Monday, August 21, 2006

Would you let my son wash your car?

My son, as regular readers may remember, wants to become a businessman. I have told him that it is never too soon to start. Developing or enhancing entrepreneurial skills is something that can be done early. Why work at a McJob if you can do something on your own? McJobs are very useful to help individuals develop responsibility, to show up on time for work, and to learn to interact with fellow employees and bosses. But so is having your own little business. Even teenagers can start up a little enterprise and learn how to provide a good or service. The struggle to become successful can be rewarding, but humbling as well. It is never as easy as some people might think.

A friend of my son's, about the same age, has been running a profitable little car washing business in the hamlet where he lives. My son has helped him wash cars there, and thinks that he can run a similar business in the area into which we will be moving shortly. I suggested to him that he should do two things: First, offer to work at a professional car detailing shop for a day or two for free, in return for some training in how to wash a car correctly. Amazingly, he agreed to do this. Secondly, I suggested he do some interesting advertising. I co-owned a little advertising company (and wrote all the copy) back in the 1970's, so I offered to write him some copy for a flyer. Would you let my son wash your car, based on this ad?


  1. Not only would I let your son wash my car, I'd drive it from America to Canada to let him do so. Talk about a great Dad! I love how you're teaching him the important tips he needs to not only be a businessman, but one of integrity. Also, isn't it a strange but wonderful thing when sons LISTEN to us?!

  2. Superb!
    If you can find a way to communicate all the points of the flyer's ad in fewer words, it will aid you greatly.

  3. That's an awesome and a funny ad! A bit lengthly, yeah.

    Those are great prices, btw! Are those real? I'd charge more.

    Good for your son, too!

    I offered free time twice in my life. I was turned down both times.. they didn't believe me - thought there was a catch.

  4. "Also, isn't it a strange but wonderful thing when sons LISTEN to us?!"

    Sure is, Bellezza. I better enjoy it while I can.

    The prices are real, Penny, based on the inexperience of the labour and as an inducement for customers to give the service a try.

    In my years of writing copy for my advertsing copmpany, I discovered a couple of things. Sometimes very few words will do the trick. For example a very effective ad for Porsche might be a very sexy picture of their latest model and the words below:

    Porsche. Enough Said.

    That's it. The picture in the ad shows us a beautiful car and the copy tells us that it is not only beautiful but fast and dependable and that it handles well because it is a Porsche.

    When seliing something that has no brand recognition, like my son's car washing service, it can be effective to use quite a few words, as long as there is something interesting in the copy. In this case, it is the idea that the kid's old man might be a bit out of touch with reality, but that the kid is willing to humour him because he wants to run the businesses one day. The subtext is the old-fashioned business values that the old man wants his kid to learn and apply.

    As far as working free, many employers are suspicious about that. It is possibly technically illegal in some jurisdictions, and then there are safety and insurance concerns about someone who is not an employee, etc. We'll see how that works out in our case.

  5. LOVE the Porsche ad. Is that yours?

  6. Well, it is not a real ad. I made it up while I was writing the comment. But, it would work. Hey, whoever is in charge of advertsing at Porsche, give me a call!!

    Sone of my favourite ads of all time are Volkswagen ads, like these:

  7. Well I for one enjoyed the ad. If the boy gets a lot of requests for hot water washes, Coleman has a portable on demand hot water heater.

  8. Thanks, Pope. That Coleman thing looks pretty handy.