Gabe Fletcher’s Public Service Announcement
By Chris Collier
Gabe Fletcher’s initial detailing business spawned in the back of a 2002 Chevrolet Suburban in January 2020. The SUV’s third row was crammed with brushes, towels, a generator, and a pressure washer, allowing little space for backseat drivers. But Fletcher was in complete control, transitioning to a single-bay location in six months. Now the owner-operator of Ceramic Pro Pottstown in Pottstown, Pa., Fletcher credits his continuous climb to using a methodology that could also light the way for new film dealers.
“The industry needs a strong shift,” Fletcher says. “Everyone wants to focus on being the best detailer and using the top products when the truth is the majority of all professional-grade products perform similarly. What matters is your process, prep work, and the relationship you have with your clients.”
Ceramic Pro Pottstown’s business mix is 40% paint protection film (PPF), 30% ceramic coatings, and 30% automotive tint. The company’s sales jumped by more than 2000% from 2020 to 2022. The former IT support professional leads two detailers and two installers and says service expansion facilitated his two years of epic growth.
“PPF is the number-one entry into cross-selling,” Fletcher says. “If you do PPF, customers will usually book coating and tint. Now a $2,200 project is pushing $4,000 to $5,000.”
When it comes to funneling customers into PPF or ceramic coatings, both products with protective properties, Fletcher implements a sales qualification process.
“We want to learn what vehicle it is, whether they lease or own it, and how long they typically keep cars,” he explains. “Then we figure out what their pain points are. Do rock chips bother you? Do you do highway, city, or country road traveling? We need to get away from being a [segment] that makes cars shiny; becoming a solution-based business.”
Fletcher built a personal website at 11 years old and another for a business at 15, sparking a passion for web development. He founded Detailing Growth, a marketing and growth agency for detailers, in July 2021.
“I noticed a trend where web developers were taking advantage of business owners who didn’t know any better. I saw them charging obscene amounts of money as a ‘specialist’ in this sector, screwing these businesses over. I said, ‘It’s time to get in the game.’ It was born out of a necessity to push toxicity out,” Fletcher explains.
The agency centers on website design, pay-per-click advertising, and search engine optimization (SEO). Marketing is connected to Fletcher’s three-facet roadmap, which encourages installers and detailers to put their polishers down, observe their business from a top-down view, and implement changes.
“We have a real shot at reshaping the way owners do things,” Fletcher says of the three-theme methodology. “That’s the goal here—be part of a movement where you don’t work yourself to death.”
1. Installer/Detailer Dilemma
Balancing quality versus quantity is a struggle found throughout the film world. Fletcher says shops could reach a broader customer base if they dial back the pursuit of perfection. Where should you draw a line?
“What you think the best is and what the client feels the best is are two different levels of learning and knowledge,” Fletcher explains. “Perfection is not sustainable. As a business owner, you have a different [idea] of what’s acceptable compared to an employee. Regardless of what you pay them, that employee won’t match ‘perfect’ in your eyes. You want them to get as close as possible without pushing them over the edge.”
Fletcher caught perfectionism as an expansive problem while participating in Facebook Groups.
“I would post something imperfect, and people would find a reason to tear me down,” he continues. “It’s difficult as a person to be on a constant attack. Capitalism works on a value-based system; it doesn’t work on perfectionism. If I can provide a customer with good value in 75% less time, there’s no reason we should be ego-stroking ourselves and working 75% harder.”
2. Take Failure on The Chin
“Failure is a requirement for success,” he says. “It’s not an option that you want, but it’s part of the process, growth, and evolving.”
Running a successful business entails leading others to victory, even when team members stumble.
“We need to address mistakes in a manner that doesn’t make people feel like they’re targeted or left out,” Fletcher says. “The biggest thing is helping the team know what they should be pushing for, in terms of efforts and results, and making sure we’re close to that idea. If you manage abilities and capabilities of producing, they’ll typically produce a better product than anticipated.”
Fletcher says expressing appreciation is integral to retaining impactful employees.
“It’s more than paying them or caring about them,” he advises. “You have to value your team, their time, effort, and everything they do. If they don’t feel valued, they won’t give you everything they can.”
3. Marketing Investment
“Embrace video and become an educator in your market,” Fletcher says. “Become someone personable and trustworthy. That’s what you’ll see from the businesses that have credibility. They share knowledge and have facetime with the camera. That goes hand-in-hand with embracing marketing in today’s day and age.”
Fletcher ensures his consumers are knowledgeable about service offerings.
“We’ve invested in producing educational videos surrounding PPF, ceramic coatings, and window tint for our target market,” Fletcher says. “The end-user will go with the shop that appeals to them and appears to be a trusted, authoritative source in that space. When you post on social media, send an email; you make a video, create a blog. You keep being an educator as your primary focus.”
Fletcher is fighting for industry evolution, but he was stagnant in 2018. Weighing in at 550 pounds, the current Ceramic Pro dealer had 16 hours of seat time a day handling web design and e-commerce work.
“I was extremely depressed, and I hated my life,” Fletcher says. “I thought I’d be dead by the time I was 35. Now, I look for a reason to inspire and help people. I’m always looking for a positive note in any situation. If I focus on nothing but negative, we don’t grow; it doesn’t help anyone.”
Fletcher underwent weight loss surgery in September 2019 and now broadcasts an inspiring message to those in his previous pair of shoes.
“Sometimes it’s hard to see beyond a clouded view,” Fletcher says. “If you’re presented with an opportunity that could net you a positive outcome—jump.”
Chris Collier is the assistant editor for PPFMag. Connect with him on LinkedIn and Facebook or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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