How Auto Precise.com and Auto Detail Pro came to be
My name is John Pfahl and this is part of my story:
I am the founder and creator of both Auto Precise.com and Auto Detail Pro. The following is a glimpse of my history and experience.
Looking for a job
I began by wanting a job period. So, around 1994, I went to a little car dealership that appeared to be family operated. I thought before I went there, maybe I’ll get a job cleaning cars after all I seem to be good at it. So I detailed my car and proceeded by going to the dealership with my clean car and positive attitude for getting a job. I then, pulled into the parking lot and the owner of the little dealership approached both the vehicle and me, I guess he was thinking I was going to purchase a car. I asked him, “are you hiring for a car-cleaning guy?” I didn’t know what to call the job title that I wanted to do. He then asked, “Do you have any experience?” I replied, “No, but I have a lot of energy for wanting to learn how to clean cars and I will do as you ask.” He then replied, “Sorry, but we are only looking for experienced detailers.” Needlessly to say I was ticked off, because in my heart I knew I would be good. So I pulled away from the family dealership royally upset. I thought to myself, how am I supposed to get experience if no one will hire me?
Back to normal
I then left it alone and continued mowing lawns and doing side jobs, another little business venture I tried doing. But, wintertime came as it always does and money was tight. My mother and father were/are divorced, as it seems most parents are today. My mother tried raising us on her income, which required her to work long hours so she was never really around, our income was her paycheck along with the child support from my father. My lawn mowing business allowed me to buy the little snack food that I wanted as a kid, by the way there was four of us kids, so good snack food and cereal was a treat. Growing up I felt bad to ask my mom for things, I made the determination to earn it for myself. So my independence and pursuit for success started around the age 11. A lot of parents buy their kids whatever they want no questions asked and yes let's face it they are spoiled. I remember when my mom purchased a Nintendo Game just because and the game was called “Yo! Noid” and I still have that game to this day. That one video game meant a lot to me, because, one my mom didn't have a lot of money to buy it and two she had 3 other kids to care of and she put me first that day. So for her just to buy me a game because she loved me and was thinking of me meant a lot. By the time I reached the legal working age I found a part time job at a pizza place, a whole other story, so simply it was good fun, but the pay was something less then desirable.
Deciding a career
My senior year of High School and decided to learn how to do auto body repair through the apprenticeship program that the school provided. So I joined the class and learned a lot of information on how to paint, bodywork, and fixing errors in paint. I thought this is not only an interesting profession, but there is a lot of money it, that was the only thing the teacher told us, there was good money in it.
The teacher had one project for us to do which involved a metal plate that was 2 feet long and 1.5 feet wide and bended like a half oval roof. The plate was perfect till he hit it with a sledgehammer three times in the middle and bent it out of shape. Our assignment was to fix the plate and restore it back to its original shape. We had three stages that we had to perform to restore the plate to its original shape:
1. Use a hammer and dolly set
2. Use a grinder tool
3. Use Bondo, sand and block
At each level the teacher inspected it and told you if you could go to the next level or not. I wanted the teacher to approve of me, because I thought if I could make him happy he would hook me up with a good job after High School, because he said he would do that for the best 5 in the class. So I went to work on the plate and did the job as he asked. I hammered, grinded, sanded, and blocked. I got that panel as good as I could get. The teacher then told me that it was good for the paint booth, after that he would grade my project. After it was painted the teacher held up my plate and held it in the light to look for its straightness. He looked at it with shock in his eyes, but I thought to myself I did the best I could it’s all or nothing. As he held up the plate and slowly rotated in the light he was examining the plate as if he knew he was going to find something, after all it just got hit by a sledgehammer three times. There had to be some flaw in it. He was also checking for the amount of Bondo that was used, some of the other classmates had what seemed like a half inch of Bondo. He put the plate down and told everyone in the class to come closer to his desk for he had something important to tell us. He looked around the class and told everyone, “I have been teaching this auto body class for years and I have been using this metal plate project ever since I started and I am here to tell you that this plate that I am looking at is the only plate where I have given a 100.” My throat locked up! I thought it was good, but I had no idea the teacher would think that highly of it.
The teacher then asked me if he could keep the plate and use it as an example for his future classes. I thought to myself, “I want the plate back, I put a lot of work in it.” But I thought to myself and then decided to give it to him after all others might benefit from my efforts. Because all of us from the beginning of the project thought it was impossible, so I thought it would be good to show yes it is possible. I was overly thrilled with my efforts, my fellow students looked up to me the rest of the year and the teacher put me on difficult projects where he thought I was the only one that could do the job. It was a great honor to me, my hard work and efforts was being recognized and was overly zealous about it.
