Is a mobile detailing, paint protection film or window tint business the better choice? We think so! The automotive industry unfortunately has quite a bad rap for being shady. The sales guy at the dealer is trying to sell you a car he knows nothing about, the mechanic might be taking advantage of the fact that you don’t know any better, The dealership service writer is charging you 5 times that of the local 5 star mechanic, the body shop probably isn’t painting your car the right way or they are ripping off your insurance company. Its always nerve racking dropping your vehicle off at those shops so why do you think that detailing and film installation shops are any different?
When you call up your local detailing shop with your new ride, the chances are you are looking for clear protection film, window tint and ceramic coating, you get quotes ranging all over the place from under $500 for everything to well over $5000 to do everything you want and you have no clue what you’re really getting most likely.
We are dealing with clear films and clear coatings, things you can’t really see or identify the brand, so how do you know that the local shop actually put everything on your car and used the products they said they would? You don’t and it sucks. You have to trust that the person isn’t ripping you off and I guarantee most shops don’t have coating/ppf installation rooms that are outfitted with 10 different camera’s that work to prove to you that they installed everything. Even if they did, you still wouldn’t know if that clear film is Xpel or some lesser brand.
I’ll start with the fact that pricing in the last few years has become absolutely stupid. The services that once cost a few thousand dollars for a high quality job are now being done for under $1000 and claiming the same quality. Now how is that possible? Clearly there’s a reason that shop A is more expensive than shop B. I won’t go too deeply into pricing in this post but I can tell you from experience that you get what you pay for 100% in this industry and you want to be paying on the higher end if its legit.
Here’s what some of those cheaper shops (and even some high end shops) are doing and what you can’t observe from home while your car is at the shop and some questions to ask your self.
- That box of 3m crystalline window tint that the guy says he is installing on your entire vehicle including the windshield for $700 probably actually has a roll of Llumar’s lowest end film that cost nothing.
- The box that says XPEL or SUNTEK on it? Probably has nanofusion or some other low end film in there. You can’t tell, the roll itself isn’t labeled.
- That bottle of ceramic pro? It might have been borrowed from a friend and filled with Cquarts UK purchased on amazon. Did they sell you 5 layers of coating? How do you know they actually put all 5 layers on?
- Is the owner really working on your car or is his low wage worker? Chances are an employee being taken advantage of who doesn’t care as much is the one working on your vehicle and no one is doing quality control most likely, most of the busy shops, the owner is rarely present and doesn’t pay his employees enough for them to care.
- IS your car being driven fast? Used to go get lunch? Is it the 5th car in line now and you won’t actually get it back in 2 days?
- Why does it take this shop 3 days but the mobile guy or the small shop says 1 day?
- They are most likely telling you not to trust the mobile service and you need a shop to do the work because the right environment is required etc. Is this true?
I will answer these questions and elaborate a bit more which will ultimately lead you to why a mobile service coming to your residence is the best option.
It is all too common at shops around the world for people to lie about what they are actually using. I’ve personally caught businesses falsely advertising professional grade films or coatings when really they borrowed some boxes or bottles from a friend and dropped a different product in there before you arrived. Its unfortunate that it happens but very true, so when you hear that full front PPF install for $1200 or the 3M crystalline tint on the full car for $700, you are most likely not receiving the promised product or a good quality job. Films are far too expensive now to sell these high end products for so little and the skill required to install is worth much more than $12/hour. Lots of volume shops will knock out tons of cars for cheap but in a year your film won’t look so hot.
Did they actually put a coating on your car? There was a pretty well known detailer here in California who did phenomenal paint correction work but he would lie about what coating he put on cars and it would fail within a month. Anyone who has installed coatings like Ceramic Pro where they are “multi layer” knows that it is a huge PITA and also that 5 layer lifetime package isn’t worth the extra labor how little you charge additional to do it over the 5 year package, same with other brands that claim multi layer as well. These coatings aren’t going to prevent physical damage by stacking them up and they certainly aren’t bonding to each other layer as promised. Most installers of Ceramic Pro or similar brands aren’t actually putting all 5 layers on your car when they sell you a life time package, and you’ll never be able to tell the difference as even with a professional paint depth gauge, coatings do not make a change on the reader.
Who is working on your car? Many of these cheaper shops or big shops have tons of employees, they may claim owner operation or high quality control but most of them aren’t working on your car or even paying attention to anything other than the dollars coming out of your pocket. Got a problem? Come back later, that’s how it goes and sometimes they aren’t going to fix that problem in a timely fashion either. Nothing beats owner quality and most mobile businesses are owner operated.
Whats actually happening with your car at the shop? I know lots of shops that rev engines, take the customers car for a spin, do a burn out or other disrespectful and potentially harmful things to your vehicle. Some guys will take your car out for lunch if they haven’t started on it yet, do you really want some joy riding in your car? Its easy to turn off GPS/tracking features from your vehicle.
Its gonna take 3 days? What? I need my car back for work! You know why your car is gonna take 3-5 days for a two step correction, ceramic coating and paint protection film? It was never priority, there’s 6 other cars being dropped off too, a systematic approach at a good business may lead to everything being picked up at the same time and completed same time, but you as the customer don’t always have time to wait. It takes this long at a shop because they are taking breaks, customers walking in, employees not working fast because they are new or milking the clock, your car isn’t top priority, they have to go home right at 5pm to avoid overtime, etc. You can do a two step correction and coating in a day and even throw in some PPF when you have zero distractions with couple people helping.
I used to preach to people that mobile was not good, no controlled environment would yield worse results, however now that I am mobile again with all of the right equipment and knowledge I have now, I can say 100% that a mobile service can yield the same or better quality when you are properly equipped to handle different environments and you have tremendous detailing experience. Shops are dirty and dusty too just like your garage which we sweep and keep cleaning just like we did at the old shop. There is no more chance for debris under film at your house than there is a shop.
Mobile is the way to go, you can watch and observe, make sure your car is being prepared correctly, no steps skipped, correct premium product confirmation, no distractions from completing the work on time, owner operated most of the time, ensure your car is being treated properly and also save yourself from accumulating further damage driving to the shop that you were trying to prevent in the first place! Don’t go cheap, don’t trust that guy just because his building looks real nice, give your local mobile installers a call and save yourself time by having it done at home!