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The Free Neighbor Wash: Am I a Chump?


toddimac
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Hi All:

 

A little background first:

 

1. I live on a street where most of the houses do not have garages.

2. Most of the people on my street don't give a @#$% about their cars.

3. I do give a @#$% about my cars, hence my use of Adam's and my presence on this forum.

 

So, my question is: Am I a chump?

 

Most of the time when I am out washing my cars, my neighbors will drive by in their dirt-encrusted cars (for example, an Audi A-6, nice, but neglected) with horribly dirty wheels etc. and ask "Hey, will you wash mine too?" I always say: park it here and leave the keys - I will bring it back later. I find it impossible to dial back my wash routine, so they get full wheel cleaning with APC, turbo stick, etc. Foam bath, two-bucket wash, dry with Detail Spray and GWMF. Dress tires/trim with SVRT. Don't usually touch the interior. Return car to their house looking better than ever. They might drop a six pack by later.

 

So, I am sure they think their cars look great, but have no clue about the awesomesness of the Adam's line, nor the investment required.

 

Am I a chump? Discuss...

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Nothing wrong with being a nice guy. Just sucks you're using all that product and not getting paid. I ran into the problem last year of not charging enough to cover product replacement. I've got a friend that I do all his vehicles for free. In exchange, though, he'll do mechanic work on my truck and moms car. Every once in awhile he'll give me $25.

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If you do it that often, and to that extent, then yeah kinda imo.

 

Either: dial it down to strictly a wash and dry, or buy a few OTC supplies to use strictly on neighbors cars. Like buy the $5 can of tire shine instead of using the premium $25 bottle of svrt. If they don't care about their vehicles, they aren't going to notice/appreciate the difference between OTC and premium

 

sent from your HTC Rezound

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CHARGE EM! or at the very least work trade out for things you can use... I'm sure all most if not some of your neighbors have skills that could be of use to you in exchange.

 

I've detailed in trade for electrical work, plumbing, landscaping, babysitting, computer repair, and a host of other things.

 

If nothing else have them buy you a 6 pack or make you dinner! :cheers:

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Todd, I highly doubt anyone in your Bethesda neighborhood can't afford a car wash, so I'd look at it as a one-time way to meet your neighbors, and then after that I'd either ask them for payment or find out what they do for a living and ask for something logical in return. Like if they're a lawyer, tell them you'll give their car a full detail in exchange for setting up your will or something. If they have a kid, ask (in a friendly, neighborly way) to have them to have their kid mow your lawn in exchange for carwashes. I'd phrase it like, "Hey, I really enjoy keeping a clean car, and I always do it right, but it's time consuming and I use top-shelf products that cost some money. If you'd like, maybe we can work something out..."

 

There's being neighborly (like for instance I always shovel snow from my elderly neighbor's yard, and often just mow their lawn when I do mine, but they are truly grateful and reciprocate with thanks, brownies, cookies, etc.), but you know as well as I do that most people in Montgomery County are pretty self-absorbed -- if they can get something for free they will, and if they aren't genuine and don't appreciate you, I'd just laugh them off with a "I wish I had the time" and turn back to my own car.

 

... and all that said, if you ever need some adams stuff or want to try something you don't have, drop me a line -- I have a garage full of the stuff and it'd be great to meet you. You can wash my car while you're here. :lolsmack:

 

Rich

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Once you've given it away, it's lost all value and it's nearly impossible to charge for it. We see it all the time here at work. Those people that are decent will understand and pay, but many won't. They'll just move on.

 

I do very little for free, but I WILL help a neighbor. Fortunately my next door neighbor is an arrogant prick and someone I can't stand so I don't have to worry about them and everyone else is pretty quiet and keeps to themselves.

 

Chris

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Todd, I highly doubt anyone in your Bethesda neighborhood can't afford a car wash, so I'd look at it as a one-time way to meet your neighbors, and then after that I'd either ask them for payment or find out what they do for a living and ask for something logical in return. Like if they're a lawyer, tell them you'll give their car a full detail in exchange for setting up your will or something. If they have a kid, ask (in a friendly, neighborly way) to have them to have their kid mow your lawn in exchange for carwashes. I'd phrase it like, "Hey, I really enjoy keeping a clean car, and I always do it right, but it's time consuming and I use top-shelf products that cost some money. If you'd like, maybe we can work something out..."

 

There's being neighborly (like for instance I always shovel snow from my elderly neighbor's yard, and often just mow their lawn when I do mine, but they are truly grateful and reciprocate with thanks, brownies, cookies, etc.), but you know as well as I do that most people in Montgomery County are pretty self-absorbed -- if they can get something for free they will, and if they aren't genuine and don't appreciate you, I'd just laugh them off with a "I wish I had the time" and turn back to my own car.

 

... and all that said, if you ever need some adams stuff or want to try something you don't have, drop me a line -- I have a garage full of the stuff and it'd be great to meet you. You can wash my car while you're here. :lolsmack:

 

Rich

Thanks Rich - I may take you up on your offer. I want to get into machine polishing, but would like some actual hand-on expereince watching someone else do it before I make the jump.

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dont use adams on them. They wouldnt realize the difference between adams full detail and a wash with dawn dish soap IMHO.

 

id use 1 bucket with dish soap and clean the entire car plus wheels with that one bucket, and theyd still be happy.

Great idea. Based on your response, and that of others, I may need to have a second non-Adam's "steath" wash kit! Maybe use old kithcen towels for drying!

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Absolutely charge them!! Your spending hard earned money to buy the products, spending your time washing their car when you can be spending it with your family and their sitting at home drinking the other 3 six-packs out of the case. You are NOT a chump, but what's fair is fair!!

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I get people driving by all the time saying the same thing, I just smile and laugh politely. I get the "mine is next" comment more than anything.

 

I'm a nice guy, but as Dylan said, either charge them a rate or work something out in trade.

 

I do my family and extended families cars for free, but time is money for others.

 

I know what you're saying though, detailing is addicting and the pride of a turnaround for a vehicle is a great feeling. I love detailing because it's a big stress reliever for me. I don't drink much, maybe a few beers a month, I don't smoke, don't do drugs, so detailing is my vice :D

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Are you a chump? No!

 

But if you are wanting experience towards having a business, be sure to start charging people, at least enough that they don't lose respect for you. And you can give a "discount" for cars that you want to be able to take before/after pics for a portfolio.

 

You said something that resonated with me, "I find it impossible to dial back my wash routine, so they get full ..." I find the same thing true. In talking with Adam about this a couple years ago he made the recommendation to me that I always price my details to include the bare minimum of what I am happy doing, because if I am not happy with a "less" job I will begin to hate the work.

 

Now I only do free details for close friends or others that I want to help (widows, out of work, etc). Everyone else is charged a rate that will cover the minimum 4 hours that I will spend. Typically this is a minimum of $150.

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You are not a chump, you love detailing.

 

I will tell you....when it becomes a chore, and you get nothing in return, you will lose your love of it fast. I only do a couple of cars a quarter for this specific reason. I was getting to the point where I didn't enjoy doing it...most of my love comes from the fact thats it's a hobby, and not a job to detail my vehicles.

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Guest Gone & Forgotten

My neighbor is a plumber. We swap out work.

 

My employees bring theirs over and I swap em one hour of me and my product for 2 hours of their wages. They make 14-20$/hr.

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