I am not sure if he is still teaching, but I know for a fact the last time I visited him he had that plate in his office, just waiting to be used for the next metal plate project. At the end of the year he asked me to come back next year, for he would make arrangements so that I only had to pay a little to go through the paint level course (the 1st year was auto body repair and the 2nd year was paint repair). It was free if you were in High School but it cost you if you were not in school. He wanted me in his class and I knew it, but I had to get a real job for I depended on myself for paying my day-to-day expenses, my mom didn’t have a lot of money and things were already tight. So I told him I would love to, but I had to get a real full-time job. I then graduated High School with an Advance Diploma and two SAT scores under my belt just in case I decided to go to college, but I did not have college intentions on my mind, I had auto body repair listed as my career.
My first real career?
One thing I have learned about working is that if you want a job it is best to know someone that works where you want to work.
My luck fell into my favor because I knew someone that worked at a large dealership that had both a clean up department and a body shop. At the time car detailing was no longer in my mind, body and paint repair was.
I began at the car dealership as shuttle driver, cleaning the shop, and Mr. Everything in between person. The body shop manager helped me get the job at the dealership, but he did not have an immediate opening in the body shop so I was Mr. Everything Boy, until something opened. I finally, got into the paint shop after six months and began to work. I was excited to make that big money that everyone was talking about. So I gave my job everything I had. It in return gave me everything it had, including the Tylenol, the red and blue boogers, the rainbow fingernail cuticles, and practically invisible fingerprints from the sandpaper. I began to find out that the paint shop was not for me at all. I had experienced strong anxiety problems, headaches, and mood swings. Not to mention the long hours I kept getting sucked into.
I did a lot of work in the paint shop and the body shop manager was thrilled with my performance he said he would pay for my schooling to learn how to paint. After all I had trimmed out parts and I was allowed to help paint cars. The body shop manager asked me to be a full-time painter after he saw one of the cars that I assisted in painting, but by that time my body was physically and emotionally done with the body repair business. I told the manager, “you can’t pay me enough to live with all these health risks, I’ve decided to go to college.”
My final straw with the body shop was when I got to work early around 6:30 A.M. to help us get caught up for the day and during the day I started to get sick and my speed and strength was slowing down. I went to lunch and came back and continued to work only finding myself getting much worse from before. The guys I worked with hated it when people left before them when there is a lot of work to do so 6:30 P.M. came around and then 8:30 P.M, at that time everything hit at once and I found myself on the stool staring at the ground with little strength just to hold my head up. I then told everyone I was now leaving and they left with me. Not sure how I made it home that night, but when I did I threw-up something terrible and I took my temperature only to find out that it was 102. I had no idea. I don’t remember if I took of the next day, but when I reported to work you did not hear a good job from anyone for the long hours that was put in, just the whole get back to work mentality.
A month or so later I decided I’m done with this it’s time to go back to school. But it took me several months to get everything in order to leave that job. I had to sell my car convertible that I loved so much and file for financial aid and figure out a way to pay for school and work at the same time. So once I had everything in check I was ready for a new chapter in my life.
Go to any body shop or paint shop and ask them how dangerous the chemicals are that they are using, and how long an average person paints cars for more than 25 years, and has no health problems or still alive. I’ll let you do the research on that. A lot of the chemicals that they use have one, both, or all of the following: neurological health risks, reproduction health risks, respiratory health risks.
Thanks to God and the dealership I was placed in the clean up department of the dealership, to allow me to start and finish my college career.
I had applied to a University for a 4-year degree; the degree that I was seeking was Business Administration. I was accepted into the University and began working part-time in the clean up department. However, it did not feel like part-time hours, it felt more like full-time hours, but several hours always kept me in the part-time status. I had the privilege of working with a man by the name of Tyrice Wiggens. He had been doing auto detailing ever since he was a teenager and is currently in his mid 40’s (I think) and is a Grandpa. He did side jobs originally then began detailing professionally later. Believe me, everyone knew his name that worked in the car dealership. He was that good! If you had a question about anything you sent it to Tyrice, whom had 20+ years experience. Since I was going to be stuck in college 4 years I might as well get good at what I am doing, and that was auto detailing.
