For GardX, that process comprises a training module, followed by weekly and then monthly performance checks, with sales monitored to determine any need for retraining.
Another supplier, Permashine, is a prominent backer of the grimy business of motorsport, cannily reasoning “that it’s important to keep the sponsors’ names in view”. It has exclusive deals with an F1 team and M1 Sports Rally with Ford Fiestas. Permashine’s customers are mainly in the south west and managing director Trevor Hawkins believes that what differentiates the company is that it employs its own valeters to apply the treatment.
As well as going out under its own name, Permashine is used by Mercedes-Benz under the Star Protection service, and the company is also in partnership for the supply of leather treatment to Aston Martin.
Hawkins said that because paint and interior protection is not covered by FSA regulations it provides opportunities for all members of a sales force to promote the service. “Part of that promotion is pointing out to the customer that today’s water-based paints need something more durable than wax if a car is to maintain its condition,” he added.
Permashine’s base near Weston-super-Mare had appeal for Keith Brock, managing director of Wessex Garages which has six outlets in the south west operating Kia, Nissan and Hyundai franchises. “We prefer, whenever possible, to deal with local suppliers and Permashine gives us excellent support,” he said.
Though acknowledging the value of sales training, Brock said that in his experience customers came into two categories – “those who have bought before and appreciate the benefits, and others who don’t see the value”.
As for fabric protection, he likened it to buyers of a three-piece suite, who routinely opted for a product like Scotchgard.
Permashine comes with a seven-year warranty, with Brock reporting a sales penetration of around 25-30% for new cars and 10% for used. And how can a customer be reassured that their car has been properly prepped and treated? Because, as Brock pointed out, Permashine contains a trace chemical that can be detected under a fluorescent light.
His point about those customers who don’t see the value of paint and fabric protection highlights the issue of cost and dealer margin.
John Boseley, managing director of Jewelultra’s Diamondbrite range of cleaning and protection products, said a ballpark mark-up would be around £250 for a kit supplied for £18 to £20.