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Use these tips to raise your detailing department’s quality and revenue

Monday, December 3, 2018 - 08:00
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What kind of objectives do you set for your detailing department? If it’s simply to clean up vehicles and bring the shine out in the finish, setting some new goals is a good idea. Like every other part of your operation, detailing regularly receives upgraded products and practices from manufacturers and experts. Their latest solutions could be generating better results and revenue at your shop.

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Interested? Good. There’s a great chance your competitors already are building up their detailing arsenals. To infuse a new level of eye-popping quality into your detailing bays, refer to the following list of proven new practices and products.

(Photo courtesy of Auto Detail Doctor) Clean each side of auto glass with a different, specific approach to create like-new clarity.

Interested? Good. There’s a great chance your competitors already are building up their detailing arsenals. To infuse a new level of eye-popping quality into your detailing bays, refer to the following list of proven new practices and products.

A clearer view

Want to turn out vehicles that are clean in a new kind of way that will catch the notice of customers? Focus on windows. Virtually anyone who’s had a windshield replaced can’t escape noticing the ultra-clear view from new glass. This same clarity disappears over time in large part because the glass doesn’t receive the level of treatment required to maintain a like-new appearance. Break away from the ordinary by putting the right steps and tools for the job to work.

(Photo courtesy of Meguiar’s) Ask your vendors for recommendations on all detailing supplies. Don’t hesitate to spend a little more on products that do justice to the world-class finish your shop just applied.

Begin by understanding there are essentially two parts to every piece of auto glass: the interior and exterior. Each is exposed to different kinds of contaminates that require different cleaning methods. Exteriors regularly face road dirt and grime and the elements, while the interior builds up a film from smoke and impurities in the ventilation system and through a process called outgassing in which heat air and UV rays cause interior parts to decay and emit gasses. General washing, wiping and drying won’t sufficiently clean either glass side.

Instead, use the following process with specialty cleaning tools:

  1. Wash with a professional grade cleaner. Speak with your vendors and pick up one that also reducing streaks. To ensure you aren’t putting contaminates back on the glass as you clean, mix concentrated solutions with purified water.
  2. Clean all of the glass, including the top portion that slides up into the window jam. Cleaning products, along with dirt, can build up in this area and then drip down later, marring an otherwise effective job. Always start window cleaning by winding down any movable glass to clean these areas first.
  3. Make a point of cleaning difficult to reach areas, especially where the interior glass meets the vehicle body (for example, at the dashboard). Specialty reach tools, ideal for slipping into crevices and tight spaces, can be essential
  4. Employ detailing clay. The same product that works wonders on finishes also does a great job of removing tar, bugs and other sticky contaminates. The clay also won’t damage glass the way scraping with a tool can.
  5. On interiors, follow up the washing with a second using a multi-surface sponge or eraser to remove outgassing film. This film doesn’t typically come off with washing only.
  6. Invest in and use microfiber drying cloths. Any other type of cloth is likely to cause smears or put contaminates back on the glass. There’s a world of difference between the specialty cloths and anything else.
  7. Use two different drying motions, one for each side of the glass. For example, wipe the interior vertically and the exterior horizontally. Doing so will allow you to know immediately on which side of the glass and streaking is occurring. This practice is a proven time saver.

With these steps, you should be able to consistently produce ultra-clear glass with no streaks.

(Photo courtesy of Chesapeak Family Detailing) One of the keys to performing great interior detailing work is vacuuming, then dislodging particles with other methods, and vacuuming again.

Great finishes

As with windows, the key to a great performance on the vehicle exterior means addressing small details (why else do you think they call it detailing?). Use these steps:

  1. Wash the vehicle (by hand!) with a professional grade automotive soap. Give special attention to areas around the hood and trunk and any other structures where clumps of wax and other debris can accumulate. Turn again to tools like the ones you used to hard to reach places around windows.
  2. When washing, always employ microfiber cloths. Sponges, even after washing, can hide contaminates that can scratch the finish. Microfiber cloths avoid this issue, can be used over and over when they’re well cared for (which saves you money) and provide superior cleaning.  

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    When the washing is done, attend next to the trim, especially black trim. Black trim requires special treatments to protect the plastic. These treatments must be applied before any wax or polish since they can stain any unprotected material. Ever look at a newly detailed vehicle and notice the trim appears dull and faded against the bright new finish? That’s where the protection failed. Prevent this by applying a black plastic restorer with UV protection before moving back to the finish. (Note that Meguiar’s and other manufacturers now sell waxes engineered not to fade black plastic.)

  3. When it’s time to wax and polish, use a power buffer. Some detailers still prefer to wax by hand, usually because they believe it produces better results. That’s true to a point since misusing a buffer can produce swirls and uneven places in the finish. These problems typically arise from using a buffer to remove wax and polish. Instead, use the buffer to apply waxes and other products to save time and benefit from the measured, circular motion of the tool. To remove excess (or old) wax and polish, turn again to microfiber cloth for a spotless, even finish.
  4. When choosing waxes and polishes, speak with your vendor and ask for the best. There can be a world of difference between the products you pick up at your local automotive store, especially discounted ones, and the latest options that are engineered to save time and produce the best possible finish.
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