Insurance and Environment and Technology

J&J Detailing and More Inc.: More to detailing firm than a buff and grime J&J prides itself on experienced staff, exemplary service

January 9, 2006

J&J prides itself on experienced staff, exemplary service

Two Southport High School chums were talking one day about how much people were willing to pay for clean cars at the good detailing shops.

"We both had some ideas about how it would work. We went home, made some notes and realized we could do this ourselves," said John Boyce, 45, co-owner of J&J Detailing and More Inc., founded three years ago. The other J is Jeff Hord.

The two had complementary skills. Hord, 45, who attended Wabash College, was already working in the auto-detailing business. Boyce, a University of Evansville graduate, had experience in national sales management.

Like many other small-business owners, the men did not have a business plan, but "we came up with the idea, what we'd do and what we'd charge. It wasn't until a couple of weeks later when we did a cost analysis" that they saw the cash needs were greater than the income, Boyce said.

The men realized they would have to borrow money or put up their own cash to buy supplies and pay their employees. They opted for their own cash and began cleaning vehicles from dealerships and individuals, including muscle cars and restored classics.

"It was a struggle with a lot of cold calling" on auto dealerships, Boyce said.

The goal was finding five new dealerships a year to get to 75 to 100 cars per month. Now, about 97 percent of the business comes from dealerships, with the remaining coming from individuals. Detailing costs range from $150 to $700 or more, depending on the condition of the vehicle.

The company operates in 7,000 square feet of office and garage space in an industrial park on Brookside Road, but it might not be there for long.

"We're trying to move into a freestanding building with more curb appeal," Boyce said.

Their biggest problem has been finding experienced detailers. People who work in car washes think they are auto detailers, but they aren't, Boyce said. "We don't hire anyone without experience."

Before each vehicle is returned to the customer, it is inspected for quality control, something that has earned J&J Detailing high marks.

George Herrel, used car manager at Westgate Chrysler in Plainfield, said he appreciates Boyce's "dedication to customer service. If he sees anything that needs addressing, he responds in a timely and professional manner."

J&J Detailing's turnaround also is key to good service, Herrel said. Dealers don't want cars off the lot and unavailable for sale for long periods. The dealership uses two or three detailers because the volume of cars is greater than any one can handle, Herrel said.

"They are the best in town," said Chuck Gatti, senior sales consultant at Tom Wood Porsche and Audi near 96th Street and Keystone Avenue. The dealership has been using J&J Detailing for about three years and "I've never had to return a car to re-clean."

Gatti, who has been in the auto sales business 33 years, said he likes that J&J Detailing has experienced detailers and that the drivers are careful. "Nobody hot rods" the cars, some of which are valued at $100,000 or more, he said.

"I've referred all of my personal friends" to J&J, he said, including one who had a gallon of paint spill in a car. "They got it right away and saved the carpeting," Gatti said.

Such demands mean J&J needs to be on top of the newest and best technology and procedures when it comes to stain removal, engine cleaning, window tinting and other services, Boyce said. The owners and staff regularly attend training sessions about new products and procedures.

"It's not as easy as it looks," Boyce said of auto detailing. It demands knowledge of chemicals, insurance and environmental concerns. In the Indianapolis area, there are about 80 auto detailers, many of them mom and pops.

"It's been a crash course, but now other detailers are calling us," Boyce said.


J&J Detailing co-owner John Boyce wipes down the interior of a vehicle his firm was servicing; the company gets most of its business from auto dealerships.
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