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It’s All About the Visuals 3 – Shop Appearance


This is the third in a series of articles about the importance of visuals – if you missed the first article on photography it’s here, and the second article on website appearance is here.


Whoever said “looks aren’t everything” probably wasn’t a detailer. Everything we do ties back into making someone’s vehicle (often their pride and joy) look as awesome as possible. With a field that’s focused on appearance, a best practice is to ensure every customer-facing aspect is as aesthetically pleasing as we can make it. One in a series of posts on Visuals, today we’ll be focusing on how a professional-looking shop increases the client’s trust in your abilities, as they can tell you take pride in everything you do – not just certain aspects of the business.

OKC Shop 1

Since I started detailing professionally, I’ve had four different locations – all garages in our home. One of the double-edged swords of Army service is the constant moving. I’ve worked out of two different two-car garages (in Grovetown, Georgia and Augusta, Georgia), a three-car garage (in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma), and am now down to a one-car garage in Honolulu, Hawaii. As this is only a part-time business for me, a standalone shop is not in my future – so I’ve always worked to make my garage look as professional as I can.

OKC Shop 2

Transitioning into a one-car garage has been a challenge. The most obvious change was that I had to alter my business model to shift away from high-end paint correction and coatings – after a few attempts to polish outdoors I realized obtaining the level of results I demand was going to be extremely difficult, if not impossible. I’ve also had to be more efficient in how I store my products and equipment.

Hawaii Shop

One side-effect of moving from a 2,800 square foot house in Oklahoma to a 2,100 square foot house in Honolulu meant that some things had to be stored in the garage – such as the stack of totes full of seasonal photography props the wife uses with Four Twigs. Boogie boards, beach chairs, an umbrella, six sets of fins, masks, and snorkels, and the doors/rear window off my Jeep Gladiator all take up valuable space – but are absolutely worth the tradeoff! As to all the Army gear, well, it has to go somewhere.

Another advantage of focusing on appearance is that it also relates back to increased efficiency. Keeping your products organized means your muscle memory will lead you to where you need to. Products/tools I use on every job are located closest to the garage door to minimize the back and forth.

Hawaii Shop Shelves 1

A recent upgrade I made was adding the compressor hose reel and extension cord reel. I would have preferred having them on the wall near the garage door, but being Hawaii the hurricane proofing (metal studs and sheet metal sheathing throughout the walls) makes wall-mounting difficult – to say the least. Instead, I snagged some redwood 1×6 and used 1/2″ bolts and nuts to secure them to the side of the shelving unit. Having these reels helps speed up multiple aspects of the job, particularly the clean-up after I’ve completed a vehicle and am waiting on the client to pick it up. I like having the shop as clean as possible before they return, so this is a little thing that saves me a few minutes on each job. I bought the Ridgid compressor for some light remodeling work, but it’s definitely paid itself off in terms of increased efficiency for detailing. It works great for loosening interior dirt and sand. My ShopVac brand vacuum died before we left OKC, so I switched to a Ridgid 6 gallon after arriving to Hawaii and am very impressed with it as well. The 1-1/4 in. Premium Car Cleaning Accessory Kit is also absolutely awesome – the long, flexible nozzle is worth it by itself!

The plastic totes are how I’ve always stored my microfiber towels and buffer pads. I’d prefer a quality drawer system, but it’s one of those things that I just haven’t prioritized. That may be one of my next purchases – I can easily clear up that right corner for something…

Hawaii Shop Shelves 3

Hawaii Shop Pegboard 1
Wall Control Aluminum Pegboard

The Echo sprayer has a pre-mix of Meguiar’s Rinse Free Express Wash and distilled water. The Wall Control aluminum pegboard system was one of the best investments I’ve made. With a bunch of the accessories, as well as some acrylic rods I bought I can hang up 95% of the tools I use on a regular basis. From upper left to bottom right:

Hawaii Shop Pegboard 5

Originally intended to hold spray paint cans, I stuck in some 16oz acrylic tumblers from Amazon to make it more useful.

Hawaii Shop Pegboard 2

Getting to this point has been a lengthy process, with improvements made over the past six or seven years or so. It helps set me apart from a lot of the more fly by night detailers, and definitely increases clients’ trust when they see how well organized and equipped the shop is. It’s one of those intangibles that contribute to the value of the service you’re providing, and definitely worth taking the time to improve whenever you can.

Nicholas Chopp
Revitalize Auto Spa
Honolulu, HI

4 comments on It’s All About the Visuals 3 – Shop Appearance

  1. David G says:

    Looks, great!!

    Where did you get those two plastic round piece that’s holds all the sprayer bottles up against the your wall?

  2. Ray Scott says:

    We downsized from a 4500 sq ft home to a 2000sf home. The good news is that it has an oversized 2 car garage. All 3 walls are used for my detailing storage as well as other items I kept in my basement. My set up is similar to yours so I can find products easily. I have also installed very bright LED lights in my ceiling and put in a split AC Heating unit. My neighbors have asked me to organize their garage and I did a customers garage when I had time. Another customer has asked but I am too busy detailing right now.

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