“Offering a professional service is one thing. But it’s brands that hold a lot of the cards,” says Benjamin Mossman, founder of Swank Wash, a business that specialises in deep cleaning cars, known as car detailing.
Benjamin, 27, has been self-employed for most of his working life. At the end of 2019, he decided to progress from being a one-man band offering a premium car cleaning service, to building a brand with its own identity and team. “I could see a growing demand - more people were interested in car care. It was the right time,” he says. “It’s made a big difference - I’ve been able to develop a memorable brand personality and increase client loyalty.”
The Swank Wash team, currently made up of three car care consultants, is spread across Manchester, London and Surrey. “Attention to detail is everything - we have a minimum service package of four hours for interior and exterior. The time and care we take is what differentiates us from a car cleaner or valet - we treat every car as if it were a vintage Ferrari.”
Adapting to the pandemic
Swank Wash had only been up and running for three months when the first national lockdown hit. “During the first lockdown, our cancellations increased and we could see that our growth was slowing down. We had to increase our marketing - I was determined to bring in work so that we could support our team” he says.
“At first, we wore full body suits. We didn’t know at that point how dangerous the virus was so we took every precaution,” he says.
Benjamin has always worn rubber gloves when car detailing so that he can protect himself from the cleaning chemicals. “One of the challenges we faced is that the cost of PPE rocketed - a box of gloves went from costing £10 to £40. It was a cost we couldn’t avoid.”
When Starling announced that it would be offering Bounce Back Loans in April 2020, Benjamin applied immediately. “The process was amazingly easy - I was expecting it to be quite a lengthy process. We applied the day after applications opened and the following day, we had the money in the account.”
Banking with Starling
Benjamin uses Starling for both his personal and business banking. He joined in 2019. “I absolutely love it,” he says. “The big thing for me is that the Starling app shows you as soon as you spend or receive money. I also love the in-app chat - it’s incredible.” Starling Customer Service is 24/7 for all customers and can be reached through the in-app chat, by email or by phone.
Another feature that saves Benjamin time on financial admin is Spending Insights. For example, when he buys petrol on his business account for the car, this expense is automatically categorised under ‘Vehicles’, making it easy for him to see where his money is going each month.
Creating new products for a new audience
To widen the customer base and develop the business, Benjamin has launched a line of car cleaning products that individuals can use to look after their cars themselves. “It’s a range of affordable products people can use to get their perfect Swank Wash at home,” he says.
Swank Wash products are manufactured, labelled and bottled in the UK and come with details of video tutorials to help customers clean their cars. “Without Starling, the business wouldn’t have been able to grow so quickly - that’s how much time it’s saved us.”