Blame it on the Dawgs.
University of Georgia senior Jack TerHaar is a large Bulldogs fan. But when working at bars in Athens, Georgia, began cutting into his game-watching time, he knew he was ready for something else. The late nights didn’t help either.
“I didn’t need to be working until 4 within the morning,” he said. “I’ve all the time had an entrepreneurial mindset where I felt I could do more with my time.”
TerHaar, a Louisiana native, began researching other options. Car detailing (i.e., thoroughly washing and cleansing cars) struck him as a potentially lucrative and versatile side hustle with little overhead. His instincts were spot-on—or spot-free.
After a couple of initial missteps and a few help from the entrepreneurial mentorship program at his school, TerHaar built Detail Dawgs right into a $ 7,000-a-month business, donating a few of this revenue to charity. He hopes to expand into other college towns after he graduates.
Here’s how he did it.
Related: She Started Her Side Hustle to Solve a Serious Problem With Outdoor Furniture. It Blew Past Her Full-Time Job’s Income — to $66,000 a Month.
Getting help from mentors
After TerHaar set his sights on automobile detailing, he gathered information by talking to a man in his hometown who had a successful detailing business and watching a ton of YouTube videos to work out what materials he needed.
He detailed a few of his friends’ cars and posted his work on Instagram. Business was good, but it surely wasn’t enough to repay his tuition. Coming from a powerful family tradition in entrepreneurship (each his mom and pop began their businesses), TerHaar enrolled in a 4-week entrepreneurial accelerator program at UGA.
“My professors really pushed me,” he recalls. “They were like, ‘We wanna see you reach out to X number of individuals, and we wanna see you get X variety of jobs this week.’ I went from doing 5 or 6 jobs a month to doing 12 jobs in that last week. “
Breaking out of his comfort zone
His professors encouraged him to shoot for a 2% conversion rate, ideally contacting 1000 potential clients weekly. That meant he needed to achieve beyond his friend zone and the greater UGA campus.
“How many college kids pays $180 to clean their automobile? So, I went to grocery stores and parking lots and handed out business cards. I also went to real estate and law offices,” TerHaar says.
At first, he was hesitant to approach “random strangers.” But he realized that “to search out out who your customer is, you’ve got to develop into uncomfortable talking to people about your corporation,” he says.
With coaching from his professors, he also tested out Google Ads, pushing potential customers to his website. Eventually, he ranked primary in his area for automobile detailing.
Business began to boom to around 15 jobs every week, requiring him to rent a further three other guys. He charges $180 for sedans and $210 for SUVs and trucks, earning around $7,000 monthly.
TerHaar admits his team could possibly be detailing more cars, but they still must balance their school work. This is a side hustle, in spite of everything.
Photo by Detail Dawgs
Not all of their profits are going into their pockets. In September, TerHaar donated a portion of Detail Dawgs’ revenue to the National Alopecia Areata Foundation. TerHaar’s older sister Abby has Alopecia, an autoimmune disease that causes hair loss.
“My sister’s my only sibling, and she or he’s any individual who I look as much as loads. I felt that a brilliant positive method to support her was to donate some money to assist raise awareness.”
Again, this was a lesson TerHaar learned from his parents. When he was a child, they ran a golf tournament and a 5K race for five years, raising greater than $250,000 for the National Alopecia Areata Foundation.
Photo courtesy of Jack TerHaar.
Learning on the job
TerHaar began his business by driving cars to the nearby coin-operated carwash, but he went mobile when that did not scale. Now, he and his crew show up in his 4-Runner with a hose, Shop-Vacs, and whole lot of chemicals, including tire cleaners, interior cleaners, leather conditioners, and stain removers. He learned early on that a drill brush is indispensable for quick cleansing.
He also learned that automobile detailing could be dirty business.
“This one guy had any form of McDonald’s food you can consider in his automobile,” TerHaar says. “He had Big Macs and Chicken McNuggets in there. That was after we invited in gloves.”
The way forward for the business
TerHaar hopes Detail Dawgs gets so big that he can focus less of his time on the detailing and more on the scaling details.
“Hopefully, I won’t need to be on cars anymore, and I can run the business from my office, managing it and acquiring customers.”
He is considering expanding the business after college. “If I determine to pursue it full-time and scale it to other college towns, I feel it’ll be a six-figure business.”
But for now, TerHarr’s pleased just being in command of his financial destiny and never having to miss any more Bulldogs games.