0 comments / Posted on by Stephen S

 What do you think is required to start a valeting/detailing company?

Best products?
A Facebook page?
A good name and logo?
 
While you do need these they are not always the best starting points. They're almost superficial. A strong company, like a good detail, is built on solid preparation. You wouldn't clay a car on arrival then start polishing right away, you'd follow some prep stages to make it safer and easier.
 
With a strong foundation you can create something that can last in what is becoming a flooded marketplace. 
 
I would suggest as a starting point your first three goals to be;
 
  1. finding a good contact to teach you about business,
  2. lots of research,
  3. discretion.
This is a hell of a lot easier than it sounds but so many skip it and go straight to asking on groups and forums.
 
Finding a business advisor
 
There are LOADS of government funded schemes available on Google that will not only meet you and advise, they also offer free Zoom seminars so you can do it from home. When I first started, pre-covid in 2014 we actually all met for a drink and it was a proper event.
We would pitch our ideas over and over again, back and forth, to try and find the most engaging wording and content. Or look at each others ideas and share our experiences to help improve them together. They have endless topics and subjects led by professionals with experience offering tips. So many subjects and styles of free learning available for the resourceful entrepreneur.
 
Research
 
I cannot over stress how important it is to do serious research on all aspects of your business and strategy unless you want to be tripped up when you're busy down the line and end up stuck, chasing solutions to problems when you should be moving on to the next stage of your business plan.
 
Google is your best friend, there are so many things you would never even have realised are available that could become essential tools for running your business that will streamline all sorts of processes. There is no "best" one or "super tool", there are millions that can do all sorts of things.
For instance we use a third party website to manage our shipping. This allows us to connect our website and external sales onto one platform that also plugs into our courier and shipping accounts meaning we don't have to individually create labels. This allowed us to scale up our business years ago because we no longer had hours of manual labour a week organising labels and invoices over 6 or 7 websites. It is now done automatically from one secure location for a very reasonable price. We just have to click print and stick the kettle on in the morning now.
 
But some of my other friends in e-commerce have used a different solution that suits them better. The best part about creating a business is that you create the infrastructure, not a manager who has never done the job at ground level.
Your business should work for you not against you.
  
So what should you research? 
 
Everything you need to know. You should research the local competition to see what you're up against, how to advertise, how to blog, how to shoot photos, how to target ads, web design. Anything you perceive to be relevant to your future success.
 

It's all constantly changing and updating, I need to teach myself TikTok 

  It sounds like a lot, let me assure you I am not writing this to be off putting, I love that the industry is getting more recognition.
In fact, as the two owners of MonsterShine we have no background in any of this. 
We are entirely self taught using the methods I am listing. We both left education as teenagers. John went into construction first and then PCV driving. I (Stephen) started in mechanics but didn't last long...I actually liked being sent to the valeting bay which was usually apprentice punishment. I've worked in kitchens, painting and decorating, removals, I was even a postman for 8 years. But we were best friends with a passion for detailing and decided we wanted to start taking it seriously rather than just doing our own at the weekend.
 
Just about the only thing the two of us had no background in is white collar work ironically, so we had to start from the beginning.
And your best beginning will be Google. I still regularly read blogs and articles about what's coming next to try and keep everything up to date. It also helps as a motivational tool. 
 
 This leads me to my next point...
 
Discretion
 
Networking is an excellent way to learn from your peers, but it should be done tactically, a tip about this for a tip about that, a friendship that benefits both parties. If you start a company, you are that company in terms of image. Think about how you want to be perceived and how much you want to give away for free. If you offer detailing tips to other people that is great but you wouldn't give your client or competition a step by step process of how to do the job they just paid for or they'd never be back.
 
This goes for industry friends too, should you give away your business plan or copy someone else's on the group because they seem more sure? Sometimes those that talk loudest are the ones who should remember the two ears one mouth rule. Network with those you trust but posting it publicly means your competition can see it. Then they can copy your style and poach your clients. Taking what is said on the groups with anything less than a good pinch of salt and a desire to double check will keep you at the back of the pack chasing the scraps.
Be an innovator not an imitator.
 
So what's next?
 
Well now you know a bit about the market, pricing and the back end business you can sit down and make a plan. Steps for your business to grow, not just pay a wage (if that was all we wanted we could take a second job anywhere). You need to setup in a way that allows you to earn, your overheads need to be paid and you need money in the company for expansion, tools...a nice Christmas bonus dividend payment maybe if things are going well. 
 
And to do that without getting a nasty audit and tax fine you need to register the company, and yourself with HMRC.
 
Setting up a company isn't too hard. Head over to the HMRC website and it tells you how to do it. You could start with an accountant to advise and set it all up outright or you could try and do it yourself. It isn't too hard but you really need to keep IMPECCABLE records of every transaction and learn the implications of how you setup be it Sole Trader or Limited, VAT registered or not. 
 
I would strongly advise looking into insurance for your business. This is where it gets tricky, everything matters in the wording of an insurance contract. If you don't read it you could find out you've been paying for years and accidentally were voiding it the whole time or were not covered for a style of job or to work in a certain location. You need to be sure or one mistake/accident/act of God could bankrupt you.
Once you have the back end setup the detailing should come naturally as should the creative nature of it, that is our passion after all.
 
Think how much better your company and posts would look after applying these steps.
 
  • Great name,
  • clean logo,
  • fully registered and insured,
  • a well made video or image,
  • an ad made properly,
  • pricing that makes it possible for you to go full time in future.
 
You won't be asking the group for tips then, they'll be asking you!
 
 
Thanks for reading,
Stephen Swindon
Managing Director
 
P.S. a trade account with a good company doesn't hurt either. Neither does some industry training (click the bold text to read more).
 
 

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