Four images of SMART repair areas - PDR, chip repair, wheel repair, and paint touch-up

S.M.A.R.T. Repair in the USA

The term “SMART Repair” has become a popular way of representing the mobile repair industry in the UK and is slowly catching on here in the United States. SMART repair – Small to Medium Area Repair Technique – offers services like wheel repair, bumper repair, paint correction, glass repair, and paintless dent repair (PDR) companies we increasingly see across America. An assortment of cosmetic, cost-effective and quick repair techniques, SMART repair offers U.S. mobile repair and fixed operations a way of offering more services for more revenue, and more inexpensively than conventional collision repair shops.

Starting out in the SMART repair business can be tough. There are many obstacles to cross in building your independent mobile repair company. SMART repair professionals often face common issues such as:

  • Records and Customer Management
  • Creating Inspections
  • Parts and Labor Times
  • Estimate Approvals
  • Monitoring/Managing Employees
  • Customer Pricing and Commissions
  • Invoice Accuracy
  • Accounting

A good resource for SMART practitioners can be found here.

AMT is here to provide help, too. ReconPro™ helps the mobile repair professional get organized and get busy. It’s a software ideal for managing client paperwork, billing, estimates, and tasks. Perform inspections tied to VIN or Stock Number, and add notes and photographs to create a complete estimate to submit to the customer via email or printed form. You can receive work approvals electronically through quick link or direct signature right on your device. Approved estimates become work orders, and the app creates and sends your invoice when work is completed. As your business grows, the software will help you manage multiple technicians and teams, regardless of geography. ReconPro helps manage workflows and back-office tasks to give you more time to spend with clients and vehicle repairs, and offers a full suite of productivity options, including commission calculations, service requests and dispatch, time and attendance management, role-based access, customer-specific pricing and much much more.. 

ReconPro is available for iOS or Android devices, and completely self-contained, meaning you can take it anywhere and complete your work without needing to connect to Wi-Fi. When you do connect, all your work is synched to your back office for complete record-keeping and secure access from any computer. Are you an auto industry professional looking to break or expand into the SMART repair scene? Does your current SMART repair business need the extra assistance? AMT has the solutions and we’d love to help you. Reach out to us today!

Car detail cleaning

7 Things No One Tells You About Starting A Car Detailing Business

From Detail King CEO Nick Vacco

For anyone looking to start a car detailing business, it has the possibility of being an extremely lucrative venture full of exciting opportunities and endless room for growth. Detailers are in high demand and dealerships struggle to find and keep detail staff and vendors. Unlike other specialized fields in car repair, such as SMART and PDR, car detailing doesn’t require extensive training or even a significant investment to make it happen. Blazing new paths is what business is all about, however, listening to the experts can sometimes get you where you want to be much faster than if you figured it out on your own.

Nick Vacco started his mobile detailing business over 30 years ago from the trunk of his car while he was still in school. Today, Detail King is a two-building, 9500 square foot space that is “regarded as the premier leader in the auto detailing industry for supplies, equipment, training, and customer support.” 

Here are 7 of his expert tips you need to know before starting your own detailing business: 

  1. Get the right training: Unlike other fields in car repair, detailing doesn’t require a certification or degree before you can begin. However, you do need to get the proper training to know how to perform the services offered at detailing businesses. According to Nick, “if you’re working on somebody’s vehicle, especially with today’s new cars costing around $40,000, you have to know how to perform the various detailing and protective services.” You want to be educated on the business side of the industry, so you’re always up-to-date on anything that’s happening and new methods.
     
  2. Get Experience: What better way to become skilled in car detailing than on the job experience? Depending on where you train, most courses at training institutes will have you learn different methods of detailing and cleaning. Then, you have to practice these skills repeatedly, so you might want to consider working at a detailing business to gain experience. You’ll improve your abilities and can see first hand how a detailing business is run. That way, you’ll know what you would do similar or different when opening your own. 
     
  3. Start…but only when you’re ready: You never want to rush into working on cars until you’ve received the proper training and have the right experience. This business doesn’t require you to dive right in until you’re ready. Many times, you can build up a strong reputation with the services you offer and even have a customer base while working for other businesses before you even open up the doors of your own. Once you establish that, this would be the perfect time to start your own business since you’ve created a reputation backing up your work.
     
  4. Get licensed: Forming an LLC or another type of corporation isn’t just to legitimize your business. It’s also to protect you if you have any personal assets. You never know what might happen, so it’s better to be prepared than to have to deal with something that could have been avoided in the future. 
     
  5. Invest in what you need: Whether you plan to start off as a mobile business or at a location, you’ll need to invest up to $10,000 in the necessary equipment. Some of these basic necessities would be towels, hot water extractors, pressure washer, buckets, buffers, and sponges. 
     
  6. Create a marketing plan: Nick Vacco stated, “you should consider every vehicle on the road as a potential customer.” This is where having a good marketing plan comes in, which is pretty much essential for running any business. A marketing plan will help you narrow your focus on what you want to do, who you want to reach, and answer any potential questions customers might have. If you haven’t already, create a good-looking website detailing your services and contact information. Engage with customers on social media, which can be another great platform advertising your services and showcasing previous work. 
     
  7. Never stop learning: You never want to give your competition any reason why they should be ahead of you. This is why it’s critical any time a new method or service comes out, you (and your team) get the necessary training to offer the latest services. Just think of the amount of profit you can generate simply by offering something your competition doesn’t. 

There’s no secret ingredient for running a successful car detailing business, other than having the proper preparation. Be sure to follow the above steps that will guarantee business longevity. Otherwise, you may not get the results you want, and you’ll be struggling to figure out your next steps. And when you’ve got your business up and running, consider using software like AMT’s ReconPro to help keep you organized and professional. The car detailing world offers so much creativity and growth potential, so why not see what can happen when you open your own detailing business? 

