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What Motivates You 15 Years into Your Business?


What Motivates You 15 Years into Your Business

This is a great question and it really made me think.  It made me think of how LUSTR Detail started and why it kept going.  It started like quite a few other detail shops, just a guy sitting in a garage detailing his car.  Then searching forums for hours to find good products and techniques.  Then spending countless additional hours in the garage to try things out.  Then finally getting pretty good at it and making some drinking money in college.  This was 2007.  After a few years of evening/part time work, I started doing detailing full time.  Soon after, I was joined by my partner Roman in 2012 and he’s been with LUSTR ever since.  Back on topic…

So what motivates me after 15+ years of running this business, talking to thousands of clients, managing employees and ordering a TON of products from Detailed Image?  It comes down to 3 things…

Clients Being Extremely Happy, Even with Brand New Cars

Since the first day I was always happy to see someone’s reaction when their car finally looks its best.  LUSTR started off mainly with basic detailing and paint polishing/correction.  Most of those initial clients either never had a proper polishing done or had really bad experiences elsewhere (greasy fillers in the paint, holograms left over, or worst case was always burned paint), so they were always hesitant about scheduling a service but extremely pleased after picking up the car.  The business slowly evolved from detailing, adding services like ceramic coatings, paint protection film and window tint.  More and more new cars came through our doors and whether we did a quick prep with ceramic coating or a full car PPF wrap, clients always praised our work.  Most clients have become regulars and most regulars have become like friends, so those relationships are definitely a big motivation.

Logistics of Running a Business

I’ve always been big on math, organizing stuff and learning new things.  Running a business puts all those skills to the tests and MUCH more.  Learning proper detailing was a challenge itself and keeping up with products, services and techniques keeps that challenge going.  However all the little details like working on the company website, figuring out how to organize the shop and dealing with clients are a lot more challenging.  A lot of work goes into running your own business and while I’ve learned to delegate some of the work, a lot is still on my plate.  Stuff like accounting, keeping inventory and scheduling services all require different skills, software and lots of patience.  All of that keeps being a huge motivation because just like with the actual services, I always want to improve personally and professionally.  And of course there is the setting of new goals, growing the business and hiring new people, which keeps things very interesting.

The Shiny, Shiny Cars

Maybe because I’m a car guy, maybe because I like clean things, but the awe of doing a good job never ceases to amaze me.  By now I’ve polished what feels like square miles of paint and it’s very boring, repetitive work.  But every time the car is done there’s a feeling of amazement, especially if it’s a used car that went through a huge paint correction transformation.  It also still sometimes surprises me how paint improves through different stages of detailing… improving a bit after initial correction, getting really shiny after final polishing and showing even more gloss after a ceramic coating is applied.  Starting paint protection film was another, completely different ballgame and pushed us in a new way to get better and better.  That too provided a lot of motivation to get better.  Even though our installs were really good and much better than most installers in Chicagoland, overcoming some struggles, learning how to use the film and making even nicer, cleaner cuts was extremely rewarding.

All in all I can say pretty much everything still motivates me the way it did before, but new challenges (and there are always some) keep the motivation going and in new directions.

Ivan Rajic LUSTR Deatil
Ivan Rajic
LUSTR Detail
257 N Woodwork Lane
Palatine IL 60067
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4 comments on What Motivates You 15 Years into Your Business?

  1. Michael Lewis says:

    I have had my truck ceramic twice unfortunately the placed messed up my paint has a gritty texture now and I hand wash it but still can’t get grit off or shine back do you have something to remove coating the place wants 1500.00 to fix this I have paid him 800.00 each time don’t want him touching my truck it’s a 2021 ram 3500 any help would be appreciated Mike

    • Ron Ayotte says:

      Mike… The coating may be clogged.try an acid based wash like CarPro Descale or Reset, Gyeon Bathe or GTechniq Wash, then do an iron decon and mechanical decon with clay, a clay mitt or synthetic clay towel filled by washing and drying. I just finished a Mazda CX-5 I coated two years ago with the Gtechniq CSL/Exo combination ; the client stated that it wasn’t shedding water on the sides. I did the above steps and the hydrophobics came right back. I added a couple of layers of GTechniq C2V3 as a topper.

      Depending on what they used for the coating, it should be able to be polished off if it is at the end of its “lifespan”. The only one that I know of that requires to be sanded off is Crystal Serum Ultra. You can polish the paint, then do a strip wash to remove anything that was left, then do an iron decon followed by a mechanical decon (i.e. using paint cleaning clay or a clay mitt). After these steps, the paint should be nice and smooth. Polish the paint, do a wipedown with an IPA solution or a dedicated pre-coating chemical, such as Gyeon Prep, CarPro Eraser or GTechniq Panel Wipe. After this is done, you can reapply a coating. Detailed Image has a few different brands to choose from.

  2. Ron Ayotte says:

    Ivan.. what you wrote sums up exactly how I feel about my detailing venture! I am a retired firefighter who detailed on my days off from the firehouse. As a clean car fanatic, I’ve been detailing since the mid-1980s. I have seen this industry grow exponentially. A good detailer is always learning… and after all these years I still consider myself a student of the craft!

  3. Mark Stone says:

    After 25 years, you summed it up!

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