paint thickness gauge so I skipped those steps.

Owner Name ________________________________ Date _______________
Address __________________________________ City __________________
State / Zip _________ Contact Numbers _______________________________
Year _________ Make ________________________ Model ____________
Color _________________ Mileage In:__________ Mileage Out:___________
a) Vehicle Smoked In: Yes / No b) Vehicle Garage Kept: Yes / No
c) Vehicle Previously Buffed: Yes / No

Interior / Trunk
1. Headliner Clean: Yes / No
2. Type of Seats: Leather / Vinyl / Cloth If Leather: Clear Coated / Non Coated
3. Condition of Carpet: Light Dirt / Stains / Heavy Dirt
4. Seat Belt Condition: (Clean) Yes / No (Stains) Yes / No
5. Door Panels: Light Soil / Heavy Soil
6. Door Jambs, Kick Panels, Sill Plates: Light Soil / Heavy Soil
7. Dash / Console Area Are All Instruments / Radios / Power Window and Seats etc in Working Order: Yes / No
List Deficiencies___________________________________________________
8. Condition of Glass: Dirty / Very Dirty / Fogging Present
9. Does Interior Vinyl on Dash / Console Area Show Discoloration or Stains
If Yes Which Parts: ________________________________________________
________________________________________________________________

Engine Compartment
1. Rate Condition: Light Soil Medium Soil Heavy Soil
2. Evidence of Silicon Trim Applied: Yes / No
3. Discolored Trim, Metal, Paint Present: Yes / No

Wheels / Wheel Covers / Tires
1. Tires White Letter or White Wall: Yes / No
2. Tires Exhibit Browning or other Discoloring: Yes / No
3. Side Walls Exhibit Roughness or Unevenness: Yes / No
4. Wheels Clear Coated: Yes / No
5. Wheels Streaking / Brake Dust / Staining Present: LIGHT / HEAVY
6. Wheel Wells: a) SOIL: Light / Heavy b) PAINT: Yes / No c) TAR: Yes / No

Condition of Exterior Paint Finish
1. Clear Coat ____ Single Stage ____ 2. Repainted: Yes / No
3. Industrial Fallout Present: Yes / No
4. Acid Rain/ Water Spots/Etching Damage Yes / No
a) Chips in Finish: Yes / No b) Scratches Present: Yes / No
c) Swirls Present: Yes / No d) Tree Sap Present: Yes / No
5. Paint Overspray Present: Yes / No
6. Exterior Trim Condition – Discolored or Stained: Yes / No
7. Clear Coat Failure / Color Coat Damage: Yes / No

Paint Condition Inspection
1. Inspection With 30x Magnifier: Yes / No
2. Customer Shown Defects and Conditions through Magnifier: Yes / No
3. Paint Thickness Measured: Yes / No
If Yes Record Readings:
Hood 5 Readings: 1____ 2____ 3____ 4____ 5____
Roof 5 Readings: 1____ 2____ 3____ 4____ 5____
Trunk Lid 5 Readings: 1____ 2____ 3____ 4____ 5____
4. Evidence of Previous Buffing / Polish Damage: Yes / No
If Yes List Area and Description of Damage:¬¬_____________________________
________________________________________________________________
5. Will Vehicle Require Neutralization Procedure: Yes / No
6. Will Vehicle Require Machine Buffing / Polishing Procedure: Yes / No
7. Suggested Last Step Product:
Acrylic Sealant Polymer Sealant Polymer Wax Carnauba Wax

General Vehicle Comments (Areas for Improvement):
................................................................
lines for writing would go here. I had like ten lines for writing. All this could fit on one page
...................................................................................................
..............................................................................................

Estimate to Perform Reconditioning: $________________

Estimator Signature: ___________________________ Date: ______________

Customer Signature of Acceptance: __________________________________

Date: ______________