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Detail Garage’s First Franchisee Finds Record-Breaking Sales and Continued Growth, Despite the Pandemic

Gil Gonzalez has taken full advantage of the leading automotive care franchise’s unparalleled products, support and community-oriented business model.

Since its first store opened in 2008, Detail Garage, the country's go-to retail store for car care enthusiasts, passionate car owners and detailing professionals, has expanded its winning model to feature 75 locations across the country. Now, as the automotive industry proves uniquely resilient against the COVID-19 pandemic and its economic fallout, Detail Garage is continuing to grow with the help of dedicated franchisees eager to partner with an established automotive brand to create a one-stop-shop for car lovers. 

The Road to Detail Garage Franchise Ownership

The California-based, multi-unit owner Gil Gonzalez is one such dedicated franchisee. Gonzalez started as an employee with Chemical Guys — Detail Garage’s parent manufacturing company — 14 years ago. Gonzalez worked his way up through the company and held different roles on the team, saw the brand’s growth and fell in love with the automotive industry. In 2015, Gonzalez discovered Detail Garage and realized it would provide a great opportunity to achieve his dream of starting his own store.

“At the time, Detail Garage only had two corporate-owned stores — the flagship store and another store in Orange County,” Gonzalez said. “I knew Detail Garage already had loyal customers and a proven concept, and anytime I visited a store, it was busy. So I approached co-founders Paul Schneider and David Knotek and asked them if there was any way I could open a new store in California. They were just starting to launch a franchise concept and asked me if I wanted to join the brand as the very first franchise owner.”

Beyond the established customer base, Gonzalez says he was drawn to the Detail Garage concept because of the opportunity to build a community and educate customers on the auto industry and detailing. Detail Garage offers customers the perfect blend of products, tools, accessories and classes, creating a full-stop automotive lifestyle brand and granting franchisees access to multiple revenue streams.

“I loved the idea of providing customers and car enthusiasts with the products and knowledge all under one roof,” said Gonzalez. “I am also a car enthusiast myself, and I knew that the environment was perfect for me. I love the whole business model — it’s not just a retail store selling products, it is designed to personally connect with customers. We get to see their passion, recommend the right products and educate them on how to use it. That is really hard to find in the retail industry.”

How Detail Garage Positions Franchisees for Success

In 2016, Gonzalez opened the first franchised Detail Garage store in Montclair, California. Since then, he has opened two more stores across the state. Over the past five years, Gonzalez says he’s been able to connect deeply with car enthusiasts in his area.

“Whether they are coming in solo or are affiliated with a local car club, we work hard to make meaningful connections with our customers so they continue to choose us for their automotive needs,” said Gonzalez. 

To help Detail Garage franchisees build those long-lasting customer relationships, the team offers a robust support infrastructure and continuous training, which covers everything from operations and staffing to technology and marketing. Franchisees are also provided with promotional marketing materials to help with local community outreach, event planning, educational classes and more. And after events, franchisees typically see sales from attendees three times higher than an average customer.

“We create a place where car enthusiasts can come together and give back,” said Gonzalez. “For example, we’ve held car meets in the past where customers come in and team up with us to do charitable outreach for the community.”

Why Detail Garage Franchisees Have Continued to Thrive Despite the Challenges of the Pandemic

Last year, when the COVID-19 pandemic hit, Gonzalez says he felt more supported than ever by both the Detail Garage team and the business model. 

“The Detail Garage corporate team was there for me 100% during COVID-19,” said Gonzalez. “Within less than a month, they had set up an e-commerce platform for whomever wanted to get involved with curbside pickup. Usually, a project like that takes a long time, but the team made it a priority and helped us drive sales and keep customer loyalty up. In addition, we’ve seen a lot of people more interested in our professional classes because many people are starting to think about opening their own detailing business. Overall, this has been one of our strongest years so far in terms of sales.”

Gonzalez isn’t alone in his unprecedented success over the past year — Detail Garage franchisees have seen a 28% increase in sales in 2020. 

Now, with 75 locations already in operation around the world, the Detail Garage team is looking to reach 100 open units this year, followed by 50 locations added to the system each subsequent year. Qualified prospects have a prime opportunity to replicate Gonzalez’s success and help expand the Detail Garage brand across the country. 

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