The “Walk-Around” — Evaluation of Vehicle Prior to Detailing

By: Detail King
We call the initial evaluation with the owner of a vehicle about to be detailed as the “walk-around,” and it’s an important part of the process that should not be minimized or dismissed.

First off, you want to cover your own butt by pointing out any existing damage on the vehicle before you start working on it. If you walk around the car with the owner and point out any imperfections (dents, dings, rust, scuffs, scratches, etc.) you ensure the vehicle owner won’t blame you for something that was previously damaged or that they did not even know was damaged.

Sometimes the vehicle owner will not always be present when you do your “walk-around” evaluation, and that’s where your phone camera comes in handy. If you come across anything damaged, call the owner and that they know about it before detailing. That also goes for finding damage in the midst of detailing that wasn’t apparent beforehand. Call the customer right away to let them know. The one thing you don’t want to do is tell the owner after you are done with the entire detail that there was a dent, ding, scratch, or crack. It’s at that point that a customer might want to blame you for the damage.

But there’s another important reason to conduct a “walk-around” with your customer. It helps you determine what it is exactly that the vehicle requires. And that helps you price the job and determine how long it will take. It also offers you the opportunity to suggest other services to the customer. A prepared auto detailing professional will have a checklist of things to look for both inside and outside the vehicle. Here are some things to look for in your evaluation:

Auto Exterior

  • Acid Rain, Water Spots, Clear Coat Pollution
  • Oxidized Paint
  • Paint Overspray
  • Tree Sap
  • Excessive Tar/Road Grime
  • Medium/Heavy Scratches and Scuffs
  • Rock Chips
  • Oxidized/Discolored Headlight Lenses
  • Faded Door Handles/Plastic Trim
  • Loose Emblems/Moldings
  • Excessively Dirty Convertible Roofs
  • Excessively Dirty Wheels
  • Polished Wheels
  • Paint In Wheel Wells
  • Dull Chrome
  • Condition of Glass

Auto Interior

  • Condition of Seats
  • Excessively Dirty -Carpets/Mats
  • Faded Carpets
  • Kids Items Throughout Vehicle
  • Pet Hair
  • Condition of Cargo Area
  • Stains
  • Waste Removal
  • Condition of Headliner
  • Foul Odors

Each of the items on these lists costs you time and chemicals. You need to make sure that you charge what you are worth and not cut yourself short. This is why you want to evaluate what the vehicle needs prior to starting the detailing process and prior to giving the customer a price.

The “walk-around” evaluation also gives your customer options of what you can do for them. If you have a customer who doesn’t want to pay the quoted price, you can ask them which items you should remove from the list in order to reach the price they want to pay. This beats dropping your price to accommodate what they want to pay. If you drop some services as opposed to just dropping your price, then you’re still getting what your work is worth. Makes perfect sense, doesn’t it? And your customer drives away happy.

The Detail King Forms CD has the vehicle walk-around form along with a sample invoices used by auto detailers, customer review card, auto detailers check list and damage report that should be used prior to detailing the vehicle.

Article provided by The Detail King, Pittsburgh, PA. For more information go to: or call 724-325-0008

Written By: Detail King


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