Squid Ink Detailing - Taking the Plunge
Several months have now passed since I left my permanent job in IT and ventured full time into the car care product industry. It has certainly been an amazing yet challenging experience so far, but business is going from strength to strength. I thought it would be a good time for an update on what's been happening with my business venture Squid Ink Detailing Ltd.
For background, I started Squid Ink Detailing as a side business back in 2018, selling a modest selection of premium car care products online and at a charity car meet that I helped organise. My full time career in IT Sales had been progressing well, but I'd felt for a long time that I needed to make some big changes in my life. Squid Ink Detailing had been a hobby business, doing something that I was very passionate about in my spare time. I had always dreamed of launching the business full time, but never thought I would have the time or the opportunity.
In March 2021 my personal circumstances suddenly changed and a large investment opportunity arose. It was now or never, I decided to leave my stable job where I had been employed for 6 years and undertake my side business full time. This was by far the most daunting business decision I have ever made, but one that I am confident will pay dividends in the future.
I was fortunate that I already had the foundations of the business in place, the branding, a well designed website, a number of quality products, an active Facebook Page, a fully branded gazebo and an extremely loyal cult-like following of customers who were already using my products. All that was needed was time and a large injection of cash.
The first challenge I faced was filling in the gaps in my modest range. Fortunately, I had already tried, tested and developed many products that I planned to launch one day. I placed large orders with various UK based chemical suppliers. I won't ever use a single chemical manufacturer for all of my products. This diversifies my supply chain and does make it more complex and expensive when ordering stock. However, I know that all of my products are top notch and only the best are used and created from each manufacturer. This also spreads the risk in case there was ever an issue with a single supplier in the future.
The next step was to get the labels designed/printed and the branded Material Safety Data Sheets (MSDS) created. Again, I already had the process in place for this so it wasn't too difficult to achieve.
I also needed to procure a much larger range of detailing accessories such as quality microfibre cloths, applicators, brushes, drying towels and snow foam cannons. I placed a substantial order and waited. And waited some more, and a bit more. Unfortunately, just as this order was made, the Suez Canal situation unfolded meaning huge shipping delays. Many sleepless nights later, after around 3 months my huge 18 box delivery finally arrived. The quality of the accessories was superb and I have to say the communication from the factory was second to none, it put my mind at ease massively during the entire process.
I had already made the decision that I didn't want a static retail shop with fixed overheads. My business strategy was centered around a fully stocked retail van that could drive out to visit customers. This would allow me to sell my products at car meets/shows, I could drive to businesses who use or sell car care products themselves and I could restock professional valeters and detailers. It would also enable me to visit retail car enthusiasts at home who are usually limited if they need specialist products the same day.
The obvious next step was purchasing a suitable van. I had a vision in my mind of exactly what I wanted; good head space in the back to allow customers to stand up and view my products, fully kitted out with lightweight but strong metal racking, a high payload rating, it needed to be visually eye catching and ideally have a Euro 6 compliant engine due to the upcoming low emissions regulations in most major cities.
I viewed several vans and nothing really fit the bill. Most were clapped out, high mileage 'beaters' that had been used as highways maintenance vehicles. Frustratingly, the price of vans has sky rocketed in recent months. There is a global chip shortage which means the average waiting time for a new van is over a year. Plus the pandemic has seen a surge in delivery drivers and there has also been a boom in people wanting to convert vans into camper vans due to global travel restrictions. I have to admit, I was feeling a little defeated. It felt like I had searched for every van in the country and nothing was suitable.
Then, out of the blue a listing was published in Huddersfield. It was a rare high rooftop Ford Transit Custom van, fully kitted out with very expensive System Edstrom metal racking, it had a Euro 6 engine and striking 'Aqua Green' paintwork which seemed to match my branding perfectly. It even had a power inverter, an inbuilt safe, LED interior lighting and an ideal space in the back for my gazebo. I quickly arranged a viewing and immediately knew this was the one. It was a little understated in it's standard form, but I could see the huge potential. It was priced at the top end of my budget, but I purchased it there and then.
To spruce it up a bit, some new 18" alloy wheels were ordered and I quickly contacted a local company to make a start on designing the sign writing. Things were starting to get very real now and it was getting daunting how much money was being spent on the business. It took around 6 weeks to get booked in for the sign writing, but the results were absolutely outstanding. The van certainly makes a statement and I'm extremely pleased with the results. It undeniably turns heads everywhere it goes.
There is still a huge amount of work to be done and the journey has really only just begun. So far, things are looking very positive and I am enjoying every single day.
If you would like to organise a visit in the van, it covers the East Midlands areas, namely around Sheffield, Chesterfield, Mansfield and Nottingham. Please email firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
Hope you have enjoyed reading my little business update. Thanks to every single person who has purchased Squid Ink products so far, this means the world to us as a small business. I will try my best to get another blog written soon.