10 Things Wrong with Detailing at Dealerships

When it comes to car detailing, there are two options for dealerships: setting up their own detailing department or hiring an outside detailing company to come in and provide detailing services for them. Although there are some advantages to having an in-house detailing department, there are also a number of problems that a dealership will face. Remember, it takes a lot longer to correct a problem than it does to avoid it in the first place.

Here are 10 things wrong with detailing at dealerships:

1. Lack of Technology / Old Tech

There are a number of specialized machines, chemicals, and software programs that are necessary to properly detail and manage fleet vehicles. For the average dealership, it’s simply too expensive to buy and maintain this technology and to keep up with the ever-changing technology of detailing cars. Large, specialized detailing companies, on the other hand, are more likely to keep up with current technological trends.

If your pre-owned director is still walking the lot trying to figure out which cars have been detailed and which ones haven’t, chances are you’re not up to date with tech. New vendors are offering fleet manager software, along with their services, which allows managers to access wash history and reports in real-time right from their desk. Productivity and efficiency relies on tech integration within all departments of the dealership, not only detailing.

2. Lack of Expertise

Another area that detailing at dealerships falls short in is the lack of qualified experts. Proper car detailing is an art and a science, and it requires training and ongoing research of new techniques and equipment. Most dealerships simply don’t have the time to train employees to learn everything that goes into car detailing, whereas a car detailing company’s business depends on it.

Many dealerships forget or ignore important details like having proper employee manuals, policies, uniforms, and meetings when needed. Checklists are essential at the end of every detail, the detailer needs to make sure each task has been completed properly so the car does not come back through for a second detail.

Unqualified employees also lack the sense of time that it takes to perform tasks. For example, an engine cleaning should take about 15–30 minutes, but incompetent employees may not even know how to perform an engine cleaning let alone know that it shouldn’t take more than a half hour.

3. Employee Expenses

It’s no secret that employees are expensive to attain and retract. Labor is the largest expense in a detail shop and dealerships also have to pay additional benefits like insurance and vacation time, making them even more expensive. There are also huge penalties for not having Workers Compensation Insurance at all and sooner or later a dealership paying cash to detailers Will Get Caught. In some states you can be fined up to $25,000 for not having Workers Compensation Insurance and up to $1,000 a day for each day you did not have coverage.

Employees being paid by the hour or on a per car rate for details can also take advantage of the dealerships system. They will take more time than what’s needed to detail a car or service cars on the side with the companies products. By using an outside company, a dealership can completely cut out their employee expenses and not have the headache of auditing performance. A dealership using an outside vendor no longer has to worry about employees committing fraud, stealing products, pocketing cash or causing other problems.

4. Unreliable Employees

Speaking of employees, what happens when a dealership has 20 cars that need detailing and half of the detailing department calls in sick so they can catch the big game? Unreliability of employees is a common problem that dealerships have to deal with when they have their own detailing department. Specialized Detailing vendors will have a number of employees that can cover for each other because their whole company is made up of professional detailers, so a manager is never left with unwashed cars.

Dealerships often times don’t realize that your typical detailer that says they have experience just won’t cut it. Detail technicians that come into a dealership with prior experience are actually harder to train because they come in with their own idea of how to wash a car, which usually doesn’t align with the dealership’s goals. Vendors who treat their clients like a partnership will do everything in their power to make sure they don’t lose the account, which means consistent, quality service and reliability.

5. Inefficiency

Between the dealership’s owner, the general manager, the head of the detailing department, and the detailers, there’s a lot of room for things to fall through the cracks, which can lead to inefficiency and a loss of profits. Without proper communications tools and software, information, invoices, products, and work orders can all go missing.

When working with an outside company that is properly organized, the accountability falls on the vendor instead freeing up dealer manager’s time that can be devoted elsewhere, like closing sales.

6. Messy Workstations

Whether selling new or used cars, it’s important to keep the entire dealership clean so visitors will see the dealership in the best possible light. However, if the messy workstation is visible or there’s dirty water running from the detailing department, it looks bad, and you have to spend more money keeping workstations clean. Proper drainage is a must in order to harmful chemicals away from landscaping and customers.

With water-less car washes, you could completely avoid this problem.

7. Loss of Space

Water Tunnels or permanent buildings not only cost a fortune but take up huge amounts of precious space at dealerships. Cutting back on large equipment can open up the lot for more cars, which means more money.

8. Water Waste

A large amount of water is used during a car detailing, which shoots a dealership’s water bills through the roof. Not only that, but it’s also harmful to the environment to use so much water. Many cities are now charging business owners for water drainage in an effort to limit water usage, and fines for going over can be hefty. Cutting back on water can bring a bill down and help a dealership reduce it’s carbon footprint.

The fastest and easiest way a dealership can save money on water usage is to use an eco-friendly, water-less process that only uses a couple of gallons of water per wash. Water-less technology is at a point where it is widely trusted among dealerships. Speacialized, water-less companies are opening doors for revolution in the whole car washing industry.

9. Damaged Cars

Moving cars around from a wash area to another part of the dealer leaves a dealership open to the everyday risks of driving a car. Even the most experienced detail technicians often end up damaging cars at one point or another. Before you know it your losing money from paying for dents and scratches caused by your own team. Hidden cameras and honest detail technicians with valid licenses are a must.

Inexperienced detail technicians pose a whole new threat of risks and mistakes. They will use hard brushes or steel wool in areas that they shouldn’t causing tiny scratches to show on a car’s paint. Towels are often not washed between cars and can end up putting dirt back onto the car and adding more scratches that will rust over time. If you think your minimum wage paid employees are going to get a new rag after dropping one think again. Small pieces of dirt will be picked up and thrown back onto the car. Another rookie mistake is washing cars in the sun, which will leave the vehicle with swirls and marks due to wax and chemicals drying before being wiped off.

With an outside vendor these risks and costs fall on them instead.

10. Hazardous Chemicals

There are several reasons that hazardous chemicals are problematic for dealerships with their own detailing department. First of all, there’s the concern of storing and properly handling these chemicals to make sure they don’t cause harm to people. Employees also need proper training on where eye wash stations are and where hazardous chemicals are stored. Without signs and employee training programs dealerships can be left liable to large lawsuits if something goes wrong.

Secondly, there’s many chemicals that are used for car washing that can actually damage the surface of cars as they contain acid, and not properly using them will cause the car’s paint to be eaten away at. Once again inexperienced detail technicians could end up using chemicals the wrong way and when mixed with the sun the vehicle’s paint will start to fade.

All in all dealerships need to be aware of the risks, headaches and time that it will take to properly run a profitable in-house detailing department. Many dealerships actually lose money washing cars without even knowing it. Save yourself from the nightmare and just get a reliable vendor.