Credentials

What is Your Strongest Credential?

The dictionary defines a credential as, “anything that provides the basis for confidence, belief, credit, etc.”  In business, we use credentials as a shortcut in persuading customers or partners to trust us enough to do business with us. The credentials, “MD”, “PhD”, and “JD” convey that the holders have mastered the knowledge required to obtain them, and that alone can give a client confidence in their abilities. Technical certifications, diplomas, testimonials, accolades, licenses and franchises are also in this broad category of credentials.

Whether you have letters following your name or not, everyone has credentials. What are the ones you choose to share in your business? In other words, what qualification, achievement, personal quality, or aspect of your background do you use to indicate that you are suitable for business?

A credential, plain and simple, promotes trust and confidence. It can be anything. For detailers or cosmetic repair technicians, their best credential could be before and after photos of their work, a mechanic may have ASE certification or OEM endorsements. Dealers have their own designations, like 20-group or association membership. Your years in business alone is as valid a credential as any to elicit confidence and overcome doubt. 

Think about your other credentials, too. When I was shopping for a car, I noticed the salesman had pictures of his wife and 3 children on his desk. He didn’t remark about the photo, and neither did I, but when he described the safety features of the car I was considering, knowing that he had children made him more credible to me when discussing safety. For all I know, it might have been a stock photo that came with the frame, but in that moment, it was his credential – the connection point that told me he was believable.

We all have a drawer full of credentials that we might share. Climbed a mountain? You have fortitude and determination, Single parent? You’ve got organizational and time management skills. Backstage pass? You know somebody. Fly fisher? You have patience and value detail. Played sports in school? You understand the value of teamwork and shared goals. The list is as endless as our life experiences.

So when you are trying to persuade a customer or partner, reach deep into your drawer and find the right credentials for the occasion. Find the thing of yours that connects you to the other’s needs, and gives them the confidence to say yes. 


Want to learn more about AMT’s credentials? Click here.

Detail microfiber wipe

5 ways To Grow A Mobile Detailing Business From Scratch

If you have the entrepreneurial spirit and are good at detailing cars, becoming your own boss may be easier than you think. The one thing that all businesses need to survive and grow is sales, and we’re going to cover five ways to find a new business when you are just starting. Surprisingly it is hard for some auto businesses to find and retain detailers. Body shops and dealerships seem like they always have an ad out for a detailer, and this is where you can start.

  • Auto Body Shops- Auto Body shops are busiest on Mondays when they take cars in and Fridays when most people pick up their vehicles. Even if a shop already has a detailer, it’s typically just one guy, and a good shop can fix 12-15 cars a week. If you have a mobile detailing shop and can get to your customers onsite, chances are you could probably pick up a couple of jobs a week just by demonstrating some reliability. Auto Body shop detailers are the most entry-level position, and as a result, they are some of the most unreliable employees at a shop. But the cars must be detailed before they are delivered so an excellent strong business acumen, skill, and reliability could probably land you some new customers very quickly, especially if their detailer calls out.
  • Dealerships- Just like auto body shops, dealerships are always struggling to keep detailers. The beautiful thing about dealers is the cars need to be clean to sell, and they sit out all day long and get dirty. It is a great way to get some early work for your detailing company if you can be a mobile detailer, especially after major weather events such as heavy snow, or a particularly rainy week.
  • Fleet owners- This may take a little more salesmanship on your part, but anybody that has a large fleet of vehicles has a lot of business, which also means that they know how to market themselves. Think of your local HAVC guy or plumbing company where you see their trucks all the time. Offer to come in when the trucks are off the road for the day and get them cleaned up by the next time they go out. The pitch here is reminding the fleet owner that their image is what got them there, and a clean vehicle sells more than a filthy one.
  • Large Office Complexes- Every town has an industrial complex with multiple businesses with tons of employees. Surprisingly not many people come through these complexes offering their services. You may run into some non-solicitation issues. Step one would be to try and approach the office manager or receptionist and offer a group rate just for that business. The second option would be the old-fashioned flyer under the windshield wiper. The trick is to get the first couple of jobs in that office complex. Use your network to try and get a couple of jobs even if you have to give one away. Once employees see you out there cleaning co-workers’ cars while they are working, word will spread fast.
  • Amazon Last Mile Depots- This one will be the hardest for you to get into, but once you do, it will be the most lucrative. In every major city, there is an Amazon last-mile depot. This is where packages get sorted and delivered to individual locations. These are typically called DPX’s. Each depot has multiple fleet owners inside some having anywhere from 5-20 sprinter style vans in their fleet. The key is getting to one of these owners, and identifying them is as simple as asking your next delivery guy for the name of the company they work for and who to contact and at what number. The guy delivering your package in that grey Amazon truck does not work for Amazon; they work for a Logistics company that Amazon has a contract with. Get in with that one fleet owner, and you have access to dozens of more owners just like him. Also, Amazon trucks are typically parked overnight in a leased parking lot. With a mobile detail business, you could have more vehicles than you can handle if you do a little hustling. The key is to get them clean before they head out for the next day. 

So there you go, five ways to get started in your mobile detailing business. And once you get up and running, be sure to check out AMT’s suite of customer management products to virtually eliminate all the annoying back-office work that you will need to do to get paid on time.

Small calculator

5 Things You Didn’t Know You Could Deduct For Running A Detailing Business In 2020

Running an auto detailing business can be an extremely profitable venture. What if you found out there were different things you could deduct, running a detailing business, that would save you money in the long run?

Turbo vehicle

Detailing the Batmobile

The most important car you work on is the one ahead of you. Treat it like it’s special. It is!

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