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Owning A High-End Detailing Business Part 1: An Identity Beyond The Disposable Asset


Owning A High-End Detailing Business Part 1 An Identity Beyond The Disposable Asset

“A brand is not a logo.  A brand is not a product.  A brand is not a promise.  A brand is not the result of all the impressions it makes on an audience.  A brand is a result, it’s a person’s gut feeling about a product, service, or company.  It’s in their heads and in their hearts.  A brand is your reputation.” – Marty Neuimeier

I do not consider myself to be the foremost authority in regard to providing business advice.  There are likely better sources.  But some of the issues I see are common and obvious.  I have been asked by numerous people to talk more about the business side of detailing.  I have also seen on social media enough people expressing common frustrations.   I hope to address these issues in this series.

Rodney Tatum MTE

Running a business, I saw it as an opportunity to be and achieve who I believed others could not see me or entrust or allow me to be.  My message is going to come from that place.

The good news about the business of auto detailing is it has a relatively lower barrier to entry.  The bad news is the same.  Many people who were in rough situations saw starting a detailing business as an opportunity to be more successful than they have been in the workforce.  Many people who see it as an escape from various frustrations in their life, may not have the requisite business marketing, advertising, sales, planning, and interpersonal skills needed for success.  I had a conversation with myself about the state of my business a few years ago.  It led to an expectation that if I do not reach a certain modest financial mark, I would consider doing something else with my life.  Ironically, I did not reach that, yet the urgency along with dealing with unforeseen adversity made me more singularly focused and determined.  I have a new appreciation for treating your business seriously.  Some prominent members of the industry can share similar stories.  No one is beyond growth.

The lesson and message I will emphasize is this; get out of the job, hustle, or gig mentality.  You have to be the CEO and investor of your life.  Create and build off of your foundation.

  • Vision
  • Mission
  • Core Values
  • Then have a plan.


Take this (yourself and building your brand) seriously especially in a world where many people will not take you seriously regardless of how logically you sell your value.  I truly believe so many people enter the industry trapped in the mindset of where they left, as disposable assets for someone else, inhibiting their ability to critically think for themselves!  I have a strength of being observant and critically thinking.  I can go into a grocery store and see the person at check out on ‘auto pilot’ doing the opposite of what I asked, in a gloomy environment.  I can also go into a pricey grocery store and see employees do critical thinking without feedback.  I can note the difference in ambiance of one department store to another.  I have spent hours to days seeing where my business fit in that spectrum.

I cannot emphasize enough the importance of having a strong sense of self.  Success has a price.  Acknowledgement from Mike Phillips, a legend at his craft, was one of the best things to happen me as the detailer Rodney.  Confidence in myself can be a powerful tool in a niche field.  Part of running a business means being responsible, often for problems that are not fair.  Many people are not going to understand you, judge you, and try to exploit you.  I am not talking about just the work of running a business. Particularly in a niche like this, you see how you are perceived in the harshest of ways.  From people being resentful and malicious for not having the package they want or the price they like for detailing THEY asked you for.  People I know expressing unusually dramatic excitement when they hear I own a business.  “Wow, what do you do?”  Many of those people proceeded to become distant in my life upon hearing the answer, except to see if they can get something free or a discount.  To be fair, no way does a 25-year-old version of myself succeed at this business.

I have had multiple wealthy business owners who knew about, reach out for detailing services.  I have had one make condescending comments about my pricing which I am transparent about.  I had another one who he and his wife looked at me with disdain while performing a detailing service for them.  My pricing was lower during those times.  Another person, likely not as affluent, reached out to me to detail a daily driven affordable car.  During and after the interior detail service performed, I was thanked multiple times ‘for my hard work’ and tipped me.  An important lesson, here is no matter how logical it seems or what background someone comes from, do not automatically assume someone does or does not value what you do.

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

2 comments on Owning A High-End Detailing Business Part 1: An Identity Beyond The Disposable Asset

  1. Beau says:

    Thanks Rodney for the advice… said in truth, regardless of your field. I appreciate you and your posts.

  2. Ed Boyle says:

    I’m 62 yo. Detailing since I was a kid with my dirt bikes. Then Cars, Trucks my entire life with my own vehicles and I got some customers by word of mouth and detailed at my house small carport or in driveway which is hard to detail with cold, rain, snow, pollen, wind. Washington State is a hard to detail since we only get 4 months of warm dry, hot weather. If it is too cold or too hot still not fun with the environment conditions.

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