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Starting a Mobile Auto Detailing Business; Dry Wash or Pressure Wash?
Many experienced auto detailing professionals who have started out using a pressure washer rarely use Dry Wash n' Guard. Most would say this is a matter of preference more than anything else. Each side has logical arguments as to why their methodology is better. Many pressure washing mobile detailers only use dry wash on Aircraft at customer's request or in certain instances on race cars, antique cars in show rooms and customers whose cars are kept in near dust free garages and only driven rarely. Why bother to pull the cars or aircraft out of the show room, garage or hanger, just to wash it, and pull it back in?
Dry Wash is more difficult and time consuming to use on regular driver cars in out door areas and parking lots compared with pressure washing when such folks drive through mud and debris in the winter months in most climates. Pressure washing is fast, efficient and gets the job done. It is hard to compare these two theories or methods of operations because they are so different. You cannot compare the results because the time it takes to use dry wash negates a profitable practice on regular and normal customers cars. For instance it is most easy to wash a car in 5 minutes exterior with a pressure washer using as little as 2.4 to 4.0 gallons, this includes wash, soap, rinse and dry. Then a coat of bottle spray wax takes about 8-15 minutes. This would be most comparable. In that case the results are nearly identical the difference being water usage in that the Dry Wash you are looking a so little it is not calculable. Regarding asserting that Dry Wash is technology based is really something of a multi-level cult type hype thought. It is technology as it; uses a chemical process, which is very well known and is able to coat the dust as it moves across the surface preventing scratches, depending on the amount of dirt and product used. You cannot compare the two, since Dry Wash also waxes as it washes and therefore you get a two for one double whammy; for instance two steps in one and no water used, which is of significant benefit in a drought ridden areas and regions hit by continual severe droughts reaching level II and level III.
One problem we have found is that some customers are fearful that you might scratch their cars using dry wash, this is unfounded in most cases if the product is used correctly however, perception is reality and therefore the customer buying behavior is an issue. Now then with that said a person could explain the differences as I am doing here and tell the customer that you will not scratch their car, however the whole time they are looking at you like you are lying to them. Thus it takes someone who can sell it and sales take time, if it takes five minutes or more to convince them then I could have already washed the car and collected the money, you see? Now then if it is a regular customer the proof was in the results last time and therefore they are believers later for next time, you see? No I do not recommend dry wash under all circumstances, however we did design a dry wash product at one point about 8 years ago, which worked very well for about $ 1.85 per 8 ounce bottle. We were pleased with the results, but not on really dirty cars and the rags when we were done were truly disgusting and we could not use a house washing machine because it literally destroyed them and turned the towels gray after words, since then micro fiber towels have taken away much of that issue. So here is the thing, I can wash a car in 5 minutes with a pressure washer, 15 minutes with dry wash, yes dry wash also kind of leaves a wax shine on it and added protection, but for 15 minutes I must make $15.00 for a wash, this leaves out the single mom with the Honda car who does not wish to pay that much, but is fine for the once convinced third time BMW executive type does this make sense? For us the issue is purely economics. Cost to wash and money made.
By cleaning the Honda cars we add customers, influence and referrals, where as many detailers would not even want the Honda customers, we do. Doubtful a single mom with a Honda car would pay $15.00 for a wash every week if she was an hourly worker at minimum wage or slightly higher. But she will pay five dollars and with a pressure washer, you can afford to give this service, a detailer would not, but a mobile car washer could and would not be out any dollars, just one more car washed, during the long day and on the long list of cars. We say 'live with the classes and sell to the masses'. Besides when working medical centers, office complexes, professional offices and Corporations, the single mom with the small compact car generally is at the front desk and will drive business to you.
If you are a detailer then I think over half of the circumstances that dry wash would be acceptable due to the results provided the car is not too dirty with grit. But let's say we push the half to 2/3 even so what about the other 1/3? Price is not an issue because you are charging $100 to $150 on cars and $135-$220 on SUVs and spending upwards of three man-hours on the vehicle anyway, but for washing and speed on various levels of dirty cars, you are going to want to use a pressure washers on over half of those. And once you have a pressure washer, why not use it on everything? Since you can clean the rims faster, the plastic between the hood and windshield, by blasting, etc.
Some day and perhaps as the world becomes more understanding of water supplies we will see more dry wash use and it may enter mainstream yet those who use towels will be washing those towels and the cycle rinses use 40 gallons to wash the towels and send it to a sewer treatment plant. 40 gallons washing 25 hand towels in a load which cleaned 20 cars, is 2 gallons per car anyway you see? If you use micro-fiber and throw them away, then you fill up your local dump? Which is not good or bad the dump gets paid by the load. But the price of water is also an interesting factor in that, water costs 743 gallons (1 unit of water) is generally about $1.83 to $2.88 depending on where in the country or which country you are, you see? So with 743 gallons you can clean between 185 to 309 relatively clean cars or 74 to 150 very dirty cars. (A note: water is much more expensive in other parts of the world and a much more precious commodity, we often take our water for granted, which is foolish). Your cost per car for water is pretty insignificant considering the cost, soap for instance being less than $.15 per car. I think my biggest reason in favor of pressure washer use as opposed to Dry Wash really is efficiency and time, not cost, although I can argue cost too for washing. For a wash and quick wax the difference and efficiency could be a toss up on the less than average dirty car or weekly regular customer's car.
When determining whether to use Dry Wash or a wet wash with a pressure washer in mobile auto detailing you must be honest with yourself. Are you treating the Multi-level marketing part of the business like a religious science or are you looking at the reality of the situation from a cost and profit standpoint on the services you perform? Is there a real need such as drought, interior cleaning of item or down line and product sales benefits to the use of Dry Wash? How will the customer perceive this and how ling does it take to educate the consumer? Think about it in a non-linear way. Both methods work, your job is to determine which is best for you, your business and your customer.
"Lance Winslow" - If you have innovative thoughts and unique perspectives, come think with Lance; www.WorldThinkTank.net/wttbbs
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