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Lee Harris

Lee Harris on being driven by change

By Lee Harris

Owner, ELH Detailing

When Lee Harris lost his job in commercial insurance due to the pandemic, it was to steer him in a new direction, driving him to create his own business: ELH Detailing.

Propelled by his personal interest in the trade, and innate attention to detail, Lee started his business working out of the back of his own car doing valets.

By reinvesting in the company through equipment and training, and progressively building a nationwide reputation, Lee’s business has achieved speedy growth, with big things in the pipeline.

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How would you describe your approach as a business owner?

My approach is seeing things from a customer's point of view and asking myself what results I would want to see from the job.

I have a high level of detail and the training courses that I've put myself on are implemented in my work.

The way that I exceed, is by over-exceeding what the customers’ expectations are but within boundaries so that I can work within their budget.

What is the main driver that motivates you?

Straight from the start, my partner Vicky has just been so supportive, really driving me and always there beside me to spur me on. When I have down days, she’s right there picking me up straight away. Without her, the business wouldn't be where it is now: she's been my rock. The plans are there for her to come on board in the future; she's a massive part of this for me.

Having that belief behind me makes me determined to make a success out of my business and stand out from everyone else in the industry.

I used to worry about what people would think and how I would do things, but the best way to get a following and to build things is to be yourself.

I want to be the person that other people admire by putting my own mark on the business and the industry.

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"It takes a professional to know how to clean a car properly and safely; to make sure that there's no damage to the paintwork whilst also enhancing the car’s current form."

What details in your work make you especially proud?

I love the transformation in bringing cars back to how they used to be. From deep cleaning of the interiors and exteriors to paint correction and taking a car that’s got scratches on it and then working magic to make the paintwork look new and glossy.

Seeing people’s reactions is what gives me satisfaction and that’s what I love.

I had a customer a few months ago whose father had passed away; he’d had a big car collection and in that was a car that was 100 years old; the paint and everything had faded on it. I spent three days working on it and when the customer saw it, she almost broke down in tears saying that it was better than when her dad got it and she wished he was here to see it now. The gentleman that sold it to her dad also saw it and said that it looked phenomenal, almost as if it had just been rolled off the factory floor: that was such a boost for me.

What are the intricacies of your trade to achieve that high level of detail?

I’ve always reinvested money into equipment and training. I use a pressure washer that’s more powerful than a generic one. I’ve invested in the Rolls-Royce of machine polishers to polish and buff out scratches. My van is fully kitted out, we’re fully mobile and we can bring the service to the workplace, the home, or wherever it’s convenient for the customer.

Staying up to date with equipment and technology is important but it’s also knowing how to handle and use that equipment. It takes a professional to know how to clean a car properly and safely; to make sure that there’s no damage to the paintwork whilst also enhancing the car’s current form.

"Seeing people's reactions is what gives me satisfaction and that's what I love."

Lee Harris - Owner, ELH Detailing

What’s in the pipeline for the business?

I’m working on a subscription package for the business; it’s something that no one in the industry is doing. It will offer several different levels of subscription packages for valeting and detailing from a basic car cleaning package to a higher-end package for regular car servicing.

It will be a one-stop shop for aesthetically and mechanically looking after customers’ cars: making it easy for people and eliminating the stress and hassle of getting quotes and organising it themselves.

When it comes out, it’s going to be a massive thing, not just for my business, but for other people in the industry. To be the leader, and at the forefront of that, is going to be a big accomplishment.

What interests do you have outside of the business?

I’m fascinated with history and what has shaped us; how things have come about, and how the human race is growing and developing increasingly quickly.

I’m interested in trying to get my head around how things used to be compared to how things are now and rolling with that change.

What is your dream car?

A dream car for me would probably be a BMW M3 at the moment; or an Audi RS4.

I have a son and my partner has three children, so I’d also have to think logically, and go for a seven-seater family car too: like a Land Rover Discovery, or an Audi Q7.