Dan Plautz has been running Integrity Detail Specialists and delivering quality detailing since 1998. But up until recently, it was a side gig he did alongside a 25-year-long career in IT consulting and executive leadership. About 4 years ago, Dan decided to leave the corporate world behind and go all-in with his detailing business.
When asked about his company, Dan said, “I take the same consultative approach with my detailing customers that I did with my IT clients. I know each customer has specific goals for their car and a specific budget. Understanding my customers’ expectations and desired results for their car helps me deliver high-quality detailing with great customer service.” The consultative selling and customer-first approach is precisely what makes Integrity Detail Specialists stand out from the rest.
Taking a Stand on Quality Detailing
You might expect that Dan services high-end luxury, exotic, and collectors’ cars – which is partly right. He has his fair share of Lamborghinis coming into his shop, but he also works on Subarus and Priuses. “I’m looking for anyone who really cares about their car and values a good detail,” he says.
In Dan’s experience, most people are in the mindset that a detail should cost a flat $100 to $150. But in order to provide the quality detailing he wants, continue to invest in the business and make enough money to be successful, Dan’s prices are often 2 to 3 times higher. It takes sales skills to educate customers that a price tag 2 to 3 times their expectations will be worth the value of their investment. Then it has to be delivered upon.
“Competitive pricing is the key to being successful. Too often detailers sell themselves short. If you have a customer pressuring you to come down on your starting price because they found a place down the street that’s cheaper, let them go down the street. You need to be willing to walk away from business if you want to sell your value.”
Understanding this isn’t always easy to do, as a detailers reputation will grow. Again, it all comes down to educating the customer on the difference between their two options.
Integrity Detail Specialists stands on the quality of their services and a simple slogan: There are no shortcuts when you charge a premium.
Using Mobile Tech RX’s Auto Detailing Software to Set A High Bar
Before he had heard about Mobile Tech RX, Dan had been trying to create his own auto detailing software. He had already created his own pricing structure with an Excel spreadsheet. But walking around with printed paper forms to estimate cars was getting cumbersome.
Dan first heard about Mobile Tech RX through a Mobile Tech Expo event email where he saw Mobile Tech RX’s new auto detailing software featured. Dan was curious to learn more, so he registered for the event and planned to go see the app and meet the Mobile Tech RX team in person. Then he joined the waitlist to get exclusive updates on the new technology and be among the first to try it out when it launched in March.
Dan says that the Mobile Tech RX auto detailing software turns his professionalism up another notch and validates his pricing. Now he can walk around a car with the customer and show them in real-time what each type of service will cost.
“If you consider every factor as you create an estimate, the Mobile Tech RX detailing app can spit out a shockingly high number. I want to shock my customers a little bit. If I have an estimate that comes out to $900, they know that I’m doing so much more than a car wash and a vacuum. They don’t have to get everything on the list, but having a variable-based estimate helps me set a high bar.”
Building the Right Business Model
Dan has been careful since his early days to build the right business model that works for him and his goals. He knew from the beginning that he didn’t want to work on 3-4 cars a day and charge $100 per car.
To start, he sat down to think through his personal expenses and his business expenses. He thought about what he could reasonably charge and how many cars he would need to service in a month. Instead of charging $100 per car, he started at about $350 per car. He works on about 2-4 cars in a week or 1-2 per day in the summer months. He also wants to make sure his hourly rate stays within his comfort levels. In his opinion, $70-75/hour and maybe even $100/hour has been a good standard to set.
To say Dan has crushed his goals would be an understatement. Between Year 2 and Year 3, Dan doubled his revenue growth and was 3x his profit from the year before. His revenue from the first quarter of 2020 doubled that of 2019. He even exceeded his 5-year stretch goal at the end of year 3.
In year 4 and year 5, he wants to better understand his business, what the trends are pointing to, and where he can go from here. One big question he wants to answer soon is, Do I want to work or run the business?
3 Tips for Detailers
We asked Dan for some advice to share, based on things he’s learned over the past few years running Integrity Detail Specialists. Here are some of his tips:
- Be an expert on detailing and business. You can’t just be a great technical detailer and be successful. Be dedicated to learning how to run a business; make a plan and set goals.
- This is not a transaction-based business. It’s about trust. Smile, shake hands, and introduce yourself. People love their cars, so make them comfortable leaving them with you. Show your customers that you’re the guy they want working on their cars.
- Good communication is essential to proving your value. As a detailer, you are the one who is educated in the craft. You need to educate your customers and communicate the value you provide to them.