NORTHBROOK, Ill.—June 22, 2020—In this edition of Straight Talk with Jeff Cross, Kenya Williams and DJ Patterson of the International Detailing Association (IDA) discuss how the COVID-19 pandemic is impacting their niche of the cleaning industry as car detailers. Patterson, president of the IDA, owns and operates a mobile detailing company in Tulsa, Okla. Williams, an active member of the IDA, owns and operates a detailing company in Williamsburg, Va. Like much of the cleaning industry, many auto detailers across the country were initially shut down because they were labeled as nonessential businesses, but the IDA provided resources to help business owners lobby to be labeled essential as members of the cleaning industry who provide a valuable service in reducing the risk of infection.

During the pandemic, Williams has found that many of his clients expressed a desire to not just have their cars cleaned but also disinfected, so he contacted ISSA and did research on his own regarding proper disinfection for COVID-19. To protect himself and his clients, he uses an EPA registered disinfectant on all the car’s surfaces.

Patterson requires his teams to wear PPE, including gloves, face masks, and safety glasses, and they also spray the interior of the vehicles with disinfectants, paying special attention to high touchpoints. Patterson also offers his clients the option of a “no contact” appointment to reduce the risk of exposure to COVID-19.

As car detailers continue to try and operate safely during the ongoing pandemic, Williams recommends doing what he calls a “wellness check” of the car and the client before cleaning; in other words, find out as much information as possible about the condition of the car and the level of risk for possible COVID-19 exposure before your team begins work.

Patterson adds that many detailers, himself included, have in the past used terms like “disinfecting” or “sanitizing” loosely without close attention to the scientific definitions of these terms, but the COVID-19 pandemic has made clear that all cleaners need to be more specific about the services they offer. “Now is the time you need to educate yourself as a detailer or cleaner on what the difference is between cleaning, disinfecting, and sanitizing, and make sure you can offer each one of those services that you say you’re going to do,” said Patterson.

For business owners of any kind, Patterson also points out that the pandemic should serve as a wake-up call about the importance of good financial planning to ensure a crisis doesn’t put you out of business. “Are you going to be able to sustain when the world shuts down again, if it shuts down again?”

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