Machine polishing a car: a therapeutic hobby for some, but a crucial source of income for others. This month’s blog goes out to all the hard working detailers and car care professionals out there because times are TOUGH right now, and we feel it too.
Machine polishing cars takes time, along with associated fixed and variable expenses such as materials and utility bills. The problem is that most detailers – myself included – have an innate desire to create a perfect finish, which is hard to satisfy quickly. When machine polishing a car, we want to remove every defect possible and go through as many stages as it takes to achieve an ever more perfect gloss – but (frustratingly) often we can’t. There isn’t enough time, because there isn’t enough money. And there isn’t enough money, because a) your costs are rising and b) your clients’ disposable income is being eroded, both thanks to inflation. So what can we do?
Efficiency is the key. Most detailers already offer paint correction packages promising different levels of results at different price points, so there is a consensus among detailers and clients alike that ‘a compromise’ of some kind has to be acceptable. But what if, instead of taking two or more machine polishing stages, you could save a lot of time and achieve 90% of the correction and 90% of the final gloss all in one go? If you can achieve results so similar to a two or three stage correction in just one single stage that the difference is barely noticeable, what are the implications?
To me, that smells like opportunity. I think there are cost-conscious clients who would pay for that, and business-minded detailers who can identify the marginal gains.
Let me first make one thing clear: a single-stage paint correction cannot be equal to a multi-stage correction. This is because of the mechanics involved. A one-step polishing pad must have enough abrasive cut to remove minor swirls and surface defects, but that’s the exact same reason it will not be able to hit the ultimate levels of final gloss that a dedicated finishing pad could achieve. Pad material trades off between its cutting power, and ultimate gloss performance.
Lake Country Manufacturing One-Step Microfiber Pads
Step forward: the newly-revised Lake Country Manufacturing One-Step Microfiber pad!
As we all have to adapt to the changes in our industry, the One-Step Microfiber pad (the ‘OSP’) is a response that gives detailers an option. Developed using the very latest microfiber technology, the OSP is a machine polishing pad designed with an extreme breadth of capabilities – able to cut out minor swirls and scratches, and also finish down to a beautiful consistent gloss, all in one step. But how?
The magic comes from the combination of materials and the construction. In our testing facility, we put dozens of microfiber and foam combinations through their paces to try and come up with a pad that suits the needs of the day. Naturally the properties of the microfiber itself have a big impact on how well the pad performs; we wanted a microfiber that cuts well and leaves minimal haze, but also one that is less prone to clogging, easy to maintain and durable. The length, density and other properties of microfiber strands all contribute to the pad’s performance on a polisher, and help to define its place in the detailing studio. Alongside these tests we mounted a range of microfibers to different foam backings, since the foam density and shape also affect how the pad performs, as well as its ‘feel’.
The result is the new Lake Country One-Step Microfiber pad: a machine polishing pad with the potential to open avenues to new, or renewed, business. Where most one-step pad solutions tend to offer ‘good cut / not so good refinement’ or vice versa, here is an alternative that can truly cover both of those bases and which detailers can take advantage of to offer a higher-quality package at a lower price point – saving money in the process.
Sure, there will always be some high rollers who will continue to spend top dollar for your ultimate services. As I wrote earlier, you would be able to reach higher levels of perfection using dedicated cutting and finishing pads, and if you have the clients and they are happy to pay for your extra time and expense then that is all fantastic!
But, for many detailing businesses in the real world, those clients account for quite a small portion of the overall customer base. If most of your work comes from 2-5 year old upper/mid range sedans and sports cars – many of those clients are feeling the pinch, let me tell you. And what I’m hearing frequently is they are:
- Planning on keeping their current car for longer, and so want it ‘refreshed’ but at a reasonable price point, or
- Looking to sell (or return) what was until recently an affordable luxury item, and need it inexpensively polished in order to maximise the sale or trade-in value
With that in mind and the OSP pad ready to go, even if you already have a one-step package on offer, this is an opportunity to drive home a premium / higher value-for-money service at a more comfortable price point. Sitting somewhere between a ‘full correction’ and an ‘enhancement’ you’ve got a new service to promote, quicker to execute, cheaper to produce, and which perhaps gives you another reason to contact your client base and re-engage. Why not?
As we all face the challenges of the global economic maelstrom together, here’s hoping we can help tip the odds back in your favour, even if only in a small way.
Until next time,
Jay @ LC UK