Co-founder of @Topaz Detailing , Nabil Naamo talks to us about the differences between detailing and valeting, how to protect your supercar and how the industry has changed over the past 15 years.
Our Video Podcast
Watch Nabil Naamo give Darren and Amanda a tour of the London workshop whilst explaining the supercar detailing process step by step.
Episode Transcript - FULL TEXT
So, you and your brother started by doing work on your Dad’s Mercedes?
Yeah, that was our practicing ground. I was 23/24 at the time and did not want to work for someone. It’s just not my not my thing and so I started practicing. Detailing cars was always the thing that really interested me. It was Mazin’s pure passion, and I am very business orientated. I like growing businesses and the whole journey of having a business and seeing what we can do with it. We had a few cars at the time and had nowhere to get them valeted or detailed. So Maz would spend alot of time of the weekends working on them. He would even spend the whole Sunday, working on his Fiat Punto.
What is the difference between Detailing and Valeting?
Yeah. So, the lines were blurred. Right at the beginning people didn’t know the difference between detailing and valeting. People thought valeting is detailing or a version of it. However, it’s not because validating is very a simple function of cleaning. So, half an hour later, 20 minutes later the car is clean. When a car is brand new and comes to us, I would still think it’s dirty and the paintwork is not good. So they’d be like, ‘it’s a brand new car, what do you mean.’ That’s the difference of level you’re looking at between valeting and detailing. And I started looking into the paint on a molecular level when detailing.
So, customers are spending in some cases an awful lot of money on their cars. Do customers ever raise the question that they expect a higher standard from manufacturers, in terms of the paint, the finish and the quality? A lot of our mutual customers bring their cars here, literally straight from the dealer to have work done on it. Which to me is like saying, potentially the paint work isn’t up to standard in the beginning.
They are usually better. Ferraris is a prime example, when you go for the triple layer, expensive paint, usually the finish comes better than the standard finish. But people always had this issue, whether it’s Ferrari, Lamborghini, Porsche, Mercedes- it loads of different manufacturers. They have to draw the line and say this is what the standard is, and what is acceptable for 99% of our customers. So we’re fine with that. And if you’re that particular, or if you want it to be perfect, then you have to go for a triple layer paint or send it Topaz. That is the battle we’ve had for customers perspective, as they don’t understand why a £200,000 car is not right.
From the finance side does detailing, paint protection, films help maintain the value of the vehicle?
Yes, dealers love doing that. Now we have dealers that that are actively saying to people put PPF on your car, and we are doing it for them.
What does PPF stand for?
PPF is abbreviation for paint protection film. In the UK, similar to how we did detailing when it wasn’t really in existence, which is really all about paintwork and enhancing paintwork.
Our slogan is enhance, protect and maintain. The protection part of our business wasn’t really there, apart from ceramic coatings or waxes, which do a great job, but it’s not a full protection system. It doesn’t physically stop stone chips penetrating the paintwork. We were doing the rounds of how we’re going to improve our protection for customers. And then there was a piece of film which was 3M, similar to what you get on your mobile phone screen protectors. The colour was a horrible yellow and wasn’t something you would want on your car. We didn’t put it on any of our cars. So we’re like, how can we improve this? And at the time, technology of film was getting better and better. I think it was, back in 2011, we thought this is starting to look really good. But everyone was still hand cutting on the film, onto the car. And I thought we can’t be doing hand cutting. So we then started doing our own patterns. And I got obsessive about how I can design my own patterns. And only two manufacturers could do it properly. So, I figured it out and we started doing our own patterns. We did the shapes, the bonnets, the doors, the wing mirrors- everything is designed in house to our specifications.
How is PPF applied, do you have to take the panels off to apply this?
No, you do it on the car, so that was a game changer.
How else has the industry changed? Because to me the word detailing feels like it’s still relatively new. Its only 15 years that it has become part of the colloquial. How have you seen the industry change?
So, paint protection film is younger than detailing, because it was just horrible. No one wanted to put paint protection film on their cars because of the yellow colour and adhesive going yellow. But detailing has been around for a long time in America. That’s where it originated from, as there isn’t valeting there, only detailing. So, for them detailing is a much wider term. For example, if you’re going to get the car washed and want to get it detailed, there would be automated car washes, and then you have detailers. That’s how the whole thing started in the UK. You’d have car washing guys who are valeters. So, the industry has now changed, because customers are more in tuned with what paintwork should look like and how it should be protected.