Tyrice took me under his wing and taught me things that I use to this day when detailing. I grew close to Tyrice because we were always on the same page about many things including life, girls, troubles, pain, and especially work. Tyrice was becoming a part of my life like no other friend I have ever had. I began to learn things that he didn’t know and he did the same for me, although I had more to learn from him then he had from me. Sometimes he was like an old OX and wanted to do things his way, but after he saw some of my tricks he changed on some of his techniques. We swapped tricks frequently. If I listed all things that I learned from my experience of working with Tyrice you would probably be bored of some huge list so I will do you the favor and just say I learned a lot, more than I thought there could ever be about auto detailing.
I finished my college degree and received a Bachelor’s of Science in Business Administration with a concentration in Business Management and an emphasis in Human Resources I am currently creeping on my 10 year anniversary of professionally detailing, geezzzzeeee.
It was a great feeling when my service manager approached me and asked, “Would you like to be Assistant Manager?” With working in the clean up department and the years of experience under my belt I thought, “It’s about freakin time!” But said, “I am thrilled and I will work my hardest for you.” So I did just what I told him by working hard, kept learning new things, teaching others, and most importantly making others happy.
After one year of being an assistant manager the service director came to me again and told me that the car dealership just purchased another Five Star dealership and they need a manager with experience to run the clean up department. Once again he asked, “Would you like to be Manager at this new Five Star dealership?” This required me leaving me current dealership and my friends and especially Tyrice. But I was more than ready to take on the reigns that I have been long waiting for. So I met with the owner of the dealership and told him my plans and excitement for the job that was offered to me. He told me, “don’t worry about the money will take care of that, are you interested in the position?” I couldn’t help the feelings I was going through at that moment, so I tried calming myself down without outwardly showing it and told him, “It would be an honor.” After he told me I was hired for the job, I couldn’t help but think to myself who would have thought with all I have been through that the owner of this big car dealership selected me. It was a feeling like no other.
More people with experience
When I got to the new dealership I soon realized that I was placed with more people that have been detailing for 10 to 20+ years. I thought to myself, “my gosh what in the world am I going to learn new now?” The dealership needed a lot of work in the clean up department as far as getting it on the path that it needed to be and more training was needed for the less experienced employees. As it turned out the drug test scared most of my employees away, so the next day when I showed up I went from a work crew of 10 people to 3 and then 1 of the 3 was about to leave. I had a lot of work to do. I had to find new people with or without experience, after all I had zero experience when I started out, I felt obligated to give people with zero experience a chance. Not to mention I had to create advertising for the department as well because we already had no work and with the way the employees were getting paid no work meant no money. So my homework began, just when I thought college was the end of homework.
The Dealership is doing great!
The clean up department got turned around and began making 3X the sales of the old department. The clean up department was and is on a great road to success. The employees are working as a team and business is rolling in because I think mainly of word to mouth advertising. The employees are not only enjoying what they are doing but they are staying there. Where I came from, people came and went after I left, but at the new dealership people are enjoying what they are doing and have began investing years in the company. The employee turnover in the clean up department is low. Things are looking good.
How would have thought?
There is money to be made in auto detailing, for several reasons.
2. Lack of knowledge
3. Trust in having a professional do it
I began a mobile detailing business while:
1. Going to school full-time
2. Working part-time at the dealership.
Yes, I put a lot on my plate but it was something I wanted to try. I did everything from buffing cars, removing scratches, touch-up work, and even performing complete wet-sand jobs. I collected money from all of these things and I saw it could work, but with school as my number one priority and my dedicated part-time job, I closed the mobile detailing business, after all it became too much, and so I continued what I was doing.
Who would have thought there was money in auto detailing? But I soon saw that there indeed was a demand for it, just how much was the question. After working at both car dealerships and operating my own mobile detailing business, I saw the potential of money to be made. The money that was being collected at the car dealership for auto detailing was in my mind possible if the proper elements were in place, advertising and dedicated/trained employees. Something the old dealership never realized, there loss my gain.
I’m not here to…
I am not here to tell you to take up auto detailing as a career because I do not know your passions of what you want to do with your life, after all everyone is different. Even with myself I do not know how long I will continue detailing cars, I guess when God opens a door to something different then I will know, but at the moment I still enjoy detailing cars and doing management.
If you just want to learn
If you simply want to learn how to auto detail without any other interest in trying to make money doing it, then the knowledge and assistance I can give in (Auto Detail Pro) will help you as well. Some people think it takes all day to clean your car, believe me it doesn’t. I can clean a car in less than 45 minutes. That’s washing, drying, vacuuming, cleaning windows, clean rims and tires, wiping down the inside, cleaning off the final drips. 45 minutes out of a weekend or one day is just a drop in a bucket, not to mention the since of actually doing something you have been wanting or needing to do. Not to mention it’s healthy for you. Since I have been professionally detailing I think the most I have ever gained was 10 pounds and I think that had something to do with working out and drinking weight gainer. So learn something new and gain some true self-satisfaction with something you did with your own two hands. Which brings me to my next topic.
