Mobile Detailing and Shop Detailing

TWO MAIN TYPES OF PROFESSIONAL DETAILING

There are many differences between mobile detailing and shop detailing. There are not many differences in the results you get by having your car professionally detailed in a shop or having your car detailed by a professional mobile detailing service. Although most of my experience is with mobile detailing. I do have some experience with detailing in a shop. There are definite pros and cons to each one but most of those fall onto the detailers themselves. Not the actual people getting their vehicles detailed.

You would never be able to tell which vehicle was detailed in a professional shop and which one was done by a professional mobile detail service.Depending on the lighting in a shop, it can help with paint correction but can still be successfully done outside by someone with the proper skills and a trained eye. The same goes for the interior. The sun light outside can help you see things easier than a lot of shop lighting. There will be differences on how certain things get done but can both produce amazing results. Everything that is done in a shop can be done in a mobile detail service.

I will try to explain the best I can the different detailing experiences and how they vary with mobile detailing and shop detailing. Although I prefer mobile detailing, shop detailing has its advantages, one being heating and air conditioning. One of the biggest advantages that comes with mobile detailing is convenience to the customer.

Having had experience in mobile detailing and shop detailing, I’m going to do my best to help you understand the difference between the two. To do this I’m going to give you a normal day in the life of a detailer doing each one. You may be expressing that that sounds like an odd idea but inwardly, I know you’re looking forward to it.

 

SHOP DETAILING

Shop Detailing

As a shop detailer, getting to the shop in the mornings can be nice because you don’t have anywhere else to go. Most of the time you will be able to get started right away. With my experience it takes minimal preparation to start working in a shop.

Some shops will have inside wash bays and sometimes you will wash them outside and then move them inside after. My daily goal was usually trying to get one car done per day. I realize that many shops will not do full details on every car and services will vary.

A little bit about my shop detailing experience; it was a high-end used car dealership, I did full details on every single car including engines, paint correction, full interior details, headlight restoration (if needed), and rims and tires. I don’t want to spend much more time on the detailing process at a shop but more the daily routine.

When I would begin my day, I would pull the car into the wash bay and take out the floor mats and prepare them to be pressure washed. I would also pop the hood and spray degreaser on the engine (with the engine still running), and wash the car and deep clean the tires and rims, etc. After all said things are washed and clean on the exterior I would pull the car into the shop. Depending on my mood of that day I would either do paint correction first or detail the inside of the car.

In a shop it was a huge plus to have all of the chemicals and equipment organized and easily on hand when needed. The car was always in the same spot and the detailing “stuff” was right there. It made it easy to have a routine and almost identical process for each car.

One big thing that sets shop detailing apart from mobile detailing is putting all the transportation on the customers, with the option of leaving the vehicle overnight, which has some advantages. One of which include is there is no rush to get finished in a given amount of time. If any carpet needs to dry, it can be left overnight. It will give that carpet a good amount of time to dry and go untouched. Depending on when the customer will be picking the car up, the morning time is a good time to double check and do any final touches on the vehicle before starting on the next vehicle.

 

MOBILE DETAILING

Mobile Detailing

Mobile detailing, on the other hand, eliminates being able to start right away like shop detailing. After checking the van and making sure you have everything you need for that day, you will get headed to your first job and have some travel time before arriving to the job. Once at the job site, you’ll have to figure out where to pull up next to what your working on and that will vary greatly from place to place. Even though you have everything you need in the van and you have a process, you have to adapt according to each location.

Mobile detailing opens up many doors for you as far as the size goes for whatever you will be working on. People who have boats or RVs, in most cases, will not be able to bring them to a detail shop, let alone leave them for overnight services.

Convenience to the customer will be a big business boost for the mobile detailer and a huge plus for any customer who has a busy schedule. A couple big issues with mobile detailing will be traffic between appointments and weather conditions. Weather will always be a determining factor on how much you can do on any particular job and how many jobs you can do in a day. Sometimes the weather will not permit an exterior detail job to take place if its raining or too windy and dusty. At times mobile operations can work in a customers garage to avoid inclement weather but that also depends on the size of the garage and what a particular job entails.

Now before I mentioned that when I detailed at a shop I typically did a car a day at the the dealership. Mobile detailing will most typically offer a wide range of services and a wide range of different vehicles. Some services will be small and take little time and some will be bigger and take much more time, but this wholly depends on the operation and what types of services are offered.

Scheduling for mobile detailing can be a little more tricky when you have customers in different areas and wanting various types of detailing services. The best way to do it is to have areas designated for different days so you’re not driving in all different directions in day trying to get to all your jobs. The amount of jobs per day could be anywhere between 1 to 5. With mobile detailing, a lot of jobs that are done won’t be full details. You may have a full interior detail at one place, an exterior wash and wax at another, and an RV wash at another. The day to day will be different scenery which, for me, was one of my favorite things about mobile detailing.

So even with all the variables that can come your way with mobile detailing, the days still  might be a little more enjoyable. You will also have added benefits such as more face to face customer contact and getting to know them on a more personal level. You also get to learn the areas where you work and get to have some pretty sweet views some days.

Hope this helps you understand a little more about mobile detailing and shop detailing and the benefits and some cons of each one. Those things might be done differently in a shop that you’d see from mobile detailing but both can produce the same results. Ultimately, a good detail company will have ways to accomplish things and to provide the customer with an exceptional experience, which is what we always strive to do at Onsite Detail.

by Andy Stallings, Operations Manager, Onsite Detail

2 replies
  1. Joseph M. Morris
    Joseph M. Morris says:

    I was always under the impression that detailing in a shop was of a higher quality but I never really thought about all the different circumstances and conditions that might affect both kinds. I have seen some super high quality mobile operations, like yours, vs some cheapo, fly by night guys. But I’ve also seen this with shops as well. I think people just need to look at the differences in the businesses and if they are truly qualified and professional and not be so concerned about mobile or shop.

    Reply

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