How was the social media influencer industry grown or affected the business?
Yeah, it’s made a big difference. So with Tim (Shmee150) specifically, we’ve known each other from the early days when he was doing car spotting and when he bought his first McLaren, he brought it over to us. And we’ve had an amazing relationship since then. He’s done great in terms of creating awareness as a platform for car lovers. And I’ve wanted to do a similar thing for what we do. So now on our YouTube channel, we’ve got a good following. At some stages, we’re getting 2 million views a month on what we’re doing. We started on his channel, he started putting the process of paint protection film of detailing, with me hijacking his camera at some stages. I also did a video on his channel, and that created awareness from the huge following that he had.
We then started doing our own YouTube channel and our own social media. And we’ve been doing it for years now. It has done amazingly well for our business because it’s just created a platform where people can be updated on what’s happening. But also, I suppose as you say technology changes, information on what’s available and what the options are right? Topaz Skin was one that we invested in. So, we invested in technology and we improved it with the manufacturer. It’s the top end of colour change. If you want the ultimate colour change, it is basically like paint.
Where did the Topaz Detailing name come from?
We had a friend whose name was Ashok but his nickname was Topaz. This is because he had a blue Topaz e46 330 ci BMW, he loved that thing. We’d be driving around and blasting it everywhere and trying to drift it and all this kind of stuff. And we’re close friends with him for many years. He then bought a 911 Turbo S, his father bought it for him when he was 28. Unfortunately, he killed himself in it. He was driving the car, too fast on a small road, spun out, hit a tree, and he killed himself. And he was so excited about the concept of what we were doing. And he said he was going to be our first customer with his turbo and wanted us to detail his car. And then we thought it would be the perfect thing to call it Topaz. And that’s exactly why we called it Topaz. I think that’s one of the reasons why there’s a positive energy to the brand name.
What does the future hold for Topaz detailing?
Right now we are we are in London our HQ, Bristol. We are in Bahrain, we are in Doha, which is Qatar. And we’re also going to be opening up in Dubai. We’re also looking to open in Germany and Switzerland. We don’t want to open too many in one year because we have the staff, and we have the skill set. We have the fundamentals, which is why I’ve waited before we expand it. At this stage we have enough staff to be able to resource and to deploy to the sides and we’re trying to open three to four a year now.
We are trying to diversify our business. I’m fully aware that Topaz is a unique and not everyone can spend 1000s of pounds on their cars. Not everyone can get to us to spend money in their cars. Some people like the enjoyment of doing it themselves. And we’ve had so much experience on working on cars for years now. The products have done incredibly well so far because they all products that we have been working on with our manufacturers to perfect. In London we do about 3000 cars a year here. In Bristol about 700/800 cars. From Bahrain and Doha now. So, we will be doing about 7000 cars a year as a business. If you think about Ferrari doing about 10,000 cars a year it puts it into perspective.
This year we have a lot to look forward to, as we’ve got a lot of new cars coming out. What does that look like for you? Is there any you’re particularly interested or looking forward to getting your hands on?
I’m looking forward the buying the Urus. I’ll talk to you about afterwards.I think the Urus is gonna be one of the most popular cars of all time. It is savior of Lamborghini and it’s such a great car. It fills a niche that people want a four by four, but for it to feel like a supercar. Yeah. So that’s exactly what it is you know, Ferrari is going to be doing something similar. I’m looking forward to seeing that too, that’s going to be cool. I’m a big range rover fan. That’s going to be the next one and that’s going to come in four to five months.
With the move to electric vehicles in the supercar market, do you think it will take the fun out of it?
I think the electric scene is just getting better and better. But I think the infrastructure needs to get super boosted, in terms of its ability to charge reliably. The reason why I sold my Taycan is because it was a nightmare to do long distance with it. The Tesla you don’t have that problem, as they have their own network, which works well. But to answer your question, I don’t think electric is going to take away because the electric car gives you something different to what a petrol car does. It gives you instant power. The torque is incredible. And it’s actually you want to keep on doing it. Yeah, it’s something that you want to keep on experiencing.
The Fund Your Passion podcast is brought to you by JBR Capital. JBR Capital Limited is authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority. Firm reference number is 682493.
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