A Study in Efficiency

By: Kevin Davis, Detailer’s Helper
My name is Kevin Davis, and I am the owner and inventor of Detailer’s Helper, a company that makes tool belts and accessories for the detailing industry.  Having been involved in multiple industries over the last 20+ years, I’ve learned a great deal about efficiency, and how it relates to revenue and profit. In a […]

My name is Kevin Davis, and I am the owner and inventor of Detailer’s Helper, a company that makes tool belts and accessories for the detailing industry. 

Having been involved in multiple industries over the last 20+ years, I’ve learned a great deal about efficiency, and how it relates to revenue and profit. In a short series of articles, I’m hoping to shed some light on the nature of efficiency and what it is, how it affects a detail shop’s bottom line, ways to evaluate your shop, how to improve your efficiency throughout your detailing business, and how to make more money.

Time is Money – An Introduction on Efficiency

When Henry Ford adapted the assembly line concept for the automotive industry in 1913, he did so in order to make car ownership a possibility for the masses, something that up until that time, had been impossible. 

Up until that time, coach builders created cars by purchasing a drivetrain then fabricating a “coach” using custom-fabricated parts and horse drawn carriage components. As you might imagine, the result was a completely hand-built custom car. This concept still exists today, from a very-low production run hypercar to a 100% custom fabricated project like a SEMA build or Riddler Award car. 

What do all of these cars have in common? They were, and still are, exceedingly expensive to build and buy. In large part, the expense is the result of one thing…time in the form of labor.  

A custom-built car has intentional “wasted” time when it comes to efficiency. This works because the customer is willing to pay for it. For example, if it takes 50 hours to sand and polish a single panel to perfection, there is usually an unlimited budget to make that happen. Efficiency is, for the most part, not a consideration since it really doesn’t matter how much time (and money) is spent on the project. 

In detailing, at least for 99% of shops and projects out there, you don’t have that luxury. A detailing job budget is finite, and time wasted is literally paid for by the detailing shop. 

Whatever price has been given to the customer is largely based on time as well. Of course, materials like coatings, pads, compounds, etc. do account for some of the overhead, but in comparison to time cost, it’s relatively small.

Why Efficiency Matters

When a shop and worker is efficient, and it takes less time to complete tasks and jobs, the shop makes more money/margin for that job. If this is missing, and it takes more time than it should, the shop makes less money. Depending on how slim the margins are in the first place and the overhead involved, a shop risks actually losing money. 

Needless to say, it can be difficult to be successful when you’re paying your customers to work on their cars, which happens more often than we like to admit.

This all seems super obvious, right? If so, why are so many shops and detailers struggling to make a profit? My contention is that inefficiencies throughout these shops are creating that struggle.


In this series, I want to help you learn more about efficiency, identify possible spots in your business that need more efficiency, and find and implement tools and processes to gain that efficiency in your business. 

If you already have a successful and profitable shop, I hope you’ll still join me for this series. Who doesn’t want to be more successful and more profitable by identifying and correcting a few small things? 

I’ll see you for Part 2…

Written By: Kevin Davis, Detailer’s Helper

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