This is a written version of The Cheeseburger Theory podcast I did with Jimbo Balaam. To listen, please check below.
I know what a lot of you are thinking, what do cheese-burgers have to do with Auto Detailing. Well, for one thing, I love a good cheeseburger. In fact, if I had to choose between a steak cooked by the top chef in the country versus a bacon cheeseburger cooked by the top chef in the country, I would probably choose the cheeseburger. Nothing makes me feel happier than a well prepared, loaded with onions, bacon, tomatoes, and horseradish mustard burger on a fresh baked bun that is partially soaked. Makes my mouth water just thinking about it. Throw in a nice dark lager to wash it down with, and I am in food coma heaven.
The other thing, is what I like to refer to as “The Cheeseburger Theory”. The theory goes like this: I can walk into a local Burger King or McDonalds and say “I would like the cheeseburger. It will probably cost around a dollar, give or take, and it will be ready within a few minute. On the other hand, I could walk into the top steakhouse in New York City, and order a Cheese Burger, and it will probably cost anywhere from $40 to upwards of $100 . I have done my research, and there is even a restaurant in London that sells a Cheeseburger for $1768. (Don’t believe me? Check out THIS ARTICLE.) The point is, at either place, I am basically saying the same thing, “I would like a cheeseburger”.
From here, there are some obvious differences in the final product that I receive. Let’s talk about the fast food burger first. I have to walk in, or go through a drive through. The person taking my order usually looks “half asleep” to say the least. I get it served to me on a plastic tray, wrapped in wax paper and I am CERTAINLY not getting my dark lager to wash my meal down with. I go sit down at a linoleum table on a plastic bench that are both usually bolted down to the ground. No one asks me about how my meal is, if I want my drink refilled, and there is certainly nothing relaxing about the environment. This is about the atmosphere that my meal is served to me.
Now, onto the actual cheeseburger itself. It’s prepared in a microwave with no skill involved. They are certainly not asking me how I want my burger cooked. If you start really doing your homework, you will certainly question if you are getting real meat, cheese, bacon, and other “food”. As a long time detailer, I have pulled out these “pieces of cheese, meat patty, and bacon strip” that certainly should have started to decay, but instead look like they belong in my daughter’s play food kitchen because they look the exact same way they did the day they were purchased.
Overall, it’s a quick service, provided by people with little to no skill, a questionable end result that may temporarily make you feel good, but long term, you feel like crap. However, keep in mind, you still said; “I would like a cheeseburger”
Now, let’s talk about the burger that costs $40-$75 range. First off, we’ll talk about the environment. You are probably lead to your (comfortable) seat and told that there is a delicious “cheeseburger” special today. There is real, metal silverware on the table, cloth napkins, and probably music playing in the background. Overall, if they are going to pull off an offering for a $75 cheeseburger, they had better make it a true experience for me. I am asked how I would like my cheeseburger cooked, what freshly prepared side I would like, and most importantly, what fresh, on tap, dark lager I would like to start my meal with.
On top of the environment I am being served in, who is preparing me this magnificent burger? Probably someone who has had extensive culinary training or at least the preparation is being overseen by someone like this. The ground beef is top of the line kobe beef, I usually have my choice of cheese (Swiss cheese or Monterey Jack are my personal favorites), and it’s perfectly melted. The onions are sautéed before being put on, the bacon is cooked to crispy perfection. All of this is being done with top of the line restaurant equipment that is kept clean and in top working order so that meal after meal, the chef and his team can deliver the best results to any and all customers who come through their door.
So, what does this have to do with auto detailing? I am glad you asked. Just like no one is out there saying EXACTLY what a cheeseburger has to be, even though there should be, no one is out there saying what EXACTLY your customers mean when they say “I want my car detailed”. On any given day, it can mean a run though a car wash and a coat of wax all the way up to a full 50 hour or more paint correction and coating. To the professionals, we know what it means, but I am asking you to look through your client’s eyes. How can you explain to someone what the difference is between YOUR detailing service and the guy down the road to the general population that is still confused as to what exactly happens when you clay their car.
Well, a good start would be to take a look at the environment your clients immediately walk into? Does it scream “Unprofessional, untrained, over processed service”, or does it give your potential client a feeling of exclusivity. Are you wax paper and linoleum chairs or are you dedicated servers and real silverware. Are you trained in what you are doing, can you prove it? Do you use the best equipment and products and keep them clean and well kept, or are you using whatever was the cheapest when you walked into Walmart? Are you showing your customer from the get go that you are the $75 dollar cheeseburger or are you showing them you are the $1 cheeseburger TRYING to be the $75.
Another part of my cheeseburger theory should also mentally work in your favor. If a potential client walked into the New York Steakhouse and demanded they cook him the $75 burger for only $1 because “McDonald’s down the road serves it for a dollar” they would probably laugh at them and ask them to leave. I am not encouraging you to laugh at your clients, but you need to show them why it’s impossible for you to do the same work down the road because it’s not the work you do, plain and simple.
Now, if you will excuse me, I am starving. I think I’ll go have a cheeseburger.