Squid Ink Detailing - Business Update
It’s been a while since the last blog, so I thought it would be a good time for an update about what’s been happening at Squid Ink HQ.
A Record Year in 2021
Despite all of the challenges in 2021 with the pandemic and seemingly never-ending lockdowns, it turned out to be our best year ever by quite some margin. In fact, sales were up an astonishing 800% on the previous year. I would like to personally thank every single Squid Ink customer, you have all helped support the dream and I am genuinely extremely grateful to every person who has bought our products.
Shows and Events
In 2021, Squid Ink attended various events, shows and meets across the UK with the van and gazebo. Our van is always very well received, the loud livery draws people in for a closer look, the perfect tool at events when you need to stand out in a crowd.
In House Wax Blending
One of the highlights for me in 2021 was bringing our wax making in house. I have been researching car wax making processes for many years. I have also made various contacts in the industry who blend top quality waxes for some of the big players in the market. I was fortunate when an acquaintance decided to sell all of their kit, including hot plates, magnetic stirrers, waxes, solvent, oils and various tried and tested wax recipes. Anyone in the industry will understand that wax recipes are like gold dust and are very closely guarded secrets, even amongst peers.
I grabbed the opportunity with both hands and collected the gear the following day. From there, I’ve been blending, testing, and tweaking on an almost daily basis. One recipe in particular showed great promise, but I felt it needed adjusting. After taking advice from a good friend and established wax maker (many thanks buddy), around 5 changes were made which transformed the wax.
The result is a firm wax which oils up nicely to the touch, it loads onto an applicator well, spreads easily, cures nicely and removes without any drama. The water behavior and beading are also exceptional, a single coat protecting paintwork for several months. The most striking thing about this blend though is the incredible glowing effect and glossiness that it leaves on the paintwork.
Everyone who tested the wax said their paint looked like it was ‘glowing’ after application. The name Afterglow therefore seemed like the perfectly apt name for the blend. Labels were designed, the MSDS (safety data sheet) created and the blend has been added to our product insurance, so it is all legit and above board. Several other wax blends are underway, the next in development is a softer paste wax – watch this space.
Squid Ink have also started blending custom wax for car groups, the first wax went live recently for the MX5 North Wales Group. Their 'Cherry Cola' scented wax has been very well received. We are able to design and print custom labels for the lids, offer a range of bespoke scents and colours. Get in touch if this could be of interest for your own car group.
Snow Foam Cannons
In early 2021 Squid Ink Detailing were invited to test a new design of snow foam cannon from a relatively unknown company called MJJC. They were established in America, but hadn’t really entered the UK detailing market at that point. I obliged and received one of their cannons soon afterwards. It was immediately obvious that this type of lance was in a league of its own compared to anything else currently available. The build quality was exceptional, it had a wide fill neck with well-marked fill levels on a very sturdy HDPE bottle. It included a spare orifice for low pressured units, 3 spare mesh filters and a very well-made nozzle that rotated 360 degrees from vertical to horizonal. The cleverest feature in my opinion was the weighted pickup tube. This means that the bottle can be used effectively at any angle and still collect fluid from the bottle.
We opened discussions with MJJC and agreed to place a significant order of cannons under the Squid Ink brand. They sold very well, and we soon needed to place a second order. In the meantime, MJJC released their branded units into the UK market. Unsurprisingly, they went viral and were soon the undisputed number one cannon that you could buy. In a bit of a bitter blow, when we came to place our third order, we were advised that the sole distribution rights have been awarded to another UK supplier. This ultimately means we can no longer sell the cannons under our own brand, although we do have the option to stock them under MJJC branding, albeit at a significantly higher cost. We currently have Karcher K-Series and Nilfisk fitments left in stock. They are selling very fast and include a free bottle of Froth snow foam worth £9.99!
Despite the initial disappointment, we decided there was an opportunity to source our very own Squid Ink snow foam cannon. Despite the MJJC units being extremely good, they are on the more expensive side at nearly £40 each. We aim to offer our new unit at a more affordable price point.
First things first, we decided to write an RFP (request for proposal) and opened it up to various factories who manufacture all different types of detailing equipment. We were completely inundated with responses, all different types, styles and price points. We ultimately narrowed it down to 4 manufacturers. Samples were ordered from each factory and we eagerly awaited for them to arrive. A couple of weeks later and testing began. It begs the question, are all snow foam cannons the same? Well actually no, the quality and finishes vary quite considerably.
One unit stood head and shoulders above the others. It has a transparent, well proportioned conical shaped 1.1 litre bottle, a filter on the pickup tube, accurate fill markings, a very well made 360 degree nozzle and exceptional brass and stainless fittings that are easily on par with the MJJC. The factory making this cannon manufactures all of the components themselves to ISO standards and it really shows.
The other units looked a lot more industrial in comparison, the metals were dull and looked like you would find them on plumbing fittings in a DIY store. Surprisingly, the fill markers were also wildly inaccurate on two of the bottles.
For me the transparent cannon was obviously the best design. However, the bottle was a concern as it is made from PET plastic. Although extremely well made, it felt like it could break if dropped when full, or if the lid is over tightened. Some cannons on the market are experiencing this exact issue at the moment due to the PET bottle. Feedback has been provided and the factory has agreed to re-manufacture the same bottle but from a much more durable HDPE plastic. We are awaiting delivery of another sample, but we are hopeful that this will be the unit for Squid Ink.
It just goes to show, although this has been a very expensive way to launch a new cannon, research, development and testing is absolutely essential to achieve the best quality. This has been paramount to the Squid Ink ethos from day one, I will only ever add anything to my range when I am completely satisfied that it’s of the best quality.
Looking ahead, 2022 has started and we have been off to an absolute flier. We have had our busiest online month ever – in January which is usually the quietest month of the year. Our mystery boxes have proved a huge hit, offering £50 worth of products for £30 is a fantastic and cost effective introduction to our range.
Several new products are also scheduled to be added to the range very soon, we are in the final stages of testing so keep your eyes peeled on Facebook, Instagram and TikTok - follow us if you haven't already.
The diary is already full to the brim with events, shows and car meets. We have every expectation that 2022 will be our best year to date by quite some margin. If you have got this far, I hope you have enjoyed the update and thanks for reading. Lets hope the the pandemic is now behind us and we can return to some kind of normality. Thanks again for all of your support, you are the best. Take care and speak soon, Michael