Ethics In Auto Detailing

When it comes to business ethics most people think about Wall Street executives, bankers, insider trading, and the corruption which comes with crony capitalism in the incestuous relationship the between big business and government. It is interesting that most of the books written on ethics do have a business slant, although it is safe to say that humans regardless of their area of endeavor are often challenged with unethical behavior.

You might also find it interesting that small businesses are often challenged by a lack of ethics, although this probably shouldn’t surprise you. Let me give you a few case studies because I would like to talk about ethics in auto detailing. Before retirement, I was a franchisor of auto service businesses. I was always bothered by some of what I saw and what I considered crossing the gray line of ethics. I’ve seen the good, bad, and ugly.

In 2012 there was an auto detailer in Santa Barbara CA that had a customer come into his shop with an SUV with blood stains he wanted detailing out. He wondered if someone was murdered thrown into the SUV and the body dumped somewhere. He called a Highway Patrol, and it turned out that the person in the SUV was a good Samaritan who stopped by the side of the road to help two girls that had been involved in a car accident and taken them to the hospital. They were out in the middle of nowhere where the cell phones didn’t work.

The auto detailer did the right thing because if the SUV had been involved in a crime, it would have been the auto detailer who had blood on his hands helping the culprit wash his hands of the crime he committed. In this case, everything turned out fine, no crime no foul.

Let me tell you of a story which happened to our company in the late 1990s. One of our franchisees in TN had a customer sending cars to an auto auction, several hundred of them, and the client wanted them all detailed – they had flood damage. The customer thought that he could have us detail the cars, and he asked that we clean the inside of the taillights because there was a water line. The customer then thought he would take these vehicles to the auto auction to sell them to unsuspecting customers, not telling them that the vehicles had been submerged for over three weeks.

This means they had all sorts of problems; electrical, water in the fuel tanks, in the crankcase, and probably rust inside of the engine not to mention mold under the carpet, in the seats, and bacteria growing in the air vents. This was not a good thing. We refused to take the business and later found that he had taken the vehicles to another auto detailer, who we also warned, and told them that if they did do the work we would turn them in because it was unethical.

You see, things happen all the time in business, and I have plenty of stories to tell. Ethics in auto detailing is a must for those businesses that wish to survive for years into the future. Once you cross that line, you’re no better than any of the other dirtbags who are as corrupt as all get out. Please consider all this and think on it.

Cal Vance