Before retirement, I was in the franchise business, and amongst other things we franchised mobile auto detailing rigs around the country. Each time a new franchise buyer would contact me, I can see they had dollar signs in their eyes, and they were hoping to detail customers who might own a Ferrari, Bentley, or Rolls-Royce. The reality is that although there are plenty of customers with those types of vehicles, most detailers make their money detailing for the middle class.Therefore most of the cars they are detailing our BMWs, Mercedes, Corvettes, Cadillac, Range Rovers, Jaguars, Lexus, and yes, the higher end vehicles too. But interestingly enough, if you really want to make a lot of money and auto detailing, it pays to have wholesale auto detailing accounts, and actually skip the personal cars. Of course, there isn’t as much prestige in doing it this way, but there is often less competition, and an abundance of work, in fact there is usually enough work in any given city to keep a crew of 10 people or more busy full-time.Sometimes there is so much work you can’t get it all done, and you experience constant controlled chaos in your scheduling, and trying to keep track of it all. There are auto auctions, car dealerships, bank repos, and fleet vehicles. Wholesale auto detailing is a nice business model, and it’s much different than just concentrating on high-end cars for high net worth individuals. Often you will find the proprietor of a wholesale automotive detailing establishment with their sleeves rolled up, whereas you will find someone who does only prestigious automobiles sporting the fancy clothes, expensive watch, and fancy shoes – basically a ten-gallon hat, but no cattle.The reality is that the chances are very good that the business owner engaged in the wholesale work is actually making quite a bit more money, and lives in a nicer house, and probably even drives a nicer automobile, might even own a private plane too. Perhaps it is for this reason that I always looked at the franchise buyers rather funny when they told me that they wanted to clean in detail very expensive cars for rich clientele. That might sound nice, but it’s not a very good business model as compared to automotive detailing at the wholesale level.Interestingly enough, those companies that try to do both, often lose control of their shops. It’s almost as if they need to be in separate buildings, because the business models are so very different. Indeed I hope you will please consider all this and think on it.
THE POPULARITY OF FACEBOOK
With over 400 million users, Facebook is one of the most popular sites in the world. At one point, Facebook was the most popular non-search engine site in the world, second only to Google. Not only that, but over 100 million users access Facebook using their mobile phones. Many users access Facebook daily and many of those people access it multiple times throughout the day.Facebook has undergone aggressive updates since its inception, one of the most prominent being the advent of the Facebook “Fanpage”. A Fanpage is an opportunity for businesses to create a ‘page’ on Facebook from which they can build a social network; a community of ‘fans’ who are interested in what they are offering. At the time this article was written, there were over 60 million businesses with a Facebook Fanpage.FACEBOOK FANPAGES FOR AUTOMOTIVE DEALERSHIPS
For some reason, the automotive industry has been slow to jump on the trend. Lots of dealerships already have a Fanpage, but few are utilizing Facebook to its full potential in terms of branding, advertising, new lead generation, and the creation of a true social network/community.There are lots of tips on the internet that teach you how to build an attractive Fanpage – one that will attain (and REtain) a constantly increasing number of fans. One of the most important is to build an enticing ‘landing page’. A landing page is the first destination that a user sees when he or she comes across your Fanpage. Instead of directing a user to the main page of the Fanpage, they are instead directed them to a landing page that clearly explains who you are, what you do, and why they should “like” you (become a fan).With so many choices and so many businesses with Fanpages already, research has shown that users have a higher likelihood of converting into a fan if they are first directed to a landing page; of course, the landing page needs to be designed in an enticing enough manor to induce them to join. Whereas step one is getting the user to “like” your Fanpage, step two is providing relevant, interesting content that is compelling enough to make them stay. Therefore, retention is as important as the initial attraction, as users can leave a Fanpage as quickly as they can join one.DESIGNING, BUILDING, AND MAINTAINING YOUR DEALERSHIPS’ FANPAGE
It is important for dealerships to know that Facebook Fanpages are entirely customizable. Web designers can tailor the Fanpage specifically to the needs of individual dealerships. They can be set up to advertize specials, promotions, and events, as well as integrating live inventory updates, so fans can actually shop through vehicles while on the Fanpage.As useful as all of this is for dealerships, it is important not to lose site of the purpose of Facebook from the onset – Facebook is a community used to build a social network of fans and to create awareness. The most important thing is to work at it. A Fanpage cannot be created and then left to build and maintain itself – it needs attention to get the most out of it. It is important that a person at the dealership is assigned the responsibility of maintaining the Fanpage.With most dealerships having a staff of at least fifteen or more, there’s a good chance some of them are already on Facebook (and are familiar with its networking formula). When a dealership builds a Fanpage, they should begin generating a fan base by leveraging the Facebook networks of their employees – get staff to join the Fanpage from their individual Facebook profiles, and begin by having them invite all of their friends to the Fanpage. With the average Facebook user having over 200 friends, dealerships can probably invite a thousand or more people just by having their staff invite their Facebook friends. From there, the Fanpage will have a snowball effect. When a person becomes a Facebook fan of your dealerships’ Fanpage, their entire list of friends is notified that they have joined. This is the snowball effect that makes Fabebook so popular.WHO SHOULD BUILD YOUR FANPAGE?
