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Car detailers will come to you

Auto Detailing Mobile offers people the convenience of a clean car without the hassle.

Published October 22, 2004

It's sort of like having a maid for your car.

While you're at work, or maybe at home napping or eating lunch, Nick Guyett and his employees can be detailing your car. Your daily routine is barely disrupted, but the next time you get in your car it's as clean and fresh as the day you bought it.

"What we do to a car basically is renovate it," Guyett said. "When we're done it's like new."

Guyett runs a company called Auto Detailing Mobile, a small but rapidly growing business that brings auto detailing to the car, so drivers don't have to bring their cars to the detailer.

A lot of car owners are surprised such a service even exists. They're likely to be even more surprised that it's a fairly affordable luxury. For a basic inside-and-out detailing on a compact car, Guyett charges as little as $25.

"You can go to a regular car wash and it costs $15 and it wastes 45 minutes of your day," Guyett said. "Or you can be working or watching the football game or whatever and we can be detailing your car for $25."

The few extra dollars pays for more than just convenience, Guyett said. He and his staff clean grit out of all the little nooks and crevices that standard car washes don't bother with. They clean the grime off the door jambs.

They can often do a better job than you'd do yourself, Guyett said, because they clean areas you didn't even realize were dirty.

Auto Detailing Mobile isn't the only business of its kind in the area. A half-dozen or so are listed in the phone book.

But it may be among the oldest such services. None of the mobile detailing businesses with ads in Hillsborough County's 2002-2003 Yellow Pages are still in business today.

Guyett, 26, started his business about 4 1/2 years ago. At first he was stationary, renting space in the parking lot of a convenience store on 30th Street near Busch Gardens. He had the idea for a mobile service for some time, but it was a little intimidating taking the leap.

"I was just kind of scared of doing the mobile thing," he said. "But I was tired of paying rent, so one day I just up and tried it."

He no longer had the monthly rent payments, but the mobile business demanded a bit of an investment up front. Because he works mostly in the parking lot and garages of businesses, he needed his own water and power source. He outfitted his truck with a 1,500-gallon water tank and a generator.

Still, compared to some other businesses, the initial investment of about $3,000 was pretty reasonable. Guyett keeps overhead low by working out of his truck. The company doesn't have a standing office, and customers reach him on his cell phone.

Finding and keeping customers hasn't been too much of a problem, Guyett said. People like the idea of the service, and once they give his company a try they usually sign on for regular service. He visits most of his customers monthly or weekly.

"I'll be honest with you, the biggest problem is presentation, getting people to trust you with their cars," he said.

Finding and keeping employees is a little trickier. He pays well, but a lot of people can't take working in the Florida sun in the summer months.

When he's detailing a car at a workplace, Guyett insists that his customers keep their cars locked until he gets there. He doesn't want to feel responsible, or be held responsible, if bad guys get into the car.

So he calls the customer from his cell phone when he arrives, or if they prefer he goes directly to the office. Either way, the customer has to come to the car and unlock it.

"I never take the keys," he said. "I have a lot of keys of my own, and in the past I've forgotten and driven off with the customer's keys. Then at the end of the day I have to go all the way back to Pinellas County or wherever and give them the keys back."

With his two helpers, he can completely detail a standard car, inside and out, in about half an hour. Extra services, such as steam cleaning carpets, take a little longer and cost a little extra.

Guyett looks at his business as a growing concern that's really just getting started. He keeps up a grueling schedule, traveling around Pasco, Pinellas and Hillsborough counties. He's hoping to expand so he can add more trucks and more staff, and so his company can spend more time cleaning cars and less time traveling from one job to the next.

"I can see myself with three or four trucks in a couple of years," he said.

- For information about Auto Detailing Mobile, call (813) 625-4233.

[Last modified October 21, 2004, 13:21:19]

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