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Detailing Business: Wealth, Fulfillment, Physical Health & Emotional Health


Wealth And Fulfillment

As I am putting this article together I am recovering from a debilitating abdominal strain.  I decided to take a month off from the wear and tear of detailing after my last detail which was a $500 1 Stage Correction and Interior.  The detail took a painful toll on my body, aggravating my injury, I decided this would be my last detail until I make a full recovery.  I also took the time to recall how much I would have charged years ago for this service.  Numbers like $250, $200, perhaps even $150 had crossed my mind.  I assure anyone reading this, I would have had a different perspective about whether or not I should continue detailing if that was my compensation for the service provided.  My financial state would be much different if I kept accepting significantly less compensation (aka reasonable pricing) while having to decide between my health and security.  I write this article because many detailers, even several years in, have and will face these issues.  Whether you are a solo detailer or face the challenges of a larger scaled brick and mortar establishment, we have this habit (not only pricing) of not being reasonable to ourselves with respect to long-term well being.  This is a product of our own fears and insecurities about value.  Does the word ‘wealth’ elicit a feeling of discomfort?  Why do you feel guilty about charging your worth?


‘Wealth’ is a real measure of success for a business.  For those that only want to experience detailing for money as a temporary side venture this article is not for you.  For those that hear the words ‘detailing business’ and do not respect the trade as legitimate, that is your prerogative.  Although I can assure you the IRS definitely acknowledges my business during tax season.  For every rhetorical argument of worth is what someone is willing to pay, there is just as popular of a rant about the lack of reliable and high quality detailing options available.

This is not necessarily an indictment on your rates per se that is fined tuned for a competitive market nor is it a mandate on what any consumer should do with his or her hard-earned money.  I merely want to open your eyes (business owner) to the value YOU have placed on yourself.  It may be determined based upon lack of business that your customer base is communicating you are not worth the appropriate compensation for the wear on the body and consequences of injury.  It would be wise to make the decision to stay or leave the business with the knowledge of these hidden variables now, as opposed to 5 years from now.  Imagine years of being barely profitable and your body starts sending signals that it cannot keep up this pace.  After establishing your customer base with set pricing expectations, that may not be the best setting to determine you need to raise prices to make this worth your while.  For a business owner our work is more than what can be recorded on a time clock.  There is no sick pay.  No Workman’s Compensation!  We put ourselves through this stress for wealth.   Do you ask yourself where you will be 5, 10, and 20 years down the line?  That is why the word wealth is so much more important than money as a business owner.

Our Emotional Well-being

I cannot take credit nor should I for bringing up this subject.  This topic has been brought up several times by influential members of the detailing community.  I have also heard the many stories of business owners who have opened up about allowing the stress of running a business to affect their mental health.

Meet the car that saved Mirror Reflections Auto Spa LLC.  This experience was so bad it started to give me a blueprint of who I did not want as a customer and clues to avoid people who would not positively impact my business.   I remember being hesitant to write about my experience.  I am very happy I did with the interest of helping others who will go through similar challenges.  The story below:

M3 And A Mustang:  A Precautionary Tale For Any New Professional Detailer


The Mustang owner reminded me there are better customers for me and a blueprint to find similar clients.  But there was a wound that I allowed to take the joy out of what I do.

I set boundaries, I learned to make no apologies for my operations.  I proudly turned away customers who were toxic to my business.  I took care of my business from an operations standpoint.  But I did not take care of myself as well as I could.  This experience focused me and brought out the best in me from an operations standpoint.  I was still wounded from that bad experience.  I also was not taking time away from the business to enjoy my life as much as I should.

If you ask detailers who perform at a high level what is the most fulfilling part of detailing, most will give this one answer.  Seeing the response of the car owner after the transformation!  I performed a Stage 1 Paint Correction on a car whose owner did his research and booked me two months ahead of time.  I finished thinking the correction would not be good enough for his liking.  I remember watching him stare at his car in joy, fighting back tears in his eyes.  He told me, “I went over and beyond for him” and that “he knew who to go to”.   I watched him stare at the metallic flakes in his car for an hour, yet I could not stop consuming myself with negative thoughts like, “what if I missed something?”.  It took a follow up next day phone call confirming I made a happy customer, for me to relax and enjoy the results of my hard work.

Meet the car whose owner helped remind me why I love doing what I do.


We had several conversations about our occupations, and the emotional investment to be excellent at what we do.  In addition to great conversation, while working on his car, his many reminders that I need to take some time and do something nice for myself was therapeutic on its own.

Part of the problem with being overwhelmed with the stress of running a business is we lose ourselves.  We are off-center.  We are so immobilized by the opinions of others who matter in a business sense, but not enough to take the joy out of our own lives.  I want to make something perfectly clear.  I am completely invested in providing my clients with a world-class experience.  Ask yourself how many hours of sleep have you lost over a customer you could never make happy or made exceptions for people who took advantage of us or even worse.

Detailing business owners (or any business owners) if there is any one positive lesson you can take from this article is this;  Take time to go above and beyond for yourself the way you do for your clients.  Don’t lose track of the reasons why you started a business.  We all have only one life.

Rodney Tatum
Mirror Reflections Auto Spa
Gainesville, Florida
YouTube | Facebook

10 comments on Detailing Business: Wealth, Fulfillment, Physical Health & Emotional Health

  1. Wow! I needed to hear this! Every time I’m done with a car I worry did I do enough knowing I spent well longer doing a correction going over areas again because I didn’t feel it was enough that I’m not getting paid for. Worrying will I get a bad review. Will he like it. People haggling prices when you already have them a deal. This is my first year in busniuess. I have spent that year making other people happy. I stopped eating I stopped working out. I stopped wanting to get out of bed. I neglect my house. I neglect my cars. Working 9-7 on cars taking car of business ends before and after those hours. Working 7 days a week for months on end.

    • Rodney Tatum says:

      Thank you! This definitely is an issue I wanted to bring awareness to people. I have been in your shoes. But many detailers have experienced these problems, where we lose track of why we detail for a living. Ultimately to have a better life for ourselves and families (not worse)! So I hope this sparks a transformation in the industry where we are making sure our needs are met, and we are continuously evaluating whether the compensation and experience is worth it to continue.

  2. Michael says:

    Really good article, you are also an excellent author as well as detailer. This can be applied to any self employed person. Thanks,



  3. Greg @ DI says:

    I hope your recovery is going well! Great article, it definitely captures a sentiment I know I have and many pro detailers have as well.

  4. Frank Been says:

    This was a great article! Thanks for the insight and relatable stories. I’m still new to the game and I always question myself, much like you did, about whether I may have missed something, or whether the client will be satisfied. I do love the reactions when people see their cars after I’m done though. It’s that validation that keeps me going. That and working on cars is like Xanax for me. Cars calm my soul. Lol.

    Currently, I do under-value my rates, only because I’m not mobile yet, due to my regular full time job, and I have clients do drop offs at my home for the time being. I do that as a pricing incentive for clients to take my services. Once I’ve saved up enough cash, I will be going mobile and hopefully, by the time I retire from my regular job, I’ll be able to open a brick and mortar facility, for those larger jobs.

    It’s still a part time hustle for me, for now, but, I’m constantly picking the brains of others in the industry who’ve gone through the growing pains of just starting out. I’m meeting with a photographer on Monday to discuss branding recognition and social media exposure, that way the “word of mouth” can have a point of reference to view my works.

    Thanks for the advice and I hope you’re recovering well.



  5. Steve says:

    Thank you so much for sharing your experience and wisdom. As someone who is new to this area you really opened up my thoughts there. Much respect to you.

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