So, should dealerships take on the responsibility of designing their Fanpage themselves? NO! Proper Facebook Fanpages should be left to the expertise of a developer. It is VERY easy to build a Fanpage – an internet layman could probably do it. However, in order to get the best results, dealerships should just pay to have it made. It’s a small investment for a social marketing tool that can attain major results.
Guangzhou is China’s third largest city; it sits in Guangdong province and is only a two hour train journey from Hong Kong. It’s also less than an hour away from Shenzhen and thus offers convenient access to most of the manufacturing heart of the mainland. It is officially a “mega city” with a population in excess of 10 million people, making it more populous than quite a few countries and it can take a while to get used to the size and sprawl of the city.Guangzhou is extremely popular for foreign companies looking to get a hold in South China, it’s location is extremely useful as a transport hub and it can be more cost effective than opening a base in nearby Shenzhen which is closer to Hong Kong and thus is more expensive for property as it serves as an overflow to the island’s Special Economic Zone status.Setting Up a BusinessAs with all cities in China there are only three vehicles for a foreign company looking to open an office in the city. You can open a representative office, a Wholly owned Foreign Enterprise (WoFE) or a joint venture. It makes sense to take local legal advice before choosing your set up, representative offices can be very limited in their sphere of operations, WoFE’s are ineligible for certain industry subsidies and joint ventures require a lot of planning and patience.Language Cantonese is the language of Southern China and in Guangzhou the most commonly spoken language is a Cantonese variant known locally as “Guangdongois”. Mandarin is also fairly commonly spoken and many Chinese speak a little of both to get by. If you only intend to conduct business in Guangzhou then you should rely on Cantonese speaking staff, but if you intend to branch out later bi-lingual staff will bring significant benefits in the long-term.PollutionThere’s a reason expatriate staff expect a premium to be based in Guangzhou, despite the lower costs compared to Shenzhen. It’s the ever present pollution; Guangzhou is one of those Chinese cities where you’ll want to invest in a face mask for most of the year.GridlockLike most major Chinese cities caught up in the automotive boom, the city often reaches a state of gridlock during busy periods on the roads. On the bright side, it also has an excellent and affordable public transport network, though to make the most of it you’ll need to learn to speak a bit of Chinese.AmenitiesLiving in China can be hard work as a major industrial hub Guangzhou offers many Western style amenities including restaurants and bars. But there’s a shortage of supermarkets offering Western food and while pirate DVD stores abound, there’s not much in the way of English based entertainment outside of that. There are some high quality (if expensive) International schools for expatriate families.Guangzhou is an excellent location for doing business in Southern China, but it can be a hard city to live in. If you’re thinking of setting up there it’s worth doing a bit of reconnaissance first to ensure your location allows access to amenities and some Western influence. China can be daunting for expats and a little taste of home can make for an easier transition, no matter how much you intend to “bury yourself in the local culture.”