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A Certified Detailer is the Difference Between a Service Department and a Superior, Profitable Service Drive

Car dealerships know every new car has a rough journey reaching their dealership. Cars and trucks never arrive in perfect condition.   

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In the past 20 years, robotic painters at the manufacturer leave uneven spots in the paint that can be easily seen in the sunlight. They are loaded onto a freight train and deposited at a waystation where they sit for months at a time exposed to dirt and dust, industrial fallout and the climate.  

They are loaded onto car carrier trailers and transported to your dealership where they are exposed to road debris; and once they arrive, they have been manhandled by service technicians, sales representatives and dozens of potential buyers before the new owner takes possession of the keys. 

The service department at any car dealership is one of the most important assets you have. They must be top-notch, experienced, friendly and knowledgeable, and because quality customer service is as important to your dealership’s reputation as the brand you carry, you would never staff it with people who don’t know a carburetor from a radiator or how to change the oil and properly rotate the tires. 

While the new owner is going through the paperwork, most dealerships give the vehicle a good wash and dry to remove water spots and streaks, and they vacuum the interior and dust down the hard surfaces. 

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But who is that technician whose job it is to prep a new car for delivery? Are they an intern learning the ropes — after all, anyone can wash a car, right?  

Unfortunately, no.  

When it comes to washing a vehicle and shining her up for the new customer, don’t you want someone who sees those patches of uneven paint and not only takes the time to fix it, but who knows how to fix it correctly? 

Don’t you want a professional who recognizes embedded environmental contaminants and knows it will take a clay bar treatment to properly remove them? 

Don’t you want a professional who is horrified by those rough etches in the clear coat caused by bird droppings sitting on the paint surface, and who knows they won’t just wash off; who knows they have to be meticulously removed so as not to get down into the paint itself? 

Don’t you want someone who sees those swirls and holograms in the paint and who knows what kind of buffing technique, product and equipment to use to safely remove them before your new car customer notices them? 

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And sometimes it is not just the knowledge — it is the attitude.  

A professional detailer, certified by the International Detailing Association, will not only know what to do, but they will be itching to fix it! It isn’t in a professional detailer’s DNA to look at flawed car paint and say, “Que sera sera.” 

All businesses try to keep labor costs low when they can, but if a car owner brings that vehicle back in a couple of days because in their enthusiasm for a shiny new vehicle, they happened to notice some flaws they didn’t see on the car lot — will you have a professional on staff who can fix it? And if not, wouldn’t you have benefited from having someone on staff who could have caught it before the customer had to bring it back? 

Now how much is it going to cost to get it fixed, and do you have a trusted certified detailer whom you can call? 

And it does not just apply to new cars! Most dealerships have a thriving previously owned vehicle market as well. An aging or used vehicle that has been traded in will fetch you a lot more money if it is first fully detailed inside and out, and perhaps even paint corrected, than a car that has been given a half-hearted wash and dry and slapped with a 90-day wax!   

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As the price of automobiles has risen, people are financing them longer and keeping them longer. This longevity requires a higher level of care to protect what has become an investment and not just a commodity.  

As a certified automotive detailer of over 30 years, I have seen a lot of damage to car paint. Sometimes it is caused by robotic painters; sometimes it is the result of the harsh coastal Carolina environment with its sand, salt, relentless sunshine, wind and migratory birds. Sometimes it is caused by inclement weather like hail and hurricanes; and sometimes it is simple neglect. But by far, the most damage I see comes as a result of a customer using a non-certified detailer. And most of the time, they have made the problem worse because there is nothing more dangerous to car paint than an overly zealous, untrained car technician wielding a too-hot buffer! 

The IDA not only offers detailing education on the latest techniques and products to its members, but certifies a detailer in the overall knowledge about detailing a vehicle, the products, best practices and methods and even equipment skills. They also offer a Skills Validated advanced certification that requires on-the-spot, live-in-the-field demonstration in which the detailer is challenged on their knowledge of what chemicals/equipment to use when, in what order, and how to fix problems on the fly. In other words, they must be able to think on their feet and fix unexpected paint flaws and damage under the sharp eye of an IDA Recognized Trainer, who will fail them if they don’t meet industry standards and best practices. 

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IDA members are held to high ethical standards, and car owners can be assured that IDA Certified Detailers are tested and certified according to strict industry standards determined by leading industry professionals. The IDA is also active in helping car owners understand the value in professional detailing services, and they make it easy for customers to contact an IDA member. 

If a customer knows your dealership has an IDA Certified Detailer on staff or on call, that is an added mark of excellence.  

Sometimes, something that appears to be as insignificant as washing a car is really the thing that sets you apart from other dealerships. It is the difference in good customer service and superior customer service; the difference in guaranteeing luxury service and simply offering luxury service!

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