Pricing for different size vehicles
WHY DO WE CHARGE MORE FOR SOME VEHICLES THAN OTHERS?
We adjust our pricing based on the size and condition of the vehicle because it has a dramatic effect on the time and materials it takes us to complete the service and thus directly determines our cost for that service.
We use a standard sedan as our base for costing out services, and than adjust it for larger vehicles.
To use an analogy, if you had a 5000 square foot house with 10 foot windows would you expect someone to clean it for you for the same price as a 3500 square foot house with 8 foot windows? Certainly not. Why not just use an average? The owner of a large vehicle would like that but the owner of a smaller sedan would undoubtedly not like paying more than his real cost demanded so his larger cousin could pay less than his. We want the pricing to be fair for everyone, both our customers and ourselves.
We estimated our costs by estimating differences in the surface to be cleaned for numerous cars, using Consumer Reports dimensions, Car and Driver annual dimensions summary, and then checked it by measuring a good number of different types of vehicles ourselves. We found that vehicle sizes tended to cluster into a number of groups, so we established a series of categories with similar cleaning requirements to simplify pricing. Those categories are shown on our size-price chart with examples of vehicles in each category. Prices for our various detailing services are shown in the column below each category.
We estimated our time differences for different vehicles by timing ourselves doing it for a wide variety of vehicles and noting material differences. That gave a good cost base.
We then set our price size increases for less than what they would be if we adjusted our base sedan prices the same proportion as the size increases for larger vehicles. First, because there is some portion of time spent that is the same for any vehicle regardless of size, such as set up, parking, and moving. Second, we recognized that the incremental time for a larger surface was not 100% variable once you had started on a section, although material costs were, so we raised the price less than the proportionate size increase.
We based our times on the typical condition of vehicles coming in- they need a clean, but are not a mess. If they are extremely dirty or filled with clutter it takes considerably longer so we may charge a bit more to cover that. If they are very muddy it poses a special challenge. The mud must be removed by hand before running the car in the tunnel or the mud would get the equipment and the cars behind it dirty. In addition we cannot wash the mud down the drain for environmental reasons. It takes us longer to shovel it out of the pit and cart it off in plastic bags than it does to take it off the vehicle.
Tar and backed on sap are usually too tough to remove even with the hand prep at the tunnel entrance for our Platinum so they are treated like a detail item and priced separately.
Bugs are a constant challenge for our customers and us. They must be removed by hand to really get them off and not damage the car’s finish, and that is usually hard work requiring special solvents, brushes, and sponges. It is part of the hand prep in our Platinum wash. However, not everyone with bugs always needs everything else in the Platinum wash each time, so we save the customer money by letting them add the hand bug removal as an a la carte option to a cheaper wash if they wish. The full hand prep is also available a la carte for the same reason.