Why I do what I do, money is nice but…
Keep in mind I have a 4 year degree in business and management experience under my belt so the question is, why do you detail cars for a living? My answer: God knows?
It’s something I am good at and it is a challenge at times. Everyone needs money for some reason or another so yeah money is a reason, but until you have done it one of the greatest rewards is presenting your had work to a customer and the customer loving what you have done. You have just spent time, work, and strength in this vehicle and you are pleased with what you have done, but sometimes that is not enough. It’s what the customer thinks in the end that matters. If the customer is not happy then you’re not happy. Because you know the customer is either being a picky butt or you screwed up. I’ve had customer’s come to me with a tip, but at times I refuse it because it is not the tip that matters to me it’s the whole idea that the customer is overly pleased with the work I have done. I’ve had customers explain to me how much money I saved them from going to the body shop and exc. that in my mind is like a masterpiece being delivered to the customer. Auto detailing is like art. You are the artist and the customer is the customer. Trust is placed in you to apply your imagination, efforts, knowledge, and strength. Then when you present your painting to the customer you get more of a kick out of the expression on their face then you do with the check you collect. If you think it is just for the check then you are in the wrong business, because you probably are just pushing the vehicle out to collect money, with lack of care. If I wanted lack of care I’ll take my car to a drive threw car wash.
Auto Detail Pro and Auto Precise.com are presented to you because I know what it is like to search for experience pertaining to auto detailing and receiving a slammed door in the face. I have gathered many years of knowledge not only by my own experiences but also by those I have had the pleasure of working with that have 20+ years of experience under their belt. I am not some paid author to bring you some topic that was assigned to me and sell to the public or some doctor that has researched on the topic of auto detailing, where both types of people have never once scrubbed a carpet or used a buffer. Using a buffer hurts the back, scrubbing the carpet can bust your knuckles on nuts and bolts on the floor, using a razor blade can cut a lot of things not just what you are intending to cut, a heat gun can burn a lot of things, the list goes on. I’ve had the back pain, scars on the hands, burns on the skin, tears in the eyes, and only God knows what else.
Auto Detail Pro will help you get started in the right direction, believe me I wish I had something like it starting out. The topics covered in Auto Detail Pro have been used not only to train the inexperienced but also to help polish the experienced. Auto Detail Pro has material in it that was used to help improve people that have been detailing for 10-20+ years. I myself am still learning new things, and for someone to say “you can only learn but so much” doesn’t know what he or she is talking about. There are always new products that work better than others and new improved techniques for doing the job. Basically, Auto Detail Pro is organized by presenting to you material that will not only get the job done right, but also get it done more efficiently saving you both time and products used.
If you still have questions before/after watching the video please visit our auto detailing forum. Where you can post questions, answers, and pictures. For example, some people use creamy peanut butter for something when detailing. What is it?
Auto Pecise.com is organized in a fashion to help you not only gain knowledge, but find products that work. A lot of money can be spent on auto detailing with purchasing the wrong products and using the products in the wrong fashion. So we present to you knowledge, products that work, and the ability to communicate with other auto detailing enthusiasts, our auto detailing forum.
I can't help but think back at times to when that man rejected me when I asked him for a job detailing cars and he told me no because I had no experience. I think about what I have done with my life ever since.
It’s strange how God works sometimes.
I wish the best to all of you,
Information on Commodre Coatings:
Remember "undercoating"? It was that messy black stuff that, 40 years ago, junior mechanics sprayed on car undercarriages. It tended to peel off in chunks (kind of like skin does after too much tanning), enabling grime, water, and salt to create havoc.
Rest assured that this kind of unenlightened activity bears no relation whatsoever to the advanced technology vehicle preservation systems offered today by Commodore Coatings.
We use advanced 21st-century science and technology to create products that protect new vehicles. Our products are specifically formulated to bond with automotive surfaces and provide truly lasting protection.
We've been doing this for over 20 years, and our highly trained dealer-installers across the region deliver our products to thousands of vehicle owners. Our dealers know our products just as well as we know how to build superior vehicle preservation systems.
We know the territory. If you want to do the job right, be sure you specify Commodore Coatings.