The Detailing Industry Sucks – 5 Reasons

5 Reasons the Car Detailing Industry Sucks

After graduation, I went to work in a fancy suit at Mercedes Benz Canada and J.D. Power & Associates. To be honest I hated corporate life but I have learned many things.

The car detailing industry is largely blue-collar. That means a lot of mom/pop shops and independent contractors. They’re “just okay” small businesses.

But how can we make this industry better? Just like Starbucks is to coffee and TD Canada Trust is to banking. How can we deliver awesome customer experiences that our customers swear by?

We all love a great customer experience right? The premium paid becomes immaterial. In fact, for a business, it doesn’t even cost much more to deliver A+ customer service. All it takes is a different business philosophy.

Here are 5 ways that the current detailing industry sucks:

1. No availability

That’s like going into Starbucks and being told that the coffee’s sold out.

The truth is that most small businesses are not set up for large volume. And the detailing industry consists of exactly that: small businesses. A detailing business usually starts with an individual person who loves cars and decides to open up a shop without any plan for sustainability and competitive advantage.

The result of the small business mentality is that they usually end up with a limited servicing capacity. That means they sometimes hesitate to take you as a customer.

You can hear it in their voice. They don’t have a decision system set up to decide with confidence whether or not they can serve you. Sometimes they refuse your business even when it could’ve been a win-win situation with a little coordination. Other times, they take your business only to do a half-assed job because they overestimated their capacity.

It’s like a barber or hairdresser. You don’t want them cutting 2 people’s hair at the same time.

When you engage with a business, you expect consistent results. More often than not, detailing shops and services are still operating as “the car wash guy” and not the company that you can trust.

We here at iDetail do not always have immediate availability.

What we do have is an appointment booking system. Your appointment reservation is 100% guaranteed so at least you know exactly when the service will be performed.


2) Cheap supplies and equipment

Detailing is a luxury service often costing the customer several hundred dollars.

As a professional detailing specialist, we should never be concerned about going the extra mile to clean your car to perfection. That’s our only job, is it not? How about when it comes to equipment? Some detailers still use a Home Depot vacuum that they got out of their mom’s garage.

So why do detailing businesses use cheap supplies and equipment? Please do correct me if I’m wrong. Send an email to

The first being business mentality.

Some people just don’t see the value in quality. They live their lives always wanting the “cheapest” option. Instead of buying the cheap equipment and supplies, a smart worker will always look for the best return on investment. Instead of purchasing a $60 vacuum from Home Depot, it may be a better choice to purchase a commercial grade vacuum that will always work at the job site and handle many years of hard work.

On the contrary, when cheap equipment fails, how embarrassing is that as a professional?

The second one may be lack of initial capital.

The reality is that the rich get richer and that’s okay. That’s part of capitalism. You use capital (ie. money, equipment, education) to make the world a better place.

Cleaning a car is not exactly rocket science and it seems that a young entrepreneur can just go down the road and get to work.

This is true at the beginning, however, when the customer base begins to grow, the business falls apart. That could mean that one of your employees get injured or sick and you don’t have WSIB insurance. It could also mean your website crashes because you didn’t invest in security and quality web hosting.

Whatever the reason, both the service provider and customer need to invest in order to have great long-term results. 

3) Late appointments and No-Shows

Maybe one day I’ll do some research on why it’s just so bloody annoying when things are late. Is it because we’ve all become so busy? Or are we all super impatient? Why does waiting in line at Tim Hortons so annoying that you’d rather go to Starbuck?

Long story short, showing up late is super annoying. If you’re a customer who’s really busy and expect to pay for turnkey solutions, watch out for companies who have little sense of time or lack of communication.

Most of our customers at iDetail are successful professionals and busy families. You manage your time, your employees, and your company.

Watch out for average-joe servicemen who don’t respect your organized schedule. 

4) No Guarantee

On Christmas Eve, I remember going through our CRM software and looking at thousands of transactions. We’ve actually had to refund 6 out of 1200 customers since we started the business. That’s a refund rate of 0.5% which translates to just over $1,440 in losses.

To be frank, we don’t want that money. We want people to be happy. That includes our customers, suppliers, employees, investors, parents, and wives.

Having a 100% satisfaction guarantee here gives you a peace of mind and lets us sleep well knowing that we are doing the right thing.

Pinching pennies has never produced a great relationship.


toronto car detailing 2

5) Sub-par detailing job

This one is kind of a bummer. It’s the difference between an amateur and a professional.

Anybody can clean a car but not everybody can clean one to perfection. In fact, if you read reviews of some companies which poor management, you’ll find that a common complaint is that the customer’s car actually got damaged.

We do apologize on behalf of the mobile detailing industry that there are companies out there who have no pride in workmanship.

Let us assure you that all of our detailers are professionally trained and experienced. They also work for a company that is a 100% satisfaction or your money back guarantee. On top of that, we’re also covered by a $1M insurance policy.

An ending story comes to mind. One of our detailer Alan had to drive almost 3 hours in rush hour traffic from Toronto to Burlington to just clean up a cup holder (back of the minivan) that he missed.

Was it worth the effort?

You bet it was. It showed the customer that we stick to our 100% satisfaction guarantee.

As the CEO of this company, I need to keep my word to my staff.

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