Advice on how to grow a mobile detailing franchise

I was lucky recently to get a chance to take part in a podcast interview run by a fellow detailer in Texas, Patrick, who runs a Mobile Detailing business. In our long conversation, we covered a lot of topics and dug deep not just into detailing as a business, but also franchising and how one can get started and thrive in this challenging arena. Patrick also was curious about how I came to build and expand Wings Mobile Detailing into the successful franchised model that it is today.


Below is a summary of Andre Mezalira, owner at Wings Mobile detailing's main talking points:


What does a person have to do to put their business in a position to franchise it?


It’s true that there aren’t many big companies out there in the detailing sector. Most people get into detailing as a side job, and that’s why there’s a lack of real growing brands in detailing. Those who are looking to work for one tend to find that they are lacking in options, and thus may start a smaller operation of their own. Those who are determined to join an established brand really have to do their homework and make sure they get in a great franchise opportunity and not just one that sucks!

The first thing to remember is not to fall into a trap of overly rapid expansion. When you grow too fast, you’ll find yourself unable to manage all the many tasks that call on your time such as marketing, customer service, as well as your core detailing services. As they grow, they may hire talent to help manage it, but without having taken the time to establish proper detailed standards and understanding of how the mechanics of their business work, they still run into trouble.

My advice to those wanting to build their franchise business is to first learn everything you can about what you’re doing. You’ll only succeed in franchising if you personally know how every aspect of your business works.

Next, take growth one step at a time, and don’t hire someone to do a task until you know all about how to do it yourself. And as you hire, you must remember to train up every new team member, detailers. Your goal is to have team members on board who can train other new incoming team members because after all, if you are franchising with a great company like Wings Mobile Detailing, you most likely already have clients on your calendar!




Being systematic is important in a successful business, and a big part of that is having measurable goals. What made you decide to turn Wings Mobile Detailing into a more systemized franchise model?


I’ve always wanted to grow a large business. Ironically, I didn’t get into detailing through some major love or passion for cars. Cars are fine, sure, but what I’m really passionate about is this style of business: starting small, and expanding and expanding into something larger and more meaningful. Detailing is a business in which you can do this. You start from perhaps a single customer, and step by step, brick by brick, you build something amazing.

As for franchising, for me it seemed a good model for expansion that would allow me to use my approach of steady, careful building of clients and industry knowledge that I could then pass onto others, who would then pass it onto others beyond them. Setting up franchises seemed to be a model that fit my outlook quite well.



How did you get your first franchisee to help get the thing off the ground?


My first franchisee was from Virginia Beach, and he came to me, actually. We were playing golf, and he saw my phone blowing up all day, but he took notice of how I was able to be out here playing golf that day but still have everything in hand, and that’s how our conversation started.

He could see that I was incredibly busy, but at the same time energized and motivated to keep going. This wasn’t someone in a life of corporate grind and repetitive daily tasks. It seems that my lifestyle as a busy and motivated business owner inspired him to look for something similar in his own life.



Was your business self-funded, or did you get some other financial assistance?


From a young age, I knew that I didn’t want to be either sitting in classrooms or climbing a corporate ladder. I had an entrepreneurial mind, and entrepreneurial aspirations.

There were no loans. In the beginning I went around detailing in my brother’s beat-up Mitsubishi, building my client base to save enough money to get my own van. I worked my way up client to client, step by step, setting money aside to invest in the business to make it work better.

I really knew so little when I started out. I knew how to vacuum a car, and had learned some lessons about how to (and how not to) clean a car. I picked up more skills and tips from platforms like YouTube, and then I got more and more into it, expanding my services and slowly installing systems and standards as I went.

Over my time building this business, I’ve come to realize that successful entrepreneurs seem to share a common trait, which is that they are often thinking about how they can help other people better themselves. Sure, they start out thinking all about themselves and their own interest, but that’s just a first step in a greater journey. Once they’ve secured themselves, the next natural step seems to be to help others, and in my mind that was a big part of the attraction of being an entrepreneur.



What are the pros and cons of a mobile franchise model?


Obviously I think there are a lot of pros! Specifically, there’s low overheads with higher profits, and low employee turnover. Another big pro is being able to combine working from home with also being out and about visiting clients in the early days, and then steadily evolving to the point where you spend more time managing your teams and franchises as you grow. It’s also possible to reach your growth goals faster than you imagine.

The weather can be a bit of a downside, but that also depends on where you live. A cold winter tends to see a drop in business, but of course there are some who don’t have to deal with that issue.


What tips would you give aspiring entrepreneurs who want to build their own franchise?


First of all, you have to be crystal clear that building a franchise is exactly what you want to do. If you go into this model for the wrong reasons, then you’ll just experience more setbacks and that will be painful. HOWEVER, if you get yourself in the right vehicle (Franchise), then you will most likely avoid most of the pitfalls discussed earlier,

Next, keep things simple and things will work out better. While this journey is difficult, it doesn’t have to be complicated. You’ll get to a point where you can hire your first team member, and you then train them well. That person will help you generate more results, and also train up subsequent employees.

Don’t overstretch in any area of your budget. You need to keep things both simple and balanced. It’s better to work on things yourself, save money and understand them as much as you can. When you have enough money, you can hire someone to help with various aspects, but the key thing is that when you’re hiring, you should know everything you can about the thing you’re hiring that person to do.

So for instance in marketing. You should learn to manage your own social media, website, blog and other platforms before hiring someone to do the work. If you don’t really know how it works, then you’re more dependent on another marketing professional or company, and that forces you to expend more resources, and relinquish more control. Knowledge is power, and in this case it's power to keep the budget balanced and know exactly what you’re getting when you hire people to help.

Building and maintaining service standards is critical, too. Only when you’ve made that solid can you start to hire and train more people in those standards. When you standardize and systemize your services, it will naturally spill over into other areas of your business like hiring and training. All of this helps your business foundation to be stronger.

When things seem too good to be true and everything seems all too easy, then perhaps something isn’t quite right. It could be that you’re overlooking something important. Never let yourself drop your guard down or become complacent. When things are tough and challenging, you’re doing it right.

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